Tafsir Maududi- Conclusion



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[74] Then they journeyed on until they met a boy and that person slew him. Moses cried out, “Have you killed an innocent person, though he had killed nobody? Surely this is a horrible deed that you have committed.”

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[71-73] So they proceeded on until they boarded a boat, and that person bored a hole in the boat. Moses cried out, “What! have you bored a hole in it so that all the passengers may be drowned? This is a grievous thing that you have done.” He answered, “Didn't I tell you that you would not be able to bear with me patiently?” Moses replied, “Please do not rebuke me for my forgetfulness, and do not take me to task in regard to my conduct.”

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[66-70] Moses said to him, “May I accompany you, so that you may teach me also that Wisdom, which has been taught to you?” He answered, “You cannot bear with me, and you cannot have the patience with regard to that matter of which you have no knowledge.” Moses said, “If Allah wills, you will find me patient and I will not disobey you in any matter.” He said, “Well, if you want to accompany me, you should ask me no questions about anything until I myself mention it to you.”

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[79] Have they never observed how the birds are poised in the vault of heaven? Who holds them up but Allah? There are many Signs in this for those people who believe.

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[61-62] Had Allah seized people on the spot for their transgression, He would not have left alive any living creature on the Earth: but He respites all for an appointed term. When their appointed time comes, they shall not be able to put it back or forward by a single moment. Yet they assign to Allah what they themselves dislike, and their tongues utter the lie that their lot shall be a fair one anyhow. Nay, only one thing awaits them, and that is the fire of Hell, wherein most certainly they shall be hastened.

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[45-47] What! Do those people, who are practicing evil devices (to oppose the Message), feel fully secure from the danger that Allah will cause them to sink into the earth? Or that He will bring scourge upon them from whence they little suspect that it will come, or that He will seize them all of a sudden while they are roaming about fearlessly, or that He will seize them when they themselves are on the alert about the impending danger? These people have no power to frustrate His plans. The fact is that your Lord is very Lenient and Compassionate.

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[38] They solemnly swear by God with their most sacred oaths that "Allah will never raise him who once is dead".Why will He not raise? It is a promise He has made binding on Himself, but most people do not know it.

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[12-13] He has subjected to your service the day and the night and the sun and the moon: likewise all the stars are subjected by His Command. In this there are many Signs for those who make use of their common sense. And in the things of different colors He has created for you in the Earth, there is indeed a Sign for those who learn lessons from them.

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[10-11] It is He, Who sends down for you water from the sky, which provides drinking water for you and brings forth fodder for your cattle. And thereby He grows for you crops and olives and date-palms and vines and different kinds of many other fruits. Surely there is a great Sign in this for those people who ponder.

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[94-96] So, O Prophet, proclaim publicly what you are being bidden, and never mind those who practice shirk. We suffice on your behalf to take to task those who have set up other gods along with Allah: they will come to know shortly (their folly).

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[72] By your life, O Prophet, they were at that time so intoxicated with lust as to be quite beside themselves with passion.

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[49-50] O Prophet! tell My servants, "I am Forgiving and Merciful, but at the same time My chastisement is also a severe chastisement."

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[22] It is We Who send the fertilizing winds: then We send down' water from heaven, and then We give it to you to drink; and it is not you who hold the store of this wealth.

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[52] This is a Message for mankind so that they may be warned by it and realize that in fact there is but One God, and that men of understanding may learn a lesson from it.

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[28-30] You have seen those people who repaid the bounty of Allah with ingratitude and hurled their people (along with themselves) into the abode of perdition-Hell, wherein they shall enter and it is the most wretched abode to live! And they set up equals with Allah so that they should lead them astray from the way of Allah. Tell them, "Well, you may enjoy yourselves for a while for ultimately you shall have to return to the Fire of Hell."

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[96-98] But when the bearer of the good tidings arrived there. he cast Joseph's shirt on Jacob's face, and his sight came back to him. Then he said, "Didn't I say to you that I know from Allah what you do not know?" They exclaimed all together" Dear father, pray for the pardon of our sins, for we have indeed been sinful." He replied, "I will implore my Lord to forgive you, for He is Forgiving and Merciful."

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[80-82] When they despaired of moving Joseph, they went to a corner and conferred together. The eldest of them said, "You know that your father has taken a solemn pledge from you in the name of Allah, and you also know that you had wronged Joseph before this. I will not, therefore, leave this land until my father gives me permission or Allah decides in my favor, for Allah is the best of all those who decide. Go back to your father and say, `Dear father, your son committed a theft. We did not see him stealing: we are simply stating what we have come to Know and we could not guard against the unforeseen. You may inquire from the people of that town and from the caravan in which we traveled back home. We are surely telling the truth'."

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[54] The king said, "Bring him to me so that I may attach him exclusively to myself."

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[4] This is the narrative of that time, when Joseph said to his father, "O father, I have seen in a dream eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw that they were prostrating themselves before me."

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[120] And, O Muhammad, We relate the stories of the Messengers to you to strengthen your heart by these. And you have received the knowledge of the reality through these and the Believers have got an admonition and a reminder from them.

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[100-101] This is the story of some of the habitations We are relating to you: some of these are still standing while the others have been brought down. We were not unjust to them but they were unjust to themselves. And when the judgment of your Lord came to pass, those deities of theirs, whom they worshiped instead of Allah, availed them not at all: they only hastened their ruin. They did them no good but caused their destruction and ruin.

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[95] Listen! Cast away were also the people of Madian as were Thamud cast away.

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[94] And when Our decree came to pass, We delivered through Our mercy Shu`aib and those who had believed with him. As regards those who were iniquitous, a dreadful shock overtook them and they lay lifeless and prostrate in their homes as if they had never flourished in them.

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[92-93] Shu`aib said, "O my people! Do you regard my family to be more powerful for you than Allah (that you are afraid of it) but have disregarded Him totally? Note it well that whatever you are doing is within Allah's grasp. O my people, you may go on following your way and I will follow my way. You will come to know in the near future who shall be visited by an ignominious scourge and who is the liar; wait if you will and I, too, shall wait with you."

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[58] And when Our Command came We delivered through Our Mercy Hud and those who had believed with him and rescued them from a woeful scourge.

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[42-43] As the Ark was moving on with them amid waves like mountains, Noah cried out to his son, who was at a distance, "My son! Embark with us and be not with the unbelievers." He answered, "I am going to climb up a mountain that will protect me from waters." Noah said, "Today there is nothing to protect from Allah's judgment except that He Himself should take pity on anyone." In the meantime a wave came between them and he was among the drowned.

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[108-109] O Muhammad, tell them, "O mankind! the Truth has come to you from your Lord. Now, whosoever follows the Right way, he does so for his own good, and whosoever goes astray, he does so to bring about his own ruin; and I am not a keeper over you. " And, O Prophet, go on following the Guidance that has been revealed to you; persevere steadfastly till Allah passes His judgment, for He is the best of judges.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work.

[72-73] Those who embraced the Faith and emigrated from their homes and expended their possessions and their lives in the Way of Allah, and those who gave refuge to the emigrants and helped them, are indeed the guardians of one another. However, you have no relation of guardianship with those who have embraced the Faith, but have not emigrated (to Dar-ul-Islam) until they emigrates50 (to it); yet it is obligatory on you to help them in the matters of Faith, if they ask for your help, except against a people with whom you have a treaty.51 As for disbelievers, they help one another; unless you also help one another, there will be mischief and great disorder on the earth.52

50This verse contains a very important article of the Islamic Constitution . and lays down the terms of the relationship (vilayat-guardianship) between the Muslims. According to it, "Those Muslims only shall be bound by the relationship of vilayat who are either the inhabitants of Dar-ul-Islam or emigrate to it. As for the Muslims living outside the territorial borders of the Islamic State, there shall be the relationship of Islamic brotherhood only, but there shall be no relationship of vilayat with them. Likewise there shall be no relationship of vilayat with those Muslims who visit the Dar-ul-Islam as foreigners in the capacity of the subjects of Dar-ul-Kufr, without emigrating to it permanently"

The Arabic word ( vilayat) is very comprehensive in meaning and 'guardianship' does not convey its full significance. It denotes the relationship of help, succor, protection, support, friendship, guardianship and the like between the citizens and the State and vice versa, and between the citizens themselves. Thus it is clear that this verse confines the limits of the Islamic, political and constitutional citizenship to its territorial boundaries only and excludes from this particular relationship the other Muslims who live beyond its territorial boundaries.

The legal implications of this negation of guardianship are very extensive, but this is not the occasion for their statement. Here it will suffice to say that according to this, the Muslims of Dar-ul-Kufr cannot become the inheritors of the Muslims of Dar-ul-Islam and vice versa, nor can they be the legal guardians of one another, nor can there be inter-marriages between them; nor can the Islamic State appoint a citizen of Dar-ul-Kufr on any responsible post, until that one renounces the relationship of citizenship with Dar-ul-Kufr. Moreover, this verse affects also the foreign policy of the Islamic State and frees it from the responsibility of the Muslims living outside its territorial borders by restricting it only to the Muslims living within its territory. The Holy Prophet also declared the same thing, saying, "I owe no responsibility for the protection of any Muslim who resides among the mushriks"

This foreign policy of Islam cuts at the very roots of such disputes as are generally responsible for creating international crises. For it is obvious that if states refuse to shoulder any responsibilities for the protection, etc., of the minorities living outside their territorial borders, there cannot arise such disputes concerning them as lead to wars over and over again.

51Though the Muslims living outside the territorial borders of the Islamic State have been excluded from political protection in the preceding verse, this fact does not deprive them of the brotherly relationship of Faith. Therefore it is obligatory on the Islamic State and its inhabitants, to help their wronged and oppressed brethren if they ask for help. But even in this case, they should observe the International Law and the universally accepted moral code. If Dar-ul-Islam has made a treaty with the persecuting people of Dar-ul-Kufr the Muslims of Dar-ul-Islam are forbidden to give any help to the oppressed Muslims in Dar-ul-Kufr if that is against the moral obligations of the treaty.

In this verse the word (mithaq) has been used for treaty. It implies everything that gives the guarantee of peace in the known sense to the parties concerned even though there might not be any explicit mention of a no-war agreement. Moreover, the original words of the Arabic Text- "....between you and thetas there is a treaty"- clearly show that a treaty of the Islamic State with a non-Islamic State is not merely a treaty between the two states but between the two nations. Therefore it is morally binding on both the Islamic State and the Muslims living in the Islamic State. The Islamic Code does not tolerate that the Muslim subjects should be left free from the obligations of the treaty which a Muslim government makes with other countries or nations. Of course, those Muslims who reside outside the territorial borders of the State that makes a treaty are free from this obligation. that is why Abu Busair, Abu Jandal and other Muslims who were not the subjects of Dar-ul-Islam were not bound by the terms of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, which the Holy Prophet had made with the disbelievers of Makkah.

52The sentence-"unless you also help one another"-has two meanings: (1) If it is considered in connection with the previous sentence, "the disbelievers help one another," it means: "If you, the Believers, will not help one another just as the disbelievers help one another, there will be mischief and great disorder on the earth" . (2) But if it is considered in connection with the instructions given in v. 72, it will mean: if the people living in Dar-ul- Islam (a) do not become the guardians and protectors of one another, (b) do not consider the Muslims, who have not migrated to Dar-ul-Islam and live in Dar-ul-Kufr, outside their political protection, (c) do not. give help to the persecuted Muslims, living outside Dar-ul-Islam, when they ask for it, and if at the same time, they do not observe the law that the Muslims living in Dar-ul-Islam would not help those Muslims living in Dar-ul-Kufr among the people with whom they made a treaty of peace, and (d) do not break all their friendly relations with the disbelievers,-then there will be mischief and great chaos in the world.

[74-75] Those who embraced the Faith, emigrated and exerted their utmost in the Way of Allah, and those who gave refuge to the emigrants and helped them, are true believers: there is forgiveness for them and the best of provisions. And those who embraced the Faith afterwards and emigrated and joined with you in your exertions for the Faith, are also of you, but according to the Book of Allah the blood relations have greater rights on one another.53 Indeed Allah knows everything.

53This is to remove a misunderstanding. After migration to AI-Madinah, the Holy Prophet had established the relationship of brotherhood between the Muhajirin and the Ansar, which gave rise to the misunderstanding that they had become the inheritors of one another. This verse says that inheritance shall be determined by the blood-relationship and not by the relationship of brotherhood in the Faith.

[42] Recall the time when you were on this side of the valley and they were encamped on the farther side and the caravan was below you (towards the coast). If you had made an engagement with them to fight, you would surely have evaded it (but there was a fight): so that Allah might accomplish what He had ordained, and that whoever had to perish should perish with a clear sign and whoever deserved to live, should live with a clear sign:34 indeed, Allah is All-Hearing, All Knowing.35

34That is, "It should be proved that whichever (Islam or ignorance) survived in the Battle, really deserved to live, and whichever perished, ought to have perished" . It should be noted that here the conflict for survival was not between different persons as such but between Islam and ignorance' as represented by the Believers and the disbelievers.

35As Allah hears everything and sees everything and knows everything, He is running His universe with wisdom and justice and will allow the right alone to survive.

[43] And remember the time. O Messenger, when Allah made them appear in your dream as a small band.36 Had He shown them to you as a great army, you would certainly have lost courage and begun to dispute about the matter (the fight). But Allah saved you from this: indeed He known the very secrets of the breasts.

36This happened when the Holy Prophet was marching from Al Madinah towards the battlefield and it was not then known how large the army of the disbelievers was. In this dream, he saw the army and concluded from what he saw that it was not large. He related what he saw in his dream to the Muslims, and this filled them with courage and they marched on boldly towards the enemy.

[45-47] O Believers, when you encounter a host in combat, be steadfast and remember Allah very much: it is expected that you will obtain success. And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not enter into disputes with one another, otherwise you will lose courage and you will become insignificant (in the eyes of the enemy). Practice fortitude;37 indeed Allah is with those who practice fortitude. And do not behave like those who marched arrogantly out of their homes with great pomp and show for the people to see. They debar the people from the Way of Allah.38 For whatever they are doing is completely within Allah's grasp.

37As the Arabic word (sabr) which has been translated into fortitude is very comprehensive in meaning, 'practice fortitude' implies: "Keep your feelings and passions under control; avoid rashness, bewilderment, despair, and greediness: keep cool and calm and make considered decisions; remain firm and steadfast in the face of dangers and difficulties; don't take any wrong step even under the greatest provocations; don't lose your senses even when you are attacked by afflictions and are in a sad plight; don't take any hasty action in your impatience to achieve your objective without delay with the help of some seeming effective device and don't be enticed by the temptation of some worldly interest or gain or lust" . Allah helps those who practice fortitude (sabr) in accordance with the above implications.

38The Muslims have been forewarned never to behave like the disbelievers of Makkah, who had marched arrogantly out of their homes and who were debarring the Muslims from the Way of Allah. They had singing girls with them and they held singing, dancing and drinking parties at many halting places. Moreover, they made a great display of their power, grandeur, numerical strength and equipment before the clans and habitations which came in their way and freely bragged that none could have the courage to fight with them. This was the state of their morality but the objective for which they were marching out was even worse than this. They had not marched out to raise the standard of truth, righteousness and justice, but to prevent it from rising up. Their objective was to annihilate the only people who were exerting to raise up that standard. This bad example was held out before the Muslims so that they should guard against such behavior for their Faith required that their conduct should be righteous and their war aim should be pure and noble.

It may also be noted that this guidance was not needed only at that time but it is equally needed even today and will be needed in future as well, for the moral condition of the armies of the modern `civilized' nations is the same as of the disbelievers of Makkah. Prostitutes indecent recreations and wine constitute their essential parts, and they do not ask for these things secretly but openly and brazen-facedly. More than that! their soldiers openly demand from their own people that they should present their own daughters to them for the gratification of their lusts. How can, then, any other people expect from them that they would spare their women and will not make them the plaything of their passions? As regards their arrogance, suffice it to say that each and every soldier and officer of their army is an embodiment of pride and vanity. Then their politicians are never tired of bragging like this: 'None is able to defeat us today for none is more powerful than we". And their war aims are still more wicked. Whereas everyone of their leaders most solemnly and cunningly assure the world that they have nothing but the good of humanity before them, they might have, in fact, all other aims but this. They wage war in order to capture all the resources of the earth that God has created for all mankind, and to monopolize these for the benefit of their own country and nation, and make all other people their servants and dependents. That is why the Qur'an forbids the Muslims to follow the evil ways of those wicked people and enjoins them to refrain from expending their wealth and life for the achievement of the objective for which the wicked people fight.

[48-52] Just think of the time when Satan made their foul deeds seem fair to them and said, "Today no one can overcome you, for I am with you." But when the two armies confronted each other, he took to his heels, saying, "I have nothing to do with you; I see that which you cannot see. Indeed I fear Allah, for Allah is very severe in inflicting chastisement" At the same time, the hypocrites and all those who had diseased hearts were saying: "Their Faith has made them crazy,"39 whereas the fact is that whoso trusts in Allah (finds that) Allah is All Mighty and All-Wise. Would that you could see how it was when the angels were seizing the souls of the slain disbelievers! They were striking on their faces and hips and saying, "Now taste the torment of burning; this is the recompense for what your hands had prepared beforehand; for Allah does not do injustice to His servants". This happened to them just as it had been happening to the people of Pharaoh and to the peoples before them: this was because they rejected His revelations and He seized them as a consequence of their sins, indeed Allah is All-Powerful and severe in inflicting chastisement.

39This was the opinion of the hypocrites and the worldly-wise people of Al-Madinah. When they saw that the small band of Muslims was going to fight with the large and superior force of the Quraish they said to one another, "Over enthusiasm for their religion has made these people mad and they are going to meet with utter destruction. As they have been blinded by their Prophet, they cannot see that they are going into the very mouth of death" .

[53-54] This happened in accordance with Allah's way that He does not withdraw the favor He bestows on any people unless they themselves change their ways.40 Allah hears everything and knows everything. This same principle was applied to the people of Pharaoh and the other peoples before them: when they treated the revelations of Allah as false, We destroyed them in consequence of their sins, and drowned the people of Pharaoh; all these peoples were the workers of iniquity.

40That is, "Allah does not withdraw His favor from any people until they themselves prove by their conduct that they have become unworthy of it".

[55-59] Indeed the vilest creatures in the sight of Allah are those people who denied the Truth, and then would not believe in it. As regards those from among them with whom you made treaties and who violate them time after time and do not fear Allah in the least,41 if you encounter them in combat, make of them a fearsome example for others who would follow them so that they might be unnerved.42 It is expected that they will learn a lesson from the end of the treacherous people. And if you ever fear treachery from any people, throw their treaty openly before them;43 indeed Allah does not like the treacherous people. Let not those who deny the Truth delude themselves that they have won the game; indeed they are incapable of frustrating Us.

41"Those ..... who violate the treaties....." were the Jews. On his migration to AI-Madinah, they were the first people with whom the Holy Prophet had entered into an alliance to co-operate for mutual good. He did his very best to establish good relations with them, for he considered them to be nearer to Islam than the mushriks, and he preferred their way to those of the mushriks, whenever a choice had to be made between the two. But their scholars and rabbis did not at all like the pure doctrine of Tauhid, taught by him, and the high standard of morality presented by him, and the exertions put in by him for the establishment of the Right Way. Therefore, in spite of the treaties they were persistently trying to defeat the New Movement. Accordingly, they adopted several measures: they conspired with the hypocrites of AI-Madinah against the true Muslims: they incited the clans of Aus and Khazraj against each other in order to kindle the fire of the old enmity that existed between the two before the advent of Islam and had led to bloody feuds, and they contrived plots with the Quraish and other hostile clans to ruin the Muslims. Though the Jews had all along been violating the written treaty the Holy Prophet had made with them, their enmity and jealousy had become even more furious than before, after the victory at Badr. For they had expected that the Movement would receive a crushing blow at the hands of the Quraish, but the result had been quite the reverse of it. Therefore they increased their inimical activities all the more in order to prevent Islam from becoming a formidable force. So much so that on hearing the news of the defeat of the Quraish, one of their leaders, Ka`ab bin Ashraf, cried out in anguish, "Today the bowels of the earth are far better for us than its surface". Accordingly, he himself went to Makkah and recited exciting elegies to incite the people of Quraish to wreak their vengeance. More than that: the people of one of their clans, Bani Qainqa `, setting aside the good neighborly manners, began to tease the Muslim women who used to go to their habitations for business. When the Holy Prophet reproved them, they gave an impudent reply and said, "We are not weak like the Quraish: we are a people who know how to fight even to the death: you will have an experience of our courage when you encounter us. "

42That is, "If we 'have made a treaty with a certain people and they disregard its obligations and take part in a fight against us we shall also be absolved from the obligations of the treaty and fight against them. Likewise if we are fighting against any people and find any of our allies among the enemies we should not hesitate to kill them and treat them as enemies. For by discarding the obligations of the alliance as individuals, they forfeit all the rights of an ally in regard to the security of life and property."

43This verse lays down a very clear and strict rule for the breaking of a treaty when necessary, and enjoins the Muslims to "throw their treaty openly before them" . According to this verse, it is unlawful to make a unilateral decision of its termination, even if the Muslims felt that the other party with whom they had entered into an alliance, was not observing the treaty strictly and properly, or if they were afraid that the other party would turn treacherous on the first opportunity. Therefore it forbids them to treat the other party in a way as if there had been no treaty with it at all. On the other hand, this verse binds the Muslims to inform the other party in clear words, before taking any step against it, that the treaty with it had been terminated. This is essential so that the other party should have no misunderstanding whatsoever that the treaty was still in force. The Holy Prophet based the international policy of Islam on this verse. He decreed, "The one that has made a treaty with another party is bound by it until the expiry of its teen. Or if obliged, then one should throw it before the other party so that both may be set on equal footing" . Then he extended the same principle to all other affairs, saying, "Behave not treacherously even towards those who are treacherous to you" . And he had impressed the same so deeply on the minds that this principle was observed most strictly both in letter and in spirit. That is why when Amir Mu'aviyah assembled his army near the frontiers of the Roman Empire with the intention that he would invade their territory immediately after the expiry of the term of the treaty, Hadrat Amar bin `Anbasah, a Companion of the Holy Prophet, strongly protested against this and recited the same Tradition before him according to which even concentration of army was a piece of treachery. The Amir had to submit to this, and he gave up the concentration of army.

It may also be noted that the practice of unilateral abrogation of treaties `and invading the enemy without any declaration of war was common during the time of `ignorance' in the ancient times and is also in vogue in the civilized ignorance: of today. For example, during World War' II, Germany invaded Russia, and Britain and Russia took military action against Iran without any formal declaration of war. It may be noted that the pleas put forward for such breaches and violations are very flimsy: it is argued that if a declaration of war had been made beforehand, the other party would have taken precautionary measures and given a tough fight; or that if they had not taken action, their enemy would have forestalled them. But they seem to forget that if moral responsibilities were to be set aside on such lame excuses, then there remains no crime and no sin that cannot be justified on one plea or the other, and every thief, every robber; every adulterer, every murderer and every forgerer can put forward a justification for his crime or sin. But it is strange that the modem leaders have two standards of judgment. While they justify the acts of treachery in the international sphere, they condemn the same when these are committed in their own national sphere.

There is, however, an exception to the above principle. The Islamic Law allows the Muslims to attack the other party, if it violates the treaty openly and takes some specific inimical action against them. In such a clear case, this verse does not bind them to give a due notice of the termination of the treaty, but grants them the right to take military action against such a treacherous party without giving any ultimatum. The Muslim jurists have deduced this exception from a precedent set by the Holy Prophet. When the Quraish openly broke the treaty of Hudaibiyah, in regard to Bani Khuza`ah, he did not consider it obligatory to give them a notice that he, too, had terminated the same. He, therefore, invaded Makkah without giving them any notice. But here we must strike a note of warning. In order to take advantage of this exception, we must consider all the circumstances under which the Holy Prophet thought it right to invade Makkah. In that case, and in that alone, it is lawful for us to follow the precedent set by him; otherwise we are liable to take undue advantage of it. We learn from the books of Hadith and Sirat that the following circumstances led him to take this step:

(1) The violation of the treaty by the Quraish was so glaring that there was absolutely no doubt that there had been a breach and they themselves confessed that the treaty had come to an end. That is why they sent Abu Sufyan to AI-Madinah for its renewal. Though that was a proof that they also knew that the treaty had come to an end, it does not mean that this exception will be justifiable only if those who violate the treaty also know it and confess it. The exception will be only justifiable if the violation would be quite clear and beyond any doubt.

(2) After the violation of the treaty, the Holy Prophet did not indicate in any way whatever by word or by deed or by implication- that in spite of the violation of the treaty by them he regarded the treaty to be still in force; nor did he continue such relations with them as might indicate the same. All the traditions show that he rejected the offer of the renewal of the treaty made by Abu Sufyan.

(3) He openly took the military action against the Quraish and did nothing at all to show an outward display of peace while harboring secret intentions of war.

This is the excellent precedent set by the Holy Prophet in this matter. An exception to the injunction contained in this verse can, therefore, be made under such specific circumstances that existed on the occasion, and that, too, in the same straightforward noble way.

Besides, it is lawful for the Muslims to use force for the settlement of an issue if and when they find that the other party is neither willing to solve it by mutual talk nor by international arbitration, but is bent upon using force. In such a case, this verse makes it incumbent on the Muslims to make a clear and open declaration to this effect before taking any action. Islam considers a secret military action as immoral and does not allow it, if the Muslims are not prepared to make an open declaration of war.

[60] And to encounter them, provide whatever force and trained ever-ready horses you can afford44 whereby you may strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemies as well and others besides them whom you do not know but whom Allah knows. The reward of whatever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged in any way.

44This means, "You should always keep in readiness the necessary military equipment and an organized standing army so that you may be able to take military action immediately without the least delay, should the enemy attack you suddenly. These precautionary measures should be taken so that there should be no confusion and no hurry to urge you to enlist half-trained and ill-equipped volunteers; nor would there be any fear that the enemy would take you unawares and inflict irreparable losses on you before you could get ready for the defense".

[61-64] And, O Prophet, if the enemies incline to peace, you should also incline to it and put your trust in Allah: indeed He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. And if they intend to deceive you, Allah is sufficient for you.45 It is He Who strengthened you with His succor, and by means of the Believers. And it is He Who united the hearts of the Believers; even if you had spent all the riches of the earth, you could not have united their hearts by yourself, but it is Allah Who united their hearts;46 indeed He is All-Powerful, All-Wise. O Prophet! Allah is sufficient for you and for the Believers who follow you.

45That is, "Your relations with other nations should be based on your trust in God for `He is sufficient for you'. Therefore you should boldly face the enemy both in war and in peace. When the enemy desires to have a talk with you for peace, you should be willing and ready to negotiate with the other party without any hesitation. Do not reject the offer on the pica that the other party is not sincere and has treacherous intentions. for no one can have correct knowledge of the intentions of others: If the other party is sincere in its offer, then it will be wrong to reject it and continue the bloodshed. And if the enemy has treacherous intentions, then Allah will protect you from them because of your courage and moral superiority. In that case, fight bravely with the treacherous enemy so as to teach them such a lesson as may prove a deterrent".

46This refers to the blessing of Islam which led to the union of the hearts of the different Arab clans and integrated them into a strong community, although before this there had been permanent enmities between them for centuries. This favor of God had been very conspicuous in the case of Aus and Khazraj clans of Al-Madinah. These two clans had been mortal enemies, and the bloody war of Bu'ath had taken place between them only two years before this. It was really a miracle that such enmities had been changed into such a union as was witnessed by the Islamic Community during the time of the Holy Prophet. It was quite obvious that this thing could not have been accomplished through any human powers or resources, for whatever had been accomplished, it had been accomplished by His grace and whatever will be accomplished, it will be accomplished by His grace.

[62] Rest assured that whosoever from among the Muslims or the Jews or the Christians or the Sabaeans believes in Allah and the Last Day, and performs good deeds, he will have his reward with his Lord and he will have no cause for fear and grief.80

80The context in which this verse occurs shows that the Qur'an is not laying down here the details of the creed and righteous deeds, which one should believe and practise in order to earn salvation. These things have been described in their proper places. Here, the object is to refute the self-delusion of the Jews that salvation was their sole monopoly. They were suffering from the delusion that they had some special relationship with God; therefore whoever belonged to their race, would go straight to Heaven, irrespective of his creed and deeds, and all other people were born to become fuel of Hell. To remove this misunderstanding of theirs Allah declares that salvation does not depend upon one's connection with any group but on one's right beliefs and good deeds. Whoever goes before Allah with these provisions will find his reward with Him, for Allah's judgement will be based on one's real worth and not on the census registers.

[63-64] Call to mind the .time when We raised above you the Tur and made a covenant with you,81 saying, "Hold fast to the Book which We are giving you and bear in mind the commands and precepts contained therein. It is expected that this will lead you on to the paths of virtue and piety." But even after that you forsook the Covenant: nevertheless Allah did not withhold His grace and mercy from you; otherwise you would have been utterly ruined long before this.

81The way this incident has been described at different places in the Qur'an, shows that it was at that time a well known incident among the Israelites, but now it is difficult to understand and know what actually happened. One may, however, understand that at the time of making the covenant at the foot of the mountain a dreadful situation was created and it so appeared that the mountain was going to fall upon them. A similar scene has been depicted in Surah AI-A'raf, VII: 171. (Please see E.N. 132 of VII, Al-A'raf) Although its description in the Bible is a little different from that of the Talmud, it depicts the scene very vividly: "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." (Exodus, 19: 18.) "And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking : and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear : but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (Exodus, 20 :1819).

[65-66] And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath.82 We said to them, "Be apes83 despised and hated by all. Thus We made their end a warning to the people of their time and succeeding generations, and an admonition for God-fearing people.

82Sabbath: Saturday. The Israelites were enjoined to keep the Sabbath as "a sign between me and you throughout your generations" for a perpetual covenant. "Six days tray work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever death any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death." (Exodus, 31: 12-17) But when the Israelites became corrupt morally and religiously. they began to desecrate it openly and began to do business without hesitation on the Sabbath.

83This incident has been described in detail in Al-A'raf, VII: There is a difference of opinion as to what actually happened. Some are of the opinion that they were physically transformed into apes, while others hold the view that from that time onward they began to behave like apes. The words of the Qur'an, however, indicate that it was not a moral but a physical metamorphosis. In my opinion their bodies were transformed into those of apes, but their human minds were left intact in order to subject them to extreme torture.

[67-71] Then call to mind the other event: when Moses said to his people, "Allah commands you to sacrifice a cow," they replied, "Do you mean to have a jest with us?" He answered, "I crave Allah's protection from behaving like ignorant people." Then they said, "Please make a request to your Lord to give us some details of the cow." Moses answered, "Allah says that the cow should neither be old nor immature but of middle age. Do, therefore, as you are bidden." But they further asked, "Please request your Lord to make it clear to us of what colour she should be." Moses answered, "He says that she should be of yellow colour, so deep and bright as to delight the beholders." Again they said, "Pray your Lord to specify for us the kind of cow that is required; for cows (of this type) look alike to us. We shall then find her, if God so wills." Moses answered, "Allah says that she should be a cow which has not been yoked nor has ploughed the land nor watered the fields; which is sound and whole, without belemish. " Then they cried out, "Now you have given an accurate description. " Then they sacrificed her but they did not appear to be doing this willingly.84

84The Israelites were commanded to sacrifice a cow in order to rid them of the sanctity and worship of cow which they had adopted from the pagan nations around them. It was a test of their faith: if they really believed in Allah as their only Deity and did not make anyone or anything else the object of their worship, they should break the idol of their former worship with their own hands. But this proved to be a very hard test. They tried to evade and avoid the sacrifice because their belief in One God had not become firm as yet. They went on asking one detail after the other in order to put it off, but the more questions they asked the more they were driven into a tight corner. So much so that at last they were specifically told to sacrifice that very golden-coloured cow, which was being specially chosen for worship at that time. The Bible also mentions this incident, but does not tell how the Israelites tried to put it off by asking a number of unnecessary questions. (Please refer to Numbers, 19: 1-10).

[72-74] You should also recall to mind another incident: You slew a man and began to dispute about the murder and accuse one another of it, but Allah had decreed that what you were trying to hide should be disclosed. So We commanded, "Strike the corpse of the murdered man with a part of the sacrificed cow. See how Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Signs, so that you may understand".85 But even after seeing these Signs your hearts hardened and became as hard as rocks; nay, even harder than rocks. For there are some rocks out of which springs gush forth, and others which split open, and water issues out of them; then there are some which tumble down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you are doing.

85The wording of the Qur'an clearly shows that the murdered man came to life for a little while and told the name of his murderer. However, there is some ambiguity concerning the method applied for discovering the murderer, that is, the striking of the dead body of the murdered man with a piece of "the sacrificed cow". A method similar to this described in Deut. 21: 1-9, confirms the interpretation put forward by the ancient scholars, that is, the dead body was struck with a piece of the flesh of the sacrificed cow and it came to life. In this way, a Sign of Allah was shown and at the same time it was demonstrated that the object of their worship was so powerless that its slaughter did not cause any harm. On the contrary, its slaughter proved useful.

[75-82] O Muslims, do you then expect that these people will accept your invitation and become believers?86 whereas there have always been among them some who have been hearing the Word of God, understanding it well and then perverting and tampering with it knowingly.87 When they meet those who believe in Muhammad, they say, "We also believe in him." But when they meet one another in private, they say, "Have you got no sense that you disclose to them those things which Allah has revealed to you so that they might bring them as a proof against you before your Lord?88 Do they really not know that Allah is fully aware of what they hide and what they disclose? -- Then there are among them some un-lettered people who have no knowledge of the Book but depend upon empty hopes and are guided by mere conjecture and guess-work.89 So woe to their learned people, who write the law with their own hands and then say to the people, "This is from Allah," so that they might gain some paltry worldly end.90 (They do not see that) this writing of their hands will bring woe to them and what they gain thereby will lead to their ruin. They also say, "The fire of Hell is not going to touch us, and even if it does at all, it will be only for a few days".91 Say, "Have you obtained a promise from Allah which He would not break? Or, do you attribute to Allah things you do not know? Why will not the fire of Hell touch you? Whoever earns evil and becomes engrossed in sin shall be doomed to Hell and abide therein for ever. Only those people who believe and do good deeds, will be the dwellers of the Garden and live there for ever.

86Here the addressees are the new converts of Madinah, who had embraced Islam only recently. They had become interested in the Holy Prophet because they had often heard from the neighbouring Jews about Prophethood, Revelation, Angels, Divine Law, etc. They had also heard from them that they were expecting a new Prophet whose followers would prevail over the whole world. That is why the people of Madinah turned to the Holy Prophet when they heard of him and entered into the fold of Islam in large numbers. Naturally, they expected that the Jews, who possessed revealed Scriptures and who themselves had foretold the coming of a Prophet, would be the first to welcome Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) as a Prophet and would be in the forefront of his supporters. When, contrary to their expectations, the Jews did not come forward, the new Muslims themselves went to them and invited them to accept Islam, but they failed to persuade them. The hypocrites and the opponents of Islam used this rejection as an argument against Islam itself. They argued like this: there must be something suspicious about it: had Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) really been a Prophet, these pious and learned followes of the earlier scriptures, would nothave rejected him Knowingly, and ruined their Hereafter. In order to counteract the mischief caused by this fallacy, the past history of the Jews has been related to show that nothing better could be expected of them. This also cautioned the simple Muslims against cherishing any hope that the Jews of their city would in a body welcome Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) as the Prophet about whom prophecies has been made in their own Books. They have been warned that they should not entertain such expectations from the people whose history has been so and so. This was necessary because they were liable to become disheartened because of the rejection of Islam by them. As to the Jews, they had become so degenerate and hard-hearted that they were not moved even by those verses which melted the hearts of the pagans who formerly used to kill their own daughters. Not only this, these hard-hearted Jews made fun of those very verses also. Therefore, the zealous Muslims were warned that they should understand the real condition of the Jews, who had corrupted the Truth to suit their own desires and then had the audacity to have their hopes centred on the religion which they had themselves perverted. it was wrong to entertain any vain hopes that such people would accept the Truth as soon as it was presented before them.

87"Some among them": their rabbis and jurists. "Word of God": the Torah, Psalms and other Books which they had received through their Prophets. The Jewish scholars not only twisted, distorted and misinterpreted the revealed scriptures, and read into them the meaning they wanted to read, but they also tampered with the actual words of the text.

88When they met secretly, they warned each other not to disclose to the Muslims those passages of the Torah and other Scriptures which contained prophecies about the Holy Prophet. They also warned each other not to inform the Muslims about those verses and teachings of their holy books which, they feared, would expose to objection their own present condition and attitude for they were afraid that the Muslims would present these as arguments against them on the Day of Judgement. This is an instance of the kind of belief they held about Allah's knowledge. They were under the delusion that if they succeeded in hiding the Truth and their corruption of the Scriptures in this world, there would be no possibility of bringing a case against them in the Next World. That is why in the parenthetical clause that follows they have been asked whether they really believed Allah to be unaware of the affairs of the people.

89This refers to the common people of the Jews, who were totally ignorant of the teachings of their own Scriptures. They had neither any knowledge of the fundamentals of religion, nor of the regulations concerning morality and rules of everyday life, nor of the principles leading to ultimate success or failure. And the pity is that they had formed their own notions about religion without this knowledge and were living on false hopes.

90This refers to what their learned people did. They not only perverted their Scriptures to suit their desires and vanities, but also blended with the Text of the Bible their own interpretations, their national history, their superstitions, their self-made theories, philosophies and laws. Then they presented all this mixture before the people as if it were actually from God. Every historical fiction, every interpretation, every man-made creed, and every bye law that had somehow entered into the Holy Book, became the "Word of God," and it was absolutely obligatory for every Jew to believe in all these things and, if one did not, he was declared to be a renegade or a heretic.

91There was a general belief among the common Jews and their religious leaders that they would not be seat to Hell in spite of their wrong beliefs and evil deeds just because they were Jews. They thought that even if any punishment was imposed on them, it would be for a few days only after which they would be sent to Paradise.

[84-86] Remember also that We made another solemn covenant with you: you shall not shed blood among yourselves nor expel one another from your homes. And you confirmed it and you are a witness to it. But inspite of this, you are killing your brethren and driving them out from their homes and making unjust and aggressive alliances against one another. And when they come to you as captives, you trade on their ransoms whereas their expulsion itself was unlawful for you. Do you then believe in one part of the Scriptures and disbelieve in the other?92 What other punishment do such people from among you deserve except an ignominious life in this world and the most grievous doom on the Day of Resurrection? Allah is not unaware of what you are doing. These are the people who have preferred the worldly life to the life in the Hereafter. Therefore their torment shall not be lightened nor shall help be given to them (from any quarter).

92As a concrete example of this may be cited the strange conduct of the different clans of the Jews, who lived in the neighbourhood of Madinah. Before the migration of the Holy Prophet, they had entered into alliances with the neighbouring Arab clans, Aus and Khazraj. When one Arab clan went to war with the other clan, their respective Jewish allies also went to war against each other. Thus Jews waged war upon Jews, whereas this was clearly against the teachings of their Scriptures which they knowingly violated. But when the Jews of one clan fell into the hands of the other clan as prisoners of war, they would redeem them after taking ransom for them. When they were questioned about this inhuman trade of their own brethren, they tried to justify it, saying that it was allowed by the Scriptures. It is strange that they forgot the same Scriptures which they brazenfacedly violated by going to war against each other. Thus on the one hand, they accepted that part of the Scriptures which allowed ransom for prisoners and , on the other hand, rejected that part which prohibited war against their own brethren in faith.

[87-90] And We gave Moses the Book and sent after him a train of Messengers in succession. Then We sent Jesus, son of Mary, with clear Signs and supported him with the Holy Spirit.93 Then how is it that whenever a Messenger came to you wish that which did not suit your lusts, you grew rebellious against him, and repudiated some and slew others. They say, "Our hearts are secure."94 Nay, the fact is that Allah has cursed them for their disbelief; so they are little disposed to believe. And how are they behaving now towards a Book which has come to them from Allah? Inspite of the fact that it confirms the Scriptures which they already possessed. and, inspite of the fact that, before it came, they used to pray for a signal victory over the disbelievers, they rejected it when it came, although they recognized it.95 May Allah's curse be upon such disbelievers! What a mean thing it is with which they delude their minds.96 They reject the Guidance which Allah has sent down merely because of their grudge why Allah has in His bounty sent it to whom He chose from amongst His servants.97 They have thus incurred wrath after wrath, and for such disbelievers there is a disgraceful doom.

93''Ruh-ul-Qudus" (Holy Spirit) May refer to Revelation or to angel Gabriel who brought it to the Prophets or to the Holy Soul of Jesus Christ which Allah had created pure. "Clear Signs" refer to his miracles and to his wonderful personal qualities and his miraculous birth, which were to every lover of truth a clear proof of the fact that he was a true Prophet of Allah.

94By this they meant to say, "We are so staunch in our Faith that we are not going to be influenced by anything that you might say to the contrary." All those are slaves of irrational prejudices, delude themselves like this. They regard such an obstinate attitude as a sign of their firm Faith and, therefore, a virtue. In tact, there can be no greater vice than to stick to one's own traditional creeds and beliefs even though there are strong arguments against them.

95Before the advent of the Holy Prophet, the Jews were looking forward with great longings to the Prophet about whom there were many prophecies in their own Scriptures. They used to pray: "May he come soon so that we should triumph over the disbelievers and regain our lost glory! ". The people of Madinah themselves bore witness that the Jews lived in this expectation. It had become a bye-word with them to proclaim: "Let the pagans tyrannise over us as much as they like. When that Prophet comes, we will settle accounts with them." Accordingly, when the people of Madinah learnt that Muhammad (Allah's peace he upon him) had declared himself to be a Prophet, they recalled these things and thought that he might be the very Prophet about whom they had heard so much from the Jews. So they said to one another, "Let us go and accept him lest the Jews should forestall us." That was the reason why the Muslims of Madinah could not understand the attitude of the Jews who, instead of accepting him as the Prophet for whom they had been so anxiously waiting, had become his greatest opponents. As to the fact that "they did recognize the Holy Prophet," many proofs were furnished at that very time. The most authentic evidence is that of Hadrat Safiyyah (one of the wives of the Holy Prophet), who was the daughter of one learned Jew and the niece of another. She says, "When the Holy Prophet migrated to Madinah, my father and uncle went to see him. When they returned home, I myself heard the following conversation between them: Uncle: Is he really the same Prophet about whom there occur prophecies in our books? Father: By God, he is the same. U Are you quite sure of it? F. Yes. U. Then what is your intention? F. I will oppose him as long as I live and will not let his mission succeed. ( lbn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 165, Cairo Edition, 1936).

96The verse may also mean: "What a miserable thing it is for which they have sold off their future life and salvation in the Hereafter!"

97They wished that the Prophet should have been one of their own race; therefore, they refused to accept him when he was raised among a race which they considered to be inferior to theirs. This meant that Allah ought to have consulted them before appointing His Messenger, and when Allah did not do so, and in His bounty appointed one He chose by Himself, they were offended.

[94-96] Say to them, "If the abode of the Hereafter with Allah is exclusively reserved for you and not for the rest of mankind, then you should long for death, if you arc sincere in your claim."98 Believe it that they will never wish for it, for (they are fully aware of the consequences of) what they have sent before them for the Hereafter. And Allah knows well the mentality of the transgressors. You will find that, of all mankind, they are the greediest for life,99 nay, they are even greedier than the mushriks. Each one of them longs to have a life Of a thousand years, but a long life can, by no means, remove them away from the scourge, for Allah is watching whatever they are doing.

98This was a retort which implied that if they really were sure and enamoured of the Hereafter, they would not dread death, but would prefer it to the life in this world. They, however, were (and are) so much given to this worldliness that they were terrified by the very thought of death and the Hereafter.

99The literal translation of the word ala hayat-in"is "any kind of life". It means that they wished to live without giving any consideration to the kind of life they led. It did not matter whether that was a life of honour and grace, or a life of dishonour and disgrace.

[41-46] And believe in the Book I have now sent down; as it confirms the Scriptures you already possess, be not the first to reject it; barter not away My Revelations for paltry worldly gain,57 and guard yourselves against My wrath Confound not the Truth with falsehood nor conceal it knowingly.58 Establish the Salat, pay the Zakat59 and bow down before Me along with those who bow down. How is it that you enjoin others to follow the Right Way, but forget it yourselves, though you read the Scriptures? Have you no sense at all? Seek help with the Salat and fortitude:60 no doubt, Salat is a hard task but not for those obedient servants, who realize that ultimately they shall meet their Lord and shall return to Him.61

57"Paltry gains": worldly gains for the sake of which these people discarded the commandments and precepts of Allah. As a matter of fact, even the whole wealth of the world put together is worthless, if it is gained in exchange for Allah's Guidance.

58In order to understand this verse, it should be kept in mind that the Arabs were generally illiterate and uneducated people. As against them, education was common among the Jews, who had among them great scholars renowned even beyond Arabia. That is why the Arabs were overawed by the scholarship of the Jews, more so because their scholars and rabbis made a great show of their learning and piety and reinforced it with the practice of charms and amulets. The people of Madinah in particular were overawed by the learning of the Jews, for they were surrounded by big Jewish tribes and came in contact with them day and night. As a result, they were immensely influenced by them just as illiterate people usually are influenced by the neighbours who are more educated, more civilized and more religious in character. Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet upon whom be peace) presented himself as a Prophet and began to invite the people to Islam; naturally the illiterate Arabs turned to the Jews for guidance in this matter, and said: "You are the followers of a Prophet and possess a Book, so tell us what you think of this man and his teachings, who claims to be a Prophet." This question was repeatedly asked of the Jews by the people of Makkah, and when the Holy Prophet came to Madinah, here also many people visited the Jewish scholars again and again to ask them the same question. But their scholars never gave them the right answer. For they could not say that the doctrine of Tauhid that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) was preaching was wrong, nor that the knowledge which he imparted about the Prophets, scriptures, angels, and the Hereafter was wrong, nor that there was something wrong about the moral principles that he taught. They were neither ready to admit in plain words the righteousness of the teachings of the Holy Prophet; nor had they the courage to refute it openly; nor were they willing to profess the Truth candidly. Instead, they devised a subtle strategy to oppose it: they created one suspicion or the other about the Holy Prophet, his followers and his mission; they would concoct allegations against him and his followers and make false propaganda against them or raise frivolous objections so as to involve them in useless discussions. That is why they have been warned not to conceal the truth by covering it with falsehood, nor suppress it by spreading suspicions and by raising silly objections, nor mix it up with falsehood.

59The Salat and the Zakat have always formed the essential elements of the revealed religion (Islam). Like all other Prophets, the Israelite Prophets also had strictly enjoined these, but by and by the Jews became wholly neglectful of them. They gave up the performance of Salat in congregation and the majority of the people did not even offer it individually. Instead of paying Zakat, they started charging interest on money.

60That is, "If you face some difficulties in following the righteous way, sabr and Salat will help remove the difficulties and strengthen you to walk the way easily." Lexically, sabr means to check and tie, but in usage it stands for patience, perseverance, endurance and fortitude. The Qur'an uses this word to express that fortitude, that moral strength, that firmness of purpose and decision, that determination, moral discipline and self-control which enable a person to proceed with patience and courage in the face of afflictions, privations and temptations on the way he chooses in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. What the Qur'an means to stress is that the Muslims should develop this moral quality in themselves and should observe the Salat regularly to reinforce it from without.

61Salat is a hard task" only for the one who is disobedient to Allah and does not believe in the Hereafter. But it is a joyful duty for the one who is willingly and happily obedient to Allah and who believes that one day he will have therein. It is expected that this will lead you on to the paths of virtue and piety." But even after that you forsook the Covenant: nevertheless Allah did not withhold His grace and mercy from you; otherwise you would have been utterly ruined long before this.

[47-48] O Children of Israel! Just recall to mind My favour that bestowed upon you, and remember that I exalted you above all the peoples of the world.62 And guard yourselves against the Day when no one shall avail anyone anything; nor shall intercession be accepted from anyone; nor shall anyone be acquitted for any (amount of) ransom; nor shall the guilty ones be helped from any quarter.63

62It refers to the period when the Israelites were the only people in the world who possessed the knowledge of the Truth from Allah and were, therefore, made leaders of the people of the world and were required to invite all other nations to His submission and to guide them on the Right Way.

63In this verse the Israelites have been warned to guard against their wrong notion about the Hereafter, for this was the main cause of their degeneration. They were under the delusion that they would win salvation just because they were the descendants of great Prophets and had relations with great saints and pious and righteous people. That is why they neglected we religion and involved themselves in sin. Here they are being disillusioned and warned that they will not escape the consequences of their evil deeds by virtue of their relation with some holy person or his intercession in their behalf. That is why immediately after reminding them of the favour (v. 47) they have been warned that they shall be punished like the guilty people who lived in this world without belief in the Hereafter.

[49] Recall64 the time when We delivered you from the slavery of Pharaoh's people.65 They had inflicted a dreadful torment on you: they killed your sons and let your daughters live. And in this there was a hard trial for you from your your Lord.66

64The events recalled here were well known to all and sundry among the Jews. Therefore, only brief references have been made to these historical events to show that they had remained ungrateful and had persisted in evil deeds in spite of the continuous favours showered upon them by Allah.

65"AI-i-Fir' aunö includes both the people of Pharaoh's own family and the people belonging to the ruling class of Egypt.

66It was a trial of their character. They were made to pass through the fire of the test to see whether they were pure gold or a base metal. Moreover, they were put to the test to see whether they would be grateful to Allah after their miraculous escape.

[51-52] Call to mind that when We invited Moses for a fixed term of forty nights and days,67 you took to calf worship in his absence.68 Though you had committed a wicked transgression, yet We pardoned you even after that so that you might become grateful.

67When after their escape from Egypt the Israelites entered the Sinai Peninsula, Allah invited the Prophet Moses to Mount Tur for forty days and forty nights to give him Laws, Instructions and Commands for the guidance of the people who had recently been liberated from slavery. (For details, please see Exodus, chaps. 24 to 31). It should, however, be noted that the Tur, referred to here, is not the modern port of Tur on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

68Cow-worship was very common in Can'an, Egypt and the neighbouring countries. When the Israelites degenerated and became slaves of the Copts after the death of the Prophet Joseph, they learnt this evil practice too from their rulers along with other evils. (The incident of the calf-worship is given in detail in Exodus, 32).

[53] Remember that (at that very time, when you were committing this gross iniquity) We gave Moses the Book and the criterion of right and wrong69 so that you might be guided aright.

69"Furqan": a criterion for distinguishing truth from falsehood. Here it stands for the knowledge and understanding of religion which enables a person to discern between right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

[54] Remember that when Moses (returned with the Divine Gift, he) said to his people, "O my people, you have .wronged yourselves grievously by taking the calf for worship. Therefore, turn to your Creator . in penitence and slay the guilty ones among you.70 This is best for you in the sight of your Creator." At that time your Creator accepted your repentance because He is Relenting 'and Merciful.

70That is, those who made the calf a deity and worshipped it.

[55-56] Remember when you said, "O Moses, we are not going to believe you until we see with our own eyes Allah (talking to you)". At that very time a thunderbolt struck you while you were looking on and you fell lifeless. Then We raised you to life so that you might become grateful for this favour.71

71When Moses went up to Mount Tur for forty days and forty nights, he was also told to bring with him seventy of the chiefs of Israel. Then Allah bestowed upon him the Book and Criterion and gave him the stone tablets with Instructions and Commandments inscribed on them for the guidance of the people, and he presented these to the chiefs. The Qur'an says that at that time some wicked people from among them began to say: "How can we believe, on a mere statement of yours, that Allah has had a talk with you?" At this Allah became angry with them and punished them. But the Bible says, "And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink". (Exodus, 24: 1011). Strange though it may appear, the same Bible also tells us that Moses said," "I beseech thee, skew me thy glory. And He said, "Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me, and live." (For further details please see Exodus, 33:18-23).

[57] (Remember that) We caused the cloud to overshadow you and provided you with72 manna and salva73 for your food, saying, "Eat of the clean and pure things We have bestowed upon you" (In spite of this, your forefathers violated Our commands:) however, they did not harm Us but harmed only themselves.

72That is, "We sheltered you with clouds when you entered the Sinai Peninsula and had no place of shelter from the heat of the sun." One should remember that the Israelites had emigrated in large numbers from Egypt and had no place in the Sinai Peninsula to hide their heads, not to speak of houses and tents. Had Allah not kept the sky cloudy for a long time, they would have perished by the scorching heat of the desert sun.

73Manna and salva were the natural relief provisions supplied by Allah to feed the Israelites in the wilderness. Manna fell on the ground like dew-drops and salva flew in thousands like quails. There was such a plenty of these provisions that a whole nation lived on them for forty years and was never confronted with starvation or famine. In modern times even a well developed and resourceful country fords it extremely difficult to make adequate food arrangements for a few hundred thousand emigrants if they happen to enter it suddenly and unexpectedly. (For details refer to Exodus, 16; Numbers, 11:7-9, 31-32; Joshua, 5:12).

[58-59] Then call to mind the time when We said, "Go into the town'74 before you and eat to your hearts' content therein, wherefrom you will, but enter the gate bowing down with humility, repeating 'hittatun';75 We will forgive your sins and increase the reward of the righteous". But the transgressors perverted the words said to them entirely into a different thing. So We sent down upon the transgressors a severe torment from the sky : that was the punishment for the disobedience they were showing.

74The identity of the town has not so far been determined. As this incident took place when the Israelites were still wandering in the Sinai Peninsula, most probably it was situated somewhere there. But it is also possible that it might have been Shittim which was situated on the eastern bank of the Jordan, opposite to Jericho. According to the Bible, the Israelites conquered this city during the last years of Moses and committed debaucheries. Consequently, Allah inflicted a terrible punishment on them in the form of an epidemic which killed twenty-four thousand of them. (Numbers, 25: 1-9).

75They were told not to enter the town like cruel and ruthless tyrants but to go in meekly and with humility like God-fearing people, just as the Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) did at the conquest of Makkah. "Hittatun" can have two meanings: "You should enter the town, (1) begging Allah's forgiveness for sins, and (2) granting general amnesty and refraining from plundering and murdering the inhabitants."

[60] Remember that when Moses prayed for water for his people, We answered, "Strike the rock with your staff" : whereupon twelve springs gushed forth from it;76 the people of every clan came to know their drinking place. (Then they were enjoined:) "Eat and drink of what Allah has provided and do not spread disorder on the earth."

76That rock can still be seen in the Sinai Peninsula with the twelve holes of the springs. Twelve springs were caused to flow for the Israelites in order to avoid water disputes among their twelve clans.

[21-22] O Mankind,21 submit to your Lord Who created you and those who were before you; in this way only you may expect to save yourselves.22 It is He Who has made the earth a bed for you and the sky a canopy; and it is He Who sends down rain from above for the growth of every kind of food products for your sustenance. So, when you know this, you should not set up equals to rank with Allah23

21Though the Qur' an invites all human beings to its message, to benefit or not to benefit from it depends on whether the people are really willing and inclined to benefit from it and on Allah's grace accordingly. Therefore, in the preceding verses distinction has been made between the people to show as to which of them can benefit from the guidance of this Book and which cannot. Now, the actual message for which the Qur'an was revealed is presented before all mankind.

22From errors of judgement and action in the world and from the punishment of God in the Hereafter.

23That is, "When you yourselves admit and acknowledge that all this has been done only by Allah, then you should serve and worship Him alone." "To set up others to equal in rank with Allah" means to hold others besides Allah as worthy of some kind of service and worship. As will be explained by the Qur'an below, there are certain kinds of worship which should exclusively be performed for the sake of Allah; associating others with these is the shirk for the eradication of which the Qur' an was sent down.

[23-24] And if you be in doubt whether the Book We have sent down to Our Servant is from Us or not, then produce, at least, one Surah like this.24 You may call all your associates to assist you and avail yourselves of the help of any one other than Allah. If you are genuine in your doubt, do this. But if you do not do this, and you can never do this, then fear the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers and which shall have men and stones for fuel25

24This challenge had been given several times in the Qur'an at Makkah. It was meant to convince the opponents that the Qur'an is Divine Word and could not be produced by human mind. Now it was reiterated at Madinah. (See Yunus, X: 38-39, Hud XI: 13-14).Bani Israel XVII: 88, At Tur LII:33-34).

25The allusion means: "You alone will not become fuel for Hell, but the idols of stone which you worship as deities in the world, will also be there with you to show that they had no share whatever in Godhead."

[25] And give good news (O Muhammad), to those who believe in this Book and do good deeds (in accordance with its teachings). For them there will be gardens underneath which canals flow. Their fruits will so resemble the fruits on the Earth that every time they will be provided with fruits, they will say, "Such fruits were provided to us before on the Earth.26 " And there will be pure spouses27 for them and therein they will live for ever.

26It will be a pleasant surprise for the dwellers of Paradise to have fruits just like the ones with which they were familiar on the earth. Of course, they will be much more delicious. For instance, they will be like mangoes, pomegranates, oranges, etc., in shape and colour and the dwellers of Paradise will at once recognize them as such but they will be infinitely more delicious than the mangoes, pomegranates and oranges of the world.

27The word azwaj (sing. zauj) as used in the original is used both for the husband and for the wife: the wife is zauj for the husband, and the husband zauj for the wife. In Paradise the spouses will be joined on the basis of piety. For instance, if a certain man lived a pious life in this world, but his wife did not, their marriage will be dissolved in the Hereafter, and the pious man will be united with another pious woman whose marriage had similarly been dissolved and so on. But if both the husband and the wife led pious lives here, they will continue to live as husband and wife for ever in Paradise.

[26-27] Well, Allah is not ashamed to cite the similitude of a gnat or of something even more insignificant than this.28 As for those who believe, they come to know from the same similitude that it is the Revelation from their Lord; but those who disbelieve, say, "What does Allah mean by such similitudes?"29 Allah leads astray many and guides many to the right way by the same thing.30 And He leads astray only those who disobey Allah; who break Allah's covenant after ratifying it;31 who cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined,32 and who produce chaos on the Earth.33 These are the people who are indeed the losers.

28Here an objection has been answered without making mention of it. The objection was that if the Qur'an had been the Book of Allah, it would not have adduced illustrations from such insignificant things as gnats, spiders, ants, bees, etc.

29Those people who do not want to understand the Reality and do not seek the Truth, get entangled in the words of such similitudes, draw wrong conclusions and go astray from the Truth on account of their own perversion. On the contrary, the seekers-after-truth, who are possessed of insight, ponder over the wisdom contained in them and are convinced that these sublime things can only be from Allah.

30"Fasiq ": disobedient, the one who transgresses the bounds set by Allah.

31The edicts or instructions issued by a sovereign to his subjects are called 'ahd according to the Arabic idiom, because they are obligatory on them. In this verse the word 'ahd has been used in the same sense. Allah's `ahd is His standing command to mankind to submit to Him, to obey Him and worship Him alone. The ratification of the same refers to the covenant to which the while of mankind agreed at the creation of Adam: it was that they would submit to Allah. (For further details, please refer to Al-A'raf, VII: 172).

32That is, these people break off the relations which Allah has enjoined to be established and upon the establishment and strength of which depends man's individual and collective well-being. This concise sentence is so vast in meaning that it covers the whole of the moral world, ranging from relations between two persons to international relations. "Breaking off relations" not only implies violation of human relations but it also implies abuse of relations in any way, because the result will be the same if and when these relations are not observed rightly and. properly. The Qur'an, therefore, abhors not only their violation but also their abuse as it causes chaos, conflict and disorder in the world.

33In these sentences the full definition of fasiq has been given: he is one who breaks off or vitiates relations between man and Allah or between man and man, and thus produces chaos on the earth. "

[28-29] How is it that you adopt the attitude of disbelief towards Allah when the fact is that you were lifeless and He gave you life, and He will take away life from you and wilt again restore you to life: then you shall ultimately return to Him. He it is Who created for you all that there is on the Earth; He then turned to the sky and ordered it into seven heavens.34 And He has full knowledge of everything35

34It is not easy to determine the significance of "seven heavens". In every age man has been formulating different theories about cite heaven and the expanse of space surrounding the earth and beyond it according to his observations and speculations, which have been always changing. Hence it will not be correct to link anyone of these with the "seven heavens" referred to in the Qur'an. It may either mean that God has divided the whole Universe beyond the earth into seven permanent spheres, or that the part of the Universe in which the earth lies consists of seven spheres.

35Here, the people have been warned of two things: first, that they cannot, and should not, adopt an attitude of disbelief and rebellion against Allah, Who knows everything and from Whom nothing that one does remains hidden. Second, that the God Who knows everything is, in fact, the Source of true knowledge. Arty one who turns away from Him, will surely go astray into the darknesses of ignorance. When none beside Him is the source of knowledge, and none beside Him can provide the light by which one may walk one's way of life, what is then the good of turning away from Him?

[30-33] Just36 recall the time when your Lord said to the angels,37 "I am going to appoint a vicegerent38 on the Earth." They humbly enquired, "Are you going to appoint such a one as will cause disorder and shed blood on the Earth?39 We are already engaged in hymning Your praise, and hallowing Your name".40 Allah replied, "I know what you do not know."41 After this he taught Adam the names of all things.42 Then He set these before the angels and asked, "Tell Me the names of these things, if you are right (in thinking that the appointment of a vicegerent will cause disorder)". They replied, "Glory be to You. You alone are free from defect. We possess only that much knowledge which You have given us.43 Indeed You alone are All-Knowing and All-Wise." Then Allah said to Adam, "Tell them the names of these things." When Adam told them the names of all those things,44 Allah declared, "Did I not tell you that I know those truths about the Earth and the Heavens which are hidden from you? I know what you disclose and what you hide."

36In the foregoing verses, Man has been asked to submit to Allah because He is his Creator and Sustainer and has power over his life and death, and because He is the Master and Ruler of the Universe in which he lives. In these verses, he has been exhorted to submit to Him because he is His vicegerent on the earth. As such, he is not only bound to serve Him but also to obey and act according to the Guidance sent down by Him. For if he did not do so and yielded to the temptations of Satan, his eternal enemy, he would be guilty of the worst crime of rebellion against Allah and meet with evil consequences. In the foregoing verses, Man has been asked to submit to Allah because He is his Creator and Sustainer and has power over his life and death, and because He is the Master and Ruler of the Universe in which he lives. In these verses, he has been exhorted to submit to Him because he is His vicegerent on the earth. As such, he is not only bound to serve Him but also to obey and act according to the Guidance sent down by Him. For if he did not do so and yielded to the temptations of Satan, his eternal enemy, he would be guilty of the worst crime of rebellion against Allah and meet with evil consequences. Incidentally, the Qur'an here throws light on the truth about man and his correct position in the Universe and presents the chapter of human history, which man could not have ascertained in any other way. The important results that this chapter yields, are far more precious than the results which man tries to obtain by excavating miscellaneous bones from the earth and joining them together by speculation and conjecture.

37"Malak'' literally means a "messenger", which is translated farishta (angel). Angels are not mere abstract powers without personality; they are beings with personalities and are so to speak the agents of Allah, Who employs them for the administration of His Kingdom. Ignorant people mistook them for associates in Godhead; others thought they were related to God and started to worship them as deities.

38Khalifah: one who exercises the delegated powers on behalf o: another as his vicegerent. Khalifah thus is not the master, but deputy of the Master; his powers are not his own but delegated to him by the real Master. He has, therefore. no right to have his own will but he is there to fulfil the will of the delegating Authority. It would be dishonesty and treason, if he assumed sovereign powers, or used them according to his own whim, or if he acknowledged another as his sovereign and submitted to his will.

39This was not an objection but a query raised by the angels, for the angels dare not object to any scheme of Allah. From the word Khalifah they had understood that the one, who was about to be created, was going to be entrusted with some powers, but they could not understand how an autonomous creature could fit in this totalitarian system of the universe. They also could not understand how that part of the universe, in which someone was entrusted with autonomy, could be free from disorder.

40By this, the angels did not mean to say that they should be entrusted with the vicegerency because they deserved it. They simply meant to say, "We are carrying out orders obediently, faithfully and earnestly and are keeping the whole universe clean and in order, and sing hymns of Your praise and sanctify You as Your humble servants. Therefore, we are unable to understand what need then is there for a vicegerent." The word tasbih has a double meaning: it means "to sanctify" as well as "to work earnestly and do one's utmost." Similarly taqdis also means both to sanctify and to purify.

41This was the reply to the second doubt of the angels: "You can not understand the need and wisdom of the appointment of a vicegerent as I do. Your services do not suffice for the purpose that I have in view. I want something more than the services you have mentioned. That is why I am going to create a being on the Earth and endow him with some powers."

42Nomenclature is the means by which human mind grasps the knowledge of things. Hence, the whole information of man, in fact, consists of assigning names. for things. Thus, teaching Adam the names of all things was meant to impart their knowledge to him.

43It appears that the knowledge of each angel and of each species of angels is confined only to his or its own special sphere. For example, the angels who deal with the air, know everything about the air but nothing about water. The same is true about the angels who are responsible for other spheres. In contrast to them, man has been granted comprehensive knowledge. He may not know as much about these things as the angels in charge of a special sphere do but the comprehensiveness of knowledge that man has been granted has not been granted to the angels.

44This demonstration was the answer to the first doubt of the angels. Thus, Allah, so to say, informed them: "I am not giving Adam only authority but also knowledge. The chaos that you apprehended from his appointment is only one aspect of the matter. It has its good aspect also, which is more weighty and valuable than the evil aspect, and a wise man does not give up a greater good because of a lesser evil."

[34] Then We commanded the angels, "Bow yourselves to Adam. "All bowed45 but Iblis46 refused to do so; he waxed proud and joined the defiers.47

45This was symbolic of the submission and subjugation to Man of all the angels appointed to manage the Earth and that part of the Universe which is connected with it in any way. As Man was being appointed vicegerent in this part by Allah's command, it was ordained that all the angels, who worked in it must, as tar and as long as Allah willed, cooperate with him in their respective spheres whether he wanted to use the powers given to him rightly or wrongly. This implied: "You must help him in whatever he wants to do, irrespective of whether it is right or wrong. If he wants to commit theft or offer the Prayer, or intends to do another good or evil, you must cooperate with him in both cases as long as We allow him to act according to his will and choice." This may be illustrated by the example of a government officer. He is obeyed within his jurisdiction by every official but no sooner is he deposed by the government than those very officials, who carried out his orders promptly cease to obey him. They even handcuff him and take him to prison, if the government so orders. The command given to the angels to bow down before Adam was in the same nature. Possibly the word sajdah (bowing down) here is symbolic of only submission, but this also is possible that the angels were ordered to perform some such act actually to signify their subordination, and this seems to be more correct.

46Iblis dejected and desperate. As a term it is the name of the Jinn who disobeyed Allah and refused to bow down to Adam as a symbol of subordination to him and his offspring and asked Allah to grant him the opportunity of tempting mankind up to the Last Day. He is also called "ash-Shaitan" (Satan). He is not merely an abstract power of evil but is a being with his own personality like that of man. He was not an angel as is commonly understood but was one of the jinn who form a distinct species of their own separate from the angels. (Refer to Al-Kahf, XVIII: 50).

47From the words of the Text it so appears that probably Iblis was not alone in refusing to bow down before Adam, but a group of the jinn also was bent upon disobedience. Iblis has been particularly mentioned because he was their chief who led the rebellion. But this verse can also be translated as: "He was of the disbelievers." In this case, it would mean that there already existed a group of rebellious and disobedient jinn and Iblis belonged to it. The word "shayatin" in the Qur'an has generally been used for these jinn and their species, and wherever there is no basis for taking shayatin to imply men, this same jinn satans are implied.

[35-37] Then We said, "O Adam, you and your wife, both dwell in the Garden and eat to your hearts' content where from you will, but do not go near this tree;48 otherwise you shall become transgressors"49 After a time Satan tempted them with that tree to disobey. Our Command and brought them out of the state they were in, and We decreed, "Now, go down all of you from here; you are enemies of one another.50 Henceforth you shall dwell and provide for yourselves on the Earth for a specified period." At that time Adam learnt appropriate words from his Lord and repented,51 and his Lord accepted his repentance, for He is very Relenting and very Merciful.52

48This shows that Adam and Eve were first kept in the "Garden" for a trial of their inclinations before they were to be sent to the Earth, the place where they were appointed as vicegerent. A tree was chosen for this purpose and they were forbidden even to go near it. They were duly warned that if they violated the command, they would be considered guilty of iniquity in the sight of Allah. The discussion as to what tree it was and why they were forbidden to go near it, is unnecessary. They were not forbidden because there was something intrinsically evil in the tree itself by which Adam and Eve could be harmed. It was chosen for the purpose of trial to see how far they remained constant on obedience to Allah's command as against the temptations of Satan. For this purpose it was enough to select a tree. That is why Allah has not mentioned the name and any characteristics of the tree. The Garden was a very suitable place for this trial because it was meant to show to Man that Paradise alone was the fit place for Allah's vicegerent, but if he yielded to satanic temptations, he would deprive himself of it. The only way to regain it was to oppose the enemy successfully who was always on the look-out to mislead him The tree has not been named or pointedd out specifically in the Quran because there was nothing intrinsically evil in the tree itself. It was merely chosen for the purpose of trial.

49The Arabic word zalim is very comprehensive in its meaning. Zulm is "violation of a right or duty" and zalim is one who violates a right or duty. Anyone who disobeys Allah really violates three basic rights. First, he violates the rights of Allah Who is worthy of obedience. Second, he violates the rights of all those things and beings whom he employs in this disobedience, e.g., his own limbs and faculties, his fellow beings and those angels who contribute to the fulfilment of his will and all those things which he uses for the performance of the work of iniquity, for they have a right to be used only in accordance with the will of the real Master but it is an act of iniquity, if he abuses the powers he has over them. Lastly, he violates his own rights on himself, for his own self has a right that he should do his best to save it from destruction. He is also guilty of iniquity against himself when he brings the wrath of Allah on himself by his disobedience. That is why the Qur'an, in many places has used the term zulm for sin and zalim for the sinner.

50That is, "Satan shall be the adversary of man and man the adversary of Satan". The fact, that Satan tries his utmost to beguile man from the path of Allah to the path of destruction, is a clear proof that he is the arch-enemy of man. On the other side, man's humanity demands that he should fight Satan as his enemy. But it is a pity that man is so beguiled by the temptations of Satan that he begins to take him as his friend. This, however, does not mean that their mutual enmity has really been changed into friendship. It only means that man has been beguiled by his opponent and caught in the snare which has been laid for him.

51When Adam felt sorry for his guilt and wanted to repent and return to Allah, he could not find appropriate words for asking Allah's pardon. Then Allah took pity upon him on account of his grief and helplessness and taught him the appropriate words. The Arabic word "taubah" means both "to turn back" and "to turn to". When applied to man, it means that he has turned back from rebellion to submission, and, when it is ascribed to Allah, it means that He has again turned with compassion to the penitent person.

52Here the Qur' an rejects the theory that the consequences of sin are inevitable and every man shall bear these anyhow. This is one of those selfinvented, nusleading theories which have done great harm to humanity. As a result of this, one loses for ever all hope of reform, when once one is involved in sin. Even if he feels sorry for a past sin and wants to make amends for it and changes his life for the better, this theory confronts him with despair: there is no hope for you because you are doomed for ever: you must bear the consequences of what you have done in the past. In contrast to this, the Qur'an says, "It lies absolutely fn Allah's power to reward a virtue or to punish a sin. If you are rewarded for a virtue, it is not on account of the natural result of your virtue, but it is through Allah's grace. He has full power to reward it or not. In the same way, if you are punished for a sin, it is not because of the inevitable consequences of the sin but because Allah has full power to punish or pardon it. Of course, being All-Wise, He does not use these powers indiscriminately, but takes into consideration the intention of the doer. If He rewards a virtue, He does so when He sees that His servant performed the good deeds to please Him. And if He rejects an apparent virtue, He does so because He knows that it lacked sincerity. In the same way, He punishes the crime which is committed in a spirit of rebellion and is not followed by self-reproach but by an evil desire to commit more crimes. He, however, exercises His grace, and forgives the sins for which His servant feels sorry and makes up his mind to change for the better. It is thus clear that the rejection of the theory of the inevitability of punishment for sin holds out new hopes of reform for sinners. Even the worst criminals and the staunchest unbelievers need not despair of forgiveness from Allah, provided that they confess their sins (of course, before their Lord and not before a priest), feel ashamed of their disobedience, give up their attitude of rebellion and adopt the attitude of submission instead.

[38-39] We said, "Now go down, all of you from here.53 Henceforth there shall come to you Guidance from Me now and again: whoever will follow it shall have neither fear nor sorrow and whoever will refuse to accept it and defy Our Revelations54 they shall be doomed to the Fire wherein they shall remain for ever.55

53The repetition of this command after forgiveness is very significant. In the preceding verse, it has been said that Adam repented and Allah accepted his repentance. Thus Adam was not only absolved from the sin of disobedience, but his future descendants also were made immune from its effect. There was, therefore, no need for Allah to crucify "His only son" for the atonement of the sin of Adam and of his offspring.' On the contrary, Allah not only accepted his repentance but also appointed him as His Messenger to show Guidance to his children. The repetition of the command, "Go down from here", shows that the real purpose of Adam's creation was to make him vicegerent on tire Earth. He was kept in the Garden merely for trial and training, (please see E.N. 48). That is why he was not kept in the Garden after the acceptance of his repentance. He was sent to the Earth not by way of punishment but as a matter of course.

54Ayat is plural of ayat, which literally means a "sign" or "symbol" that points to something. The Qur'an has used this word in four different senses. At some places, it means merely a sign or symbol. At other places, the different phenomena of Nature have been termed as ayat of Allah, because each phenomenon points to the Reality which is hidden behind such curtains. Then the miracles which were given to the Messengers have also been called ayat (signs) hecause these showed that they were the representatives of the Ruler of the universe. At some places the verses of the Book have been called "ayat" because they point not only to the Truth and the Right but also to the Great Author of the book It is not only the subject matter of the Book but also its words and mode of expression and its style that point to its Author. The meaning of the word ayat in a particular place becomes clear from the context in which it occurs.

55The law of Allah, contained in vv. 38-39 about the Guidance, has been in force ever since the creation of man and will remain so up to the Last Day. It has been called Allah's "covenant" in verse 27. It is meant to warn man not to invent a way of life for himself but to follow the Guidance of his Lord, for he is His servant as well as vicegerent. And there are only two means of knowing this: either a man should receive direct revelation from Allah, or follow the one who has received Revelation from Him. There is no third way of knowing Allah's Will. Therefore, every other way than these two is not only wrong but also rebellion which will lead ultimately to Hell. The story of the creation of man and the advent of mankind has been described in six other places in the Qur' an: Al-A'raf, VII: 11-25; Al-Hijr, XV: 2648; Bani Isra'il, XVII :60-b5; AI-Kahf, XVIII 50 : Ta Ha, XX :116-123, Sad, XXXVIII 71 - 85. It will be useful to read the same story in the Old Testament (Genesis, Chapters 1 to 3). The comparison of the Qur' anic version with the Biblical one, will conclusively show that the Qur' an has remained intact in its pure, original and unadulterated form just as it was revealed by Allah, while the Bible has been tampered with. It will also be interesting to contrast the conversation between Allah and the angels as has been given here in the Qur'an with that cited in the Talmud. The latter is not only void of spiritual values but is also ridiculous. According to it when the angels asked Allah why He was going to create Man, He answered that He was doing that so that good people should be born on the Earth. He did not mention the birth of bad people lest the angels should withhold their permission for the creation of Man.

[40] O children of Israel!56 Just recall to mind My favour wherewith I blessed you fulfil your covenant with Me and I shall fulfil My covenant with you, and fear Me alone.

56'Israel' means the servant of Allah. This was the title that Allah had bestowed upon Jacob, who was a son of Isaac, and a grandson of Abraham (Allah's peace be upon them all ). His descendents are called children of Israel. Up to verse 39, it was an introductory discourse meant for all mankind. From verse 40 to verse 121 is a new discourse in which the children of Israel have been especially and particularly addressed. In some places it has also been directed towards the Christians and the mushriks of Arabia and in between towards the people who believed in the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). In order to understand the full significance of this address, the following should be kept in view. First, it aims to appeal to those few followers of the former Prophets, who were still capable of reforming themselves to believe in the Truth which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had brought and to cooperate with the mission which he had been appointed to perform. They are, therefore, told that the message of the Qur'an is the same as of the Scriptures of the former Prophets, and the mission of the Holy Prophet also was the same as theirs. It means to say: "At tirst this mission was entrusted to you so that you may put the Message into practice and then invite the world to accept it. But, not to speak of carrying out the mission, you discarded the Guidance and went on degenerating. The past history of your community and its present moral and religious degeneration are a standing witness against you. Now Allah has sent another Servant of His with the same Message and mission and there is nothing new or strange in this for you. You should not, therefore, oppose the Truth knowingly. The best thing for you is to accept it and cooperate with those who are doing the same work that was once entrusted to you." Secondly, it aims to argue the Jews out of their wrong position and to expose their moral and religious degeneration thoroughly. Therefore, it proves conclusively that their attitude towards Islam was absolutely wrong; for they were opposing it, whereas they knew that its fundamentals were exactly the same as of their religion and that there was nothing in the teachings of the Qur'an that was different from or opposed to the teachings of the Torah in principle. It also shows that they had utterly failed to follow the Guidance which was given to them and fulfil the obligations of the leadership entrusted to them. As a proof thereof, such incidents have been cited as they could not deny. Moreover, this address unravelled the plots they were hatching, the doubts they were arousing, the crooked arguments they were advancing and the evil machinations they were contriving to defeat the mission of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), though they knew it to be from Allah. This also exposed their "piety", for it lacked sincerity and righteousness and was motivated by obduracy, prejudice and self-worship. It also proved beyond any shadow of doubt that they did not really want virtue to thrive. This produced the desired effect: it opened the eyes of the righteous element among the Jews and put an end to the spiritual and moral superiority they enjoyed against the common and polytheistic Arabs of Madinah. Besides, when they themselves were once exposed, they were so dismayed that they dared not oppose Islam openly with the courage of conviction. Thirdly, in the preceding verses, mankind had been invited to accept the Guidance of Allah. Now the example of the Israelites is being cited to show the consequences of discarding that Guidance. The reason why the Israelites have been held out as an example is that they are the only community whose history during the last four thousand years has been a living object lesson for all the nations of the world. In its history one can see all the ups and downs which result from following the Divine Guidance or from discarding it. Fourthly, though the appeal is addressed to the Jews, it is also meant to forewarn the Muslims against the pitfalls of degeneration into which the followers of the former Prophets had fallen. That is why, on the one hand, the moral weaknesses of the Jews, their wrong notions about religion, their wrong ways of thinking and living, have been pointed out, one by one, while, on the other, the demands of the true faith have been stated so that the Muslims are able to see the Right Way clearly and avoid wrong. ways. The Holy Prophet knew by Divine inspiration that, by and by, the Muslims also would follow the same ways that had been pointed out in this discourse. Therefore, according to a Tradition, he forewarned that they would discard the Guidance and follow, step by step, the communities of the former Prophets, that is, the Jews and the Christians, in their wrong ways. It is a pity that they have not paid any heed to this warning and adopted the same ways of degeneration.

[1-4] Alif. Lam. Mim.1 This is the Book of Allah: there is no doubt2 about it. It is guidance to Godfearing people,3 who believe in the unseen,4 establish the Salats5 and expend (in Our way) out of what We have bestowed on them;6 who believe in the Book We have sent down to you (i.e. the Qur'an) and in the Books sent down before you,7 and firmly believe in the Hereafter.8

1Letters of the Arabic alphabet like Alif, Lam, Mim, called the mugatta'at, which are pre-fixed to a number of the Surahs of the Qur'an, were in common use in the Arabic literature of the period when the Qur'an was. revealed. The poets and rhetoricians made use of this style, and instances of this can even be found in the pre-Islamic prose and poetry which has survived. As their significance was appreciated by all concerned, none objected to or questioned their use, because it was no enigma to them. Even the bitterest opponents of the Qur'an, who never missed an opportunity, did not raise any objection against their use. But as their use was abandoned with the passage of time" it became difficult for the commentators to determine their exact meaning and significance. An ordinary reader, however, need not worry about their meanings because they make no difference as tar as the Guidance of the Qur'an is concerned.

2Its simple meaning is: "No doubt, this is the Book of Allah", but it may also imply that this is the Book which contains nothing doubtful. It is not like the common books on metaphysics and religion which are based on mere speculation and guess-work. Therefore even their authors cannot be free from doubts concerning their own theories, in spite of their assertion that they are convinced of them. In contrast to them, this Book is based on the Truth: its Author is He Who possesses full knowledge of the Reality. Therefore, there is indeed no room for doubt about its contents.

3That is, though there is nothing but guidance in this Book, there are a few pre-requisites for benefiting from it. The first pre-requisite is that one should be inclined to avoid vice, and should seek and practise virtue. But there is no guidance in the Qur'an for the people who do not bother to consider whether what they are doing is right or wrong, who follow the ways of the world or their own whims and lusts or move aimlessly in the ways of life.

4The second condition for obtaining guidance from the Qur'an is that one must believe in the "unseen" -- those realities which cannot be perceived by the senses and which do not come within human experience and observation, e.g. the essence and attributes of Allah, Angels, Revelation, Heaven, Hell, etc. These things must be taken on trust from the experts (Prophets) just as we do in many cases in the physical world. Therefore, only such a person, who believes in the "unseen", can benefit from the Guidance of the Qur'an. As for the one who believes only in those things which can be seen, tasted and smelt, or can be measured and weighed, cannot get any guidance from this Book.

5The third condition to benefit from the Qur'an is that one should be willing and ready to put into practice the teachings of the Qur'an. As the Salat ( Prayer) is the first and foremost obligatory duty enjoined by the Qur'an, it is the practical proof and permanent test of the sincerity of one's Faith. Therefore, after a person's profession of Islam, the moment he hears the call to the Prayer (which sounds regularly five times a day from every mosque in the Muslim world), he should join the congregation for the Salat, because this determines whether he is sincere in his profession or not. If he does not attend to the call and join the congregation, it is an indication that he is not sincere in his profession. It must also be noted that "iqama-tus-Salat¦(the establishment of Prayer is the comprehensive term. It means that Salat should be performed in congregation and that permanent arrangements should be made for it in every habitation; otherwise Salat will not be considered to have been established, even if every inhabitant of a place offers the Salat individually.

6The fourth condition to benefit from the Qur' an is that one should be willing to part with one's money according to the instructions of the Book in order to render the rights of Allah and Man and should make monetary sacrifices for the cause of Islam which he has accepted.

7The fifth condition is that one should believe in the truth of all those Books which Allah sent down by Revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be His peace and blessings) and the Prophets before him at different times in different countries. Those who do not believe in any kind of guidance from Allah, cannot at all benefit from the guidance of the Qur'an. Likewise those who profess to believe in the necessity of guidance from Allah but do not turn to Revelation and the Prophets for it, or who dub their' own theories as "divine light", cannot obtain any guidance from it. Moreover, guidance is also denied to those who believe only in that revealed Book or Books in which their forefathers believed and reject all other guidance received from the same Source. Apart from all such people, the Qur'an guides only those who believe that they stand in need of Divine Guidance as well as admit that it does not come to every man individually but reaches humanity only through the Prophets and revealed Books.Then those who want guidance should not be slaves to any racial or national prejudices but should be seekers after truth and should submit to it wherever and in whatever form they find it.

8This is the sixth and last condition. "Hereafter" is a comprehensive word which applies to the collection of many beliefs, which are as follows: (a) Man has not been created irresponsible in the world but he is answerable to Allah for all his deeds here. (b) The present world order is not everlasting, but has to come to an end at a time only known to Allah. (c) After the present order has been brought to an end, Allah will create a new world, when He will bring back to life all human beings, born from the beginning of creation till Resurrection, simultaneously and will call them to account for their deeds, and then will reward them justly accordingly to what they had done in the world. (d) Those, who will be judged as good by Allah, will go to Paradise, and those who will be judged as bad will be cast into Hell. (e) The criterion of success or failure is not the prosperity or adversity of this worldly life, but successful in actual fact will be he who comes out successful in Allah's final judgement, and failure he who is a failure there. Those who do not believe in the life-after-death with the above implications, cannot benefit from the Qur'an because the one who entertains' even the slightest doubt about these; not to speak of rejecting them, can never follow the way of life which the Qur'an prescribes.

[6-7] As for those who have rejected9 (these things), it is all the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them: they are not going to believe. Allah has sealed up their hearts and ears and a covering has fallen over their eyes,10 and they have incurred the severest punishment.

9That is, they refused to believe and fulfil all or any of the above mentioned six conditions.

10It does not mean that Allah had sealed up their hearts, so they refused to believe. But it means that when they rejected the above-mentioned pre-requisites of belief and chose and adopted for themselves a way contrary to the one presented by the Qur'an, Allah sealed up their hearts and ears. The Qur'an simply states a law of Nature: if one takes a biased view of something and deliberately nourishes prejudices against it in his mind, he can neither see any virtue in it nor hear anything in its favour nor open his heart to consider it dispassionately. This is the law of Nature and, as it is Allah's law, the act of sealing up of the hearts and the ears and the covering of the eyes has been attributed to Him.

[8-16] Then there are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day", whereas they do not believe at all. They thus try to deceive Allah and the Believers, but they succeed in deceiving none except themselves and they realize it not.11 In their hearts is a disease which Allah has increased all the more12 and a painful doom is in store for them for the lie they utter. Whenever it is said to them, "Spread not disorder on the earth", their reply is, "We only seek to put things aright".Beware! they do spread disorder but they realize it not. And when it is said to them, "Believe sincerely as the other people have believed",13 they reply, "Should we believe as fools have believed?”14 Beware! they themselves are the fools, but they know it not. When they meet those who believe, they say, "We, too, are believers", but when they privily meet their evil geniuses,15 they say, "Indeed we are with you: we are only mocking at these people". (Little do they realize that) Allah is mocking at them. He gives them rope enough, and they wander on and on blindly in their mischief and rebellion. These are the people who have bartered away Guidance for error, but this is a profitless bargain that they have made, and they are not at all on the right way.

11They deceive themselves by imagining that their duplicity will safeguard their interests but obviously their policy will prove harmful in this world as well as in the next. A hypocrite might succeed in deceiving some people for some time but he cannot deceive all people for all times. When such a person is exposed, he loses all honour once and for all. As to the Hereafter, mere lip-service will carry no weight there because it is deeds alone that matter there.

12"A disease": the disease of hypocrisy; and "Allah is increasing their disease all the more" means that He does not punish the hypocrites for their hypocrisy immediately, but gives them respite so that when their duplicity appears to succeed apparently they become more and more convinced of its efficiency and they go on becoming more and more hypocritical in their attitude and conduct.

13That is,"Just as the other people of your nation have accepted Islam truly and sincerely, so should you also accept it truly and honestly, if you profess to accept it".

14They regarded as tools the people who had accepted Islam sincerely and exposed themselves to troubles, hardships and dangers. In their opinion it was nothing but folly to earn the hostility of the whole country merely for the sake of truth and righteousness. They considered it wisdom not to bother about the right and the wrong at all but to look only after one's own interests.

15Shayatin plural of Shaitan, is an insurgent, haughty and devilish person, or an evil genius. This word is used both for the men and the jinn. Though it has mostly been used in the Qur'an for the jinn devils, in some places it has also been applied to human devils, and from the context it can easily be judged where it refers to human and where to jinn devils. Here it refers to the Arab chiefs who were in the fore-front in their opposition to Islam.

[17-20] Their condition may be described in a parable: a man kindled a fire and when it illuminated all around him, Allah took away the light from their eyes and left them in utter darkness, where they could not see anything.16 They are deaf; they are dumb; they are blind17 so they will not return (to the right way). Or (still another parable may be cited to depict their condition): heavy rain is falling from the sky, accompanied by pitch darkness, thunder and lightning. When they hear the thunderclap, they thrust their fingers into their ears for fear of death, but Allah is encircling the disbelievers on all sides.18 The lightning terrifies them as if it were going to snatch away their eyesight from them. When they see light, they move on a little further and When it becomes dark for them, they stand still.19 Had Allah so willed, He could have deprived them totally of their hearing20 and their sight. Most surely Allah has power over everything.

16The parable means that when a person, Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him), spread the light of Truth that discriminated right from wrong and virtue from vice, those who used their faculties properly began to distinguish between these things. But the hypocrites, who were blinded by self-interest, could not see the right path even with the help of this light. "Allah took away the light from their eyes" should not cause one the misunderstanding that the responsibility of not seeing the truth did not lie on them. Allah deprives of the sight only him who is not himself a seeker after truth, who chooses error for himself instead of guidance, who shuts his eyes to the truth. When they themselves turned away from the light of truth and chose to wander only in the darkness of falsehood, Allah also let them go astray.

17"Deaf" to hear the Truth, "dumb" to speak the Truth and "blind" to see the Truth.

18By thrusting their fingers into their ears, they delude themselves for a while that they have escaped destruction. But they cannot, in fact, save themselves because Allah, with all His powers, is encircling them on all sides.

19The first parable depicts those hypocrites who in their inmost hearts did not believe in Islam at all, but had become 'Muslims' for the sake of self-interest or expediency. The second parable gives a description of those hypocrites who were suffering from doubt, suspicion and lack of faith. Though they were not wholly unbelievers, they practised Islam only to the extent which might not involve them in trouble. In this parable rainfall stands for Islam which came as a blessing to humanity; pitch darkness, thunder and lightning stand for the impending obstacles, the threatening dangers and the glaring difficulties which were being experienced on account of the strong resistance from the opponents of Islam. When the situation eased a little, they began to move onward on the path of Islam, but when the clouds of difficulties began to appear, or when they were given such commands as were against their self-interest or their superstitious beliefs and prejudices, they again stood still in sheer perplexity.

20That is, Allah could, if He so willed, totally deprive these hypocrites also of the power to see the Truth just as He deprived the hypocrites described in the tirst parable. But Allah does not do so because it is His will to give them respite to see the Truth and hear the Truth to the extent they want to see and hear it. That is why He left them with only as much power as they made use of in seeing and hearing the Truth.

[65-67] And (Let Them not forget) the Day when He will call them and ask. ''What answer did you give to Our Messengers?" At that time, no reply will strike them, nor will they be able to consult one another. However, the one who has repented here and believed and done good works, can expect to be among those who will attain true success there.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[190-191] Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe. The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[174-175] Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe. The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[159]The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[140] Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe. The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[121-122] Indeed there is a Sign in this, but most of these people would not believe. The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well as Merciful.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[43] Moses said, “Cast down what you have to cast down.”

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[36-37] They said, “Detain him and his brother for a while, and send forth heralds to the cities to summon every skilled magician into your presence.”

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[27] Pharaoh said (to all those present), "This messenger of yours, who has been sent to you, seems to be utterly mad."

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[25] Pharaoh said to those around him, "Do you hear?"

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[51-52] As regards the Believers, when they are called towards Allah and His Messenger so that the Messenger may judge between them, they say, "We have heard and obeyed"; such are the people who attain true success, and only those attain true success who obey Allah and His Messenger and fear Allah and refrain from His disobedience.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[46] We have sent down Revelations that make the reality quite plain; however, Allah guides to the straight path whomsoever He pleases.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[45] And Allah created every creature from a sort of water: of them some one crawls upon its belly: another walks on two legs and still another on four; Allah creates whatever He wills for He has power over everything.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[6-7] As for those who accuse their own wives but have no witness except themselves, the evidence of one of them is that he shall swear four times by Allah and declare that he is true (in his charge). Then the fifth time he shall declare that Allah's curse be upon him if he be false (in his charge).

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[112] (At long last) the Messenger said, "O my Lord, pass Thy Judgment with the truth. And, O people, we trust in our Lord, the Merciful, to help us against the things you say."

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[98] O people, your God is Allah alone Who has no other god beside Him: His knowledge embraces everything.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[95] (Then Moses turned to Samiri) and said, "O Samiri, what have you to say about the matter?"

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[20] So he cast it down and immediately it turned into a snake, which began to run about.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[19] He said, "Cast it down, O Moses."

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[88-95] They say that the Merciful has adopted a son. What an absurd thing that you have invented! It is well nigh that the heavens might crack and the earth split asunder and the mountains crumble down at this hideous thing that they should ascribe a son to the Merciful! It does not behoove the Merciful to adopt a son. All those who are in the heavens and the earth, are going to be presented before Him as servants, for He has encircled them and kept a strict account of them; everyone shall be presented before Him individually on the Day of Resurrection.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[58] These are the Messengers on whom Allah bestowed His favors: they were from the descendants of Adam, and from the seed of those whom We carried in the Ark with Noah, and from the seed of Abraham and of Israel. They were among those people whom We guided aright and made Our chosen ones. They were so tender-hearted that when the Revelations of the Merciful were recited to them, they fell down prostrate in a state of weeping.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[54-55] And make a mention in this Book of Ismail: he was true to his promise and was a Messenger Prophet. He enjoined his people to offer Salat and give Zakat, and his Lord was well pleased with him.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[46] The father replied, “O Abraham! Have you renounced my deities? If you do not desist from this, I will stone you to death: so get away from me for ever.”

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[20] Mary said, "How can I bear a son, when no man has touched me, and I am not an unchaste woman?"

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[19] He replied, "I am a mere messenger from your Lord and have been sent to give you a pure son."

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[10] Zachariah said, “Lord, appoint a sign for me.” He said, “The sign for you is that you shall not talk to the people for three consecutive days.”

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[8] He said, “Lord, how can I beget a son when my wife is barren, and I have become impotent because of old age?”

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[110] O Muhammad say to them, “I am a human being like you: it has been revealed to me that your Deity is only One Allah. Therefore the one who expects to meet his Lord, should not associate with Him any other deity in His worship.”

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[75-76] He answered, “Didn't I tell you that you would not be able to bear with me patiently?” Moses said, “If after this, I ask anything of you, you may not let me accompany you. Well, now I have afforded you with an excuse from myself.”

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[163-167] Your Deity is Allah alone: there is no deity save the All-Beneficent and All-Merciful Allah. (If they want a sign for the perception of this Reality) surety there are countless signs for those who use their common sense;162 they can see alternation of the night and day, in the ships that sail the ocean laden with cargoes beneficial to mankind, and in the rain-water which Allah sends down from the sky and thereby gives life to the earth after its death and spreads over it all kinds of animate creatures, in the blowing of the winds and in the clouds which obediently wait for orders between the sky and the earth. (In spite of such clear signs of the Oneness of Allah), there are people who set up equals and rivals with Allah163 and adore them with the adoration due to Allah . whereas the Believers adore Allah most ardently.164 Would that these transgressors could realize now what they will realize, when they will see the chastisement before them that power and authority wholly belong to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment! When He will inflict punishment, those very leaders and guides whom they followed in the world will disown them. But punishment they shall get and all their bonds shall be cut off. Then those who followed them will say, "Would that we were given another chance to return to the world: then we will disown them just as they have disowned us today.”165 Thus will Allah bring before them the deeds they did in the world in such a manner as to make them wring their hands in regret but they shall be unable to come out of the Fire.

162Anyone who does not look around like an animal but makes an intelligent observation of the great system of the universe that is working day and night before his very eyes, and is not blinded by prejudice or obduracy, can see many a sign pointing to the Reality. He will certainly see that it is being ruled only by the All-Powerful, All-Wise Sovereign. He can also understand that Allah alone is the God of the whole universe and that there is absolutely no room for any kind of interference or partnership, for no one else has any quality or power or authority to entitle him to the claim of Godhead.

163They set up equals......": they ascribe some of the exclusive qualities and powers of Allah to others and render all or some of His exclusive rights to false gods. For instance, though Allah alone has control over all the forces of nature and has the power to fulfil all the needs of His creatures and to hear their prayers and requests, and although He alone knows all that is open or hidden, yet they invoke others for help or attribute all or some of these powers and qualities to others than Allah and thus set up compeers to rank with Him.

Again it is the exclusive right of Allah that His subjects should acknowledge Him as the Supreme Authority, bow down their heads before Him and fear Him alone in open and secret. But as they render all or some rights to others than Allah, they set up compeers with Him. Then, Allah alone is entitled to prescribe what is lawful and what is unlawful, what is clean and what is unclean. He alone has the authority to define the rights and duties of His subjects, lay down commands and prohibitions for them, etc. Therefore those who arrogate to themselves any of these rights shall be guilty of shirk. Again, He alone deserves to be acknowledged as the Sovereign and, as His subjects, the people should consider His Commandments to be final and turn to Him for guidance; therefore those who ascribe any of these rights to others than Allah, set up compeers with Him; likewise those institutions or persons who claim to possess any of these qualities or rights or assume to themselves any of these qualities or rights or demand that others should accede these to them, set themselves as compeers with Allah, whether or not they put forward formal claims to Godhead.

164Belief in Allah demands that one should prefer His Will to one's own will or to that of others, and cherish His love so dearly as to be ready to sacrifice all other affections for its sake.

165This helpless end of the ring-leaders and misguiders and their followers has been specially mentioned here to warn the Muslims to be very careful in selecting and electing their leaders and guides. The former communities weal astray because they followed wrong leaders and evil guides. The Muslims should, therefore, learn a lesson from their end and discriminate between leaders and misleaders and should not follow the latter.

[168-169] O people, eat of what is lawful and clean in the earth and do not follow the ways of Satan,166 for he is your avowed enemy. He enjoins you to commit vice and indecency and induces you to attribute to Allah's name things you do not know to be from Him.167

166They have been told to break all those restrictions which superstition and ignorance had imposed upon articles of food and drink.

167That is, "Satan makes people believe that these superstitious customs and restrictions upon food and drink are a part of religion and have been enjoined by Allah, although there is no authority to show that they are from Him."

[170-171] When it is said to them, "Follow the Commands that Allah has sent down," they reply, "We will follow only what we found our forefathers practising. 168 Well, will they go on following their forefathers even though they did not use common sense and did not find the right way? The mental condition of those who rejected the way of Allah may be likened to that of the cattle whom the shepherd calls but they hear nothing except the sound of shouts and cries.169 They are deaf, they are dumb, they are blind; therefore they do not understand anything.

168The only authority they have for their superstitious practices is that these have been the customs of their forefathers, and the foolish followers consider this a good authority.

169This parable has two aspects:

(1) That these people are like those herds of cattle which merely hear the call and cry of the drovers and move about at the sound of their call without understanding the meaning of their words.

(2) That preaching before them is like preaching to the cattle which only hear the sounds but do not comprehend the meaning and the implication of the words that are spoken to them. The words used are comprehensive and cover both the aspects.

[172-173] O Believers, if you are true worshippers of Allah alone, eat without hesitation of the good and clean things wherewith We have provided you and be grateful to Allah.170 Allah has only forbidden you to eat what dies of itself, and blood and swine flesh and what has been consecrated to any other name than of Allah.171 But one will incur no sin if, forced by absolute necessity, he eats of any of these forbidden things, provided he has no intention of transgressing the law and does not take more than what is absolutely indispensable: for Allah is very Forgiving and very Merciful.172

170The Believers are enjoined to break all sorts of unnecessary, improper and unlawful restrictions imposed by the pundits, the priests, the rabbis, the clergies, the forefathers, etc.

For if they really believe in Allah, as they profess, they should abstain from eating only what Allah has forbidden and eat, without any hesitation, only what Allah has declared lawful.

According to a Tradition of the Holy Prophet, "One who offers the Salat in the way we offer, turns his face towards the giblah to which we turn our face, and eats what we have slaughtered, is a Muslim." Therefore if one has any scruples regarding the eating of those things which Allah has declared lawful, he has not as yet become a true Muslim, even if he offers the Salat, turning his face towards the Ka`bah. He should give up the prejudices and superstitions of ignorance if he really and sincerely has become a Muslim. For the very observance of old traditions and customs is a proof that he is still imbued with the poison of ignorance.

171This applies both to the flesh of the animal which is slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah and to the food which is offered as a vow to any other than Allah. As a matter of fact, everything whether animal, corn, or another eatable:, actually belongs to Allah and is given by Him; therefore it should be offered as charity, or as vow, only in His name as a mark of gratitude to Him. If it is offered in any other name it means that one regards it also, instead of Allah, or along with Allah, as supreme, and the bestower of favours and blessings.

172In this verse, permission for the use of an unclean thing has been given on three conditions: (1) It must be really a case of extremity. For instance, if one is dying of hunger or thirst or if one's life is in danger because of some disease and there is nothing available except an unclean thing, one is permitted to take it. (2) One should not cherish any desire in one's heart to break the law of Allah. (3) One should not take even a bit more than what is absolutely necessary. For example, if in a certain case, a few bits or drops of an unclean thing can save life, then nothing more than this absolute minimum should be taken.

[174-176] Indeed those, who conceal the Commands that Allah has sent down in His Book and barter them away for paltry worldly gains, fill their bellies with fire.173 Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He regard them as pure;174 "a there is a painful torment for them. They are the people who have bartered away Guidance for error and Allah's pardon for His punishment. How audacious they are: they are ready even to endure the fire of Hell. This was inspite of the fact that Allah had sent down the Book with the Truth but the people who sought differences in the Book swerved far away from the Truth in their disputes.

173These were their learned people, who, in spite of possessing the knowledge of the Divine Book, kept it back from the common people, and were responsible for all the superstitions, false customs and unnecessary restrictions which were prevalent among them and which gave birth to new codes of law. Besides this, they were also guilty of another crime. They did not utter a word against the evil practices which began to spread as a result of that ignorance which had been deliberately created among them. Not only this: the majority of them considered this sorry condition to be advantageous to themselves and so let the Commandments of Allah remain hidden from the people.

174These were their learned people, who, in spite of possessing the knowledge of the Divine Book, kept it back from the common people, and were responsible for all the superstitions, false customs and unnecessary restrictions which were prevalent among them and which gave birth to new codes of law. Besides this, they were also guilty of another crime. They did not utter a word against the evil practices which began to spread as a result of that ignorance which had been deliberately created among them. Not only this: the majority of them considered this sorry condition to be advantageous to themselves and so let the Commandments of Allah remain hidden from the people.

[177] It is no virtue. That you turn your faces towards the east or the west,175 but virtue is that one should sincerely believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Prophets and, out of His love, spend of one's choice wealth for relatives and orphans, for the needy and the wayfarer, for beggars and for the ransom of slaves, and establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. And the virtuous are those who keep their pledges when they make them and show fortitude in hardships and adversity and in the struggle between the Truth and falsehood; such are the truthful people and such are the pious.

175In order to show the futility of excessive emphasis on external religious forms, it has been pointed out, as an instance, that there is no real virtue in the mere act of turning faces to the east or to the west in prayer.For the mere performance of some religious rites or formalities or show of piety is not real virtue which may have any importance or value with Allah.

[178-179] O Believers, the lawn176 of retribution has been prescribed for you in cases of murder; if a free man commits a murder, the free man shall he punished for it and a slave for a slave : likewise if a woman is guilty of murder the same shall he accountable for it.177 But in case the injured brother178 is willing to show leniency to the murderer, the blood money should he decided in accordance with the common law179 and the murderer should pay it in a genuine way. This is an allowance and mercy from your Lord. Now there shall be a painful torment for anyone who transgresses the limits after this.180 O men of understanding. There is security of life for you in the law of retribution.181 It is expected that you will refrain from breaking this law.

176The Arabic word "visas"stands for the return of life for life in cases of murder. It does not, however, mean that the murderer should be killed in the same manner in which he committed the murder. It only means that his life should be taken as he took the life of the other.

177The principle of the equality of the value of human life has been prescribed here in order to meet the strictest claims of justice. The value of blood and consequently retribution for it are not to be determined by the rank of the slain or that of the murderer. It has, therefore, been clearly laid down that the murderer himself shall be made to pay for the blood.

Before the advent of Islam, they put a higher value on the blood of a member of their own clan and demanded the life of a man of the same rank from the clan of the murderer or the lives of scores or even hundreds from the tribe of the murderer according to the value put on the blood of the slain. On the other hand, if the murderer happened to belong to a higher rank than that of the slain, their "judgement" was that the life of the murderer should not be taken for the life of the slain. And this inequality in the evaluation of blood was not confined only to that age of ignorance. Even today the "civilised" nations are not ashamed of declaring openly that if one person of their nation is killed, they will take the lives of fifty men from the nation of the murderer. And they put these challenges into practice. We often hear that so many people belonging to the subject nation have been put to death to avenge the murder of one person belonging to the ruling nation. But if the murderer belonged to a "civilised" ruling nation and the slain to an "uncivilised" subject nation, their judges would not pass the sentence of death on him. In order to guard against these unjust rules, Allah has ordained that the life of the murderer and the murderer alone should be taken for the life of the slain, irrespective of the rank or race of the murderer or that of the slain.

178The use of the word "brother" here contains a kind of recommendation. That is, "Though the murderer has injured you very grievously, he is after all your brother by the human relation. Therefore, if you restrain your rage against your erring brother and refrain from retaliation and remit the penalty of death, you will raise your standard of humanity."

This verse also shows that, according to the lslamic Penal Code, even murder is a compoundable offence. The heirs of the murdered person have the right to pardon the murderer, if they deem it proper. In that case the court cannot insist on taking his life. Of course, the murderer will have to pay the blood money if the rightful claimants demand it.

179The word "ma'ruf" has been used in many places in the Qur'an. It refers to those just and rational rules of conduct which are generally known and accepted by all fair-minded people. They are so clear and well known that everyone who is not blinded by self-interest and prejudice will acknowledge them as right and just, and the Islamic law recognizes them in all those matters for which it has not laid down any regulations. Such common laws and general usages are termed "ma ruf .

180For instance, it will be transgression if the heirs of the slain try to retaliate even after accepting the ransom, or if the murderer does not mean to pay the ransom gracefully, or otherwise reacts in an ungrateful manner.

181This verse refutes the opinion of those people who go to the other extreme and advocate total abolition of capital punishment. If it is inhuman to insist on retaliation, it is equally inhuman to encourage murder by totally abolishing capital punishment, as has been done in some "civilised" countries. That is why Allah declares that there is life for society in the law of retribution. If a society does not pay due regard to the sanctity of life and tries to protect a murderer, it sets a premium on crime and puts in danger the lives of many innocent people.

[180-182] It has been prescribed for you that when death approaches one of you and he is leaving some property behind him, he should bequeath it equitably for his parents and relatives : it is an obligation on those who tear Allah.182 Then if those, who heard the will, change it, they themselves shall bear the sin of this. Allah hears everything and knows everything. If, however. one apprehends genuinely that the testator had ( intentionally or unintentionally ) done some injustice, and then alters the will to set things right between the parties concerned, in that case he does not incur any sin. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

182This commandment about making a will for the distribution of property was given at a time when the law of inheritance had not yet been prescribed. Its object was to safeguard the rights of the lawful heirs against injustice. Afterwards when Allah Himself prescribed a law for the distribution of inheritance (as laid down in Surah An-Nisa below), the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) enjoined the following two rules in explanation of the commandments concerning the making of will and distribution of inheritance:

[183-184] O Believers, the Fast has been made obligatory on you just as it was prescribed for the followers of the Prophets before you. It is expected that this will produce piety in you.183 The Fast is to be observed for a fixed number of days. If, however, anyone of you be sick or on a journey, he should fast the same number of other days. As for those who can fast (but do not), the expiation of this shall be the feeding of one needy person for one fast day, and whoso does more than this 184 with a willing heart does it for his own good. But if you understand the thing, it is better for you to observe the Fast.185

183Islam proceeded step by step and by degrees in the imposition of its obligatory duties. The same was done in the case of the Fast. At first the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) advised the Muslims to observe fasts only for three days in a month but this was not obligatory. Then in the second year of the Hijrah, this Command (v. 183) about fasting in the month of Ramadan was revealed. This, however, left an option for those who were able to fast but did not. They were required to feed one poor man as an expiation of one day's fast (v. 184). Then, later, the final commandment contained in the next verse (185) modified this, and the concession for able-bodied people was withdrawn, but retained for a sick person or wayfarer and by analogy for a pregnant or a suckling woman and for those old people who were not able to fast.

In a lengthy statement quoted by lmam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Hadrat Mu'az hilt Jabal says: "The Salat and the Fast took their present form gradually. At first the Muslims faced Jerusalem during the Salat but after some years they were commanded to turn their faces towards the Ka`abah, Makkah. Besides this, at first they used to inform one another about the time of each Salat but afterwards the same was proclaimed by means of Azan (the call for prayer). (As to the Fast), when the Holy Prophet migrated to Al-Madinah, he observed fasts for three days in a month and also on the tenth of Muharram. Then Allah made it obligatory to fast during the whole month of Ramadan but allowed the feeding of one person as an expiation for one who did not observe fasts, though he could. Afterwards this concession of feeding one person for one day of fast was cancelled in the case of healthy persons and the one not on a journey (Ibn Kathir, p.2 14).

Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and other scholars have also quoted Traditions from Hadrat `A'ishah, `Abdullah bin `Umar, and `Abdullah bin Mas'ud to the same effect. In support of the same, Ibn Jarir Tabari, a famous commentator of the Qur'an, has quoted Traditions citing the authority in full from several Companions and their followers. In one of these Traditions, he quotes the following explanation of Hadrat Mu'az bin Jabal: "As the Arabs were not used to fasting, it was hard for them at first to observe fasts. They were, therefore, given the option to feed one poor person on the day they did not observe fast during the month of Ramadan. Afterwards a Commandment was revealed, cancelling this concession except in the case of a sick person or one on a journey". He quotes another tradition from Ibn `Abbas to this effect. In the first Commandment (v.184), Allah had allowed expiation for fasts even for an able-bodied person who could fast but did not. In verse 185 which was revealed next year, the concession for an able-bodied person was cancelled but was retained for a sick person or a wayfarer.

184More than this": to feed more than one person for each fasting day, or to feed one as well as observe the fast.

185The fast commandment about fasting contained in vv. 183-84 was revealed in the second year of Hijrah before the battle of Badr. The subsequent verses were revealed a year later but were inserted here because they dealt with the same matter.

[185] Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was sent down : this Book is a perfect guidance for mankind and consists of clear teachings which show the right way and are a criterion of Truth and falsehood. Therefore from now on whoever witnesses it, it is obligatory on hire to fast the whole month, but if one be ill or on a journey, he should make up for the same number by fasting on other days.186 Allah desires to show leniency to you and does not desire to show any hardship. "therefore this method is being shown to you so that you may complete the number of Fast days and glorify Allah for the Guidance He has shown to you and be grateful to Him.187

186It has been left to the option of the individual to observe or not to observe fasts during a journey. Some of the Companions of the Holy Prophet observed fasts and some did not when they were on a journey with him and neither raised any objection against the other. The Holy Prophet himself sometimes observed fasts on a journey and sometimes did not. Once he saw people gathered round a man who had fallen to the ground and asked what was the matter with him. He was told that he had become too weak to stand on account of observing fasts; he remarked that it was no virtue to observe fasts in such a condition.

During war time, he used to issue orders for postponing the fasts. Hadrat 'Umar has related that they did not observe fasts twice during the month of Ramadan when they went to war under the command of the Holy Prophet: on the occasion of the battle of Badr and at the conquest of Makkah. Ibn 'Umar says that on the eve of the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet declared, "As we are going to tight our enemy you should postpone your fasts so that you may conserve your strength to tight." 'there is no clear injunction from the Holy Prophet for the prescription of a minimum standard of distance for postponing the fasts. His Companions also differed in practice with regard to the standard. But it is obvious that the fast may be postponed for that distance which is commonly understood to be a journey and in which one begins to feel being on a journey.

There is a difference of opinion as to whether the people of a city, which is attacked by an enemy, can postpone the fast for the sake of Jihad, inspite of being the residents. Some scholars do not allow this. But Imam Ibn Taimiyyah has maintained with strong arguments that postponement of the fast under such circumstances is permissible.

187Allah is so bountiful that He does not want to deprive His servants of the blessings of fasting. Therefore He has not confined it to the month of Ramadan but has opened another way for its completion for those who fail to complete it during this month for genuin reasons. They should make up the deficiency by observing fast on other days in order to show their gratitude for the revelation of the Qur'an during the month of Ramadan.

It is clear from this verse that fasting in Ramadan has been prescribed not only as a form of worship and a training for piety, but also to show gratitude for the great blessing of the Revelation of the Qur'an during the month of Ramadan. And the best way to show gratitude for a favour is to fulfil the object for which it was bestowed and to prepare oneself for its completion as best as one can. The object for which Allah has bestowed the Qur'an upon us is to reveal His Will so that we may fulfil it ourselves and persuade others to do the same. Fasting provides the best training for the fulfilment of this object and is both a devotion and a sign of gratitude for the favour shown in the form of the Qur'an.

[142] Of course, the foolish people will say, "What has turned them abruptly away from the qiblah towards which they formerly used to turn their faces in prayer?" 142 Tell them, O Messenger, `'East and West all belong to Allah; He shows the Right Way to anyone He wills."143 Thus have We made you a Community of the "Golden Mean" so that you may be witnesses in regard to mankind and the Messenger may be a witness in regard to you.144

142After the Hijrah the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) continued to turn his face in the Prayer towards the Temple (at Jerusalem) for about 16 or 17 months; then he was commanded to turn his face towards the Ka'bah (at Makkah). This change of the qiblah (direction of Prayer) with its implications has been described in detail in the succeeding verses.

143Those foolish people who did not have the sense to appreciate the true significance of this change began to raise different kinds of objections in order to create doubts in the minds of the Believers. Being narrow-minded, they thought that Allah was confined to a particular point or direction and the change of qiblah meant turning away from Him. This absurd objection has been removed by the declaration that east, west and all other directions belong to Allah. The fact that the qiblah lies in a certain direction does not mean that Allah is confined to that direction only. Those people who are blessed with guidance cannot entertain such narrow ideas. (Also refer to E.N.'s 115 and 116).

144This is the declaration of the leadership of the Muslim Community. "Thus" refers both to the Guidance of Allah which was sent through Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) and to the change of the qiblah. It was by following the Guidance that the Muslims achieved those excellences which led to their appointment as the "Community of the Golden Mean," and it was the change of the qiblah from the Temple to the Ka`bah that was an indication that the Israelites had been deposed from the leadership and the Muslims had been appointed to it. Therefore the change of the giblah from the Temple to the Ka`bah was not merely a change of direction as the foolish people took it to be, but it was really the formal declaration of the change of leadership from the Israelites to the followers of Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him).

The word "ummat wasat" is so comprehensive in meaning that no English word can correctly convey its full sense. It is a righteous and noble community which does not go beyond proper limits, but follows the middle course and deals out justice evenly to the nations of the world as an impartial judge, and bases all its relations with other nations on truth and justice.

The meaning of "We have appointed you as ummat wasat so that you may be witnesses in regard to mankind and the Messenger may be a witness in regard to you" is: On the Judgement Day when all mankind will be called to account together, the Messenger, as Our authorised representative, will give evidence in regard to you to prove that he had imparted to you, by word and by deed, without any reservation, the whole teaching of sound thought, righteous deed and justice given by Us. Then you, being representatives of the Messenger, in your turn, will be required to give evidence to prove that you had done your utmost to impart, by word and deed, to mankind whatever the Messenger had imparted to you just as you had received it from the Messenger.

Thus, a person or group's being appointed by God a witness by itself amounts to its being exalted to the office of leadership and religious guide in the world. Though it is a position of honour, it carries very onerous responsibilities with it. It requires that the Muslim Community should become a living witness of piety, truth and justice before the world just as the Holy Prophet bore witness before it, and its wards and deeds should suffice to demonstrate to the world the meaning of truth, justice and piety. It also implies that it is a great responsibility for which the Muslim Community is accountable. Just as the Holy Prophet was responsible for conveying the Guidance of Allah, so the Muslims are responsible for conveying it to the people of the world. If they fail to prove in the Court of Allah that they have discharged this responsibility to the best of their ability, they will be condemned there. And they along with their evil geniuses and accomplices shall be accountable for all the evils which prevailed during their term of leadership, if they had shown any relaxation in the performance of their obligation as witnesses of the Truth. On the Day of Judgement, Allah will surely ask, "What did you do to prevent it when you saw the epidemic of sin, tyranny and impiety breaking out in the world?"

[143] We had appointed the former giblah towards which you used to turn your face merely to test who would follow the Messenger and who would turn back.145 It was indeed a hard test but not for those who had been blessed with Guidance from Allah. Allah will not let go to waste this faith of yours; rest assured that He is full of pity and mercy for mankind.

145The change of the qiblah also served to separate the Believers from the slaves of prejudice and racialism. On the one side, there were the Arabs who were not ready to give up their own Ka'bah and to adopt the Temple at Jerusalem as the qiblah. They were tried first. It was a hard test but the sincere believers passed successfully through this and the worshippers of the idol of nationalism failed. Now when the qiblah was changed from Jerusalem to the Ka'bah, those Jews and Christians who had embraced Islam were put to the test. It was very difficult for them to accept any other qiblah than the one of their forefathers. Thus the worshippers of race, who turned back from Islam were separated from the worshippers of Allah and fatally the worshippers of Allah only remained with the Holy Prophet.

[144] We have seen you (O Muhammad), turning your face over and over again towards Heaven. Now, therefore, We turn you towards the giblah that you like best: so turn your face towards the Masjid Haram. Henceforth, wheresoever you may be, turn your face at prayer towards it.146 The people who were given the Book know it well that the commandment (about the change of giblah) is in fact from their Lord, and is based on the Truth, but Allah is not unaware of what they are doing (in spite of this)

146This is the commandment for the change of the giblah, which was enjoined in Rajab or Sha'ban, A.H. 2. When this was revealed, according to Ibn Sa'd, the Holy Prophet was leading the Zuhr (early afternoon) prayer in the house of Bishr bin Bara' bin Ma'rur where he had gone in response to an invitation. This verse was revealed when he had gone through half of the prayer. lie at once turned his face towards the Ka'bah during the prayer and those who were saying their Prayer following his lead did the same. Afterwards it was announced publicly in Madinah and its suburbs that the giblah had been changed. Bara' bin Azib says that at one place this announcement was heard at a time when the people had bent down in the Prayer. But when they heard the commandment, they turned about in the same posture towards the Ka'bah. Anas bin Malik says that the people of Bani Salamah heard of the change of the qiblah next morning at a time when they had already gone through half of the Prayer. As soon as they heard the announcement: "Beware, the giblah has been changed to the Ka'bah," the whole congregation turned about towards the Ka`bah.

In this connection, it should also be kept in mind that the Holy Temple at Jerusalem is to the north of Madinah and the Ka`bah at Makkah to the south of it. The Imam (who led the Prayer) must have walked to the rear of the congregation, who had to turn about and also to move about a little in order to adjust the rows. All these things have been related in detail in the Traditions.

Moreover, it is quite clear from "We have seen you turn your face over and over again towards heaven" and "We turn you towards the giblah that you like best" that the Holy Prophet used to pray for, and was expecting this change, for he himself was feeling that the term of the leadership of the Israelites had come to an end and consequently Jerusalem had also ceased to be the centre. Therefore Ka`bah which had been set up by the Prophet Abraham should be the qiblah.

"Masjid Haram" means the "Inviolable place of worship and reverence". It refers to that place of worship at Makkah which has the Ka'bah in its centre.

The Commandment "Turn your face towards the Ka'abah" does not mean that one should turn one's face exactly to the point of the Ka'abah from every part of the globe. Obviously it is very difficult for everyone to do so at all times from all places of the globe. That is why the Qur'an directs us to turn our faces towards the Ka'abah and not to the point of the Ka'abah : We should do our best to find out the exact direction of the Ka`abah : then if we are satisfied that a certain direction is most probably the correct direction, we should turn our faces towards it. But when it is not possible to ascertain the exact direction (for example, in a boat or a train, etc.) one should turn one's face to the probable right direction, and if during the prayer the correct direction is found out, one should turn one's face towards it at once.

[145-147] Even though you may show every kind of sign to the people of the Book, they will not adopt your giblah, nor are you going to adopt their giblah; nor will any of them adopt the giblah of the other; therefore if, after the knowledge you have received, you follow their desires, you will certainly be counted among the transgressors.147 As for those to whom We gave the Book, they recognise the place (which has now been made giblah), as clearly as they recognise their own children.148 But some of them are knowingly concealing the truth. This is in fact a Commandment from your Lord; so you should not have any doubt concerning this.

147That is, "You cannot convince by argument those who are disputing with you about the wisdom of the change of the giblah because they are not disposed to listen to any reasoning on account of their deep prejudices and obduracy: nor can you end this dispute by adopting the giblah of anyone of them; for all of them have different qiblahs, and, as a Prophet of Allah, you cannot make compromises on the principle of "give and take". Therefore the only thing you have to do is to stick to Our Commandments strictly and firmly. If you turn away from these, you will be transgressing the limits of Prophethood and showing ingratitude towards the favour of leadership with which We have blessed you."

148This Arabic idiom is employed when one knows something with certainty and has absolutely no doubt about its identity. The metaphor has been derived from the fact that none can make any mistake in recognizing one's own children. Here it has been used to show that the learned people of the Jews and Christians knew it as a fact that the Ka'bah was built by the Prophet Abraham, just as they knew their own children. They also knew that the Holy Temple at Jerusalem was built by the Prophet Solomon some 1,300 years after the Ka'bah was built by the Prophet Abraham. The Ka'bah, therefore, had priority and superiority over the "Temple" and the Jews and the Christians should have no difficulty in recognizing and acknowledging it as the qiblah in the light of the above historical facts.

[148] Everyone has a direction towards which he turns in Prayer: so try to excel one another in good works.149 Allah will find you wheresoever you be, for nothing is out of Allah's reach.

149There is a subtle gap between the first sentence and the second, which has been left for the reader to fill. Everyone who wants to offer his Prayer must turn his face to one or the other direction. But the real thing that matters is not the direction of the face at prayer but those virtues which are to be gained by offering the prayer. Hence the thing that really matters is the spirit and real purpose of the Prayer and not any particular direction or place.

[149-152] At whatever place you may be, turn your face towards Masjid Haram (at Prayer time) for this is, in fact, a Commandment of your Lord, and Allah is not unaware of what you do. At whatever place you may be, you must turn your face towards the Masjid Haram, and wherever you may be, you must turn your face towards the same at prayer so that people might not find an argument against you.150 As for the unjust people, they will never stop talking; so do not fear them but fear Me -- (Do this) so that I may complete My favour151 upon you and you may find the way to real success,152 just as (you have found from this: that) We sent the Messenger to you from among you, who recites to you Our Revelations; who purifies your lives; who instructs you in the Book and in Wisdom and teaches you those things that you did not know. So remember ' Me and I will remember you, and give thanks to Me and be not ungrateful.

150That is, "We have reiterated this Commandment lest anyone of you should turn his face to any other direction in the prayer and give to opponents cause to say, `These people of the ummat wasat claim that they are witnesses of the Truth but their behaviour falsifies it. While they profess that the Commandment about the change of the giblah has come from their Lord, they do not act upon it'.

151The blessing refers to the blessing of leadership which Allah had wrested from the children of Israel and invested in the Muslims. This is the greatest reward which is given to any community when it adopts and follows the righteous way and is entrusted by Allah with the work of guiding the world on the path of virtue. Here Allah tells the Muslims, "The change of giblah is symbolic of the change of leadership. You should, therefore, observe this Commandment strictly, lest leadership should be wrested from you on account of your disobedience or ingratitude. This favour will be conferred on you in perfection, if you obey the Commandment

152That is, "You should expect this blessing if you submit to this Commandment about the change of the giblah." This promise is very encouraging for a servant of Allah. The assurance gives him great consolation that he should expect such a great reward from his King, if he obeys His Commandments with all his heart and soul.

[153-157] O Believers,153 seek help with fortitude and Salat, for Allah is with those who show fortitude.154 And do not say of those who are slain in the way of Allah, "they are dead." In fact, they are alive but you do not perceive that life.155 We will surely put you to trial by involving you in fear and hunger and by causing loss of property, life and earnings. And give good tidings to those who remain steadfast in these trials: when a misfortune comes to them, they say, "We are Allah's and we shall certainly return to Him,''156 Their Lord will bestow great blessings and mercy upon them; such are the people who are rightly guided.

153After their appointment to leadership, the Believers from hereon are given such instructions and directions as are essential for training and enabling them to discharge the duties of that position of responsibility. They are first of all warned that leadership is not a bed of roses but a bed of thorns. They will be confronted with difficulties, hardships, and trials at the very outset and will have to undergo untold sufferings and losses. But if they went Through all those ordeals with fortitude and proceeded on in the way of Allah, they would be blessed with countless blessings and rewards by Him.

154That is, "Fortitude and Prayer will generate in you the power which is required to bear that burden of responsibility with which you have been entrusted. Fortitude will give you that patience and courage under the afflictions, privations and temptations which you are bound to encounter and that moral strength and endurance which will be sorely needed in Allah's way, which is full of dangers. The Prayer will train you in discipline and other moral qualities which are essential for the right type of leadership.

155It is forbidden to refer to those who are martyred for Allah's sake as "dead" because the very word "death" and its thought are very discouraging, and kill the spirit of self-sacrifice and the urge to fight in the way of Allah. Instead, the Muslims are told to believe that those who fall martyrs in the way of Allah in fact enjoy eternal life. And this is a reality which revitalises and keeps alive the spirit of courage and valour.

156These words are to be uttered merely with the tongue, but we whould believe sincerely from the core of our hearts that "We belong to Allah and to none else." Thus, if anything is sacrificed in the way of Allah, if is spent rightly because it has gone to His service to Whom it really belonged."

"We shall certainly return to Him" :"We shall not live here for ever but shall have to leave this world one day. Thus, sooner or later we must die and go to Allah. It is, therefore, far better to fight in His way and lay down our lives for His sake than to pass our lives in self-seeking and self-worship and then die of some disease or accident."

[158] Indeed Safa and Marwah are among the emblems of Allah: it is, therefore, no sin for him, who performs Hajj or `Umrah157 to the House of AIIah, to run between the two hills;158 and Allah knows and appreciates him who does any good with a willing heart.159

157Hajj is pilgrimage to the Ka'bah during the fixed days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah and 'Umrah is the voluntary visit to the Ka'bah in other than the Hajj days. Directions about Hajj and 'Umrah are being given at this place because the Ka'bah had recently been made the giblah and naturally questions and problems connected with it had arisen.

158The running between Safa and Marwah (the two hills) near the Ka'bah was one of the rituals taught by Allah to Abraham in connection with Hajj. But afterwards when the people began to associate false gods with Allah, they built temples on Safa and Marwah and dedicated these to two idols, Asaf and Na'ilah, and went round them in reverence to them. When the Arabs embraced (slant, a question arose whether running between Safa and Marwah was one of the original rituals of Hajj or whether this had been invented by the worshippers of false gods and whether they would not be guilty of practising shirk by running between the two hills.

Besides this, a Tradition related by Hadrat 'A'ishah says that the people of Madinah had an old aversion to running between Safa and Marwah even before they accepted Islam for they were devotees of Manat and did not worship Asaf and Na'ilah. Therefore, now when the Ka'bah was made the qiblah, Allah removed their misunderstanding concerning the running between Safa and Marwah and told them that this ritual had really been connected with Hajj ever since the time of the Prophet Abraham and was not the invention of the ignorant people after hire.

159That is, it is far better to run between the two hills with a willing heart to please Allah than as a mere compliance with a Command from Him.

[159-160] Indeed Allah curses, and the cursers, too, curse those who conceal the clear teachings and guidance We have sent down, after We have made these plain in the Book for the guidance of all mankind.160 I, however, will forgive those of them who repent of it, mend their ways and make own what they were concealing: for I am very generous in accepting repentance and showing mercy.

160The greatest crime of the Jewish scholars was that they had made the teachings of their Scriptures the monopoly of their rabbis and professional scribes. Not to speak of imparting these to the Gentiles, they did not teach them even to the common Jews. As a result, the Jews began to practise irreligious things because of their ignorance. Even then their rabbis did not do anything to reform and educate them. Instead of this, they went on, directly or indirectly, certifying every irreligious practice as legal merely for the sake of winning and retaining popularity. The Muslims are being forewarned that as leaders of the world they should propagate and spread the Guidance given to them and should not keep it back from the common people as the Jewish rabbis and scribes did.

[124] Recall to mind that when his Lord put Abraham to test124 in certain things and he fulfilled all of them, He said, "I am going to make you the leader of mankind." Abraham humbly asked, "Does this promise apply to my descendants also?" He replied, "My promise does not apply to the transgressors."125

124At different places the Qur'an has described in detail the hard test to which Abraham was put before he was made the leader and guide of mankind. When he passed successfully through all those trials and proved himself fit and capable of performing this great responsibility, he was exalted to this high position. Ever since the Truth was revealed to him, his whole life was a series of sacrifices in its cause. He sacrificed everything which is valued in life, and encountered every kind of danger in the way of Truth.

125That is, "This promise shall apply only to those of your descendants who will be good and capable, and not to those who will be transgressors." Thus, obviously, the misguided children of Israel and the idolatrous children of Ishmael were not entitled to this promise.

[125] And remember that We made this House (the Ka'bah) the centre nd sanctuary for mankind and enjoined the people to dedicate to worship the place where Abraham used to stand for prayer, and We urged Abraham and Ismail to keep My House pure for those who would go round it and those who would retire to it for devotion and prayer and for those who would bow down and prostrate themselves there in worhsip.126

126The purification of the House was not only to be from rubbish but also from all kinds of false worship so that the name of Allah alone should be glorified in it. The real purification of Allah's House is that no other name than His should be mentioned in it. For the worship of anyone else or the invoking of any other name for help really polluted the House. This verse charges, in a subtle manner, the Quraish with the crime of keeping idols in the Ka`bah and worshipping them instead of Allah. It implies that these idolaters who were proud of being the heirs of Abraham and Ismail were not discharging the obligations of that heritage. Hence they, like the Israelites, have forfeited all rights to the promise of Allah made to Abraham.

[126] And remember that Abraham prayed, "Lord, make this city a city of peace and security, and provide with every kind of fruit those of its people, who believe in Allah and the Last Day'. Allah answered, "As for the disbelievers, I will also provide them with the necessities of life in this world,127 though in the Next World I will drag them to the torment of Hell, and that is the worst abode."

127When Abraham prayed to Allah to provide his descendants with the necessities of life, he excluded from his prayer the would-be transgressors, because Allah had excluded them from His promise of leadership. Allah, however, removed his misunderstanding immediately, saying, "There is a great difference between the two things. While the righteous leadership will be bestowed upon the true believers only, the necessities of life will be given to both the believers and the unbelievers." It also implies that the possession of wealth is not the standard to judge whether Allah is pleased with one or not. If one is given abundance of wealth, it does not necessarily mean that Allah is pleased with him and considers him to be worthy of leadership as well.

[127-129] And remember that when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the walls of the House, they prayed, "Lord, accept this service from us; You are All-Hearing and All-Knowing. Lord, make us Your Muslims (submissive servants) and also raise from our offspring a community which should be Muslim (submissive to Your Will). Show us the ways of Your worship and forbear our shortcomings: You are Forgiving and Merciful. Lord, raise up from among them a Messenger who shall recite Your Revelations to them and teach them the Book and Wisdom and purify their lives.128 You art All-Powerful and All-Wise".129

128"Purify their lives:" purify their beliefs, ideas, deeds, habits, customs, culture, politics, in short, every aspect of life.

129As .Allah has full powers and perfect wisdom, He granted this prayer of the Prophet Abraham and made Hadrat Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) His Messenger.

[130-133] Now, who else can have aversion to the way of Abraham but the one who has debased himself with folly and ignorance? Abraham was the man whom We chose for Our service in this world, and in the Next World he shall be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, "Surrender,"130 he promptly responded, "I have surrendered to the Lord of the Universe (and become a Muslim)." He also enjoined on his children to follow the same way. Jacob also did the same131 and his last will to his sons was, "O my children, Allah has chosen the same way of life132 for you. Hence remain Muslims up to your last breath." Were you present at the time when Jacob was on the point of death? He asked his children, "Whom will you worship after me?" They all answered, "We will worship the same One Allah Whom you, your forefathers Abraham. Ismail and Isaac acknowledged as their Allah and to Him we all surrender as Muslims."133

130The word used in the text is "aslim," that is, "become a Muslim," or "adopt the attitude of Islam" (surrender to the will of Allah). Thus a Muslim is one who surrenders himself completely to Allah and obeys Him; who acknowledges Allah alone as His Lord, Master, Sovereign, Ruler, Lawgiver and God of worship; and who adopts the way of life prescribed by Him. Islam is the religious system based on this creed and attitude. This was the religion of all the Prophets who came to different countries and different nations.

131Special mention of Jacob has been made because the Israelites were his direct descendants.

132The Arabic word "din" has a much wider scope than the English ward "religion".It covers life in its entirety, and no aspect of individual or community life is outside its realm.

133Though Jacob's death has been described in detail in the Bible, no mention has been made of this last will of his. It, however, has been given in detail in the Talmud and its substance is more or less the same as that contained in the Qur'an: "At the time when Jacob quitted this world, he summoned his sans and said to them, 'Serve the Lord your God, and He will deliver ye from all trouble. even as He delivered your fathers ..... Teach your children to love God, and observe His commandments, for God will guard those who do justly and walk in righteousness through all his ways .....' And the sons of Jacob responded, 'All that you have commanded us, our father!, we will do. May God he with us.' And Jacob answered: 'The Lord will be with ye if ye shall depart not from His ways to the right hand or the left'." The same thing about the Prophet Jacob's will has been cited by Rodwell front Midr. Rabbah, "Have ye any doubts in your hearts concerning the Holy One, Messed be He." They said, "Hear O Israel, our Father. As there is no doubt in thy heart, so neither is there in ours. For the Lord is our God, and He is One."

[134] They were a people who passed away; they shall receive the reward of what they earned and you shall have the reward of what you will earn; and you will not be questioned as to what they did.134

134That is, "Though you are their descendants, you have no real connection with them; nor have you any right to claim relationship with them, when you have swerved from their way. Allah will not ask you what your forefathers did but He will ask you what you yourselves did " What we call our "actions and deeds" are, according to the Qur'an, our earnings, because every action and every deed either produces a good result or a bad consequence. If it is good, Allah will be pleased with us and give us its due reward. If it is bad, He will inflict due punishment upon us. The Qur'an refers to actions and deeds as earnings in order to focus attention on the serious results produced by them.

[135-136] The Jews say, "Become Jews and you will be rightly guided" ;the Christians say, "Become Christians and you will have the true guidance." Say to them, "Nay, we turn away from every other way and accept the way of Abraham, and Abraham did not associate other gods with Allah."135 O Muslims, say to them, "We believe in Allah and the Guidance which has been sent down to us and which was sent to Abraham, Ismail , Isaac and Jacob and his descendants and which was given by their Lord to Moses and Jesus and to all other Prophets. We do not discriminate against any of them136 and we have completely surrendered to Allah as Muslims."

135In order to understand the true significance of this answer, two things should be kept in mind.

(1) Judaism and Christianity were born long after the death of Abraham. Judaism, with its special rituals, peculiar regulations, etc., took its birth and name some tour hundred years before Christ. As to "Christianity", it took its name and adopted its special creed and form long after the recall of Jesus. Thus it is clear that their claim that one must become a Jew or a Christian in order to obtain guidance was historically untenable. For in that case, Abraham, Jesus and all the other Prophets and all the good people who had passed away long before the birth of Judaism and Christianity could not be counted among the right-guided persons for the simple reason that these "religions" did not exist at the time they lived. Thus, it was obvious that the Jews and Christians could not say that these Prophets were not right-guided, nor could they claim that they followed Judaism or Christianity. As a corollary to this, true Guidance did not, even according to them, consist of the particular features which divided them into two distinct religions, but it was that eternal universal way which has been shown by all the Messengers of Allah and which has always been followed by the good people of all ages.

(2) It also meant to warn the Jews and the Christians that both practised shirk and had, therefore, swerved from the way of Abraham, who did not associate any other object with Allah in his worship, his reverence, his submission and his obedience to Him. They could not deny this because their own Scriptures bore testimony to it.

136"We do not discriminate against any of them" means that we believe in all the Prophets of Allah and reject none. It is obvious that all the Prophets who came from Allah brought the same Truth and invited the people to the same Guidance and Right Way. Hence anyone who follows the Truth must accept all the Prophets. Those who accept one Prophet and reject the other really reject even the one whom they profess to accept. Had they followed the universal Guidance taught by Moses, Jesus and other Prophets, they could not have rejected any other Prophet (i.e. Muhammad, Allah's peace be upon him). As a matter of fact, they were not following the teachings of any Prophet, but merely professing to accept their own Prophets just because their fathers did so. Thus their real religion was prejudice, race-worship and blind imitation of their forefathers.

[138] Say, "Take Allah's colour,137 and who can give a better colour than Allah? Therefore, we worship and submit to Him alone. "

137It may also mean, "We took Allah's colour." Before the advent of Christianity, it was a custom among the Jews to give a bath to those who accepted Judaism. It meant to imply that all the sins of the baptised person were washed away and he had received a new colour of life. This same custom was later on adopted by the Christians and it was termed "Baptism", which is a ceremonial immersion in water or an application of water as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian Church. It is applied not only to the new converts but also to all newly-born babies. The Qur'an says that there is nothing substantial in this ceremonial "colouring," since it is not necessary for salvation. For this purpose one should take colour from Allah by adopting His Way and submitting to His Law.

[139-141] O Prophet, say to them, "Do you argue with us concerning Allah, whereas He is our Lord and also your Lord?138 We shall be accountable to Him for our deeds and you for yours; so we have dedicated our worship to Him alone.139 Or do you say that Abraham. Ismail , Isaac, Jacob and his children were all Jews or Christians?" Ask them,"Do you know more than Allah does?140 And who is more unjust than the one who hides the testimony which Allah has entrusted to him? Allah is not unaware of what you are doing.141 They were a people who have passed away and they shall be repaid for what they earned and you for what you earn: you will not be questioned as to what they did.

138That is, "What we only say is that Allah is Lord of all of us, and we should all submit to Him. Why should you then have any dispute with us concerning Allah? Is it a thing concerning which you should have any dispute with us'? As a matter of fact, it is we who have a cause of dispute and not you, for it is you (and not we) who associate other objects of worship with Allah." The original Arabic words tray also mean: "Are you having a dispute with us for the sake of Allah....?" It would then mean: "If you really are having a dispute with us for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of prejudice or worldly interests, it can be settled amicably.

139That is, "You are responsible for your deeds and we are for ours. If you have associated other partners with Allah in His Godhead and if you worship and obey them, you are free to do so but you yourselves will bear its consequences. As to the dispute between us, it can be ended if you allow us the same freedom of worship that we allow you. When we do not dispute with you about your associating other gods with Allah, you should at least concede us the right to worship the One Allah without associating any partner with Him, Whom we have chosen for exclusive worship and submission."

140This question was addressed to the common people of the Jews and Christians, who in their ignorance sincerely believed that all these great Prophets were Jews or Christians.

141This question was addressed to their scholars, who were not ignorant of the fact that Judaism and Christianity with their special rituals, etc., were the products of a later age. In spite of this they were under the delusion that the Truth was confined to their own sects, and they kept their common people under the delusion that salvation depended on those beliefs, ways and regulations, which had been invented, long after the Prophets, by their own rabbis and priests, spiritual leaders and interpreters. Whenever they were confronted with the question: "To which of these sects of yours did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other Prophets belong?", they would never answer this directly. For they could not claim that those Prophets belonged to their particular sect as they knew that history proved that claim to be absurd. But, in spite of this established fact, they could not admit it in clear words that the Prophets were neither Jews nor Christians, because this would have automatically refuted their claims.

[104-105] O Believers,107 do not say. "Ra 'ina" but say, "Unzurna " and listen108 a to what is said; for the disbelievers deserve a painful punishment. The people who have rejected the message of Truth, be they the people of the Book or the mushriks, would never like that any good be sent down to you from your Lord, but Allah chooses for His mercy whom He wills, and Allah is Most Bountiful.

107From this verse onward, the Believers have been warned to be on their guard against the different kinds of mischief which the Jews were fomenting against Islam and the Islamic Community. Besides this, doubts and suspicions which were being disseminated by them in the minds and hearts of the Muslims have been removed and those special problems which , came up for discussion between the Muslims and the Jews have been dealt with. Here it should also be kept in view that when the Holy Prophet came to live at Madinah, and Islam began to spread in the country' around it, the Jews tried to involve the Muslims in various kinds of religious disputes and theological controversies. They also tried to affect the simple and sincere Muslims with the same disease from which they themselves were suffering, that is, the malady of hair-splitting and asking frivolous and irrelevant questions. For this purpose, they attended even the meetings of the Holy Prophet and resorted to cunning and subtle talk, which showed how depraved they had become.

108Whenever the Jews came to attend the Holy Prophet's assembly they showed every kind of outward respect to him but surreptitiously tried their worst to insult and slight him. They would use ambiguous words derisively or twist them into an insult by a slight mispronunciation. For instance, if they wanted to invite his attention to any particular thing they would say "Ra'i-na"which means "Just pay attention, please," but it has other meanings also. In Hebrew there was a word of similar sound which meant, "Listen, may you become deaf," and in Arabic itself it also meant, "a proud and ignorant person." Besides this, in colloquial speech it meant, "If you listen to us, we will listen to you." Then with a little twist of the tongue it could be turned into ra- i -ya-na which means "Our shepherd". In order to guard against the use of such ambiguous words as sounded complimentary but might be abused by wicked people, the Believers were advised to say, "unzurna: " Kindly pay attention to us," which could serve the same purpose without having any secondary bad sense like "ra'i-na. "They were also advised to listen attentively to the Holy Prophet so that there should be no need of inviting his attention.

[106-107] We bring a better verse or at least the like of it for whatever we abrogate or cause it to be forgotten.109 Do you not know that Allah has full power over everything? Do you not know that the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah alone and that you have neither any protector nor helper beside Him?

109This is the answer to an objection which the Jews raised to create doubts in the minds of the Muslims. They argued like this: The Qur'an says that the former Scriptures had been sent down by Allah and that it also has been sent down by Him. If it is so, why does the Qur'an then give such commands as differ from those contained in the former Books'? How can the same Allah give different commands at different times? Besides, they said, "The Qur'an asserts that the Jews and the Christians have forgotten a part of the teachings sent down to them. How is it possible that the teachings of Allah could be obliterated from memory?" They did not raise these objections for the sake of arriving at the truth but for the sake of creating mischief. Allah answers their objections thus: "I am the Sovereign and My powers are unlimited. I can repeal any order of Mine or allow it to be forgotten, but I substitute for it something that serves the same purpose better or at least equally well."

[108-110] Would you then ask your Prophet such questions as were asked of Moses in former times?110 In fact, anyone, who changes the way of belief for that of disbelief, has surely swerved from the Right way. Many of the people of the Book desire to turn you anyhow back to unbelief. They wish this out of the envy of their hearts though the Truth has become quite clear to them. Yet, you should show forbearance and forgiveness to them'111 till Allah Himself enforces His judgement. (Rest assured that) Allah has full power over everything: establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. you will find with Allah whatever good you send forward for your future; Allah is watching everything you do.

110The Jews were addicted to hair-splitting. They put subtle and unnecessary questions to the Muslims and would incite them to inquire about the same from the Holy Prophet. As they intended merely to create mischief, Allah warned the Muslims not to follow their example. The Holy Prophet also advised the Believers not to indulge in the pastime of making fine distinctions and asking unnecessary questions because such things had ruined the communities that went before them. They should do what they were asked to do and refrain from what they were prohibited. They should not waste their powers and energies in useless pursuits but attend to important matters.

111That is "their enmity and jealousy should not incite you to lose your balance of mind and involve you in arguments, discussions and disputes with them. You should not lose your dignity and waste your precious time in such useless pursuits but should go on doing the right and wait patiently for Allah's judgement . You should remember Allah and do good deeds because these are the things that will avail you before Allah and not those things and the like."

[111-112] They say, "None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or according to the Christians) a Christian." These are their wishful fancies.112 Say to them, "Bring your proof, if you are right in your claim." The fact is that no one has any special claim to Paradise; whoever surrenders himself to Allah in obedience and follows the Right Way, shall get his reward from his Lord: there shall be neither fear nor grief for such people.

112It means, "In fact these are merely their own wishes, but they assert these as if it were actually going to happen so."

[113] The Jews say that the Christians have nothing (of the Truth) and the Christians say that the Jews have nothing of it, though both read the Scripture. And those who have no knowledge of the Scripture113 also make similar claims. Allah will surely give His judgement on the Day of Resurrection in all the matters in which they differ.

113It refers to the idolaters of Arabia, who were ignorant of the Scriptures, and sanctuary for mankind and enjoined the people to dedicate to worship the place where Abraham used to stand for prayer, and We urged Abraham and Ismail to keep My House pure for those who would go round it and those who would retire to it for devotion and prayer and for those who would bow down and prostrate themselves there in worhsip.

[114] And who could be a greater wrongdoer than the one who forbids the mention of Allah's name in places of worship and strives for their ruin? Such people do not deserve to enter the places of worship, and, if they enter at all, they should do so in fear;114 for there is ignominy for them in this world and an awful punishment in the Hereafter.

114That is, the places of worship should not be in the hands of such transgressors, who become their trustees, but under the management of those who possess power and fear Allah. This arrangement will prevent the wicked people from doing any mischief there for fear of retribution. It also implied that the disbelievers of Makkah had quite unjustly prevented their own brethren (who had embraced Islam) from entering the Ka'bah which they themselves called the "House of Allah".

[115] The East and the West, all belong to Allah: you will face Allah in whichsoever direction you turn your face:115 Allah is All-Embracing and All-Knowing.116

115That is, "Allah is not confined to any one direction, eastern or western, but is Master of all directions and places. If a particular direction is fixed for worship, it does not mean that Allah resides in that direction only. There is, therefore, no need to enter into disputes as to why a certain direction and place has been fixed instead of the other or why faces were at first turned towards a particular direction but now are being turned towards a different direction and a different place. "

116Allah is neither limited nor narrow-minded nor short-sighted nor indigent, as they suppose He is. On the contrary, His Kingdom is boundless and so are His vision and generosity. He also knows which of His servants remembers Him and also where and when and with what intention.

[118-119] The ignorant people say, "Why does not Allah Himself talk to us or why does not a Sign come to us?"117 The people before them also talked like this, for all (who swerve from the Right Path) have the same mentality.118 We have already shown clear Signs to those who believe;119 (what greater Sign could there be than that) We have sent you with the knowledge of the Truth and made you a bearer of good tidings and a Warner?120 Now, you are not responsible and answerable for those who are bent upon going to Hell.

117They demanded hat either Allah Himself should come before them and say, "This is My Book and these are My Instructions for you to follow." Or, He should show such a Sign to them as would conclusively demonstrate that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was really a Messenger of Allah and that what he presented was revealed to him by Allah.

118That is, "The objections and demands of those who are opposing the Truth today are not new. These are exactly the same as have always been put forward by those who go astray from the Right Way, as all the wicked people of all ages think alike and follow the same line of argument."

119The demand that Allah Himself should speak to them was so absurd that it needed no reply. As to the other demand that Allah should show them a Sign, Allah answers that He has shown many clear Signs but those who are not inclined to believe cannot see them.

120Not to speak of the other Signs, the most conspicuous Sign was the personality of Muhammad himself (Allah's peace be upon him). They knew everything about his life before Prophethood; the conditions of his country and nation and the circumstances and environment under which he was brought up and how he spent the first forty years of his life before his appointment as a Prophet;

[120-121] The Jews and the Christians will never be satisfied with you, O Muhammad, until you follow their way.121 Tell them plainly, "The right way is shown by Allah." And if, after all the' knowledge you have received, you were to yield to their desires, you shall find neither any friend nor helper to protect you from Allah's wrath. There are those, even among the people of the Scripture, who read the Book as it should be read and believe in it sincerely;122 as for those who reject it, they are indeed the losers.

121That is, "The reason why these people are displeased with you is not that they are sincere seekers after Truth and that you have failed to make it as clear to them as it should have been. On the contrary, they. are offended with you just because you have made the Truth so clear that no loop-hole has been left for them to make religion a paying concern for the gratification of their desires and lusts. Therefore leave them alone and do not try to reconcile them because it is not possible to please them unless you also adopt the same attitude towards religion as they have adopted. They would have been very happy with you, if you had acted hypocritically like them and made God-worship a cloak for self-worship. It is impossible to please them unless you follow their bad example in your beliefs and practices."

122The reference is to the pious among the people of the Book, who study the Qur'an honestly and sincerely and accept as true what is true according to the Book of Allah.

[122-123] O children of Israel,123 remember that special favour 1 bestowed upon you, and that I exalted you above all the communities of the world. And dread the Day when no one shall avail anyone in any way; nor shall any ransom be accepted from anyone; nor shall intercession profit any body; nor shall the offenders be helped from any quarter.

123From here begins a new discourse. In order to understand it, the following should be kept in mind

(1) After Noah, Abraham was the first Prophet who was appointed by Allah to spread the universal Message of Islam. He began his mission in his own country, 'Iraq, and invited the people to Islam (submission to Allah). Then he visited Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arabia with the same mission. Afterwards he appointed his deputies in different places. He deputed Lot, his nephew, to Trans-Jordan, Isaac, his son, to Syria and Palestine, and Ismail, the elder son, to Arabia. Then he was commanded by Allah to build at Makkah that house of worship which is called the Ka'bah and to make it the centre of his mission.

(2) From the two sons of the Prophet Abraham sprang two nations Isma`ilites and Israelites. The former were the descendants of Ishmael who settled in Arabia. The Quraish and some other Arab clans were his direct descendants but even those Arab clans which were not his descendants claimed to he Isma 'ilites because they were more or less influenced by his mission. The latter, the Israelites, were the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac. Jospeh, Moses, David, Solomon, John, Jesus (may Allah's peace be upon them all) and many other Prophets rose from among them. They were called Israelites after Israel, the second name of Jacob. Some other people who accepted their religion also merged into them. All the Prophets of Israel, including Jesus, preached Islam, submission to Allah, but when the Israelites became degenerate and lost their religion (Islam) they invented Judaism and later Christianity.

(3) Abraham was appointed to invite the world to surrender to Allah and to reform the people in accordance with Allah's Guidance. He himself surrendered and acted upon the knowledge he received from Allah and exerted his utmost to propagate that knowledge and to persuade all the people to submit to the Sovereign of the Universe. Therefore he was made the leader of the world. Afterwards this leadership, with all its responsibilities, was transferred to the Israelites, the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. This was the special favour which the Israelites were asked, over and over again, to remember. Accordingly, during the time of Solomon, the Holy Temple at Jerusalem became the centre and the qiblah (the place towards which face is to be turned for prayer) of all the worshippers of Allah, as long as the Israelites remaind the leaders of this mission.

(4) In the foregoing address (vv.40-121), Allah has charged the Israelites with their sins of omission and commission during their leadership. Therefore the Qur'an points out their moral condition and tells them plainly, "You have proved yourselves quite unworthy of the favour shown to you. You have not only neglected to perform the obligations of leadership but have also discarded the Guidance of Allah from your own lives. Now the things have come to such a pass that you havebecome a community utterly unfit for leadership."

(5) Now they are being told that leadership is not the privilege of the descendants of Abraham as such, for none has any exclusive claim to it by the mere accident of birth. It was bestowed only upon those who submitted to Allah and followed His Guidance like Abraham. As they have swerved from that Way, and proved utterly unworthy of leadership, they are deposed from it.

(6) It also implied that the non-Israelite followers of the Prophet Moses and Jesus, who were proud of their relationship with Abraham had also swerved from the way of Abraham. Similarly, the idolaters of Arabia, who were also proud of their relationship with Abraham and Ismail have been told that they too were utterly unworthy of leadership, for they, too, had swerved from the Way of Abraham and Ismail.

(7 ) Now that the Israelites had been deposed from leadership, the argument proceeds to show why Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was raised as a Prophet from among the descendants ofIsmail, in answer to the prayer of Abraham and Ismail . It is because he followed the same Way as was followed by Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets before him. He and his followers believed in all the Prophets sent by Allah, and invited the world to the same Way that was shown by the former Prophets. Therefore the followers of this Prophet alone were worthy of that leadership.

(8) With the transfer of leadership, it was essential to change its centre as well. As long as the Israelites were the leaders, the Holy Temple at Jerusalem was the centre and giblah of all the followers of the Truth. That was why the Holy Prophet and his followers also used to turn their faces at first towards it at prayer. But when the Israelites were deposed from leadership, the Holy Temple automatically ceased to be the giblah. It was therefore, declared that the Ka'bah at Makkah, where Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) started his mission, is to be the giblah in future. As it also was the centre of Abraham's mission, neither the Israelites nor the Arabs could object to it because both acknowledged Abraham as their Prophet and ancestor. Thus there was no reason left for them to raise any objection against making the Ka`bah the centre of the Divine mission. But the fact is that obdurate people will goon arguing against the Truth even after knowing it to be the Truth.

(9) After declaring the Muslims to be the leaders, with the Ka`bah as their centre, Allah gives instructions (vv. 153-286) for their guidance to enable them to carry out their obligations as leaders of the world.

[97-98] Say to them, "Whoever is enemy to Gabriel,100 should understand that he has, by Allah's command, revealed to your heart the Qur'an101 which confirms what was revealed before it,102 and brings Guidance and glad tidings103 to the Believers. (If their enmity to Gabriel is due to this, let them understand that) whoever is enemy to Allah, His Angels, His Messengers, Gabriel and Michael, Allah is enemy to such disbelievers."

100The Jews not only reviled Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) and the believers, but also spoke abusively of Gabriel, the chosen Divine Messenger. They said. "He is our enemy: He is not an angel of blessings but of affliction. "

101As Gabriel revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) by Allah's Command, so by abusing Gabriel they actually abused Allah.

102That is, "You abuse Gabriel for no other reason than that he has brought down the Qur'an, whereas the Qur'an confirms the teachings of the Torah; so, in a way, you abuse the Torah as well.

103In the preceding verses, the Jews have been warned of the consequences of their attitude towards the Qur'an and the mission of the Holy Prophet. In this part of the verse, they have been admonished to consider the matter from another point of view. As the Qur'an shows the way to right guidance and brings good tidings to the believers, it is sheer folly to oppose it and reject it. Thus ney harm none but themselves by depriving themselves of the true success which follows its acceptance.

[99-103] We have sent down to you Revelations that clearly expound the Truth, and none but the disobedient reject them. Has it not always been so that every time they made a covenant, some of them set it aside? Nay, most of them never believe in it sincerely. And whenever a Messenger came to them from Allah, confirming that Scripture which they already possessed, some from among the people of the Book threw the Book of Allah behind their backs as though they knew nothing about it. (Instead of this,) they began to follow that (magic) to which the devils falsely attributed (the greatness of) the kingdom of Solomon.104 In fact Solomon .was never involved in any practice of disbelief, but the satans, who taught magic to the people were themselves guilty of disbelief. They were after that thing which was sent to Harut and Marut, the two angels at Babylon. Whenever these two angels taught black art to anyone, they would always give a clear warning beforehand, saying, "We are merely a trial for you; so you should not commit blasphemy.105 But in spite of this warning, those people used to learn from the angels the art which caused division between husband and wife.106 Although it was obvious that they could not do any harm to anyone by means of this magic without Allah's permission, yet they learnt that art which could not be profitable even for them but was actually harmful. Moreover, they knew it full well that anyone, who purchased that art, would have no share in the Hereafter. What a vile commodity it was for which they sold off their souls, if they had but known it! Had they believed in Allah and practised piety, they would have received a far better reward from AIIah, if they had but known it.

104Shayatin may refer both to the devils from among the jinn or to the devils from among human beings. Here it refers to both. When the Jews fell to the lowest depths of degeneration, morally and materially, and lost all the noble qualities because of their captivity, ignorance, poverty, homeless wanderings, etc. they turned to magic, sorcery, enchantment, witchcraft and other black arts and "occult sciences." They began to adopt methods through which they could attain all their ends without putting in any kind of labour and toil. Then the devils began to beguile them by ascribing the origin of the occult sciences to Solomon and proclaimed that Solomon owed his wonderful kingdom and his extraordinary powers to the occult sciences which they were teaching the people. Jews at once succumbed and welcomed these as a great boon: so much so that even their rabbis began to practise magical arts. Consequently they lost all their interest in the Scriptures and would not listen to those who invited them to Allah's Guidance. 104-a. Here the Quran refutes not only the false accusation of sorcery against Solomon, but also the other charges levelled against him in the Bible (I Kings, Chapter 11). According to it "Solomon was a lover of women and his wives seduced him to follow foreign gods, and he did what was evil in the eyes of the Eternal and put up shrines and idols of their gods." The Quran refutes these charges, so as to say, "Solomon was never involved in any practices of disbelief, and only that one who was a disbeliever could be guilty of `love of women', `worship of gods and idols' and what was evil in the eyes of the Eternal."

105The incident referred to in this verse has been interpreted in different ways, but what I have been able to understand is this: It appears that when the Istraelites were captives in Babylon, Allah sent two angels in human guise to test them. Just as the angels were sent to the people of the Prophet Lot as handsome boys, so they were sent to the Israelites as saints and religious guides. For this purpose, they might have set up an institution to teach magic and might also be warning everyone who came to learn these things, saying: "We are holding out these temptations merely for your trial. You should not, therefore, ruin your Hereafter by seeking this "science". But in spite of this warning, the people came to them in large numbers for talismans, charms and amulets. There is nothing strange in the coming of angels in human guise. Being agents of Divine Kingdom they are endowed with extraordinary powers to perform their respective duties. As to the question why they taught magic to the people, we can understand this by an illustration. It is like the case of the police who sometimes arrange to hand over signed currency notes to corrupt officials as bribes in order to catch them red-handed. Just as there is nothing wrong in this, so there is nothing wrong in what the angels did for the trial of the degenerate Jews.

106The greatest demand on this occult science was for an amulet or a device to help separate a wife from her husband in order to entice her. This shows how depraved they had become. Their greatest enjoyment was to make love with other people's wives and to separate them from their husbands. This was the worst form of depravity because it struck at the root of family life which is the very foundation of society. If the relations between husband and wife are sound. the whole society will be sound and solid. But if they are bad, the whole society will become rotten. Thus they were the worst offenders because they cut at the root of those relations on which depended their own solidarity and that of their society. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that Satan sends his agents to the tour corners of the world. When they come back to him to report, they relate the deeds they have performed. One says that he has created such and such dispute and the other that he has spread chaos and so on, but Satan goes on commenting, "You have done nothing." Then comes another one who says; "I have caused division between a man and his wife." Satan hugs him and says, "You have indeed done a great deed." In the light of this Tradition, it becomes clear why the two angels were sent to the Israelites with the charm that caused division between man and wife; that was, in fact, the very standard which could measure accurately their moral degradation.

[61] Remember: You grumbled: "O Moses, we cannot endure one and the same sort of food. Pray your Lord to bring for us the products of the earth green herbs, vegetables, corn, garlic, onions, pulses and the like." Moses replied: "What! would you exchange that which is meaner for that which is nobler?77 Well, go and live in a town and you will get there what you demand." By and by, they became so degraded that disgrace and humiliation, misery and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they incurred Allah's wrath. That was because they began to reject the Revelations of Allah78 and kill His Messengers without any just cause;79 that was the consequence of their disobedience and their persistent transgression against the Law.

77It does not mean: "You are asking, instead of manna and salva which you get gratis, things for which you will have to till and cultivate the land." But it means: "You are neglecting that grand purpose the purification of your hearts and the preparation for the leadership of the world for which you are being made to travel in the desert: instead of this, you are after the gratification of your taste and palate and cannot forego those things even for some time. " (For comparison, see Numbers, 11: 4-9).

78They rejected the Revelations in different ways: (a) They refused to accept anything as revealed, if it went against their own ideas or desires; (b) they brazen-facedly violated the clear injunctions of Allah, knowing full well that they were discarding His Commandments; and (c) they distorted and twisted the meaning of Revelations in order to suit their desires and lusts.

79The history of the Israelites abounds in instances of the persecution of their own Prophets. We cite here a few from the Bible: (1) After the death of the Prophet Solomon, the kingdom of the Israelites was split into two states the kingdom of Judah with its capital at Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria. As the two were often at war with each other, the things came to such a pass that the kingdom of Judah asked for help from the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus against their own brethren. At this the Prophet Hanani by God's command severely rebuked Asa king of Judah for relying on the king of Syria instead of relying on "the Eternal your God." But Asa instead of heeding the warning sent the Prophet of God to the prison house. (2 Chronicles, 16: 1-10). (2) When the Prophet Elijah rebuked the Israelites for serving and worshipping Baal, and asked them to serve and worship One God alone, they became his mortal enemies. King Ahab of Samaria threatened to kill him because his idolatrous wife incited him against the Prophet Elijah. In terror he ran for his life to the mountains in the Sinai Peninsula. During the period of affliction, he said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even 1 only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away". (1 Kings, 19: 1-10). (3) King Ahab sent another Prophet, Micaiah, to prison for speaking out the truth. "And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son; and say, "Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace." (1 Kings, 22: 26-27). (4) When the people of Judah began to worship idols openly and to do what was evil in the sight of Allah, the Prophet Zecharia raised his voice against these evils, saying: "Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord. " (2 Chronicles, 24: 20-21) (5) When the Israelite state of Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians, and the Jewish state at Jerusalem was threatened with imminent danger, the Prophet Jeremiah began to bewail and warn his people of their degeneration and its evil consequences. He lamented and cried, "Mend your ways otherwise you will meet with a far worse doom than Samaria." In answer to this the Jews cursed him, beat him and imprisoned him. They accused him of treachery against the nation and shouted, "You are deserting to the Chaldeans." He was arrested and flogged and confined in the dungeon cells. Then they put him into an underground cistern, lowering him down with ropes so that he should sink in the mud and die on the spot from starvation. (For details please refer to Jeremiah, I5: 10, 18: 20-23; 20:1-18 and Chapters 36 to 40.) (6) About the Prophet Amos, it is written that when he rebuked the Israelite state of Samaria for its evil and immoral doings and warned them of their evil are doing. These are the people who have preferred the worldly life to the life in the Hereafter. Therefore their torment shall not be lightened nor shall help be given to them (from any quarter). consequences, he was served with the notice:"O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah and prophesy there." (Amos, 7: 10-13). (7) When John the Baptist raised his voice against the immoralities which were being openly practised in the court of Herod, king of Judah, he was arrested and bound in prison. Then at the request of Herodias, his wife, who had a grudge against him, he sent one of the guards to bring his head. The man went and beheaded him in the prison and brought, his head on a dish to be presented to her. Thus, the Prophet of God was killed without any cause. (ark, 6: 17-29.) (8) The last victim of the evil designs of the high priests and the elders of the jews was Jesus Christ, who took them to task for their sins and hypocrisies and advised them to lead a righteous life. For this"crime" of his, they plotted against him: bought Judas, one of his twelve disciples, and sent a large mob with swords and cudgels to seize him and take him away to the house of the high priest. After binding him, they led him off, and handed him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. They tried to procure false evidence against him in order to have him put to death. They had become so hardhearted that they asked Pilate to release Barabbas, a murderer, as a boon at the festival but to "crucify him" . In this verse, the Qur'an briefly refers to this most shameful chapter of the history of the Israelites and declares that they fully deserved the curses and condemnation of Allah. They chose their worst offenders against law and morality and made them their chiefs and leaders, and sent their most pious and righteous men to the gaol or the gallows.

[187] It has been made lawful for you to go to your wives during the nights of the fast days. They are as a garment to you and you are as a garment to them.190 Though Allah knew that you were secretly dishonest to yourselves, He has pardoned your guilt and forgiven you. NOW you are permitted to have intercourse with your wives and enjoy what Allah has made lawful for you.191 You are also pemitted to eat and drink during the nights of the Fast months.192 until you can discern the white streak of dawn from the blackness of night.193 Then (abstain from all these things and) complete your fast till night-fall.194 But you should not have intercourse with your wives while you confine yourselves to mosques.195 These are the bounds set by Allah; so do nut go near them.196 In this way Allah makes His Commands clear to mankind. It is expected that they will guard themselves against wrong ways.

190That is, just as nothing can intervene between the clothes and the body and each fits into the other naturally, so is the relation between the husband and the wife: each is a means of comfort, protection and happiness for the other.

191Although at first there was no clear injunction forbidding intercourse between husband and wife during the nights of Ramadan, yet the Muslims had a vague notion that it was not lawful to do so and it was with a guilty conscience that sometimes some of them went to bed with their wives. There was thus a danger of developing a criminal and sinful mental attitude. Therefore, Allah first warned them of their dishonest behaviour towards their conscience and then made it lawful so that they might do it with a clear conscience.

192There was also a misunderstanding about the timings of eating and drinking during Ramadan. Some people were of the opinion that eating and drinking was prohibited after the `Isha' (night) Prayer up to sunset of the next day. Others thought that one was permitted to eat and drink as long as one kept awake after the 'Isha' Prayer, but could not do so after one had fallen asleep; they were often put to great inconvenience on account of these notions of their own creation. In this verse their misunderstandings were removed and the duration of the period of fasting was fixed from the dawn of the morning to the sunset, and eating and drinking and intercourse with wives were permitted from sunset to dawn. Besides, the Holy Prophet instructed that a meal should be taken before the dawn (of morning) as a preparation for fasting.

193Islam has set a standard of time for its practices which can be applied universally by people at every stage of civilization and in every part of the globe. That is why it does not fix the boundary lines of its religious practices by watches and clocks but by clear signs in the sky. This is a standard which can suit the people of every age and country, and can be set by watches between these prescribed bounds to suit their circumstances and convenience. But those people who do not understand its philosophy raise foolish objections. For example, they say that this standard cannot work near the Poles, because there the duration of the day and the night is of many months. They forget that even in the polar regions, the signs of morning and evening and mid-night appear as regularly as in other places and the inhabitants regulate the tunings of work, play, sleep, etc. in accordance with the appearance of these signs. When there were no watches and clocks, the inhabitants of the Arctic Circle fixed their timings by these signs. Thus when these signs can help them to fix the timings in other matters of life, they can also serve them to fix the timings of the Prayer and of the commencement and end of the Fast.

194"Complete your fast till nightfall" means: "Your fast ends where the boundary of the night begins." It is obvious that the boundary line of the night begins at sunset: therefore the fast should be broken at the time of sunset for which we should look at the eastern horizon. If we see the darkness of the night rising up there, it is a signal for the breaking of the fast. In the same way, the rising of the white streak of the morning in the eastern horizon is a signal for the beginning of the fast.

It must be clearly understood that in the Islamic Code of Law there are no hard and fast limits, exact to the second or minute, for the duration of the fast. There is great latitude in both the limits. Differences of a minute or a second either way do not make the fast defective. The fast becomes complete as soon as the darkness of night begins to rise in the east. It should, therefore, be broken at sunset. In the same way, when the dawn of the morning appears in the eastern horizon, the boundary line begins for observing the fast and eating and drinking, should be stopped. But here, too, there is an allowance for one to finish ones meal even though the dawn of the morning might have appeared, if one could not wake up in time for it. There is a Tradition of the Holy Prophet to this effect: "If one, while taking his meals, hears the call for the morning Prayer (or the sound of the siren as in our age) for beginning the fast, one should not withdraw one's hand inunediately from food, but should finish the meal." Likewise, one is enjoined to break the fast without delay as soon as the dark line of the night appears in the east.

195I'tikaf is a special voluntary practice of devotion during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. One confines oneself to a mosque and devotes one's whole time to prayer and meditation in addition to the prescribed obligatory religious duties. One is required to abstain from all worldly pursuits, desires, lusts, etc., and is not to leave the mosque except to attend to the call of nature etc.

196The wording of the Commandment about the extreme limits is very significant. It not only prohibits one from transgressing them but also warns one not even to go near them. It is very dangerous to roam about on the boundary lines of the forbidden territory for one is liable to enter into it by mistake. Going near them has, therefore, been prohibited. The Holy Prophet emphasized the same pint, saying, "Every king has some reserved land and Allah's 'reserved' land is hounded by those limits which prescribe the lawful and the unlawful, the right and the wrong. The animal which grazes near the last bounds of the reserved land might one day enter into it." It is a pity that. inspite of this clear warning. many people, who are ignorant of the spirit of Islamic law, persist in going to the extreme limits and many "learned" people try to find excuses for them from the same Islamic Code of Law that warns the Muslims not to go near the boundary line. That is why many people get involved in vice and stray front the straight path. Obviously, it is not an easy thing to demarcate these tine boundary lines and to control oneself from transgressing them, when one is roaming near them.

[188] Do not usurp one another's property by unjust means nor offer it to the judges so that you may devour knowingly and unjustly a portion of the goods of others.197

197This verse has two aspects: One should not try to seize the property of another by bribing the judges, and one should not go to the court of law to seize the property of another through specious arguments. It is just possible that the judge might decide, on the basis of available evidence, in favour of the transgressor, but it does not mean that the property has thereby really become lawful for him. The Holy Prophet warned such people. saying, `'After all I am a human being. It is just possible that in a case brought before me, one better versed in the art of talking than his opponent might persuade me to decide the case in his favour. But let it be understood that anything gained in this way from a brother will, in fact, mean the acquiring of a piece of Hell for himself in spite of my decree in his favour."

[161-162] Those who adopted the way of disbelief161 and died as disbelievers, are accursed of Allah and of angels and of all mankind: they shall remain accursed for ever. Their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be reprieved.

161The literal meaning of the word kufr is "to conceal". By and by it came to be used for the concealment of the Truth and then for its rejection, as the antonym of imam n. Iman means to believe, to accept and to admit, and kufr means to disbelieve, to reject and to oppose. According to the Qur'an, one shall be guilty of kufr.

(1) If one does not believe in Allah at all or refuses to accept Him as the Supreme Authority or as one's Master and that of the entire Universe or as the only God of worship, or

(2) If one professes to acknowledge Allah but refuses to accept His commandments and Guidance as the sole source of the knowledge of Truth and of Law, or

(3) If one accepts on principle the Guidance of Allah, but refuses to accept the authority of the Messengers whom Allah has sent with His Commandments and Guidance, or

4) If one accepts a particular Messenger (or Messengers) and rejects others according to one's whim or prejudices, or

(5) If one discards the whole or any part of the Islamic creed, or its code of life, or the teachings of the Messenger, or

(6) If one accepts all these things in theory but discards the Commandments of God deliberately in practice and persists in this conduct and leads a life of rebellion instead of submission.

All the above modes of thought and action are rebellion against Allah and are kufr according to the Qur'an. Besides the above usages, the Qur'an sometimes uses the word kufr in the sense of ingratitude as an antonym of shukr. Shukr means that one should be grateful only to Him Who has bestowed the blessing, should appreciate His favour,.should use and spend the blessing only according to His Will, and should submit to Him completely and faithfully like a loyal servant. On the contrary, kufr or ingratitude is that one should either refuse to acknowledge the favour of one's benefactor, and should regard it as a result of one's own ability, or as a favour and result of the influence of another one, or should depreciate the blessing bestowed by Him and waste it, or should use the blessing against His Will, or should adopt an attitude of rebellion against him inspite of His favours and blessings. Such an attitude of kufr is generally described as ingratitude, disloyalty, rebellion and treason.

[283] If you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe to write the document, then transact your business on the security of a pledge in hand.331 And, if any one transacts a piece of business with another merely on trust, then the one who is trusted should fulfil his trust and fear Allah, his Lord And never conceal evidence332 for he who conceals it, has a sinful heart: Allah knows everything that you do.

331It does not mean that a pledge may be held on security only while on a journey. It has been specially mentioned in this connection because such a condition generally occurs on a journey. Moreover, inability to get a scribe is not an essential condition for holding something as a pledge. If a needy person cannot obtain a debt unless he delivers something as security for it, he is allowed to do so. The Qur'an deliberately omits the mention of this latter condition, because it intends to teach generosity to the Believers. It is obviously below the dignity of a man of high character not to lend money to a needy person without having a pledge in hand. It is, however, understood that if the pledge is productive, the creditor should keep a regular account of the produce and deduct it from the debt; otherwise any profit drawn from the pledged property would be interest. In this connection, one should also know that the only object in view of holding a pledge is the security of the repayment of the debt and it does not entitle the creditor in any way to make profit out of it. For instance, if a creditor himself lives in the house which he holds as a pledge for his debt or if he lets it to someone else, he in fact is guilty of taking interest, if he does not credit the rent of the house to the debtor, for there is no difference between taking direct interest on a debt or earning money from it or making use of the property delivered as a pledge. The creditor, however, may benefit from the milk of a pledged head of cattle, or may ride or carry burden on a horse, camel, etc., because that would be the compensation for the fodder given to them.

332"Concealing of evidence" applies both to the evasion of evidence and to the concealment of the true facts while giving evidence.

[284] To Allah belongs whatever333 is in the heavens and the earth.334 Allah will call you to account for what is in your minds whether you disclose it or hide335 it. He, however, had full authority to pardon or punish anyone He pleases, for Allah has complete power over everything.336

333In the concluding portion of the Surah, the basic creeds of Islam have been stated just as they were stated at its beginning. Therefore it will be useful to compare verses 284-285 with vv, 1-4.

334This is the first article of Faith. The acceptance of the fact that Allah is the Master of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, leaves no alternative for man but to submit to Him.

335In this sentence two more articles of Faith have been stated. First, every person is individually responsible and accountable to Allah for his actions. Second, the Sovereign, to whom man is accountable for his actions, has full knowledge of what is hidden and what is open; He even knows those intentions and thoughts that are hidden in the heart.

336It means that Allah is the absolute Sovereign and not a constitutional ruler. His powers are not bound by any law so as to force Him to act in accordance with it. He is the sole Master and has full authority to punish anyone or to forgive anyone He wills.

[285] The Messenger has believed in the Guidance which has been sent down to him from his Lord, and those who believe in the Messenger have also sincerely accepted the same. They all believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books and Messengers. And they say, "We do not discriminate against any of His Messengers. We have heard the Message and submitted to it. Our Lord, we look up to You for forgiveness, for to You we shall all return."337

337In this verse, the basic articles of Faith have been restated briefly. Belief in Allah, His Angels, His Books and in all of His Messengers without exception and discrimination against any and in the accountability to Him at the end of this life are the five basic articles of Faith. After the acceptance of these, the attitude for a Muslim is to submit obediently to each and every commandment of Allah. At the same time, he should not become vain on account of his good acts but should pray to Allah to forgive and show forbearance to him.

[286] Allah does not burden any human being with a responsibility heavier than he can bear.338 Everyone will enjoy the fruit of the good that one has earned and shall suffer for the evil that one has committed.339 (O Believers, pray like this to Allah: ) "Our Lord, take us not to task if we forget and lapse into error inadvertently. Lord! lay not on us the kind of burdens that You had lain on the people before us.340 Lord, lay not on us the kind of burden that we have not the strength to bear. 341 Be kind to us, forgive us and show mercy to us. You are our Protector : help us against the disbelievers."342

338That is, "Allah will not call to account anyone for not doing something which he could not possibly do: nor will He punish him because he did not abstain from a thing, when he could not possibly abstain from it." It must, however, be clearly understood that an individual himself is not his own judge to decide what he can do and what he cannot do. It is Allah, Who will decide what a certain person could do and what he could not do.

339This is the other general principle of the law. Both the rewards and the punishments are really the results and consequences of the acts and deeds of every individual. One will get a reward only for the good deed one has himself done and not for the good acts of someone else. It must, however, be noted that if 'someone has done some good act which goes on producing good results long after his death, all those acts will also be put to his credit in his balance sheet as long as they last. In the same way, if someone has done some evil, which goes on producing evil results long after one's death, all those also will be put against one's account as long as they fast. But all these results, both good and bad, will be the consequences of one's own deeds. In short, a person shall be rewarded or punished only. for that thing to which he himself contributed intentionally and actually. There is no transfer of accounts in the Divine Law of Retribution.

340That is, "O Lord, save and protect us from such trials, persecutions and obstacles as were encountered by those who went Your way before us." Although it is the law of Allah that those, who make up their minds to follow the way of Truth, must undergo hard trials and suffer from cruel persecutions, a Believer should pray to Allah to make the way easy for him and should face them with courage when he actually meets with them.

341That is, "O Lord, save and protect us from such trials, persecutions and obstacles as were encountered by those who went Your way before us." Although it is the law of Allah that those, who make up their minds to follow the way of Truth, must undergo hard trials and suffer from cruel persecutions, a Believer should pray to Allah to make the way easy for him and should face them with courage when he actually meets with them.

342In order to understand the true spirit of this prayer, it should be kept in view that these verses were revealed on the occasion of the Mi'raj (Ascension to Heaven) of the Holy Prophet about a year before his migration to Madinah. At that time the struggle between Islam and kufr had reached its climax and the persecution of the Believers was at its worst. And this was not confined to Makkah alone: there was no place in the whole of Arabia where a Muslim was allowed to live in peace. It was to cope with these circumstances that the Muslims were taught to utter this prayer to Allah. It is self-evident that when the Master Himself teaches the servat the way of begging from Him, the servant gets the conviction that his request will be granted. That is why this prayer tilled the Muslims with extraordinary courage and brought peace of mind to them in the hour of their worst persecution. Moreover, this prayer taught theta to keep their passions under control and within the limits contained in this prayer and not to allow them to turn into wrong channels. That is why it is free from any kind of bitterness against their enemies, and there is not any tinge in it of revenge or of worldliness. This was urgently needed at that time because the Muslims were undergoing greater hardships and monetary losses and suffering untold cruelties and were pressed hard both physically and economically. Incidentally, the contrast between the high ideals contained in their prayer and the persecution which the Believers were suffering at that time brings out clearly the high standard of the spiritual and moral training they were receiving even at that critical time. And that is the high standard of morality that has been laid down for every true believer to attain.

[260] Call to mind the other event also, when Abraham said, "My Lord, show me how Thou bringest the dead back to life?" He said "Have you no faith in this?" Abraham humbly replied, "I do believe but I ask this to reassure my heart."296 Allah said, "Well, take four birds and tame them with yourself and then (cut them into pieces) and place a piece of each of them on each hill. Then call them and they will come running to you; know this for certain that Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise."297

296That is, "I want that peace of mind which is gained by actual experience. "

297Some people have offered strange interpretations for the two abovementioned extraordinary events. But there is no need to make far-fetched interpretations, for Allah is able to do everything He wills, as the person referred to in the first event declared. Moreover, Allah's dealings with His Prophets are of an extraordinary nature; for an ordinary believer does not need to see actually the Reality with his own eyes for the performance of his duties but it is essential for the mission of a Prophet that he should see with , his own eyes those realities towards which he has to invite the people. The Prophets have to tell the people with full and firm conviction: "We have seen with our own eyes those realities about which your knowledge is based on mere guess-work. You are ignorant; but We possess knowledge; you are blind, but We possess sight." That is why the angels came to them in person so that they should see them with their own eyes. They were also shown the actual working of the system of the heavens and the earth, and Paradise and Hell and Resurrection after death. Though the Prophets believed in all these things even before their appointment as Messengers, they were made witnesses of the realities after their appointment as a special favour and distinction of prophethood. (For further reference, please see E.N.'s 17, 18, 19, 34 of Surah Hud, Xl).

[261-264] The charity298 of those who expend their wealth in the way of Allah299 may be likened to a grain of corn, which produces seven ears and each ear yields a hundred grains. Likewise Allah develops manifold the charity of anyone He pleases, for He is All-Embracing, All-Wise.300 Those people who expend their wealth in the way of Allah, and then do not follow up their charity with reminders of their generosity nor injure the feelings of the recipient, shall get their reward from their Lord; they will have no fear and no sorrow of any kind.301 A kind word and forbearance is better than that charity which is followed up by insult or injury. Allah is Self-Sufficient and Forbearing.302 O Believers, do not spoil your charity by taunts and injury to the recipients like the one who practises charity to be seen by men, while he neither believes in Allah nor in the Last Day.303 His charity may be likened to the rainfall on a rock which had only a thin layer of soil upon it. When heavy rain fell on it, the whole of the soil washed away and the rock was left bare304 Such people do not gain the reward they imagine they have earned by their seeming charity; Allah does not show the Right Way to the ungrateful.305

298In the address which -began with verse 243, the believers were exhorted to make sacrifices of life and property for the success of the great and noble cause they believed in. After strengthening their faith in Allah, for whose cause they were required to make sacrifices, the same theme has been resumed from this verse, and instructions have been given for the development of that attitude which is essential for making such sacrifices. It is obvious that people cannot snake monetary sacrifices for a moral cause unless their economic point of view is totally changed. The materialists, who live and die in order to amass wealth and weigh everything in the scales of profit and loss, can never be expected to spend anything for higher ends. Even when they seem to be spending for some noble cause, they do so after calculating how far it would benefit their tribe, their own person or their nation. Obviously with such a mental attitude, one cannot move even a step forward in the Way of Allah. In order to uplift the Word of Allah, one has to spend one's life, energy and wealth, irrespective of any worldly gain or loss. This way requires a broad view, great courage, a big heart and, above all, a sincere desire to win Allah's approval. Moreover, it requires radical changes in the social system in order to eradicate the materialistic morality and create spiritual values instead. That is why from here on up to verse 281, instructions have been given for the creation of that kind of moral attitude.

299All that wealth which is spent in accordance with the Divine Law and only for the achievement of Allah's approval is spent in the Way of Allah, even though it might have been spent for one's own needs or those of one's relatives or for the indigent or for public works or for the propagation of Islam or for Jihad.

300As Allah has limitless resources and knows everything, one must rest assured that the more sincere one is and the deeper feelings of devotion one has in spending one's wealth in the Way of Allah, the greater will be the reward one will get from Him. One must have a firm conviction that Allah, Who produces seven hundred grains from one grain, has most surely the power of developing the charity seven hundredfold.

After stating this fact, two attributes of Allah have been specially mentioned in this connection to show that the resources of Allah are boundless and He is able to reward deeds to the extent they deserve, and to show that He knows everything and is not unaware of what is spent and with what intention. Therefore there is absolutely no risk of losing one's due reward.

301There is neither any fear of losing their due reward nor shall there ever come a time when they will regret what they have spent.

302This implies two things. First, Allah does not stand in need of anybody's charity, for He is Self-Sufficient. Secondly, He likes those people who are generous and large-hearted, but does not like frivolous and narrow-minded people, for He Himself is Generous, Clement and Forbearing. How, then Allah, Who bestows on the people the necessities of life without stint, and forgives and pardons them over and over again in spite of their errors, would like those who mar the self-respect of a person by sending repeated reminders of their charity and making pointed references to it even though they might have given only a farthing.

A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will neither speak a word nor even so much as look at a person who makes pointed references to the gift he gave to some one.

303His hypocrisy itself clearly shows that he does not believe in Allah and the Hereafter. The very fact that he practises charity so as to be seen by men, shows that they are his .gods (and not Allah), from whom he expects to get his reward. A hypocrite does neither expect any reward from God nor he believes that one Day all deeds will be judged and rewarded.

304In this parable the rain is the charity. The hard barren rock on which the rain falls is the evil intention with which that charity is practised. The thin layer of the earth is the seeming virtue which hides the evil intention. Though rainfall makes the crop grow, it does actual harm, if it falls on a rock which has only a thin layer of soil on it, by washing away even that thin soil and leaving the rock bare. In the same way, though charity has the power of developing virtue, it fails to do so, if it is not practised with good intentions. W without these things the wealth spent in charity is nothing more than so much wealth wasted like the rainfall on the rock with a thin layer of soil.

305The word "kafir" here stands for the ungrateful person. Anyone who does not spend the wealth given to him by Allah in His Way and for His Pleasure but spends it to gain approbation from people, is an ungrateful wretch because he forgets the favour of Allah. It is equally true of him who spends something in the Way of Allah but at the same time does harm to the recipient. When such a person himself does not want His approval, it is not Allah's Will to show him the way of His approval.

[265] In contrast to them, the charity of those, who expend their wealth sincerely with the sole desire of pleasing Allah, may be likened to a garden on a plateau. If heavy rain falls, it yields its produce twofold: and even if there is no heavy rain but only a light shower, that too, is sufficient306 for it: whatever you do is in the sight of Allah.

306"Heavy rainfall" is that charity which is practised with the best intentions and the deepest feelings of devotion, and the light shower of that charity which, though sincere, has not so much depth and intensity of feelings behind it as in the former case.

[266] Would anyone of you wish that he should have a green garden of palm trees and vines, watered by canals and laden with all sorts of fruit and then it should be consumed by a fiery whirlwind at the very time when he himself has grown very old and his small children are too feeble to earn anything?307 Thus Allah makes His revelations clear and plain to you that you may ponder over them.

307That is, "It is quite obvious that you do not like the earnings of your whole life to be consumed at that critical period of your old age when you need them very badly and when there is no more chance for you to earn anything afresh. Exactly the same shall be your condition when .you enter into the Life-after-death without any provision for it. You shall then realize all of a sudden, like the old man of the parable, that the earnings of your whole life were left behind in the world and were as useless for you in the other world as the consumed garden to the old man. Besides this, you shall find yourself as helpless as the old man of the parable because in the Life-after-death there would be no more chance for you to earn anything for the Next World. If you do not practise charity etc., in this world in the way it has been enjoined, but spend your whole life and its energies for the interest of this world only, you will meet, at your death, with the same critical and helpless situation as the old man of the parable met. He lost his only garden, the earnings of his whole life and the support of his old age at that period of his life when he himself was unable to plant a new garden, and his children were unable to do anything because of their tender age."

[267-268] O Believers, expend in Allah's Way the best portion of the wealth you have earned and of that We have produced for you from the earth, and do not pick out for charity those worthless things which you yourselves would only accept in disdain by connivance, if they were offered to you. Understand it well that Allah does not stand in need of anything whatsoever and has all the praise-worthy attributes.308 Satan holds out to you the threat of poverty and prompts you to adopt a shameless niggardly conduct, but Allah holds out from Himself the promise of pardon and bounty: Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.

308It implies that Allah Who does not standin need of anything or anyone enjoins the people to spend the best things in His Way not for Himself but for their own good. As He Himself has all the praiseworthy attributes and all the excellent qualities. I He does not approve of anyone who has a low character. He Himself is so generous that He is always showering His blessings on His creatures; therefore He does not love the narrow-minded, mean people who pick out worthless things for charity.

[269] He bestows wisdom upon anyone He wills, and he who is given wisdom is in fact given great wealth,309 but only those who have common sense learn lessons from these things.

309"Hikmat" which has been translated "wisdom," stands for the knowledge with the power of discerning what is true and right. Hence anyone who has wisdom will not adopt the narrow ways of Satan but will follow the broad Way of Allah. According to the narrow-minded disciples of Satan, it is wisdom and cleverness to be parsimonious with their wealth and to be always on the look-out lire acquiring more and more of it. On the contrary, those, who have been given true wisdom, consider this course to be very foolish. According to them wisdom is to spend one's wealth generously in good works after fulfilling one's own necessities of a moderate standard. It is just possible that the former may enjoy a more prosperous life here in this world but this is not the whole life. It is only a very small portion of the real life which continues after death. He, therefore, must be a big fool who gets enjoyment in this short life 2t the expense of happiness in the eternal life. The wise one is he who makes the best use of this short life and makes provision for the prosperity of the eternal life, even if he has been given small wealth here.

[270-271] Surely Allah knows whatever you may have spent and whatever vow you may have made, and the wrong-doers (who spend in the way of Satan) shall have no helpers.310 If you practise charity publicly, it is good; but if you give charity secretly to the needy, it is much better for you,311 for this will expiate many of your sins.312 Anyhow, Allah is well aware of whatever you do.

310Allah is fully aware of the intentions and actions of everyone and knows whether one spends in the way of Allah or in the way of Satan and whether .me makes a vow to Allah or to someone else. Therefore those, who spend fur His cause and make vows to Hint, will most surely get their rewards from Him. And those evildoers, who speed for the cause of Satan and make vows to others, shall have no helper to protect them from His punishment.

Nadhar (a vow) is a solemn pomise made by a person to perform some act, or make some offering or gift etc., not binding on him, in case some wish of his should be fulfilled. If that wish is lawful and is asked of Allah and the vow is made to Allah alone, such a vow must be fulfilled as a religious duty. for it is in obedience to Allah. But if the wish is unlawful or the vow is made to someone other than Allah, then the making of the vow is sinful and its fulfilment would merit condemnation.

311It is better to practise the obligatory charity (Zakat) openly and every other kind of charity secretly. The same principle applies to all other religious practices. It is better to perform the obligatory duties openly and the voluntary ones secretly.

312It helps reform the character of a man if he performs good deeds secretly. It develops virtues in him and eradicates vices. As a result, one becomes such a favourite of Allah, that Allah in view of one's virtue and sincerity, forgives any minor sins of commission or omission He wills.

[272] O Prophet, you are not responsible for their guidance; Allah Himself shows guidance to anyone He pleases. And whatever wealth you spend in charity, it is for your own good. As you spend of your wealth to win Allah's pleasure, you will be given full reward for whatever you spend and you will not be deprived in the least of your rightful due.313

313In this verse a misunderstanding of the Muslims has been removed. At first they hesitated to give monetary help to their non-Muslim relatives and other non-Muslims. They thought that monetary help to Muslims alone was in the Way of Allah. Here they have been told that they have not been made responsible for thrusting Guidance upon the unbelievers: their responsibility ends when they have conveyed the Truth to them. It lies with Allah to bestow (or not to bestow) the light of perception. The Muslims, therefore, should not hesitate to fulfil the needs of the non-Muslims just because they have not accepted the Guidance. If they fulfil the need of anyone to please Allah, He will give them their reward.

[273] Those who are engaged so much in the cause of Allah that they cannot move about in the land to earn their livelihood and are, therefore, in straitened circumstances, specially deserve help. An ignorant person would suppose them to be well off because of their self-respect; you can know their real condition from their faces, for they are not the ones who would beg of people with importunity. And Allah will surely know whatever you will spend on them.314

314This refers to the people who devote themselves wholly to the service of Islam and are, therefore, unable to earn their livelihood. There was a regular band of such volunteers of Islam known as Ashab as-suffah. They numbered about 400 and were always at the beck and call of the Holy Prophet, who had imparted to them the knowledge of Islam and trained them for its service. They imparted their acquired knowledge to others and went on different missions and expeditions under the instruction of the Holy Prophet. Obviously, such people specially deserve help because they are whole-time workers of Islam and have no spare time to earn their livelihood.

[274-277] Those who spend their wealth secretly and openly by day and night, will have their reward with their Lord, and they have nothing to fear nor grieve. But those who devour interest315 become like the one whom Satan has bewitched and maddened by his touch.316 They have been condemned to this condition because they say, "Trade is just like interest”,317 whereas Allah has made trade lawful and interest unlawfu1.318 Henceforth, if one abstains from taking interest after receiving this admonition from his Lord, no legal action will be taken against him regarding the interest he had devoured before; his case shall ultimately go to Allah.319 But if one repeats the same crime after this, . he shall go to Hell, where he shall abide for ever. Allah deprives interest of all blessing and develops charity;320 and Allah does not like an ungrateful, sinful person.321 As to those who believe and do good deeds, establish the Salat and pay the Zakat, they will most surely have their reward with their Lord and they will have nothing to fear nor to grieve.322

315The Arabic word riba' literally means "increase in" or "addition to" anything. Technically it was applied to that additional sum which the creditor charged from the debtor at a fixed rate on the principal he lent, that is, interest. At the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, interest was charged in several ways. For instance, a person sold something and fixed a time-limit for the payment of its price, and if the buyer failed to pay it within the fixed period, he was allowed more time but had to pay an additional sum. Or a person lent a sum of money and asked the debtor to pay it back together with an agreed additional sum of money within a fixed period. Or a rate of interest was fixed for a specific period and if the principal along with the interest was not paid within that period, the rate of interest was enhanced for the extended period, and so on.

316The Qur'an likens the money-lender to a madman. Just as a madman loses his sense on account of his disordered intellect, so the money-lender is so mad for money-making that he divorces himself from commonsense. He is so senselessly foolish and impudent that he does not mind how his selfishness and greed are cutting at the very root of human love, brotherhood and fellow-feeling, and destroying the common good of mankind. He does not care at all that he is gaining prosperity at the expense of many. That is how he behaves like a madman in this world. In the next world he will rise like a madman at the time of Resurrection, for, in the Hereafter a person will rise in the same condition in which he dies here.

317They based their vice on a wrong theory and did not see the fundamental difference between profit and interest. They argued like this: When profit on capital is lawful in trade, why should the interest on money invested in loans be unlawful? And the Arab money-lenders were not alone in arguing like this; the bankers and money-lenders of today also put forward similar arguments for charging interest. They argue that a person, who lends a sum of money to another, could himself make profit from it and that the debtor actually does invest it in a profitable business. Why should not the creditor then get a portion of that profit from the debtor for his productive credit? However, what they forget is that there is no business in the whole world where there is a fixed and guaranteed profit without any risk. In trade, commerce, industry, agriculture etc., one has to spend both labour and capital and at the same time one has to face risks, without any guarantee of a fixed profit. Let us for the present leave aside the case of the debtor who borrows money for consumption and not for production, and also the issue of the rate of interest. Let us compare the case of the money-lender who lends money at a moderate rate of interest for profitable business with the case of those engaged in other kinds of business. They devote their whole time, labour, talent and invest their own capital, etc., and work day and night so that their business may become profitable by virtue of their own efforts. But even then they are not guaranteed any fixed profit, and have to bear all the risks. On the contrary, the money-lender, who lends only his capital, goes on receiving a fixed amount of profit without any risk whatsoever. By what reasoning and on what principles of logic, justice and economics is it right for him to receive a fixed amount of profit? How can one be justified in lending on a fixed rate of interest to a factory a sum of money today for twenty years, when none can say what rise or fall in price may take place during these twenty years? And how is the subscriber to a war loan justified in charging interest at a fixed rate for a full century, and that too, from his own nation, whereas the whole nation has to face risks, bear losses and make sacrifices?

318The fundamental difference between profit and interest that produces different moral and economic results is this :

(I) The settlement of profit in trade between the buyer and the seller is made on equal terms. The buyer purchases the article he needs and the seller gets profit for the time, labour and brains he employs in providing that article to the buyer. In contrast, in the case of interest, the debtor cannot settle the transaction on equal terns with the creditor because of his weaker position. As far as the money lender is concerned, he gets that fixed sum of interest which he considers his profit. If the debtor spends the borrowed money in fulfilling his personal needs, the time factor definitely does not bring any profit at all. And if he invests that money in trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc., then there are equal chances of profit or loss. Thus lending money at interest might bring a guaranteed and fixed profit to one party and loss to the other, or a guaranteed and fixed profit to one party and an uncertain and indefinite profit to the other.

(2) 'The trader charges his profit, however high it tray be, once for all but the money-lender goes on charging interest over and over again and it goes on increasing with the passage of time. The profit which the debtor makes on the money of the creditor, however large it may be, has after all its own limits, but there is no limit to the interest the creditor may charge on his money. He may, as sometimes it actually happens, receive all the earnings of the debtor, nay, may even deprive him of all the means of livelihood or of the articles of his personal use and still might have the same amount of debt against him that was at the tune of borrowing.

(3) The transaction in trade comes to an end as soon as the article and its price change hands. After this the buyer is not required to return anything to the seller. As regards the rent of furniture, house, land, etc. the lent thing is not itself spent up but is returned to the owner after the term. But in the case of the principal the debtor has to spend it first and then to reproduce it and return it to the creditor along with its interest. Thus the debtor runs a double risk; he has to reproduce the principal and also to produce its interest.

(4) One engaged in trade, industry, agriculture, etc., earns profit by spending time, labour and intelligence but the money-lender becomes the stronger partner in the earnings of the debtor without any risk or labour on his part simply because he invests the money which is over and above his need. Ne is a partner only to the extent that he is entitled to a fixed guaranteed interest, irrespective of whether there is any profit at all or how much, or whether there is even a loss.

From the above it becomes clear that even from the economic point of view, trade helps construct society but interest leads to ruin. As for the moral point of view, interest, by its very nature, creates parsimony, selfishness, cruelty, hard-heartedness, money-worship, etc., and kills the spirit of fellow-feeling and co-operation It is, therefore, ruinous for society both morally and economically. As to the question what should one do with the money for which one has no use, the answer is that one may invest it in commerce, industry, etc. on the basis of partnership and share profits and losses alike.

319This allowance applies only to the legal aspect of the interest which had been taken before the revelation of this verse about prohibition and does not mean that the income from that interest had also been made lawful. From the very wording of the verse, it is clear that the case will go to Allah for decision and that it has not been pardoned outright by Allah ln order to avoid endless litigation on this account, it has been declared that no legal demand for its return should be made. But from the moral point of view, it remains unclean and one who has taken it must do his best to cleanse himself of it. He should abstain from spending it on himself and try his best to find out the people from whom he received it and return it to them. In case he is unable to locate or fmd out anyone of those people, he should spend the unclean and unlawful wealth on social welfare. This is the only way in which he can save himself from the punishment of Allah Who will decide his case on the Day of Judgement. As to the person who goes on enjoying this unlawful wealth, he may be liable to punishment even for his money-lending in the past.

320This is true from the social, economic, moral and spiritual points of view. Though apparently interest enriches and charity impoverishes, it is really just the opposite of it. According to the law of Allah, interest is, in its very nature, a hindrance to the social, economic, moral and spiritual progress and charity ( including a loan without interest) helps their development.

if we look at interest from the moral and spiritual points of view, we see clearly that it is based on greed, selfishness, parsimony, narrow-mindedness, hardheartedness and the like and nurtures the same evils in the money-lender. On the other hand, charity is based on generosity, sympathy, broad-mindedness, largeheartedness and the like and develops the same high qualities. Can anyone deny that these qualities are far better than the former?

From the social point of view, even a little thinking will show that a society can never become strong and stable if its individual members base their mutual dealings on selfishness and if one is not willing to help the other without self-interest. If the rich people believe that the poor people exist merely to afford them an opportunity for exploitation, there will be a clash of interest which will result in the disintegration of society. If other factors also help this evil state of affairs, these will surely produce class struggle. On the other hand, if the individual members of a society base their dealings on mutual sympathy and treat each other with generosity, they will most surely strengthen it. If everyone tries to help the other in need, and if the "haves" treat the "havenots" with sympathy or at least with justice, mutual love and fellow-feeling will develop in society and it will become strong and stable. Obviously, its progress will be accelerated by mutual co-operation and fellow-feeling.

Now let us consider interest from the economic point of view. Loans are of two kinds. The consumptive loan is borrowed by the helpless needy persons for their personal needs and the economic loan is taken by businessmen for trade, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc. As to the first kind of loan, everyone knows that interest on it produces ruinous results. In every country the money-lenders and bankers are sucking the blood of the labourers, peasants and the common poor, and making their condition miserable. The interest charges render the payment of debt almost impossible for such people and they have to borrow one loan after the other to get out of this mess. Even after paying interest equal to many times the original principal, the principal still remains as it was before. The major portion of the income of the debtor is taken away by the money-lender and the poor debtor finds himself unable to make both ends meet. Naturally this kills the interest of the labourers in their work. When the fruit of their labour is taken away by others, they cannot put their whole heart into their work. More than that: when worry, anxiety, poor food, etc.., spoil their health, they cannot afford even to buy the necessary medicine for want of money. Thus money-lending leads to the fattening and battening of a few at the expenses of the blood-sucking of the majority and results in the general deterioration of the nation. The inefficiency caused in their way lowers the quality and standard of national production. In the end the bloodsuckers themselves fall a prey to their own iniquity. When the suppressed anger and hatred of the depressed people engendered by the selfishness of the cruel money-lenders, bursts out into a bloody revolution, it sweeps away their honour and lives along with their ill-gotten wealth.

As to the fixed interest on economic loans, three out of the many evils are given below

(1) Those concerns that cannot pay an interest higher than or equal to the market rate cannot draw in capital howsoever useful they may be for the nation. All the available money flows into those channels of commerce and industry which can bring interest equal to or greater than the market rate of interest, howsoever harmful or ruinous they might be from the national point of view.

(2) There is no business commercial, industrial, agricultural that can guarantee a fixed and uniform rate of profit, say five, six or ten per cent or more under all circumstances. Not to speak of such a guarantee, there cannot be any guarantee against loss in any business. Therefore, the business which borrows capital at a fixed rate of interest can never be free from risk or loss.

(3) As the money-lender himself is not directly a partner in the profit or the loss of the business but keeps in view only his guaranteed fixed interest, he is not interested in its welfare. His only concern is his own interest; therefore he very selfishly tries to withdraw and withhold his money whenever he has even the slightest fear of a slump in the market. In this way he creates panic by his selfishness and paves the way for a further crisis and when there is already a crisis, he accelerates it into a disaster.

The above mentioned three evils of interest are so obvious that they are well known to everyone who knows even the ABC of economics. Can then anyone deny the truth of the natural law enunciated by Allah that interest does not increase but decreases the national economic wealth?

Now let us consider charity from the economic point of view. If the well-to-do people of a society spend money liberally in buying their own necessities of life and those of their dependents and distribute a part of their wealth among the needy to enable them to buy their necessities of life, or if they lend it to businessmen without interest, or invest it in business on the basis of partnership, or lend it without interest to their government for national service, then obviously, commerce, industry, agriculture, etc., will thrive to a very high standard. The standard of national prosperity will rise higher and higher and the production of its wealth will become larger as compared with the country where interest is lawful. Thus it is clear that interest hinders the progress of a nation and charity helps its development.

321The money-lender is no doubt an ungrateful wretch. As a grateful servant of Allah, Who gives him spare money, the least he ought to do is to lend it to his other servants without interest. And if, instead of this, he uses the bounty of Allah to exploit His other servants who are getting less than he, he becomes not only ungrateful but also cruel and wicked.

322In this passage Allah has presented two characters for contrast. One is the selfish worshipper of wealth, the Shylock, who, unmindful of Allah and His creatures, is engaged day and night in amassing and hoarding wealth. The other is the worshipper of Allah, the generous and sympathetic person who observes the rights of Allah and His creatures; who earns wealth and spends it on his ownself and on others and in doing good works. Allah disapproves of the first type of people because they cannot build any good and stable society : nay, they even make themselves and others miserable in this world, and they shall meet with grief, sorrow and affliction in the Hereafter. In contrast to this, Allah approves of the second type of people for they help build a good and stable society and achieve real success. They have also peace of mind in this world and will be blessed with all kinds of heavenly pleasures in the Hereafter.

[278-281] O Believers, fear Allah and give up that interest which is still due to you, if you are true Believers; but if you do not do so, then you are warned of the declaration of war against you by Allah and His Messenger.323 If, however, you repent even now (and forego interest), you are entitled to your principal; do no wrong, and no wrong will be done to you. If your debtor be in straitened circumstances, give him time till his monetary condition becomes better. But if you remit the debt by way of charity, it would be better for you, if you only knew it.324 Guard against the disgrace and misery of the bay when you shall return to Allah: there everyone shall be paid in full, for the good or evil one has earned and none shall be wronged.

323This verse was revealed after the conquest of Makkah, but was inserted here because it also deals with interest. Even before its revelation, interest was regarded as a hateful thing though it had not yet been legally forbidden. But after its revelation, money-lending on interest became a criminal offence in the Islamic State. Those clans who carried on this business in Arabia, were duly warned to give it up for otherwise a war would be declared against them. When the Christians of Najran were granted autonomy within the Islamic State, it was specified in the treaty that if they continued their money-lending business, the treaty would come to an end and there would be a state of war between the parties.

From the concluding portion of this verse, Ibn `Abbas, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin and Rubai'-bin-Anas have concluded that the one who takes interest in the Islamic State should be warned to repent of it, and if he does not give it up, he should be put to death. But the other jurists are of the opinion that he should be put in prison and kept there until he undertakes to give up this business.

324This verse empowers an Islamic court of law to compel the creditors to give more time to the debtors for the payment of debts, if they are in such straitened circumstances that they cannot pay back their debts. Under certain circumstances, the court is entitled to write off the debt altogether or a part of it. A Tradition says that a man suffered loss in his business and came heavily under debt. When his case was taken to the Holy Prophet, he made an appeal to the people to help him out of it. Accordingly, the people made monetary contributions, but even then he could not clear all his debts. Then the Holy Prophet addressed the creditors and told them that they would have to be satisfied with whatever was collected for the payment of their debts. The jurists have explained that the house in which a tnan lives, his utensils, clothes and tools of trade can in no case be confiscated.

[249-251] And when Saul marched out with his army, he warned: "Allah is going to put you to a test by the side of a river: whoso drinks of its water shall cease to be my companion: he alone shall be~my companion who does not quench his thirst with its water: one may, however, take except a few, drank their fill of it.271 Afterwards when Saul, and those who had believed with him, crossed the river and advanced forward, the former said to Saul, "We have no power left this day to fight against Goliath and his hosts."272 But those who believed that one Day they shall meet Allah, declared, "lt has often been that a small host has, by Allah's grace, overcome a big host: for Allah is with those who show fortitude." Accordingly, when they marched forward to fight with Goliath and his hosts, they prayed, "Our Lord, bless us with fortitude, make firm our foothold and give us victory over the unbelieving host." Consequently, by Allah's grace, they routed the unbelievers, and David killed Goliath; and Allah gave him kingship and wisdom and taught him whatever other things He willed. And if Allah had not been repelling one set of people by means of another, the earth273 would have been filled with chaos.274 But Allah is bountiful to the world (and so repels chaos in this way).

271The river might have been the Jordan or some other stream or rivulet, which Saul had to cross with the army of Israel. As he knew there was very little discipline in his community, he applied this test to sift the competent from the incompetent, and the brave from the cowardly. It is obvious that those, who could not control their thirst for a little while, could not be trusted to keep discipline in the face of that enemy by whom they had previously been defeated.

As the same test was applied by Gideon before Saul, Palmer and Rodwell have come to the strange conclusion that Gideon and Saul are here (v. 249) confused. Of course, by this they wanted to show that the Qur'an was not a revealed Book but was the invention of Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him). This objection is absurd on the face of it. If two similar events had happened and only one of these is mentioned in the Bible, it does not prove that the other did not happen just because it was not mentioned in it. Moreover, it has never been claimed that the Bible contains the complete history of the Israelites with its full details. The very fact that the Talmud contains many incidens which are not mentioned in the Bible is a proof thereof.

272Probably these were the people who had shown lack of endurance by the riverside.

273According to the Bible, David was a raw youth at that time. By chance he reached the army of Saul at the time when Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, was uttering his challenge: "I defy the force of Israel. Give me a man and let us have a fight." Hearing these words the Israelites were dismayed and daunted, but David said to Saul, "Let not my Lord's courage fail him: Your servant will go and fight the Philistines." Saul would not agree but David persisted and was allowed to tight him. When Goliath saw him, he despised him for his youth and said, "Come here and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field." Then David answered, "The Eternal will deliver you into my hands so that all the world may learn that Israel has a God, till all here present, learn that the Eternal does not save by sword and spear ........ the fight is in the Eternal's hands, and He will put you in our power.' Then David slew him and became very popular among the Israelites. Saul gave his own daughter to him in marriage and after him he became the king of Israel. (For further details please refer to I Samuel, Chapters 17, 18).

274In order to keep peace and order on the Earth, Allah allows different groups, different nations and different parties to gain and retain power to a certain limit but when they transgress that limit, He replaces them by others and breaks their power. If Allah had allowed any one party or nation to continue in power for ever, Allah's Earth would have been filled with utter confusion and disorder.

[252-253] These are Allah's revelations, which We are conveying to you accurately. And O Muhammad, most surely you are of those who have been sent as Messengers. Of these Messengers (whom We sent for the guidance of mankind), We raised some above the others in rank. Among them was one with whom Allah Himself had direct talks. There were others whom He raised high in rank in other ways. Likewise We gave clear signs to Jesus, son of Mary, and supported him with the Holy Spirit. Had Allah so willed the people who had seen clear signs would not have fought against one another after the Prophets. But (it was not Allah's will to prevent people forcibly from differences: so) they disagreed; then some of them accepted the Truth and others rejected it. If Allah had so willed they would have never fought against one another, but Allah does whatever He pleases (to fulfill His designs.)275

275Naturally a question arises: Why does not then Allah will it`? Why sloes He allow differences that sometimes result in wranglings, even fights? Is He helpless to stop these? Of course, He is All-Powerful and could have stopped these and none would have dared to swerve even the least from the Guidance He sent through His Messengers. But it is not His will to force people to follow a particular, defined fixed way, because He has sent man on the Earth for a trial. If He had taken away freedom of action from man the trial would have become meaningless. He sent His Messengers to invite the people to the Right Way and convince them by arguments and signs. The Messengers were not sent to force people to believe and submit to Allah. Differences and fights took place because the people abused the limited freedom of will and freedom of action which was given to them by Allah and then invented ways of life different from that Way which was sent down by Allah. Thus it is quite obvious that differences did not arise because Allah failed (though He willed) to force the people to choose the Right Way. Of course, Allah is able to do anything He wills.

[254] O Believers, spend of the wealth We have bestowed upon you276 (in Our way) before the Day comes when there shall be no buying and no selling: when neither friendship nor intercession will be of any avail. Those, who adopt the way of disbelief are indeed the277 wrongdoers.

276Believers have been exhorted to make monetary sacrifices for the achievement of the cause they believe in.

277"Those who adopt the way of disbelief" may either refer to those who refuse to obey the commands of Allah and consider the hoarding of wealth to be dearer than the winning of His approval, or to those who do not believe in the Day about which warning has been given, salvation in the Hereafter through somebody's friendship or intercession.

[255] Allah: the Everlasting, the Sustainer of the whole Universe; there is no god but He.278 He does neither slumber nor sleep.279 Whatsoever is in the heavens and in the earth is His.280 Who is there that can intercede with Him except by His own permission.?281 He knows what is before the people and also what is hidden from them. And they cannot comprehend anything of His knowledge save whatever He Himself pleases to reveal.282 His Kingdom283 spreads over the heavens and the earth and the guarding of these does not weary Him. He alone is the Supreme and the Exalted.284

278Though ignorant people might make several gods and set up objects of worship, the fact remains that the whole of creation belongs to the Eternal, Who has no partner whatsoever. He is the living Allah Who sustains the whole universe. He alone is the Master of His kingdom. None else is a partner in His attributes, characteristics, powers and rights. Hence a lie is invented whenever any Palce god is set up beside Allah on the earth or in the heavens and a war is waged against the Truth.

279This refutes the conception of Allah which is based on the assumption that He has weaknesses and limitations like imperfect human beings. For instance the Bible says, "And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had made: and He rested on the seventh day from all the work which He had made" (Genesis 2 : 2 ), and "Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine." (Psalms 78 : 65). Of course, Allah is absolutely free from such weaknesses.

280He is the Master and Owner of the earth and the heavens and each and everything contained in them, and none else has any part or share in His Ownership, His Authority, His Kingdom, His Sovereignty and His Rule. Anyone or anything that can be conceived as god will surely be a part of the universe and every part of this universe is Allah's property and cannot, therefore, be His partner or rival.

281This refutes the wrong notion of those who are under the delusion that saints, angels, etc., wield great influence with Allah, and they will intercede with Him and force Him to pardon them. They are being warned that no creature of His can stand before Him and intercede for others, not to speak of forcing Allah to pardon them. No prophet, no angel, and no saint will dare utter a word without the permission of the Sovereign of the universe.

282According to the Qur'an, it is an unpardonable sin to associate any partner or set up any rival to rank with Allah or to assume for oneself His rights or characteristics in any way whatsoever. This is called shirk. In the preceding verse, the Quran strikes at the very root of shirk by declaring that Allah's Sovereignty is unlimited and His Power is absolute. In this verse the same thing is presented from another point of view, by posing the question: How can anyone interfere in the management of the universe when none possesses that knowledge which is a prerequisite for this? The knowledge of the angels and human beings is so imperfect that none of them can understand the system of the universe and, therefore, any interference in its management would invariably result in chaos. Not to speak of the management of the universe, people cannot even know in what lies their own good. It is thus obvious that they should have full confidence in the Guidance of Allah Who is the real source of all knowledge and Who knows in what lies their own good.

283The word "kursi' (chair) has been used here figuratively as a symbol of power and authority. Even in English the word chair is used for the seat of authority, and government.

284This verse is known as Ayat al-Kursi. It gives such a perfect ,knowledge of Allah that has no parallel elsewhere. That is why a Tradition has declared it to be the best verse of the Qur'an. This verse is known as Ayat al-Kursi. It gives such a perfect ,knowledge of Allah that has no parallel elsewhere. That is why a Tradition has declared it to be the best verse of the Qur'an.

Here a question arises: In what connection has Allah and His attributes been mentioned in this place? In order to answer this question, we should survey the address which begins from verse 243. First of all the believers have been exhorted to exert their utmost in the Way of Allah and make sacrifice of life and property for its establishment. They have also been warned to ward off those weaknesses in which the Israelites were involved. Then it has been impressed upon them that success does not depend merely upon numbers, provisions and armaments, but upon faith, fortitude, discipline and firm determination. Then the wisdom of war as a weapon with which Allah repels one group by another has been stated; that is, if only one group or one party had been allowed to continue in power, it would have made life difficult for its rivals and opponents. Then it has been shown that Allah is not powerless to remove differences from among the people but it is not His Will to remove these forcibly. Therefore He sends His Messengers with the Truth for this purpose, but leaves the people free to accept or reject it. Again as in the beginning of this discourse, the Muslims have been enjoined to spend their wealth in the Way of Allah. Then in this verse it has been declared that inspite of the differences in the creeds and the religions of the people, the fact is that Allah sustains and controls the whole universe. Of course, it is not His Will to force the people to believe in Him, but He only warns them through His Messengers that those, who will believe in Him and sacrifice their lives and properties in His Way in order to please Him, will be gainers and those, who will disbelieve, shall be losers

[256-257] There is no compulsion and coercion in regard to religion.285 The right thing has been made distinct from the wrong thing: now whoever rejects taghut 286 and believes in Allah has taken a firm support that never gives way. And Allah (Whose support he takes) hears everything and knows everything. Allah is the Helper and Protector of those who believe in Him: He brings them out of the depths of darkness287 into the light. As for the disbelievers, they have taghut288 as their patron, who drives them out of light into the depths of darkness. These are the people who are doomed to the Fire, wherein they shall live for ever.

285The word "din" implies the concept about Allah as stated in the Ayat al-Kursi above as well as the entire way of life built on it. The verse means that the creed of Islam and its way of life cannot be thrust upon anyone forcibly. As a matter of fact, this cannot be forced upon anyone.

286The word taghut literally applies to everyone who transgresses the limits. The Qur'an uses this word for one who rebels against Allah and claims himself to be the master and sovereign of His servants and forces them to become his servants.

Man's rebellion against Allah has three degrees of criminality: (1) One is fasiq (disobedient) if one professes to be His subject but practically acts against His commandments; (2) One is kafir (disbeliever) if one becomes independent of Him or owes allegiance to someone else; (3) One is taghut if one rebels against Allah and exerts to make His subjects subservient to himself. Such a one may be Satan or a priest or a religious or a political leader or a king or a state. Therefore no one can be a true believer of Allah unless he disowns taghut.

287"Darkness" stands for the darkness of ignorance that causes one to go astray from the Right Way, and to spend all one's efforts and energies in wrong way. In contrast to this, "light" stands for the light of the Truth which enables one to see clearly the Reality and perceive the real aim of life and follow consciously and deliberately the Right Way.

288Though taghut is singular in form, here it is plural in meaning, for the one who rejects Allah becomes a slave not of one but of several forms of taghut, One of these is Satan who goes on tempting him with many false and alluring temptations. Another is his own self that makes him a slave of passions and lusts and misleads him into crooked ways. Then there are others, his wife and children, his kith and kin, his clan and family, his friends and nation, his political and religious leaders and his government. All these are taghut for him and desire to make him a slave of their wishes and ambitions. And this slave of all these masters wastes his whole life in trying to accomplish the impossible feat of pleasing each and every one of them.

[258] Have289 you not considered the case of the person who had an argument with Abraham290 as to `Whom Abraham acknowledged as his Lord?' The dispute arose because Allah had given him the kingship,291 (which had made him arrogant). When Abraham said, "My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death," he answered, "I give life and cause death." Then Abraham said, "Well, Allah brings the sun from the east: just bring it from the west." At this the disbeliever was confounded:292 (yet he did not believe), for Allah does not show guidance to unjust people.

289In the foregoing verse it was declared that Allah is the Helper and Protector of a believer and brings him out of darkness, and taghut is the helper of the unbelievers and misleads them into darkness. Now three events are cited as a proof thereof. The first is the instance of a person to whom the Truth was presented with so clear arguments that he could not find any answer against them. But in spite of this, he did not accept it because he was misled by taghut and so he went on wandering in the darkness. ?he other two instances are of those who had full confidence in Allah, so Allah not only took them out of darkness into light but also made them eye-witnesses of the unseen Reality to enable them to give testimony concerning it.

290The person referred to is Nimrod who was the king of `Iraq, the land of the birth of Abraham. The Bible does not mention this dispute but the Talmud relates it in detail and its version is substantially the same as that of the Qur'an. It says that Abraham's father was the chief officer of king Nimrod and a great favourite with his royal master. His son Abraham was a lover of the Lord from his earliest childhood. When he grew up he began to preach openly the "Oneness" of God and condemn the association of any partner or rival with Him. In order to demonstrate this, he broke the idols and his father hastened before king Nimrod and denounced Abraham, saying, "He has acted so and so; let him be brought before thee for judgement." Abraham was summoned before the king and the dispute mentioned here took place between them.

291The point at issue in the dispute was as to whom Abraham acknowledged as his Lord Allah or Nimrod. The dispute arose because of the arrogance of Nimrod whom Allah had given kingdom. In order to understand the true nature of the dispute the following should be kept in view

(1) It has always been a common characteristic of all the mushrik societies to accept Allah as the God of gods and the Lord of lords but, at the same tune, to associate other gods and lords with Him, so as not to acknowledge Him exclusively as the Lord and God and worship Him as the Deity.

(2) They have always divided Godhead into two parts the supernatural Godhead and the sovereign Godhead. They assign to God the supernatural Godhead which controls every kind of cause that produces an effect: so they turn to Him for help in their needs and difficulties but in their ignorance they set up spirits, angels, jinns, stars and many others as partners with the Supreme God, and pray to them, worship them and present offerings to them at temples dedicated to them. As to the sovereign Godhead, which really belongs to God and entitles Him alone to prescribe the way of life and to demand obedience to His commandments and to have absolute authority over all the affairs of the world, the mushrikin have in every age either totally usurped this rank of Godhead from God and handed it over to royal families, priests, guides, elders of society, etc., or divided it between these gods and God. That is why the royal families have often claimed the rank of Godhead in the second sense, and in order to strengthen their claim, have declared themselves to be descendants of gods in the first sense, and the priests have always strengthened and supported them , in their evil designs of becoming gods.

(3) Nimrod claimed to be a god possessing the rank of sovereign godhead. He did not deny the existence of God nor did he claim to be the creator of the heavens and the earth nor the sustainer and ruler of the universe. He only claimed to be the absolute lord and sovereign of `Iraq and its inhabitants. His claim was that whatever he said was law and there was none over him to whom he might be held accountable: therefore any inhabitant of 'Iraq who did not acknowledge him exclusively as his lord was a rebel.

(4) The dispute referred to arose when Abraham declared, "I acknowledge the Lord of the universe exclusively as my Lord and God of worship and I disown categorically the lordship and godhead of everyone else." Obviously, the declaration of this creed not only struck at the root of the national religion and religious gods but at the national state and its central power, king Nimrod, who claimed to be the absolute lord of 'Iraq. That is why it was not tolerated and the Prophet Abraham was brought before Nimrod for trial as a rebel.

292Although Abraham had made it quite clear in his very tirst sentence that there can be no other lord than Allah, yet Nimrod impudently tried to refute his argument. But after the second argument, Nimrod was so non-plussed that he could not find any further argument to continue the dispute, as he himself knew and acknowledged that the sun and the moon were under the command of that God Whom Abraham acknowledged as Lord. He, however, would not accept this Truth which had become quite clear even to him because to accept it meant the giving up of his claim to despotism. As the rebel within him was not ready for this, he would not come out from the darkness of self - worship into the light of the Truth, even though he was dumbfounded. If he had made Allah his patron instead of his own "self," he would have found the right guidance from Abraham's preaching.

The Talmud says that after this dispute the king sent him to prison, where he remained for ten days. Then the king and his council sentenced him to be burnt alive and cast him into the flaming furnace. This incident has been mentioned in the Qur'an in Surah Al-Anbiya (XXI:51-74).

[259] Or take the case of the one who passed by a township that had fallen down upon its roofs.293 He exclaimed, "How shall Allah bring back to life this township that has become dead?"294 At this Allah caused him to die and he lay dead for a hundred years. Then Allah brought him back to life and asked him, "How long have you lain here?" He answered. "I might have lain here for a day or a few hours." Allah said, "Nay, you have been lying here in this state for a hundred years: now, just have a look at your food and your drink; they have not become spoiled in the least. Then have a look at your ass, (and see that his very bones have become rotten) and We have done this in order to make you a Sign for the people.295 Look, how We raise up the skeleton and set the bones (of the ass) and cover them with flesh and (put breath of life into them)." And when the Reality became manifest to him, he said, "I know that Allah has power over everything."

293It is useless to form conjectures as to 'who the person and which the township was, for it is not only irrelevant but also impossible to know this. There is no mention of these things in the Quran or the authentic Traditions either, and we have no other reliable source. The purpose for which the incident has been related here is that "Allah brings into light those who make Him their patron." It is, however, clear from his subsequent words that he must have been a Prophet.

294This question did not mean that he disbelieved in Resurrection or he had any doubt about it. It simply meant that he, like other Prophets, wanted to see the Reality with his own eyes.

295The resurrection of a person who had been dead for a hundred years was itself a living Sign for the people of his age.

[232] When you have divorced your wives absolutely and they have completed their prescribed term, then you should not prevent them from marrying their prospective husbands, if they mutually agree to marry each other in a lawful way.256 You are enjoined not to commit such an offence,if you sincerely believe in Allah and the Last Day. It is most decent and pure for you to desist from this; Allah knows and you do not know.

256That is, "If both agree to re-marry after the expiry of the term, the relatives of the divorced woman should not prevent her from remarrying her former husband, who had divorced her once or twice but had not become re-united with her during the prescribed term. It may also mean that the husband who had divorced his wife thrice should not prevent her from marrying another person after the expiry of the prescribed term. There is nothing meaner that one should prevent his divorced wife from marrying another man just because he himself has divorced her. "

[233] The (divorced) mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years, if the fathers desire the suckling to be completed.257 In that case the father of the child shall, in the fair known way, be responsible for their food and clothing. But none should be burdened with more than one can bear: neither the mother should be pressed unjustly (to accept unfair terms) just because she is the mother nor should the father be burdened just because he is the father. And the same responsibility for the maintenance of the mother devolves upon the father of the child and his heir.258 There is no harm if they wean the child by mutual consent and consultation. Moreover, there is no harm if you choose to give your children a suckle by a wet nurse, provided that you pay her fairly. Fear Allah and know it well that whatever you do is in the sight of Allah.

257This applies to all the cases in which the husband and the wife have separated in any manner divorce, khula' or judicial separation) and the child is still a suckling.

258If the father dies, the responsibility of remunerating the mother or the wet nurse who suckles the infant lies on the guardian just as it lay on the father.

[234-235] If those of you, who die, leave wives behind, they should abstain (from marriage) for four months and ten days.259 Then when their waiting term expires, they are free to do whatever they choose for themselves, provided that it is decent; you shall not be answerable for this; Allah is fully aware of what you do. It is no offence if you make indirect proposal of marriage to widows during their waiting term or keep it concealed in your hearts: for Allah knows that you will naturally think of them. But be careful not to make any secret engagement. If you have to do anything, do it in an honourable way. And you should not settle anything finally about the marriage until the waiting term expires. Understand it well that Allah even knows what is hidden in your hearts; so fear Him. Also know that Allah is Lenient and Forgiving.

259This prescribed term for waiting also applies to those widows who might not have had any intercourse with their husbands. The pregnant widow is, however, an exception. Her prescribed term is her delivery whether it takes place just after the death of the husband or several months after it.

"They must abstain" implies that they must not remarry during the term, nor adorn themselves in any manner during this period. Traditions give clear instructions that widows should not wear ornaments and coloured and showy dresses, nor adorn themselves with any kind of make-up during the term. There is, however, a difference of opinion as to whether a widow should pass the term in the house of the deceased husband or not. Hadrat 'Umar, `Uthman Ibn `Umar, Zaid bin Thabit, Ibn Mas'ud, Umm Salamah, Said bin al-Musayyib, Ibrahim Nakha'i, Muhammad bin Sirin, and the four Imams (may Allah show mercy to all of them) are of the opinion that she should reside in the house of the deceased husband. On the contrary, Hadrat 'A'ishah, Ibn 'Abbas, Hadrat 'Ali, Jabir bin 'Abdullah, 'Ata', Ta'us, Hasan Basri, 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz, and all the Zahiris are of the opinion that she is free to pass the period wherever she likes, and can also go on a journey.

[236-237] It is no sin if you divorce your wives while you have not yet touched them or fixed any dower for them. In such a case, pay them something anyhow.260 A rich man should pay fairly according to his means and a poor man according to his resources, for this is an obligation on the righteous people. In case you fixed a dower for them and then divorced them before you touched them, you should pay half of the fixed dower. But there is no harm if the woman agrees to forego it or the man, in whose hands is the marriage tie, is generous enough (to pay the dower in full). And if you (men) act generously, it is akin to piety. Do not forget to show generosity in your dealings261 with one another for Allah sees what you do.

260After all some harm is done to the woman when the marital relation is broken even under such a condition. Therefore some compensation, according to one's means, must be paid.

261That is mutual generosity in dealings is essential for the harmony and betterment of human relations. Social life can never be happy if each and every person insists on his own legal rights.

[238-239] Take great care of your Prayers,262 especially of a Prayer that has excellent qualities of Salat263 and stand before Allah like devoted servants. Even if you are in danger, you must offer your Prayers anyhow on foot or on horseback. And when you have peace again, remember Allah in the manner He has taught you , which you did not know before.

262After enunciating rules and regulations for ensuring social welfare and for leading a civilized life, Allah has impressed the importance of the Salat as a finishing touch because it alone can produce fear of Allah and feelings of virtue and piety and create the attitude of obedience to the Divine Law and keep one on the right path. None can remain firm in one's obedience to the Law of Allah without Salat, for one is liable to swerve into one kind of disobedience or the other like the Jews.

263Interpreters differ in regard to the meaning of "Salat-al-wusta"but the majority of them are of the opinion that it refers to one of the five Prayers, and most of them have opined that it is the "Asr Prayer." There is, however, no definite saying of the Holy Prophet in support of any of these interpretations. Those who are in favour of the " `Asr Prayer" infer their opinion from this Tradition: In the "Battle of the Clans," the Holy Prophet was so engaged in repelling the invasion of the enemies that he got no time to offer the " `Asr Prayer" till sunset. Then he said, "May Allah fill their graves with fire for depriving us of our 'Salat al-wusta'." From this they infer that by "Salat al-wusta" is meant the " 'Asr Prayer." But in my opinion what the Holy Prophet meant by this was that they were responsible for the spiritual loss the Muslims had suffered by their inability to offer their " 'Asr Prayer" in time and with peace of mind. As the Prayer whose loss the Holy Prophet regretted happened to be the " 'Asr Prayer," the interpreters were led to conclude that the "'Asr Prayer" itself was the Salat al- wu.sta.

The Arabic word "wusta" means both middle and excellent. Thus, Salat al-wusta implies both the middle Prayer and also an excellent Prayer which is said in time and with full attention to Allah, that is, a Prayer which has all the excellent qualities of Salat. The subsequent sentence, "Stand before Allah like obedient servants", itself supports the interpretation that it meant an excellent Prayer offered to Allah, having all the excellent qualities of Salat, and not any one particular Prayer out of the five prescribed Prayers.

[240-241] Those264 of you, who shall die and leave wives behind them, should make a will to the effect that they should be provided with a year's maintenance and should not be turned out of their homes. But if they leave their homes of their own accord, you shall not be answerable for whatever they choose for themselves in a fair way; Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. Likewise, the divorced women should also be given something in accordance with the known fair standard. This is an obligation upon the God-fearing people.

264At the end of the discourse, this has been added as an appendix and supplement.

[243-245] Have265 you ever reflected upon the case of those who fled their homes for fear of death, and they were thousands in number? So Allah said to them, "Die"; then He again gave them life.266 Indeed Allah is bountiful to mankind, but most of the people are ungrateful. O Muslims, fight in the way of Allah and know that Allah hears everything and knows everything. Who is there among you who will lend to Allah a good loan267 that He may return it after multiplying it manifold? Allah alone can decrease and increase (wealth) and to Him you shall all return.

265From here begins a new address. In it the Muslims have been exhorted to do Jihad," i.e., to exert their utmost in the Way of Allah and make monetary sacrifices for the cause. At the same time they have been warned to guard against those weaknesses that had led to the degeneration and downfall of the children of Israel. It will help understand this address, if we keep in mind the occasion of its revelation. At that time the Muslims, who had been expelled from Makkah a year or so earlier and were living as refugees at Madinah, were asking over and over again for permission to fight with the disbelievers who had been persecuting them relentlessly for years. But, when the permission they themselves had asked was given, some of them began to lose heart (Please refer to Al-Baqarah, II : 216). That is why two important events from the history of the Israelites are being related to serve as a fore-warning to the Muslims and to stimulate their zeal and courage.

266This refers to the exodus of the children of lsrael (for details please see Al-Ma'idah, V: 20-26), when they had left Egypt in large numbers and were wandering homeless in the deserts and wildernesses and were very anxious to find a home for themselves. But when inspired by Allah, the Prophet Moses ordered them to fight against the Canaanites and expel them from Palestine and conquer that territory, they showed cowardice and refused to march forward. Consequently Allah left them to wander in the land for forty years so that that generation should come to an end and a new one be brought up in the hardships of the desert. Then Allah gave them victory over the Canaanites. Probably "death and second life" refer to these two aspects of the exodus.

267"Good loan" is that which is lent without any idea of personal gain or interest but is given with the sole intention to please Allah. Allah in His bounty credits the wealth thus spent in His Way as a loan on Himself. He promises that He will not only return the actual debt but increase it manifold, provided that it is a good loan in the real sense and is lent merely to please Him and for the sake of the objects He approves.

[246] Have you also reflected upon the matter concerning the chiefs of the Israelites after (the death of) Moses? They said to their Prophet, "Appoint a king for us so that we may fight in the way of Allah."268 The Prophet asked them, "Might it be that you will not fight, if fighting is prescribed for you?" They replied, "How can it be that we would refuse to fight in the way of Allah when we have been turned out of our homes and separated from our children?" But (in spite of this assurance) when they were enjoined to fight, they all, except a few of them, turned their backs. And Allah knows each and everyone of these transgressors.

268This incident has been mentioned here to fore-warn the Muslims about the hardship and trials of Jihad.

About 1000 B.C., the Amalikites tyrannized over the Israelites and usurped many parts of Palestine from them. At that time the Prophet Samuel, who was at the helm of the affairs of Israel, had grown very old. So the elders of Israel went to Samuel and said, "You are old. Now appoint a king for us to rule us and march in front of us and fight in the way of God." They asked for a king to rule them like all other nations. They made this demand because under the evil influence of the irreligious foreign rulers, they had forgotten the very distinction between "Divine Rule" and "kingship." That is why `the thing displeased Samuel' and incurred the wrath of the Lord. Here are given some details from Chapters 7, 8, 12 of I Samuel.

"And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life ...... And it came to pass when Samuel was old, then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations .... But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, "Give us a king to judge us". And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them ..... And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him of a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint them captains over thousands and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields and your vineyards, and give them to his servants ............................. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vine-yard, and give to his officers and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen yourselves; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles. And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.............. (7:15, 8:4-22).

"And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice ...... and have made a king over you ....... And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. If ye will fear the Lord and serve Him, and obey His voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God: but if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers......Moreover as for me God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way. .. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king." (12:12-23)

From the above quotations, it is quite clear that God and His Prophet did not approve of their demand for a king. As to the question, "Why has not God condemned in the Qur'an this demand of the elders of Israel for a king?", the answer is obvious. The story has been related here only for the benefit of the Muslims so that they may learn a lesson from this. Therefore there was no occasion for the condemnation or approval of the institution of kingship, and it would have been irrelevant to discuss whether this demand was right or wrong. Here the only object in view is to state the cause of the downfall of the Israelites, their cowardice, self-worship and lack of discipline so that these might serve as a fore-warning to the Muslims and they should avoid the nourishment of such weaknesses amongst themselves.

[247-248] Their Prophet said to them, "Allah has appointed Saul269 to be king over you." Hearing this, they replied, "How has he been entitled to become king over us? We have a better right to kingship than he, for he does not even possess enough riches." The Prophet replied, "Allah has preferred him to you and blessed him with abundant powers of mind and body. And Allah has the power to give His kingdom to whomever He wills: Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing." Their Prophet further informed them, "The sign of his appointment as king from Allah is that during his reign you will get back the Ark, wherein are the means of your peace of mind from your Lord, and which contains the sacred relics of the family of Moses and Aaron, and which is being borne at this time by the angels.270 Herein is a great Sign for you, if you are true believers."

269The Bible says, "Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish .........And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice young man and a goodly person: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. And the asses of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses ..... And when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them..........And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, behold the min whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people ....... And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlour and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden which were about thirty persons ....... Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head.......and said, the Lord hath appointed thee to be captain over his inheritance ........ And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen ....... (I Samuel, chapters 9, 10).

Saul was appointed to be leader of Israel at the command of God like Aaron. David and Christ (God's . peace be upon them all), but the Qur`an or the Traditions do not say explicitly whether he was appointed as a Prophet as well. His appointment as king by God does not necessary mean that he was also made a Prophet.

270Though the Bible differs a little from the Qur'an about the details of the Ark, yet we learn much from it.

The Israelites considered the Ark to be very sacred, that is the Ark of the Covenant. They believed that by means of it "God may come among us and rescue us from the power of enemies." That is why its return gave them (shechinah) peace of mind and courage.

The Ark contained the sacred relics of the house of Moses and Aaron. These were the fragments of the tablets given to Moses on the Mount Sinai. Besides, there was the original copy of the Torah which was written under the guidance of Moses and given to the Levites. It also contained a bottle of manna so that the future generations of Israel should be grateful to Allah for the blessing which He had bestowed upon their forefathers in the desert. Probably it also contained the staff of Moses, which was a great sign of Allah.

Probably the Qur'an refers to the incident mentioned in chapters 4, 5, 6, of I Samuel.

The Ark of the Lord was captured by the Philistines in a battle in which the Israelites were routed. The Israelites were so disheartened that they cried, "The glory is gone from Israel on account of the capture of the Ark of God." The Ark remained in the land of the Philistines for seven months but there was deadly panic in every town to which it was driven, for "God laid a heavy hand upon them there." So much so that they began to cry, "The Ark of the God of Israel must not remain amongst us any longer for His hand is severer on us." Then they decided to send it back to Israel. "They took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart. And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh" .

As the cart was driven without any driver, obviously it was being driven by the angels towards the children of Israel under the direction of God.

[219] They ask you about drinking and gambling. Say, "There is great harm in both, though there is some benefit also for the people. But the harm of the sin thereof is far greater than their benefit."235

235This was the first instruction about alcoholic and intoxicating drinks and games of chance for stakes. At first a mere disapproval of these things was pronounced to serve as a preliminary to their final prohibition. The next step in this direction was that the Muslims were prohibited from offering the Prayers when they were drunk. Finally drinking, gambling and the like were made absolutely unlawful. (Please refer to An-Nisa', IV: 43 and Al-Ma'idah, V: 90).

[220] And they ask"What ought we to spend (in the way of Allah)"? Say"Spend whatever you can spare." Thus Allah makes His commands clear to you so that you may think about the good of both this world and the Hereafter. They ask you about the right way of dealing with orphans. Say "The right way is that which is for their good."236 Then there is no harm if you live a common life with them for they are after all your own brethren. Allah knows well the one who means harm and also the one who means good. If Allah had willed He would have been hard upon you in this matter for He is All-Powerful but He is at the same time All-Wise.

236Before the revelation of this verse, very strict warnings had been administered for the preservation of the rights of orphans. Warnings like "those who misappropriate the property of orphans fill their bellies with fire," had made the Muslims so fearful that the guardians of the orphans had made separate arrangements for their meals etc. But, inspite of all this, they feared lest any part of the property of the orphans should get mixed up with their property and they should incur the wrath of Allah. That is why they asked the Holy Prophet to define for them the limits of their relations with orphans. They have been told to do sincerely what is best in their interest and at the same time warned that Allah knows everything.

[221] Do not marry mushrik women unless they believe; a slave woman who believes is better than a free woman who does not believe, even though the latter may appear very attractive to you. (Likewise) do not wed your women to mushrik men unless they believe; a slave man who believes is better than a free man who does not, even though he may be very pleasing to you. These mushrik people invite you to the Fire237 while Allah by His grace invites you to the Garden and His pardon, and He makes His revelations plain to the people so that they should learn a lesson and follow the admonition.

237The reason why the believers have been prohibited from marrying musrhik spouses is that `they invite you to the Fire'. This means that such marriage might mislead the Muslim spouses to the ways of shirk, for the relations between husband and wife are not merely sexual but spiritual and cultural as well. It is possible that the Muslim spouse may influence the mushrik spouse and his or her family and their offspring in favour of the Islamic way of life. But it is equally possible that the mushrik spouse may imbue the Muslim spouse, his (or her) family or their offspring, with the spirit and ways of shirk. Most probably as a result of such a marriage, a mixture of Islam and un-Islam will be bred in such a family. A non-Muslim might approve of this, but a Muslim cannot. One who sincerely believes in Islam can never take such a risk merely for the sake of the gratification of his lust. He would rather suppress his passions than do anything that might mislead him to disbelief, blasphemy and shirk or, at least mislead his progeny.

[222-223] They ask about the monthly course. Say, "It is a state of impurity;238 so keep apart from women during their monthly course and do not go near them until they are clean.239 When they have cleansed themselves, then you may go to them in the manner Allah has enjoined you."240 Most surely Allah loves those people who refrain from evil and keep themselves pure and clean. Your wives are your tilth : so you may go to your tilth as you please,241 but you should take care of your future242 and refrain from the displeasure of Allah. Know it well that One Day you shall meet Him. (O Prophet !) bear good tidings to the Believers.

238The Arabic word "adha" stands both for illness and for uncleanliness. Menses are not only a state of impurity but also of disease. During the monthly period, women are medically nearer a state of illness than of health.

239The Qur'an uses indirect and covert hints and suggestions for the expression of such delicate matters. The instructions, "They should be separated" and "Do not go near them", do not mean that the women should be made untouchables during their monthly periods, as they are made by the Jews, the Hindus and some other communities. The Holy Prophet explained that this commandment meant only to prohibit intercourse with them during the menses. All other relations with them may be continued as before.

240The Arabic word amr does not refer to any legal injunction but to the natural instinct that has been embedded in the nature of every human being and animal and is known to every one.

241Allah has not created women merely for the enjoyment and entertainment of men. The relation between the two is as serious an affair as that of a farmer and his field. The farmer does not go to his field merely for recreation and enjoyment but for cultivation to get produce from it. In the same way, a man should go to his wife to produce children. Allah's law, however, is not concerned with the method of cultivation but with the demand that man should go to the field and not elsewhere and to his own field and for production.

242The Arabic words are comprehensive. They may imply : "You should try to produce children for the continuation of your race",or that "You must take special pains to bring up and train them morally to be good men." Here both the aspects are implied. That is why they have been warned, in the next sentence, that they shall be called to account by Allah for any deliberate disregard of these obligations.

[224-225] Do not use Allah's name for such oaths which are taken to keep back from virtue, piety and the welfare of mankind:243 Allah hears everything you utter and knows everything. Allah does not call you to Account for unintentional and meaningless oaths,244 but will surely take you to task for oaths taken deliberately and in earnest : Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.

243We learn from authentic Traditions that if anyone takes a thoughtless oath to do or not to do a thing and afterwards realizes that fairness demands its abrogation, he should abrogate it and expiate for it. The expiation for breaking an oath is the feeding of ten needy persons or clothing them or the liberation of a slave. If one cannot afford this, he must observe fast for three days. (Please see Al-Ma'idah, V : 89).

244There is neither expiation nor any punishment for those oaths that one utters unawares as a by word.

[226-227] Those who take an oath to keep apart from their wives are given four months (for a final decision),245 Then if they resume their relations, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.246 And if they resolve on divorce,247 (let them remember that ) Allah hears everything and knows everything.

245Although it is true that relations between husband and wife do not always remain cordial, yet Allah's law does not allow that the strained relations should continue indefinitely. Therefore it lays down the maximum period of four months for a separation in which they legally remain husband and wife but practically live separate lives without any conjugal relations between them. Such a separation is termed "ila" in the Islamic code of Law. During this period they must either make a reconciliation between themselves or part for good so that they may be free to marry a suitable person of their liking.

From the words "Those who take an oath" the jurists belonging to the Hanafi and Shafi'i schools of thought conclude that this period of four months applies only to those cases of separation which are made on oath; if they remain separate for any length of time without an oath, this law would not apply to them. On the other hand, the jurists belonging to the Maliki school of thought are of the opinion that the maximum period of four months applies to all cases of separation. A saying of Imam Ahmad also supports this opinion.

Hadrat `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and Hasan Basri are of the opinion that this law applies only to that case of separation which is the result of strained relations, and does not apply to the case in which the husband. and the wife agree to discontinue conjugal relations with mutual consent for some common good and at the same time keep cordial relations. There are other jurists who are of the opinion that the law of 'ila' would apply to every case of separation made on oath irrespective of the fact whether their relations remain good or bad; hence it should not go beyond the prescribed term of four months.

246Some jurists interpret this to mean that if they break their oaths within four months and re-establish conjugal relations, there would be no expiation for this; Allah will forgive the breach of their oath without expiation. But the majority of jurists are of the opinion that expiation must be made in any case. "Allah will forgive and show mercy" does not mean that the expiation will be remitted. It merely means that Allah will accept the expiation and forgive wrong done by each against the other during their separation.

247According to the verdict of Caliph `Uthman, lbn Mas'ud, Zaid bin Thabit and some other jurists, they can reunite only within four months. The expiry of this term itself is a proof that the husband has decided upon divorce. Hence after its expiry, divorce will automatically take place and the husband will forfeit the right of reunion during the waiting term. If, however, both of them agree, they can remarry. There is a verdict to the same effect from Hadrat `Umar, `Ali, Ibn `Abbas and Ibn 'Umar and the jurists of the Hanafi school have accepted the same.

Hadrat Said bin Musayyib, Makh-ul, Zuhri and some others are of the opinion that after the expiry of four months, there shall be an automatic divorce but this will be a single revocable divorce and the husband will have the right to reunite within the term (`iddat) and if he does not reunite within the term, they may remarry if they so desire.

As against this, Hadrat `A'ishah, Abud-Darda' and many other jurists of Madinah are of the opinion that after the expiry of four months the case should be taken to a court so that the judge may order the husband either to reunite with his wife or divorce her. There is also a verdict of Hadrat `Umar, Hadrat `Ali and Ibn `Umar to this effect and the same has been accepted by Imam Malik and Imam Shafi'i also.

[228] Divorced women must wait for three monthly courses. And it is not lawful for them to hide what Allah has created in their wombs, if they sincerely believe in Allah and the Last Day. Their husbands are best entitled to take248 them back as their wives during this waiting period, if they desire reconciliation.249

248That is, ''Fear Allah and do not divorce your wives for frivolous and unjustifiable reasons, for He knows everything."

249Jurists differ in the interpretation of this verse. According to one section of them, divorce does not take place and the husband retains the right of reunion up to the time of the purification of the wife by a bath after the third monthly course. This is the opinion of Hadrat Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, Abu Musa Ash-'ari, Ibn Mas'ud and some other Companions of the first rank, and the Hanafi jurists have accepted the same. On the contrary, the other section says that the husband forfeits the right of reunion as soon as the wife has a discharge of the third monthly course. This opinion is held by Hadrat `A'ishah, Ibn `Umar and Zaid bin Thabit, and the Shafe'i and the Maliki jurists have adopted the same. It must, however, be clearly understood that the husband retains the right of reunion only in the case when he has pronounced one divorce or two divorces, but he forfeits the right of reunion when he has pronounced three divorces.

[229] Divorce may be pronounced twice; then either the wife be kept honourably or parted with gracefully.250 And it is not lawful for you to take back anything out of what you have given them.251 There is, however, an exception to this; if you fear that they might not be able to keep within the limits imposed by Allah, there is no harm if both agree mutually that the wife should obtain divorce by giving something as compensation to the husband.252 These are the bounds set by Allah; therefore do not violate them, for those who violate the bounds of Allah are the tansgressors.

250This brief verse was meant to reform a serious social evil common in Arabia before the advent of Islam. A husband was allowed to pronounce divorce as often as he pleased. Whenever his relations were strained with his wife, he would pronounce a divorce and then reunite as and when it suited him. As there was no limit to this, it was repeated over and over again. Thus the wife could neither have conjugal relations with him nor was free to marry anyone else. This verse of the Qur'an shuts this door of cruelty. During his whole married life, a husband may use the right of divorce and reunion with one wife only twice. After that whenever he pronounces divorce for the third time, wife shall be separated from him permanently.

In order to check hasty action and leave the door open for reconciliation at many stages, the right method of pronouncing divorce as taught in the Qur'an and the Traditions is that if and when it becomes inevitable, it should be pronounced only when she is not in her menses and even if a dispute arises during the monthly period, it is not right to pronounce divorce during that condition, but he should wait for her to cleanse herself and then may pronounce a single divorce, if he so likes. Then he should wait for the next monthly course and pronounce the second divorce if he so wishes after she is cleansed. Then he should wait for the next monthly course to pronounce the third and final divorce after she is cleansed. It is, however, better to wait and reconsider the matter after the first and second pronouncements, for in the case of one or two divorces, the husband retains the right to take her back as his wife before the expiry of the term, and even if the term has expired, the couple has a chance to remarry by mutual consent. But if divorce is pronounced for the third time in the third period of purity, the husband forfeits the right to take her back nor can the couple remarry.

As for those ignorant people who pronounce all the three divorces in one and the same sitting, they commit a heinous sin against the Law. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has very severely denounced this practice and Hadrat `Umar used to whip the husband who pronounced three divorces at one and the same sitting.

251The husband has no right to demand anything of the dower given to the wife in consideration for the marriage or ornaments, clothes etc., given to her as gifts. It is utterly against the moral principles of Islam to ask for the return of anything given to another as a present or gift. The Holy Prophet has likened this disgraceful behaviour to the licking up of his own vomit by the dog. It is indeed very shameful on the part of a husband to keep back or demand, after the divorce, what he himself gave to his wife. As a matter of fact Islam exhorts the husband who divorces his wife to give her something at her departure. (Please see AI-Baqarah, II : 241).

252When divorce is obtained by the wife from her husband by compensation, it is called khula' in the Islamic Law. If the husband and the wife agree between themselves on some terms regarding this, the same shall be enforced. But if the case goes to the court, it will first of all try to ascertain whether the wife really dislikes her husband so much that she cannot live with him any longer. Then if the court is satisfied that they cannot live together happily, it shall fix as compensation anything that it considers proper, and the husband shall have to accept that and divorce his wife. The jurists are generally of the opinion that the compensation should not exceed the dower given by the husband.

In such a case, the husband forfeits the right of reunion after the divorce because it has been bought, so to speak, by the wife. Of course, it is lawful for them to remarry with mutual consent.

According to the majority of Muslims, the term for the wife in the case of khula' is the same as that of divorce. But Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and others have related Traditions to the effect that the Holy Prophet prescribed only one monthly course as the term for the wife after the divorce, and Caliph `Uthman decided a case in accordance with this. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. I, p. 276)

[230] And if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain his lawful wife after this (absolute) divorce, unless she marries another husband and the second husband divorces her.253 (In that case) there is no harm if they re-marry, provided that the woman and her first husband are convinced that they will be able to keep within the bounds fixed by Allah. And these are Allah's bounds, which He makes clear for the guidance of those who know (the consequences of transgression).

253Authentic Traditions warn against any pre-arranged scheme that a certain man should marry a certain divorced woman with the understanding that he would divorce her again to enable the former husband to remarry his divorced wife. This shall be an unlawful act and such a marriage shall be no marriage at all but adultery and the woman shall not become the lawful wife of the first husband by such a prearranged scheme. Hadrat `Ali, Ibn Mas'ud Abu Hurairah and `Uqbah bin-'Amir, all relate the Tradition to the effect that the Holy Prophet cursed all the persons who indulge in such devices.

[231] And when you have divorced your wives and they are about to complete their prescribed term, then either retain them gracefully or release them generously. It is transgression to retain them merely for harassment; and whoever' does that indeed wrongs his own self.254 Do not play with Allah's Commandments, and remember that Allah has blessed you with a great favour. He admonishes you to show due respect to the Book and the Wisdom He has sent to you.255 Fear Allah and know that He is fully aware of everything.

254It is not right for a person to divorce his wife and then reunite with her before the expiry of the term simply to get another opportunity to torment and harass her. Therefore Allah has warned that if the husband sincerely intends to take his wife back, he should re-unite with the intention of treating her well; otherwise the best thing would be to release her in a noble way. (Please also refer to E.N. 250).

255It means, "Do not forget the fact that Allah has appointed you to a position of the highest responsibility. He has given you the Book and taught you wisdom and entrusted you with the duty of guiding the world. You have been made the "Community of the Golden Mean" and the witnesses of virtue and truth. It does not, therefore, behove you to play with the Revelations by means of sophistry and take undue advantage of the letter of the Law and lead wicked and unjust lives in your homes, when you are expected to show the Right Way to the world. "

[211] Ask the children of Israel how many a clear sign We have shown to them: (also ask them) what a severe chastisement Allah inflicts on the community that, after receiving Allah's favour exchanges it (for wretchdness).229

229The Muslims have been told to enquire about it especially from the children of Israel because the latter were a living object lesson for the former who were now replacing them as leaders of the world; The children of Israel had been favoured with Prophethood and Divine Book and had been entrusted with leadership for the guidance of the world but they had deprived themselves of this blessing (leadership) for involving themselves in wretchedness in the lusts of this worldliness, duplicity and in the evil deeds of pseudo-knowledge. Therefore the Muslims who were replacing them were forewarned to be on their guard against these evils and learn a lesson from their history.

[213] In the beginning all the people followed the same way. (Afterwards there came a change and differences arose). Then Allah sent Prophets to give good tidings to those who followed the Right Way and warnings to those who swerved from it. And He sent down with them the Book based on the Truth so that it should judge between the people concerning their differences. (Differences arose not because people were not given the knowledge of the Truth in the beginning, nay), differences arose between those very people who had been given clear teachings, and (for no other reasons than that) they wanted to tyrannize over one another.230 So Allah, by His leave, guided those who believed in the Prophets to the Truth about which they had differed; Allah guides whomever He pleases to the Right Way.

230Here the theory of evolution in religion has been refuted. The socalled scholars say that man began his religious life in the darkness of polytheism: then by and by he began to worship God, but associated other gods with Him. This went on for a long time; at last he recognized and accepted the Oneness of God. But the Qur'an contradicts this and says that human life began in full Divine light. When Allah created the first Man, Adam, He revealed the Truth to him and showed him the Right Way. Adam's descendants followed his way for a long time and all of them were members of one and the same community. Then they began to follow new ways and invented new religions. And they did so inspite of the fact that the Truth had been shown to them just because they wanted to misappropriate to themselves more than their own due share and rights sanctioned by it. In order to prevent the misguided people, from this evil, Allah sent His Messengers to invite them to the original Divine Way. They were not sent to found new religious communities after their own names, but to bring those who had swerved from the Right path to the original religion of mankind and to the same one community which was formed in accordance with the Guidance of Allah, at the time when Man began his life on the earth.

[214] Do231 you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out: "When will Allah's help come"? (Then they were comforted with the good tidings): "Yes, Allah's help is near."

231A whole story has been left out between this verse and the preceding one, for this verse itself points to it and because it had already been related in detail in the Surahs which were revealed before this at Makkah. In the preceding verse it was stated that the Messengers, were sent to remove those differences which had arisen in religion, but the story of their hardships and long persecutions was omitted because it had already been described in detail in the Makki Revelations. Hence the believers are warned that the Messengers and their followers have always had to struggle hard with the rebels against Allah in order to establish His Way, and that the true Faith of Islam has never been a bed of roses. One has to exert one's utmost to establish it and to fight against all those evil forces that oppose its establishment, even at the sacrifice of one's life, if need be.

[217-218] They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning warfare in the prohibited month. Say, "Fighting is a heinous offence in this month, but in the sight of Allah it is far worse to hinder people from the Way of Allah and to deny Him and to prevent His worshippers from visiting the Masjidal-Haram, and to expel the dwellers of the sacred place from it; and persecution is far worse than bloodshed.232 As for them, they will go on fighting with you till they succeed in turning you away from your Faith, if they can. But (note it well that) whosoever renounces his Faith and dies a renegade, all his works shall be fruitless both in this world and in the Hereafter. All such people deserve the Fire and shall abide in Hell for ever.233 In contrast to them, those, who have believed And left their homes in the way of Allah and exerted their utmost in His cause,234 rightly look forward to His mercy: and Allah is Forgiving and full of mercy.

232The objection, which was raised in the form of a question about warfare in the sacred month, refers to an incident which took place in the month of Rajab in the second year of Hijra. The Holy Prophet sent a detachment of eight men to Nakhlah, a place midway between Makkah and Ta'if. He toad them to watch the movements of the Quraish and find out their future plans. Though he had not given them permission to fight, they attacked a small trading caravan of the Quraish, killed one than and took the rest prisoners and brought them to Madinah along with their goods.

As this incident took place at a time when it could not be said with certainty whether the month of Rajab had come to an end and the month of Sha'ban had commenced, it was doubtful whether the attack was made in Rajab, a prohibited month, or in Sha'ban. Nevertheless, the Quraish and their secret allies, the Jews, and the doublefaced "Muslims" of Madinah, took it as a God-given opportunity to make strong propaganda and raise serious objections against the Believers. They ironically remarked, "What a pious people they are! They do not hesitate to shed blood even in a prohibited month." Such objections have been answered in this verse which implies, "No doubt, bloodshed is a very bad thing but their objection is not reasonable, coming as it does from the mouths of those people who themselves had carried on for thirteen years the most cruel form of persecution against hundreds of their own brethren for no other reason than that they believed in one Allah. They not only forced these brethren of their own to leave their beloved homes but also prevented them from paying a visit to the Ka`bah, although this sacred place was not the property of anyone. Their crime was all the more heinous because such a wicked antagonism had never existed during the previous two thousand years or so. Therefore those workers of iniquity, the list of whose crimes was so black, had no right to raise objections on the basis of a trivial border incident. " Moreover, this incident took place without the permission of the Holy Prophet, and was, therefore, nothing more than an' irresponsible act on the part of a few members of the Islamic party.

It should also be kept in view that when this detachment came to the Holy Prophet with the prisoners and the spoils, he said, "I never gave you permission to fight." He also refused to accept the share due to the public treasury from the spoils. This clearly showed that it was an unlawful and unauthorised act. The common Muslims also took their men to task for this incident and there was not a single Muslim in the whole of Madinah who approved of this act of theirs.

233Some simple-minded Muslims regarded as genuine the abovementioned objection raised by the disbelievers and the Jews. They were under the wrong impression that this and the like were honest objections, and if they were removed, the objectors would be satisfied and there would be peace with them. In this verse, these Muslims have been warned not to cherish any such expectations about them because they did not raise these objections for clarification but to make propaganda against the Muslims. Their real objection against the Muslims was that they had accepted Islam and were inviting the world to it: There could, therefore, be no peace between them and the objectors as long as they stuck to their belief in Allah. Therefore the Muslims were told not to under-rate the enemies of their Faith. They should remember that the one who tries to turn them away from their Faith is a worse enemy than the one who tries to rob them of their wealth, for the latter tries to ruin only their life in this world, which is after all transitory, while the former tries to ruin their life in the Hereafter, which is eternal.

234The word "jihad'' means to exert one's utmost for the achievement of an object. It is not a synonym for "holy war" but has a far wider meaning than this and covers every kind of effort. And the mujahid is one who is always after the achievement of his ideal, plans for it, propagates it with his tongue and pen and struggles for it with all his heart and body. In short, he spends all his efforts and resources for its achievement and fights against all those forces that oppose it; so much so that he does not hesitate to put even Ms very life in danger for his ideal. The struggle and fight to such a person will be technically Jihad. A Muslim, however, is required to do all this in the way of Allah alone under certain moral restrictions for establishing the Way prescribed by Him and for elevating His Word above all. And there should be absolutely no other object than this before a Muslim in performing Jihad. It has thus become clear that the Jihad of a Muslim is not "general war of extermination against infidels"

[193] Go on fighting with them till there is no more a state of tribulation and Allah's way is established instead.204 Then if they desist from it, there should be no more hostility except against those who had been guilty of cruelty and brutality.205

204Here the word "fitnah" has been used in a different sense from that in verse 191. The context clearly shows that here it denotes that condition of society which is not safe and free for adoption of the way of Allah. That is why the Muslims have been exhorted to continue the tight to change this state of affairs and to restore peace and freedom fur the way of Allah. It should also be noted that the Arabic word din' which has been translated here into "Way"' originally means "submission" and is technically used for the way of life which is built on the sovereignty of someone whose commands and regulations are to he followed. Therefore that condition of society in which there is the rule and sovereignty of man over man and in which it is not possible for anyone to follow the Way of Allah is fitnah. The aim of war in Islam is to abolish fitnah and establish Allah's Way so as to enable people to live as servants of Allah in accordance with the Divine Law.

205It does not wean that Islam incites the believers to go to war to force unbelievers at the point of sword to give up disbelief and polytheism and adopt the Way of Allah instead. War is to be waged only to make them give up fitnah. As a matter of fact, Islam allows freedom of belief to all non-Muslims. One may adopt any way of life that one chooses and may or may not worship anyone or anything. It exhorts the believers to preach and to persuade the unbelievers and the wrong doers by argument to give up their false faith and evil ways, but it does not allow the unbelievers the right to enforce on God's earth any ungodly law and make the servants of Allah the servants of some one else. In order to remove such an unjust condition, Islam allows both preaching and fighting according to the requirements of the occasion. The believers, therefore, cannot rest content unless this fitnah, political domination and legal sovereignty of unbelievers, is eradicated and freedom for the Way of Allah is secured.

From the words, "Then if they desist from it, there should be no more hostility except against those who had been guilty of cruelty and brutality," it has been deduced that when the Islamic rule replaces ungodly rule, there should be a general amnesty save for those who had been extremely cruel and tyrannous in opposing the Truth when in power. Although in this case also it behoves the believers to show forgiveness at the time of victory, yet they would be perfectly justified in punishing those who broke all limits in their blind opposition and persecution. The Holy Prophet, who was an embodiment of mercy and clemency, himself availed of this permission and sentenced to death `Uqbah bin Abi Mu'ait and Nadr bin Harith, two prisoners of war taken in the battle of Badr: Moreover, although a general amnesty was proclaimed after the conquest of Makkah, seventeen persons who were the worst offenders against Islam were made an exception and four of these were sentenced to death.

[194] A prohibited month is to be respected, if the same is respected (by the enemy),206 and likewise there is the law of just retribution for the violation of all prohibited things. Therefore, if anyone transgresses a prohibition by attacking you, you may do likewise, but always fear Allah and bear in mind that Allah is with those who desist from breaking Allah's bounds.

206This verse answered the question that arose about fighting during the four sacred months of the lunar year, that is, Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram dedicated to Hajj and Rajab to `Umrah. These were called the prohibited months because ever since the time of the Prophet Abraham, war, murder, robbery and every sort of violation and infringement of law were forbidden during these months so that pilgrims might go to and return from the Ka`bah in peace and security.

But by and by the Arabs began to violate their sanctity by a crooked device. They used to alter the usual order of the months to suit their convenience: If they wanted to attack for robbery, revenge, etc., they would violate a sacred -month and then consecrate another month instead. The Muslims were, therefore, at a loss to know what to do if the unbelievers committed a breach of the sanctity of a sacred month by resorting to this vicious practice and attack them in that sacred month.

This verse removed their difficulty by allowing them to fight with them in a sacred month, if the disbelievers began hostilities in it but they, on their part, should not transgress the limits in any case: and if the unbelievers observed the sanctity of the sacred months and desisted from war, the Muslims also should do the same, but if they violated the same and attacked the `Muslims, they should also retaliate in the same prohibited month.

[195] Spend your wealth in the Way of Allah and do not cast yourselves into ruin with your own hands.207 Do all things gracefully, for Allah loves those who do all things with excellence.208

207"To spend in the Way of Allah" is to make monetary sacrifices for the establishment of the way of life prescribed by Allah. The verse implies, "If you behave selfishly and do not spend your wealth to establish the Way of Allah; you will bring yourselves to ruin in this world and to damnation in the Hereafter. In the world, Allah will set the unbelievers to dominate over you, and, in the Hereafter, He will condemn you and hold you accountable for not spending the wealth by Him in His Way.

208The word ihsan as used in the original is from hush which means to do a thing well. One kind of action is that a person should rest content with the mere performance of duty: this is obedience, which requires nothing more than the fear of Allah. The superior kind of deed, however, is that he should do it well: should put all his abilities and resources into it: should exert his utmost to complete it with all his heart and mind and body. This is ihsan which is motivated by a deep love for and dedication to Allah.

[196] When you make up your mind to perform Hajj and `Umrah,accomplish these to please Allah. But if you are hemmed in somewhere, then offer to Allah whatever sacrifice you can afford.209 And do not shave your heads until the sacrifice reaches its place.210 But whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of the head and has his head shaved shall atone for this either by fasting or by alms-giving or by offering a sacrifice211 However, when you are secure212 (and you reach Makkah before the Hajj season begins), whoever takes advantage of this opportunity to perform `Umrah shall offer the sacrifice that he can afford. But if he cannot afford a sacrifice, he shall fast three days during the Hajj season and seven days after reaching home, that is, ten days in all. This concession is only for those whose homes are not near the Masjid Haram,213 refrain from transgressing these Commandments of Allah and know it well that Allah is very severe in punishment.

209That is, in case you are prevented in the way from proceeding on to the Ka`bah and are obliged to break your journey, you should make offering of whatever animal is available camel, cow, goat to Allah.

210There is a difference of opinion as to what is meant here by "the sacrifice reaching its place" . According to the Hanafi school of thought, it refers to the bounds of the Masjid Haram. If a person is prevented on the way, he should send the animal or the money to buy one to be sacrificed there on his behalf: According to Imam Malik and Imam Shafe'i, the sacrifice should be made at the very place where one has been prevented. One should not, have one's head shaved or the hair cut until one has offered the animal sacrifice.

211According to a Tradition, the Holy Prophet directed that in such a case, one should observe fast for three days or feed six indigent persons or sacrifice at least a goat.

212"Security" here refers to the removal of the cause, whatever that might have been, including the hostility of an enemy, and whatever was mainly responsible for the prevention from Hajj at that time. Just as "prevention" includes all the causes which prevent one from performing Hajj, so security includes the removal of all the causes of prevention.

213Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs thought it was a great sin to perform both Hajj and `Umrah during one and the same journey. According to their self-made law, different journeys had to be undertaken for each. In this verse Allah removed the self-imposed restriction save for those who lived within the appointed bounds of the "Sanctuary," because it was not difficult for them tc undertake different journeys for Hajj and `Umrah. They had merely to put off the pilgrim's garment (ihram) and release themselves from the prescribed restriction and ceremonials after the performance of `Umrah and then renew the same during the Hajj days.

In order to understand the references to the Hajj rites in the succeeding verses, it will be worthwhile to state these briefly. The pilgrims should put on the pilgrims' garment (ihram) as soon as they reach a miqat, one of the fixed points on all the roads to Makkah. After this they should abide by the code prescribed for Hajj. If on reaching Makkah, a pilgrim wished to perform 'Umrah, he might then put off, ihram and release himself from restrictions imposed by it up to the 7th of Dhul-Hijjah. On the 8th, he should again put on ihram at Makkah and go to Mina, a valley, about six miles from there. On the 9th he should proceed to the valley of `Arafat, which is about five miles further from Mina and stay there up to the evening. Then he should return to Mash'aril-Haram (Muzdalifah) which is midway between 'Arafat and Mina, and pass the night between the 9th and the 10th there in prayer, meditation and devotion. On the morning of the 10th, he should come back to Mina and offer sacrifice there. After this he should get his head shaved, put off the ihram and return to Makkah and perform Tawwaf-i-Ziarat (going round the Ka`bah). Then he should go to Mina and stay there for two or three days. The three days (from the 11 th to the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah) are called the days of " Tashriq."

[197-200] The months for Hajj are well known to all; whoever makes up his mind to perform Hajj during these fixed months, let him totally abstain from all sorts of sexual indulgence,214 wickedness215 and wrangling216 during the Hajj and remember that Allah knows whatever good you do. Take necessary provisions for Hajj, and piety is the best of all provisions: so refrain from disobeying Me, O men of understanding!217 And there is nothing wrong if you also seek the bounty of your Lord during the pilgrimage.218 Moreover, when you return from 'Arafat, stay at Mash'aril-Haram (Muzdalifah) and remember Allah. And remember Him just as He has enjoined you, for you had gone astray before this.219 Then return from where others return and ask Allah's forgiveness.220 Most surely He is Forgiving and Merciful. And when you have performed your Hajj rites, remember Allah as you had been remembering your own forefathers, or even with greater zeal.221 (Even those who remember Allah do it in different ways). Some say, "Our Lord, give us all the good things here in this world. " Such people shall have no share in the Hereafter.

214While in the state of ihram, not only intercourse between husband and wife is prohibited but that sort of conversation too, which might excite sexual passions.

215Though all sorts of evil deeds are unlawful at all times, they become all the more grave when committed during the course of Hajj.

216One cannot even rebuke a servant.

217Before the advent of Islam, taking of provisions for the pilgrimage journey was considered to be a worldly act and it was expected that a pious than would go to the House of Allah without any worldly goods. Here it is declared that it is no virtue to go without provisions on pilgrimage to Makkah. Real virtue is that one should fear God, obey Him and keep one's life pure. If a pilgrim does not take any provisions with him, but commits evil deeds without any fear of Allah, he makes a profitless show of piety. In the sight of Allah and men, such a man will dishonour both himself and the pilgrimage he is performing. On the other hand, if a pilgrim has fear of Allah embedded in his heart and keeps his morals pure, he will gain honour with Allah and men, though he may have provided himself fully with provisions.

218The Arabs had another wrong notion about Hajj. They considered it a worldly thing to do any kind of business during the Hajj season. The Qur'an removes this misconception also and declares that if a pious man observes the Law of Allah and then does some business to earn his livelihood, he really seeks the bounty of Allah. And there is nothing wrong in seeking the bounty of Allah along with seeking His pleasure.

219That is, "You should give up all those ungodly customs of ignorance which you used to practise in pre-Islamic days along with the worship of Allah. Now worship Allah exclusively in accordance with the Guidance He has revealed.

220Ever since the time of the Prophet Abraham and Ishmael (may Allah's peace be upon them), the pilgrims used to go to `Arafat from Makkah on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah for the performance of Hajj and then returned from there to Muzdalifah on the morning of the 10th. But later when the Quraish established their own priesthood, they arrogantly asserted: "It is below our dignity to go to `Arafat along with the common Arabs because we live in the Sanctuary." Accordingly, they reserved this mark of distincion for themselves and would halt at Muzdalifah and let others proceed on to `Arafat. Then this distinction was extended to Bani Khuza'ah and Bani Kinanah and the other tribes with whom the Quraish had marriage relations. Later, even the allies of the Quraish adopted this privilege of distinction and they too would stop short of 'Arafat. In this verse the same privilege of distinction and pride has been abolished. Addressing the Quraish, their relatives and allies in particular and the common Arabs in general it has been enjoined that they should accompany others to perform the essential ceremonials at `Arafat, halt there and return along with them to Makkah, and should ask Allah's forgiveness for their breach of the Prophet Abraham's way, which they committed in the past on account of tribal pride and distinction.

221After performing their Hajj, the Arabs used to hold meetings in Mina and brag about their own achievements and those of their forefathers. Here they were told to give up these customs of ignorance, and pass their time in remembering and glorifying Allah instead of singing praises of their ancestors.

[201-203] Then there are others who say, "Our Lord, give us what is good in this world and also what is good in the Hereafter and save us from the torment of Fire." Such people shall have their due share (in both the worlds) according to what they earn. And Allah is swift at settling accounts. So pass these few appointed days in remembering Allah; then there is nothing wrong if one hastens on (from Mina) after two days or stays there (a day) longer,222 provided that he spends these days in piety. Do not disobey Him and remember that One Day you shall be mustered before Him.

222That is, "It does not matter whether you return from Mina to Makkah on the 12th or the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah during the Tashriq days. The real thing that matters is not the number of days you stayed at Mina but whether you spent those days in establishing your relation with Allah during those days or in merry making."

[204-210] There is a certain type of man who charms you in this worldly life with his glib talk. He calls Allah to witness again and again that he cherishes good intentions in his heart,223 whereas, in fact, he is the deadliest opponent224 of the Truth. When he gets power225 he directs all his efforts towards spreading mischief in the land, destroying harvests and killing the human race whereas Allah (Whom he makes his witness) does not like mischief. And when it is said to him, "Fear Allah," vanity seizes him and makes him adhere to the sin. Hell is the proper place for such a person and it is a very bad dwelling indeed. On the other side, there is another type of man who devotes his whole life to please Allah, and Allah is gracious to such of His servants. O Believers, enter completely into Islam226 and do not follow in" the footsteps of Satan, for he is your avowed enemy. If you lapse back after receiving the clear teachings that have come to you, know it well that Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. 227 (If people do not follow the right way even after receiving such clear admonitions), do they await that Allah Himself should come down to them in the canopies of clouds with a retinue of angels, and seal their doom228 Ultimately every thing shall be presented before Allah (for judgement).

223This typical man of the world pretends to show that he is a sincere well-wisher of the people. Time and again he assures the people, saying, "Allah is my witness that I intend nothing but good. I am not working for self-interest but for the sake of truth and right and for the welfare of the people." But all glib talk of this worldly-wise man is hypocritical.

224He is "the deadliest opponent of the truth." because in his enmity, he does not hesitate to employ any kind of falsehood, dishonesty, treachery or any other crooked method, in spite of his smooth tongue, plausible talk and solemn oaths in the name of Allah. talk."

225It may also mean, "When he returns to everyday life after this glib

226That is, "Come into the fold of Islam completely without any reservation. Your thoughts, your theories, your culture, your sciences, your manners, your dealings, your efforts etc., should in every aspect of life, be subordinated to Islam. You should not divide your life into different compartments so as to follow Islam in one and discard it in the other. "

227That is, He is All-Powerful and also knows how to punish the criminals.

228Particular attention should be paid to these words for they enunciate a great universal truth. Allah has sent man to this world to undergo a test. He has revealed the Truth through His Messengers and given man the freedom to believe or not to believe in it, and after believing in it to submit or not to submit to it. He keeps the Reality hidden from man and leaves it to him to judge it rationally in the light of the teachings of his Messengers, His Books and the Signs shown by His Messengers. He never makes the Reality so naked as to leave no alternative but to acknowledge it, for after that no question of a trial is left and success or failure in the test becomes meaningless. That is why Allah gives warning, as if to say, "Do not wait for that time when Allah with His angels will come before you in His glory. At that time your doom shall be sealed and no more chance left for any test. Then belief and submission will have no value. Belief has a value only as long as the Reality remains hidden from your senses and you recognize and acknowledge it by means of your own reasoning and then prove your moral courage by submitting to it without any coercion. When you see with your own eyes Allah on the throne of His glory and angels functioning on the earth and in the heavens and find yourself completely in His power, then belief and submission will have no value. At that time even confirmed sinners and obdurate unbelievers will not dare to disbelieve or disobey. But then it will be useless because the time for test will be over. When the curtain is raised and the `Reality' is seen by everyone, then no more chance shall be given nor shall there be any more test because that will be the time of the Judgement.

[189] They ask you about the phases of the moan. Say, "These are signs for the people to reckon dates and fix the periods for hajj."198 Also tell them, "It is no virtue to enter your houses from their backs during the Hajj days); real virtue is that one should refrain from incurring the displeasure of Allah; so enter your houses by their proper doors. and fear Allah so that you may gain (true) success.199

198The phases of the moon have attracted the attention of mankind in every age, and different kinds of rites and superstitions have been connected with these in every country. The Arabs also had some superstitions connected with these. They took omens from them for journeys, marriage ceremonies, business, etc., and performed some superstitious practices, for they believed that the phases and the eclipse of the moon affected their fortunes. Therefore they questioned the Holy Prophet concerning this. Allah answered their question and informed them that the phases of the moon were nothing but uatural calendar in the sky to indicate dates of the month to the people simultaneously throughout the world. Hajj has been specially mentioned in this connection because of its religious, cultural and economic importance to the Arabs. Four months of the year were fixed for Hajj and 'Umrah during which war was suspended and the routes were made safe, and business flourished on account of peace.

199This was one of their superstitious customs. As soon as they put on the Ihram, the ceremonial dress for Hajj, they would not enter their houses by the front doors, but would enter them by jumping over the walls or through windows in the rear of their houses. In this verse, Allah has not only refuted this superstitious custom but also warned that virtue has nothing to do with the superstitious rites and customs which were being practised merely in blind imitation of their forefathers, for they did not affect the fortune of man in any way.

[190-192] And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight against you200 but do not commit aggression because Allah does not like aggressors.201 Fight against them wherever they confront you in combat and drive them out from where they drove you out. Though killing is bad. persecution is worse than killing202 Do not fight against them near the Masjid Haram unless they attack you there. And if they attack you first (even in that sacred area), strike them (without any hesitation); this is the due punishment for such disbelievers. If, however, they desist from fighting (you should also do likewise), and know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.203

200That is, "Fight with those people who hinder you from the way of Allah; who have become your enemies because you are trying to reform the way of life in accordance with the Guidance of Allah; who are preventing you from the work of reform by force and persecution." Before this, when the Muslims were yet weak and scattered, they were commanded to propagate Islam and bear all tyrannies with fortitude. But when they had established a tiny state at Madinah they were. far the tirst time, allowed to go to war against those who were opposing this reformative movement with force. The battle of Badr took place after this and a series of battles started with it.

201The Muslims were warned that the aim of their war should not be self-interest nor material gain nor retaliation. They should not, therefore, go to war against those who were neither opposing them nor hindering them from their work. Besides this, the Holy Prophet gave detailed instructions for keeping the war humane. He asked the Muslims to refrain from barbaric methods in warfare and from doing any kind of harm or injury to children, women, old people and the wounded. He also prohibited the dishonouring of the dead bodies of the slain, the wanton destruction of harvests, trees, animals, etc., and all other forms of cruelty, barbarism and vandalism. The Muslims were allowed to use farce only where it was absolutely indispensable and to the extent it was absolutely necessary.

202"Persecution and suppression of opinion by violence, force or threat," is the exact translation of the Arabic word "fitnah," as used in this verse. The verse implies that it is a heinous offence to persecute a person or party by Harassing and oppressive treatment for holding ideas and theories opposed to those in vogue at the time, and it is abominable to intlict on people injury and punishment for adhering to and propagating those ideas and theories with a view to reforming the ways of society. Though bloodshed is an evil thing, to oppress and harass others for adhering to their own faith and principles and to force them to give these up and adopt those of the oppressors is tar worse. Therefore it is lawful and justifiable to use force against such people as a resort to brute force instead of argument.

203That is. "You should create in yourselves those qualities which are the attributes of Allah in whom you believe. tie forgives even the worst offenders and criminals and shows mercy to theta. You also should try to mould yourselves after this model. Your war should not he to quench your thirst for revenge but for the cause of Allah. As long as they oppose the way of Allah and continue their light against you, you also should fight against them, but no sooner do they stop fighting and give up their hostile attitude titan you also should stop fighting.

[186] And if My servants ask you, O Prophet. concerning Me, tell them that I am quite near to them. I hear and answer the prayer of the suppliant, when he calls to Me. So let them respond to My call and believe in Me.188 Convey this to them, O Prophet; perhaps they may be guided aright.189

188That is, "Although you cannot see Me nor perceive Me with your senses, yet you must never imagine that I am far from you. Nay, I am so near to every servant of Mine that he can invoke Me and place his request before Me wherever he is. So much so that I hear and answer even those requests which are not expressed in words but are made only in the innermost heart. As to the false and impotent gods you have created in your ignorance and folly, you have to travel co them, and even then they do not hear and answer you. But here am I, the Sovereign, the absolute Ruler of the boundless universe and Possessor of all powers and authority, so near to hear and answer you that you need no recommendation of intercession for making any request anywhere at any time you like. Therefore you should free yourselves from the folly of running from door to door after false gods, and accept My invitation and turn to Me and trust in Me and submit to Me and become My servants."

189That is, "They may learn this truth from you and adopt the right attitude, in which lies their own good. "

[110-112] Now you are the best community which has been raised up for the guidance of mankind:88 you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. Had these people of the Book89 also believed, it would have surely been better for them. Though there are among them some believers, yet most of them are transgressors. Anyhow they can do no harm to you: the worst they can do is to inflict a trifling hurt on you. If they fight with you, they will turn their backs on you, and shall not get any help from anywhere. Disgrace and humiliation have been stamped upon them wherever they may be except in the case when they get refuge under the favour of Allah or under the patronage of other people.90 They have incurred the wrath of Allah; therefore misery and humiliation have been stamped upon them. This is because they rejected the Revelations of Allah and killed His Prophets without any just cause; this is the consequence of their disobedience and their transgression.

88This is the same declaration that has been' made in Al-Baqarah (v. 143). The followers of the Holy Prophet are being reminded that they have been appointed to the leadership of the world from which the children of Israel had been deposed on account of their incompetence. The Muslims have been appointed to that office because they possess those moral qualities which are essential for just leadership. These are to establish virtue and to eradicate evil practically and believe that there is no god other than Allah to put into practice the implication of this belief. They should, therefore, understand the responsibilities of the work which had been entrusted to them and avoid the errors into which their predecessors had fallen. (Please refer also to E. N. 123-144 of Al-Baqarah).

89Here the Jews are "The people of the Book. "

90That is, "The little security that they enjoy anywhere in the world has not been won by themselves but has been the result of the help and kindness of others. They have been getting this either from some Muslim states in the name of Allah or from some non-Muslim states for other reasons." And if sometimes they have succeeded in gaining even some political power, they have not accomplished this through their own efforts but have owed it to others.

[113-117] Yet all the people of the Book are not alike: there are among them some who are steadfastly on the right path; who recite the Revelations of Allah at night and fall prostrate before Him; who believe in AIlah and the Last Day; who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and remain earnestly engaged in good works; these are the righteous people, and whatever good they do, they will not be denied the just reward for it, for Allah knows full well the pious people. As for those who have adopted the way of disbelief, neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them against Allah; they deserve Hell, and there they shall abide for ever. Whatever they are spending in this worldly life may be likened to the wind that brings frost in it and smites and destroys totally the tillage of those who have been unjust to themselves;91 Allah has not done any injustice to them but in fact they themselves are doing injustice to themselves.

91In this similitude, "tillage" stands for human life, for one sows in it deeds or misdeeds which one shall have to harvest in the Next World. The "wind" refers to the superficial and hypocritical show of charity that impels the unbelievers to spend their wealth in charity and public works. And "frost" refers to the lack of faith and willingness to obey the Divine Law in its right spirit, which makes void the acts and deeds of one's life. By this similitude, Allah teaches this lesson; just as air is very useful for the growth of crops but it also destroys these if there is frost in it: in the same way charity helps nourish the harvest that is to be reaped in the Next World but it destroys the same, if it is poisoned with unbelief.

It is obvious that Allah is the Master of man as well as of the wealth that he possesses and of the kingdom in which he is acting. Now, if this slave of Allah does not acknowledge the Sovereignty of his Master or unlawfully sets up other objects of worship and does not obey His Law in his exploitation of His wealth and kingdom, he shall be guilty of a crime. Therefore, he will not be entitled to any reward for his charity, but shall be prosecuted for his unlawful exploitation. The charity of such a man maybe likened to the charity of a servant who steals a sum of money from the treasure of his master and spends it as he likes.

[118-120] O Believers, do not take into your confidence any other than the people of your own community for they never miss any opportunity of exploiting any weakness of yours92 They desire that which is harmful to you; their malice has become apparent from what they say, but what they conceal in their hearts is yet far worse. We have made clear to you the signs thereof, and if you are wise, (you will be very cautious in your relations with them.) As for you, you love them but they do not love you, even though you believe in all the revealed Books.93 When they meet you, they say, "We also believe (in. your Prophet and in your Book"), but when they go aside, they bite their finger-tips in their rage against you.- Say to them, "Perish in your rage: Allah knows even that which is hidden in the hearts." They grieve if you are blessed with some good and rejoice if an evil befalls you. But their crafty schemes cannot harm you at all, if you show fortitude and fear Allah in whatever you do. Allah encircles whatever they are doing.

92Here Allah warns the Muslims to guard against the hypocritical attitude of the Jews who lived in the suburbs of Al-Madinah. The two clans, Aus and Khazraj, had been on friendly terms with them from very ancient times and kept sincere relations with them even after embracing Islam. In contrast to this, the Jews, who had turned into the enemies of the Holy Prophet and his mission, could not be friendly with anyone who had joined the new Movement. Accordingly, they kept up an outward show of friendship with the Ansar but in their heart of hearts they had become their bitter enemies. They, however, . exploited this outward friendship and tried to sow seeds of dissension and create chaos in the Muslim Community. They also tried to draw out secrets from the Muslims and pass them on to their enemies. That is why Allah has warned the Muslims that they should not take such people into their confidence.

93That is, "It is strange that the Jews, who themselves are guilty of rejecting your Book, whereas you believe in their Book, the Torah, along with your Book, the Qur'an, should have a grievance against you. There is no reason why they should complain against you: on the other hand, you have a cogent grievance against them for their disbelief in your Book."

[121] O Messenger,94 mention that occasion to the Muslims when you set out from your house-hold early in the morning and began to assign to the Muslims their positions on the battlefield (of Uhd). Allah hears everything and knows everything.

94From here begins the fourth discourse, which was revealed after the battle of Uhd. It has been beautifully connected with the previous discourse which ended with the admonition that the machinations of their enemies could do them no harm, if they would show restraint, and fear Allah. This discourse is an apt continuation of the same theme, because the setback in the battle of Uhd was due to lack of restraint and lack of fear of Allah.

As a review has been made of all the important events of the battle in order to bring home the lessons, it will be very useful to keep in view their background, because in the discourse only passing references have been made to them without any details.

In the beginning of Shawwal (A.H. 3), the Quraish attacked Al-Madinah with an army of 3,000 men. They not only out-numbered the Muslims but were also much better equipped. Besides this, they were filled with passion to avenge their defeat at Badr. The Holy Prophet and his experienced Companions were of the opinion that they should defend Al-Madinah from within the walls, but some young men, who had not taken part in the battle of Badr, were so imbued with the spirit of martyrdom that they insisted on going out to meet the enemy. At last on their persistence, the Holy Prophet decided to go out to fight. So he led out an army of 1,000 men but at Shaut, `Abdullah bin Ubayy, the ring leader of the hypocrites, deserted him with his 300 men. Naturally this treacherous act produced much confusion in the Muslim army. So much so that two parties, Banu Salmah and Banu Harithah, were so disheartened that they began to waver in their minds and were about to turn back, but were dissuaded from this by those Companions who had remained firm and constant.

Then the Holy Prophet marched to Mount Uhd with the 700 men left with him after the desertion of `Abdullah bin Ubayy. He arrayed his men at the foot of the Mount so that the army of the Quraish was in their front and Mount Uhd at their back. Thus the only vulnerable point was a pass on one side, where he posted 50 archers under the command of `Abdullah bin Jubair, saying, " to let not any enemy come near us and do not leave your posts in any case whatsoever. Even if you see birds peck at our flesh, you should not abandon your posts at all. "

In the initial stage of the battle, the Muslim army had the upper hand and succeeded in creating great confusion in the army of the enemy. But instead, of pursuing this initial success to the final victory, they were so lured by their greed for booty that they began to loot the spoils. When the archers, who were guarding the pass, saw their comrades plundering the fleeing enemy, they also deserted their posts in order to join the looters. In vain did Hadrat `Abdullah bin Jubair remind them of the strict command of the Holy Prophet to dissuade them from this, but only a few of them listened to him. Khalid bin Walid, who was commanding the cavalry of the enemy, made full use of this opportune moment. He rode round the Mount and attacked the Muslims from behind through the pass. Hadrat `Abdullah . bin Jubair did his best to defend it with the few men left with him, but in vain, and Khalid fell upon the Muslims who were engaged in the plunder of spoils. They were so overwhelmed by this sudden attack from behind that they took to their heels in confusion. To add to their misery, the Quraish who were in flight before them also turned back to attack them from the front. This turned the scale of the battle against the Muslims who were put to rout by this unexpected situation. Still there were some brave Muslims who stood firmly in the battle-field. But then a rumour started that the Holy Prophet had been martyred, and his Companions were so stunned by this rumour that even those who were standing firm in the battle-field lost heart and only a dozen or so of the devoted ones were left with him. Thus it was about to turn into an utter rout, when his Companions heard that, though he was wounded, he was alive. Then they again rallied round him and took him to a safe side of the Mount.

In this connection it is very important to note the strange thing that happened: the Quraish did not make full use of this opportunity but marched back to Makkah instead. This is an enigma, for, if they had pursued their success to complete victory, nothing would have checked them, because the Muslims had been so utterly routed that they could not have given them a battle.

[122-123] Remember that two groups from among you were about to show cowardice,95 though Allah was there to succour them, and the Believers should trust in Allah alone. Indeed Allah had already succoured you in the battle of Badr when you were in a much weaker position, therefore you should refrain from showing ingratitude towards Allah: it is expected that you will be grateful now.

95The two groups were Banu Salmah and Banu Harithah who had wavered in their minds at the desertion of `Abdullah bin Ubayy, the hypocrite, and his 300 followers.

[69-71] (O Believers,) a party of the people of the Book longs to lead you astray, somehow or other; whereas they mislead none except themselves, but they do not perceive it. O people of the Book, why do you deny Allah's Signs, which you yourselves are witnessing?60 O people of the Book, why do you confound the Truth with falsehood and conceal the Truth knowingly?

60There may be another rendering of this sentence: "You yourselves testify these." But in neither case is the sense of the passage affected. The fact is that the pious life of the Holy Prophet and the marvelous effects which his precepts and example were producing on the lives of his Companions, and the high and sublime teachings of the Qur'an, were all such clear Signs of God that no one, who was familiar with the lives of the Prophets and with the nature of the heavenly Scriptures, could possibly doubt or deny his Prophethood. Thus, in fact, many a people of the Book (especially the learned among them) had realized that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was the same Prophet whose coming had been foretold by the former Prophets. So much so, that they were at times completely overpowered by the force of the plain Truth, and would unwittingly admit and confirm that the teachings of the Holy Prophet were true. That is why, the Qur'an accuses them time and again of obduracy and deliberate rejection of the Truth after seeing clear Signs of God and being fully convinced of it in their hearts.

[72-74] Another party of the people of the Book says to one another, "Profess in the morning what has been sent down to the Believers and reject it in the evening: it may be that, by this device, they will turn back from their Faith."61 They also say, "Do not follow any except the one who follows your own religion." O Prophet, say to them, "In fact the real guidance is the guidance of Allah: (It is His Will) that He may bless one with the same that He once bestowed upon you, or He may provide others with a strong argument against you to put it before your Lord." O Prophet, say to them, "Bounty and Grace belong to Allah and He may bestow these upon any one He wills,61a for He is All Embracing,62 All-knowing:63 He chooses for His favour whom He wills and His grace is boundless."

61This was one of those tricks which the leaders and the rabbis of the Jews, living in the suburbs of Al-Madinah used to play in order to weaken the force of the Islamic Movement. They feigned an interest in Islam only to detach some of the Muslims by some subtle arrangements. Their object was to dishearten the Muslims and create doubts among the masses about teachings of the Holy Prophet. For this purpose they began to send people to AI-Madinah to profess Islam openly and then become apostates and proclaim everywhere that they had come out of Islam because they had witnessed such and such evils among the Muslims and their Prophet.

61aThey were stirred to play this wicked game by their envy of Islam and bias in favour of the religion of their fore-fathers. They have been rebuked, as if to say, "God is not bound by your prejudices, but He bestows His Guidance on anyone He wills, and He has by His grace blessed the Muslims with the same Guidance that was once bestowed upon you. You must understand it well that your wily tricks will not succeed in snatching away that Guidance from them nor in changing it into misguidance but only in providing a strong argument against you before your Lord." By this, Allah willed to see whether they would give up their prejudice and accept the Guidance which had been given to another (Muhammad) or whether they would persist in their envy and reject it and provide the Muslims with a strong argument against themselves before their Lord that they rejected the Truth merely because of their prejudice and obduracy.

62The Arabic word "wase" (All-embracing) generally occurs on three occasions in the Qur'an:

(1)When a community of people is warned of their narrow-mindedness and told that Allah is not narrow-minded like them;

(2) When one is rebuked for miserliness and stinginess and is told that Allah is generous and not miserly like him:

(3) When people believe Allah to be finite because of the limitations of their own imagination, they are told that Allah is Infinite and Limitless. (Also see E.N. 116, Al-Baqarah.)

63That is, "Allah knows full well Who deserves honour and excellence."

[75-77] There is among the people of the Book such a person who will return to you intact a heap of gold entrusted to him by you. But there is among them also such a one who will not return even a single dinar entrusted to him by you unless you demand it with importunity. They justify their immoral behaviour, saying, "We are not to be called to account for our behaviour towards the unlettered (gentiles)."64 Obviously, this is a falsehood of their own which they deliberately . ascribe to Allah, knowing well that He has never permitted such a thing. Well, will they not be called to account? Nay, Allah loves only such pious people who fulfil their Covenant and abstain from evil. As for those who barter away their Covenant with Allah and their own oaths for a paltry profit; they shall have no share in the Hereafter; Allah will not speak to them nor even look at them nor cleanse them of sins on the Day of Resurrectien.65 There is, on the other hand, a painful punishment in store for them.

64That is, "They were required to be fair only in their dealings with the Jews, and there was no harm in usurping the property of a non-Jew." This belief was not confined to the ignorant Jewish masses, but their whole religious system was so moulded as to allow differentiation between Israelites and non-Israelites in their dealings. Their moral code disallowed a certain treatment towards the Israelites but allowed the same towards a non-Israelite; one and the same thing was right for an Israelite but the same thing was wrong for a non-Israelite. For instance, the Bible says: "At the end of every seven years...every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it...", but "Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again." (Deut. 15: 1-3). At another place the law about usury has been laid down like this: "Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury." (Deut. 23: 20). "If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die." (Deut. 24: 7).

65Although they were guilty of the blackest sins, yet they had taken it for granted that they would rise as the favourites of God on the Day of Resurrection and they alone would receive His blessings and favours, for they would be rescued from the consequences of the sins they committed in this world by the intercession of their saints in the Next World, but the fact is that they will be dealt with on that Day in quite a different manner.

[78] There are among them some people, who, in reading the Book, twist their tongues in a way to make you think that what they read is a part of the Book, whereas, in fact it is not a part of the Book.66 They also assert, "What we are reading is from Allah," when in fact it is not from Allah. They knowingly ascribe the lie to Allah.

66Taken figuratively the Arabic Text may also imply that they turn away from the right meaning of the Book or twist the words out of Context and pervert the meaning. But the real meaning of the Text is this: while reading the Book, they twist with their tongues certain words or sentences that are against their self interest or self-invented religious beliefs or theories. Thus they change the meanings so as to mislead people into mental errors or false judgments or wrong religious beliefs. It is an irony that some people sometimes treat the Qur'an itself in the same way. For instance, those people who believe in the Holy Prophet to be superhuman twist verse 110 of chapter XVIII with their tongues and read it The first and correct reading means, "Say, (O Prophet), I also am a man like yourselves," while the second reading perverts the meaning thus: "Say, (O prophet), indeed' 1 am not a man like yourselves. "

[79-80] No man, to whom Allah gives the Book and sound judgment and Prophethood, would say thereafter to the people, "Be worshippers of me instead of Allah." He will surely say, "Be true Rabbanis67 in accordance with the teachings of the Book you read and teach. He will never enjoin you to make the angels or the Prophets your lords; is it conceivable that a Prophet should enjoin you to adopt disbelief, after you have surrendered to Allah?"68

67Rabbani (rabbi) was the title of a religious functionary who guided the religious affairs of the Jews, established worship and expounded law.

68These two verses are a comprehensive refutation of all the wrong things that different people have ascribed to their Prophets and entered into their Books in order to make an angel or a Prophet a god and an object of worship. Here a fundamental formula has been laid down: anything that teaches the worship of anyone other than Allah and raises a servant of God to the high pedestal of Godhead can never be the teaching of any Messenger of God: therefore the very existence of such a thing in any book should be taken as a clear proof of its being a later insertion by some misguided people. Hence the claim "to be the son of God and equal with God," could never have been made by Jesus himself, but by some misguided followers of his.

[81-82] Remember, Allah made this Covenant with His Messengers: "Now that We have given you the Book and Wisdom, you are hereby bound to believe in and help a Messenger,69 who comes to you afterwards, confirming the teachings you already possess." After this, He asked, "Do you confirm this and take up the heavy responsibility of your Covenant with Me?" They said, "Yes, we confirm." Then Allah said, "Very well, bear witness to this and I also bear witness with you. Now whosoever breaks the Covenant after this, he shall be a transgressor."70

69It implies this: "You people of the Book are bound by the Covenant of your own Prophets to believe in and help Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) for we entered into a compact with every Prophet to the effect that they (and their followers by implication) must help every Prophet sent by Us for the preaching and the establishment of the way of life for which they had been appointed. Therefore you should not have any prejudice against him, nor consider religion as your own monopoly; you should not oppose the Truth but come under the banner of anyone who raises it for this purpose.

It is interesting to note that according to Palmer (The Koran), "the Talmudic sources confirm that God assembled all past, present, and future Prophets on Mount Sinai and entered into the compact mentioned in the text."

In this connection it should also be clearly understood that this compact was taken from every Prophet before the advent of Hadrat Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him); therefore every Prophet informed his followers about the Prophet coming after him and told them to follow him. But there is no mention in the Qur'an or in the Traditions that any such compact was taken from the Holy Prophet: nor did he inform his followers about the coming of any Prophet after him and believing in him. On the contrary, he categorically declared that he was the last in the line of Prophets.

70This implies that the people of the Book were breaking their covenant with Allah by rejecting Prophet Muhammad (God's peace be upon him) and opposing his mission; they were disregarding that covenant which their Prophets had made with Allah. Hence they were perverted transgressors who had gone beyond the limits imposed by Allah.

[83-85] Now do these people desire to give up the way of Allah's submission (Islam) and adopt a different way (knowing well), that all things in heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, submit to Allah,71 and to Him shall all return? O Prophet, say, "We believe in Allah and in the teachings which have been sent down to us, and also in those teachings sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, and in the guidance that was given by Allah to Moses, Jesus and other Messengers. We do not discriminate against anyone of them72 and we submit and surrender to Him." And whoso adopts any other than this way of submission (Islam), that way shall not be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers.

71That is, "When the whole universe and everything in it follow `Islam' and submit to Allah, what other way of life than Islam do these rejectors, who live in the same universe, seek to follow?"

72That is, "We do not have different ways of treatment for different Prophets: we accept each and everyone of them and do not reject any one of them and we treat all of them as truthful Prophets and none as a liar. We are free from prejudice and zeal for ignorance; we bear witness to the fact that each and every servant of Allah, who brought the Truth from Him to any place whatever in the world, was in the right.

[86-87] How can it be that Allah would guide the people who adopted disbelief after they had acknowledged the Faith and after they themselves had borne witness that he was a true Prophet and after clear Signs had come to them?73 For Allah does not guide the unjust people. The fitting recompense for their iniquity is that they are under the curse of Allah and of the angels and of all mankind.

73It has been reiterated here that the Jewish scholars, who lived in Arabia at the time of the Holy Prophet, had understood clearly and borne witness to it that he was a true Prophet of God and that his teachings were the same as those of the former Prophets. But in spite of this, they not only rejected but also opposed him because of their centuries-old prejudices, obduracy and antagonism to the Truth.

[88-91] They shall remain under it for ever; neither will their punishment be lightened nor shall they be reprieved. However, those who repent after this and mend their ways will be redeemed; Allah is Forgiving and Compassionate. As for those who believed and then disbelieved and persisted in their disbelief;74 even their repentance shall not be accepted because they are obdurate transgressors. Believe it that if anyone of those who adopted disbelief and died as a disbeliever were to fill the whole earth with gold and offer it as ransom for redemption, that will not be accepted. There is a painful punishment in store for such people and they will not find any helpers.

74"They persisted in their disbelief" : they did not stop at the rejection of the Faith but went on further and further in their opposition and antagonism to it: they did their very worst to hinder people from the way of Allah by creating doubts and suspicions in their minds and by devising secret plans and plots to make the mission a failure.

[92] You can never attain piety unless you spend (in the way of Allah) of what you love;75 surely Allah will have full knowledge of what you spend.

75It is meant to remove the misconception of the Jews about virtue. Their highest ideal of virtue was to put on that outward appearance which had been enjoined by the traditional and centuries-old heritage of their ancestors. Besides this they measured virtue by the standard of that elaborate legal system which had been evolved by their hair-splitting scholars. But in spite of their outward religiosity, even their `pious' people were narrow-minded, greedy and parsimonious. Moreover they did not hesitate to conceal the Truth or to sell it, and yet the common people took them for virtuous people. This is why they are being told here that they can attain to real virtue not by the mere outward observance of some rituals of their own invention but by loving God and by keeping His will above every worldly thing. As the door of virtue is shut against anyone who loves any worldly thing more than Allah, the one, who is not ready to sacrifice the beloved thing for the sake of God's love, cannot attain to real virtue. The observance of rituals without this spirit of love is like the paint on worm-eaten wood. It is possible that a human being might be deceived by such outward paint, but it is impossible to deceive God by such devices.

[38-39] Whenever Zacharias35 entered the sanctuary36 to see her, he found some eatables with her; he would ask, "O Mary, whence have these come to you?" She would answer, "It is from Allah: Allah provides without stint for whom He wills." Thereupon Zacharias invoked his Lord and said, "Lord, bestow upon me from Thyself righteous offspring for Thou alone hearest prayers."37 As he stood praying in the sanctuary, the angels called him and said, "Allah gives you the good news of a son to be named John;38 he will come to confirm a Command from Allah;39 he will be a great leader: he will be highly disciplined: he will be appointed a Prophet, and will be among the righteous."

35This happened when Mary had reached the age of discretion and had been admitted into the sanctuary of the Temple (Jerusalem), where she was busy, day and night, in the worship of Allah. Zacharias who had been made her guardian was probably the husband of her maternal aunt and was one of the keepers of the Temple. He was not the Prophet Zachariah, who was killed according to the Old Testament.

36The Arabic word "mihrab"usually reminds one of the arch (prayer niche) meant for the imam in the mosques. But here this word has been used for those cells which are built on comparatively raised ground adjoining the monasteries and churches. They are meant for the keepers and guardians of the places of worship, and for those who retire for worship in seclusion. In such a Cell Mary had retired for worship in seclusion.

37Zacharias was childless till that time. Seeing this pious young girl, he longed for a good child. Seeing how she was growing under the special protection of Allah, Who supplied her in her seclusion, with provisions from His vast sources, he began to cherish the hope that Allah should bestow upon him a child even in his old age, if He so willed.

38The Bible mentions him as John the Baptist. (Matthew: Chaps. 3, 11,14; Mark 1, 6; Luke 1, 3).

39"Command from Allah" here refers to Jesus Christ. The Holy Qur'an calls him a "Command from Allah" because the birth was brought about miraculously by an extraordinary Command from Allah.

[40-41] Zacharias said, "Lord, how shall I beget a son now that I have grown very old and my wife is barren?" "Thus will it be,”40 was the answer. "Allah does whatever He wills." He said, "Lord, give me a Sign."41 "Your Sign is that you shall not (be able to) speak to anyone for three days but by gestures. During this period you should remember your Lord much and glorify His Name in the morning and in the evening."42

40That is, "Despite your old age and the sterility of your wife, Allah will bestow upon you a son."

41That is, "Give me a token to assure me beforehand of the birth of a son to an old man and a barren woman."

42The main object of this discourse is to make the Christians realize the error of their belief in taking Jesus for the son of God, and making him an object of worship. The extraordinary birth of John has been mentioned in the Qur'an to serve as .introduction to the subsequent argument against their wrong belief. The miraculous birth of Jesus could no more entitle him to Divinity than the extraordinary birth of John, brought about in the same family in a different and unusual way could entitle the latter to Divinity.

[44] O Muhammad, these are the "unseen" things, We are revealing to you: you were not present there when the priests of the Temple were casting lots by throwing their quills to decide which of them should be the guardian of Mary:43 nor were you with them when they were arguing about it.

43As Mary was a girl who had been dedicated by her mother to the Temple in the way of Allah, the question of her guardianship had become a problem for the keepers because of her sex. They were therefore casting lots to decide the delicate problem.

[45-49] And remember when the angels said, "O Mary, Allah sends you the good news of a Command of His: his name shall be Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. He will be highly honoured in this world and in the Next World and he will be among those favoured by Allah. He will speak to the people alike when in the cradle and when grown up, and he will be among the righteous." Hearing this, Mary said, "How, O Lord, shall I have a son, when no man has ever touched me?" "Thus shall it be,"44 was the answer. Allah creates whatever He wills. When He decrees a thing, He only says, "Be" and it is. (Continuing their message, the angels added,) "And Allah will teach him the Book and wisdom, and give him the knowledge of the Torah and the Gospel, and appoint him as His Messenger to the children of Israel."

44That is, "Although no man has touched you, yet a son shall be born to you." It should be noted that the same word "kazalika, "meaning "so shall it be," had been used in response to Zacharias' prayer. It, therefore, carries the same sense here. Moreover, the whole context here corroborates the story that Mary was given the glad tidings of the birth of a son without any sexual intercourse, and the birth of Christ, in actual fact, took place in that unusual way. If a son was to be born to her in the normal known way, and if the event of the birth of Jesus had taker. place in a natural way, then the whole discourse starting from verse 33 and ending with verse 63 would become absolutely pointless. Not only that but all other references to the unusual birth of Jesus in the Qur'an would lose their significance and meaning. The Christians had made Jesus the Son of God and worthy of worship simply because of his unusual birth without a father and the Jews had accused Mary because they had witnessed that she had given birth to a child, though she was not married. Had it been otherwise, then the two groups could have been told plainly that the girl was married to such and such a man and that Jesus was from his seed. In that case, one fails to see the reason why such a long introduction and a series of arguments should have been necessary to remove all doubts about his miraculous birth. Then Jesus could have been called the son of a particular man, instead of being called "the son of Mary". The position of those people who, on the one hand, profess to believe the Holy Qur'an to be the Word of Allah and on the other hand try to prove that Jesus was born after the natural coming together of a husband and wife, really try to show that Allah is not able to express Himself as clearly as these people. (May God protect us from blasphemy!)

[50-51] (And when he came as a Messenger to the children of Israel, he said,) "I have come to you with a clear Sign from your Lord: in your very presence, I make the likeness of a bird out of clay and breathe into it and it becomes, by Allah's Command, a bird. I heal those born blind and the lepers and I bring to life the dead by Allah's Command: I inform you of what you eat and what you store up in your houses. Surely there is a great Sign for you in all this, if you have a mind to believe. 45 And I have come to confirm those teachings of the Guidance of the Torah which are intact in my time.46 Lo! I have come with a clear Sign from your Lord;47 so fear Allah and obey me. Indeed Allah is my Lord, and also your Lord; therefore worship Him alone: that is the straight way."48

45That is, "These Signs are clear enough to convince you that I have been sent by that Allah Who is the Creator and Absolute Ruler of this universe, provided that you are not obdurate but are willing to accept the Truth."

46That is, "This is yet another proof of the fact that I have been sent by Allah. If I had been a false prophet I would have invented my own religion and by virtue of these miracles striven to divert you from your previous Faith to the New creed. But I profess the same original religion to be true and confirm the same teachings which were brought by the Prophets before me."

The fact that Jesus taught the same religion that had been presented by Moses and the other Prophets is supported even by the existing Gospels. For example, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." (5: 17).

One of the Pharisees, who was a lawyer, asked Jesus, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" He replied:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and the great commandment. And the second is like. unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and Prophets." (Matthew 22: 37-40). On another occasion Jesus said to his disciples:

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (Matthew 23: 2-3).

47That is, "I have come to efface and abolish the superstitions of your ignorant people, the hairsplitting of your jurists, the religious austerities of your ascetics and the restrictive additions made in the Law of Allah under the non-Muslim domination; I will make lawful or unlawful for you only those things which Allah has made lawful or unlawful."

48This shows that like all other Prophets, Jesus also based his teachings on the following three fundamentals:

(1) The Supreme Authority to which mankind should submit and surrender exclusively belongs to Allah and all the social and moral systems should be built entirely on it.

(2) Being a representative of the same Pararmount Power, a prophet must be obeyed unconditionally.

(3) Allah alone is entitled to prescribe laws and regulations for making things lawful or unlawful, pure and impure; consequently all laws imposed by others must be abolished.

Thus it is clear that Jesus, Moses, Muhammad and all other Prophets (Allah's peace be upon them all) had one and the same mission. Those people who aver that different Prophets were sent with different missions and to fulfil different aims, are gravely mistaken. Anyone, who is delegated by the Absolute Master of the Universe to His subjects, cannot have any other mission than to prevent the people, from becoming disobedient to and independent of Him, and to forbid them to set others to rank with Allah as partners in His Authority in any way. For, they are sent to invite the people to surrender and submit and be loyal to the Almighty God and worship Him alone.

It is a pity that the existing Gospels do not present the mission of Jesus so precisely and clearly as it has been presented above in the Holy Qur'an. Nevertheless all the three basic things mentioned above are found scattered over in these Books. For instance, the fact that Jesus believed exclusively in the worship of Allah is clear from the following:

(1) "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4: 10).

(2) Not only did he believe in this, but also made it the ultimate aim of all his activities and strove to make the people of the earth to submit to the revealed Law of Allah just as the whole universe submits to His physical Law.

"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6 :10).

Then the fact that Jesus always presented himself as a prophet and as a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, and always invited the people to follow him in that capacity alone, is supported by a number of his sayings. When he started his mission in his native place, Nazareth, the people of his own town and his own kinsfolk rose against him and according to an agreed tradition of Matthew, Mark and Luke, he said: "No prophet is accepted in his own country". And when his enemies were conspiring at Jerusalem to kill him and the people advised him to go to somewhere else, he replied: "It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." (Luke 13: 33).

When he was entering Jerusalem for the last time, his disciples began to utter in a loud voice: "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord." At this the Pharisees felt offended and asked him to silence his disciples. He replied:

"I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would inunediately cry out." (Luke 19: 38-40).

On another occasion he said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart ..... my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30). Moreover the fact that Jesus wanted the people to obey the Divine Law rather than man-made laws becomes clear from that tradition of Matthew and Mark which says that when the Pharisees asked, why his disciples transgressed the tradition of the elders and took food without washing their hands,. he replied and said, "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written. This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups, and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, iet him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest he profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye." (Mark 7: 6-13).

[52-53] When Jesus perceived that the children of Israel were bent upon disbelief, he said, "Who will be my helper in the cause of Allah?" The disciples49 (promptly responded and) said, "We are Allah's helpers:50 we have believed in Allah; so do bear witness that we are Muslims (who surrender to Allah). Lord! we have believed in that which Thou hast sent down and followed Thy Messenger; so enroll us among those who bear witness.

49The Arabic word (havari) is almost the equivalent of "helper". In the Bible, they have been called "disciples" and at some places "apostles" because Jesus used to send them tc the people to deliver his message, and not because God had appointed them as His apostles.

50Those people who help establish Islam have been called Allah's helpers. In order to understand its significance, it should be kept in view that Allah has taken upon Himself to persuade human beings to adopt Islam of their free will, for He does not force His will on man in those spheres of his life in which He has granted him freedom of action but likes to convince him by reason and admonition. As it is the work of Allah to bring the people to the right way by admonition and advice, He calls those people who exert their utmost to establish Islam "His helpers and companions:" This is indeed the highest position that a servant of Allah can aspire to achieve. For man's position is merely that of a servant when he is engaged in praying, fasting and other kinds of worship, but he is elevated to the high and unique position of God's companion and assistant when he is exerting for the establishment of the way of Allah. And this is indeed the loftiest position of spiritual attainment, to which a man can aspire in this world.

[54-57] Then the children of Israel began to plot (against Jesus) and Allah also devised His secret plan, and Allah is the best of devisers. (It was to carry out His secret plan that) He said, "O Jesus, now I will recall51 you and raise you up to Myself and cleanse you of (the uncongenial company and the filthy environment of ) those who have rejected you and will set up those who follow you above those who have rejected you52 till the Day of Resurrection. And ultimately all of you shall return to Me: then I will judge between you in what you differ, and punish with a grievous punishment, both in this world and in the Hereafter, those who have adopted the attitude of disbelief and rejection and they shall have none to help them. And those, who have believed and done good deeds, shall be given their rewards in full. And note it well that Allah does not like the transgressors."

51The word (mutawaffi) in the Arabic text is from (tawaffa) which literally means "to take and to receive" and "to seize the soul" is not its lexical but metaphorical meaning. Here it means "to recall from mission." Allah recalled Jesus because the Israelites had rejected him in spite of the clear Signs he had brought. They had been disobeying God for centuries and, in spite of many a warning and admonition served to them, their national character was rapidly deteriorating. They had killed several Prophets, one after the other, and had grown so audacious as to demand the blood of any good man who ventured to invite them to the Right Way. In order to give them the last chance for turning to the Truth, God appointed among them two great Prophets, Jesus and John (God's peace be upon them), at one and the same time. These Prophets came with such clear signs of their appointment from Allah that only such people dared reject them as were utterly perverted and prejudiced against the Truth and were averse to following the Right Way. Nevertheless the Israelites lost their last chance also as they not only rejected their invitation but also had the head of a great Prophet like John cut off openly at the request of a dancing girl. 'And their Pharisees and Jurists conspired and sought to get Jesus punished with the death sentence by the Roman Government. Thus they had proved themselves to be so obdurate that it was useless to give the Israelites any further chance. So Allah recalled His Prophet Jesus and inflicted on them a life of disgrace up to the Day of Resurrection.

It will be useful here to bear in mind the fact that this whole discourse is meant to refute and correct the Christian belief in the God-head of Jesus. Three main things were responsible for the prevalence of this belief among the Christians:

(1) The miraculous birth of Jesus.

(2) His concrete and tangible miracles.

(3) His ascension to heaven about which their Scriptures were explicit.

The Qur'an confirmed the first thing and made it plain that the birth of Jesus without a father was only a manifestation of the infinite powers of Allah. He can create anybody in whatever manner He wills. His miraculous birth, therefore, is no reason why he should be made a god or a partner in Godhead.

The Qur'an also confirms the second thing and even recounts the miracles performed by Jesus, but makes it clear that all those miracles were performed by him, as a servant of Allah, by His leave and not as an independent authority. It is, therefore, wrong to infer that Jesus was a partner in Godhead.

Now let us consider the third thing. If the Christian belief in "Ascension" had been wholly baseless, it could have been refuted by pointing out that the object of their worship, the so-called "Son of God", expired long ago and had become one with dust, and that they could see, for their full satisfaction, his grave at such and such a place. But the Qur'an does not declare this explicitly. On the other hand, it not only uses such words as give at least a vague suggestion of his "Ascension", but also denies that Jesus was crucified at all. According to it the one who gave a loud cry at his last hour, saying, "Eli" Eli, lama sabachthani?" and the one whose picture they carry on the cross, was not Messiah at all, because God had recalled to Himself the real Messiah before the crucifixion took place.

It is thus clear that those people who try to prove the death of Jesus from these verses, really try to show that God is not able to express Himself clearly and unambiguously. (May God protect us from such a blasphemy!)

52"Those who rejected" him were the Jews who were invited by Jesus to accept the Truth.

"Those who follow" him are really the Muslims only but if it may be taken to imply all those who believe in him, then the sincere Christians may also be included.

[58-60] The stories which We are relating to you are full of signs and wisdom. In the sight of Allah, the case of the birth of Jesus is like that of Adam, whom He created out of dust and said, "Be", and he was.53 This is the fact of the matter your lord is imparting, and you should not be of those who doubt it.54

53That is, "If one's miraculous birth entitles one to become God or the Son of God, then Adam was better entitled to it because he was created without either a human father or a mother, while Jesus was born without a father only.

54The main points in the discourse presented before the Christians up to here are: First, they have been admonished to realize that their belief in the Godhead of Jesus is gravely ill-founded. He was only a man who was born in a miraculous way by the will of Allah and given the power to perform certain miracles as a clear proof of his Prophethood. As regards his "Ascension", Allah had arranged to recall him to Himself before the disbelievers could crucify him. In fact, the Master of the Universe has full powers to treat any of His servants in any special way He pleases. It is, therefore, wrong to infer from the exceptional treatment accorded to Jesus that he himself was the Master or the Master's Son or a partner in the authority of the Master.

Secondly, their attention has been drawn to the fact that Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) invites them to the same Truth that had been preached by Prophet Jesus (God's peace be upon him) in his own time and that the teachings of the two Prophets were basically identical.

Thirdly, the disciples of Jesus believed in and followed the same religion of Islam that is being presented in the Qur'an. However the Christians of the later age discarded the message of Jesus and digressed from the Faith of his disciples.

[61-63] After the coming of this knowledge to you, if anyone argues with you about this matter, say, O Muhammad, "Come, let us both gather together and also bring our children and your children, our women and your women, and then pray to Allah and invoke Him to lay the liars under His curse."55 These narratives are absolutely true and the fact is that there is no deity save Allah; indeed Allah is All Mighty and All-Wise. Then if they turn away (from accepting the challenge) it will be a clear proof of their mischief and Allah has full knowledge of the mischief-makers.

55This method of settling the dispute was proposed to show conclusively that the members of the deputation of Najran were behaving obdurately. As a matter of fact, they had no answer to the things pointed out in the above discourse and could not bring any authority even from their own Scriptures to justify and support their beliefs under discussion. They could not, therefore, assert with full conviction that their beliefs conformed to the fact and were not false. Besides this, when they observed closely the character and the teachings and the works of the Holy Prophet, the majority of the members of the deputation were so impressed that they became convinced in their hearts of his Prophethood; or at least, they could not reject it boldly. That is why they did not accept the challenge: "If you really believe in the truth of your creed, you should pray with us to Allah and invoke His curse on those who say false things about Christ." The fact that they declined to accept the challenge showed plainly to the whole of Arabia that the religious leaders and priests of the Christians of Najran who were known far and wide for their piety, professed beliefs about which they themselves were not sure.

[64] Say,56 "O people of the Book! Come to what is common between us and you,57 that we worship none but Allah; that we associate nothing with Him and that none of us shall make as our Lord any other than Allah." If they reject your invitation, then tell them plainly, "Bear witness that we are Muslims (who worship and surrender to Allah alone)."

56From here begins the third discourse. Its subject-matter clearly shows that it was revealed in the period intervening the battles of Badr and Uhd. The contents of the three discourses are so closely interlinked that there is no incoherence anywhere between them. That is why some commentators have been misled to believe that this also formed part of the discourse addressed to the Najran deputation. But the tone of the discourse commencing from here clearly shows that it was addressed to the Jews.

57That is, "Join us in the creed which we have accepted and which you also cannot reject as false, for it is confirmed and supported by the teachings of your own Scriptures

[65] O people. of the Book, why do you argue with us about Abraham (as to whether he was a Jew or a Christian? You know that) the Torah and the Gospel were sent down long after him. Why do you not, then, understand even this?58 You have had enough arguments

58That is, "Your Judaism and Christianity came into existence long after the revelation of the Torah and the Gospel, whereas Abraham (God's peace be upon him) had passed away long before those Books were sent down. Now, even a man of ordinary common sense can easily understand that the religion of Abraham could in no sense be Judaism or Christianity. Thus, if Abraham was on the right way and had obtained salvation, as you also believe, then it becomes abundantly clear that one need not follow Judaism or Christianity to be on the Right Way and to obtain salvation." (Also see E.N. 135 and 141, Al-Baqarah.)

[66-68] You have had enough arguments about things of which you had some knowledge: why should you now argue about that also of which you know nothing at all? Allah knows, but you know nothing. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a Muslim, sound in the Faith,59 and he was not of those who set up partners with Allah. Surely only those people who follow Abraham are entitled to claim a relationship with Him. Now this Prophet and the Believers are better entitled to this relationship: Allah is the Protector of only those who are Believers.

59The Arabic word (hanif) stands for a person who chooses to follow one particular way after rejecting all other ways. We have conveyed this meaning by "a Muslim, sound in the Faith."

[1-2] Alif. Lam. Mim. Allah! He is the Ever-living, the Sustainer of the Universe. In reality there is no god but He.1

1Please see E.N. 278, Al-Baqarah.

[3-4] He has sent down to you the Book, which has brought the Truth and confirms the Scriptures which preceded it. Before this, He sent down the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of mankind,2 and He has sent down the Criterion (of right and wrong). Now there shall be a severe punishment for those who reject the Commandments of Allah: for Allah is Almighty, Avenger of wickedness.

2There exists a common misconception about the Torah (Taurat) and the Gospel (Injil) for the people generally take the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) for the Torah, and the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) for the Injil. The misconception creates doubts about Revelation itself and a question arises, "Are these books really the Word of God? And does the Holy Qur'an really confirm all their contents"? As a matter of fact, the Torah, which the Qur'an confirms, is not the Pentateuch but is contained in it, and the Injil is not "the four Gospels" but is widen these books.

The Taurat consists of those commandments and injunctions which were given to Prophet Moses (Allah's peace be upon him) during his Prophethood, which lasted for about forty years. Of these were the Ten commandments which were inscribed on stone tablets and delivered to Moses on Mount Tur: as regards the remaining Commandments and injunctions he himself had put down in writing. Then he handed one copy of the Torah to each of the twelve tribes of Israel for guidance. One copy was entrusted to the Levites for safe custody, which along with the stone tablets, was deposited in the Ark.

That Taurat remained quite sate and sound as an entire book up to the first destruction of Jerusalem. But, by and by, the Israelites grew so indifferent to and negligent and unmindful of it that when the Temple of Solomon was under repair during the reign of Joshiah, Hilkiah. the high Priest came across it by chance but did not know that it was the Torah; he thought it was only a Law book and passed it on to the Royal Scribe as a curio. The latter presented it to king Joshiah who tore his clothes and ordered Hilkiah and others to consult the Eternal about the terms of the book. (2 Kings, 22: 8-13). Such was the condition of the Israelites when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, and they lost for ever even the very few copies of the Torah which had long lain neglected in some forgotten niches.

The Old Testament was compiled by Ezra, when the Israelites returned home to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon and built the Temple anew. Ezra gathered together some prominent men of his community, and with their help compiled the whole history of Israel which now comprises the first 17 books of the Bible. Of these Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronorny tell the life history of Prophet Moses and include those verses of the real Taurat which became available to Ezra and his assistants, who incorporated them in those books at appropriate places in the chronological order of their revelation. Thus it is obvious that the Pentateuch as a whole is not the Taurat but includes it. The real Taurat comprises those verses which are scattered all over the life story of Prophet Moses, and it is not difficult even today to locate and recognize them. Such portions where the author says, "God said to Moses," or Moses said, The Lord your God says," the Taurat begins, and where the narrative of the life story is resumed, there that part of the Taurat ends. At those places the author of the Bible has inserted certain things by way of explanation or commentary, and it is here that the ordinary reader fails to distinguish the real Taurat from the commentary. However, those who have an insight into the nature of Divine Scriptures, can distinguish, to some degree of exactness, the explanatory. notes from the revealed verses.

According to the Qur'an, only such scattered portions in the Pentateuch are the Taurat and it confirms them alone. And this can be testified by putting together these verses and comparing them with the Qur'an. Here and there one might come across a minor difference in their details, but one cannot find even the slightest difference between the fundamental teachings of the two. Even today one can see clearly that both the Scriptures have come from the same source.

Likewise, the Injil is the name of those inspired discourses and sayings which Jesus (Allah's peace be upon him) uttered as a prophet during the last couple of years of his life. We have no means now of ascertaining whether these pious utterances were recorded and compiled during the lifetime of Jesus. In the introduction to his translation of the Bible, Moffat says, "Jesus wrote nothing and for a time his immediate disciples felt no impulse to write any account of him. The data of the historical Jesus, therefore is based on the vivid recollections and traditions of the primitive Palestinian disciples. How soon their materials took written shape we cannot tell, but at least one written record of them was probably in existence by about A.D.50." Anyhow, when, long after his recall, the stories of Jesus were compiled in the shape of tour Gospels, (the period of the composition of Mark, the tirst to be composed was 65-75 A.D.), some of his written or inspired sayings were also inserted at appropriate places in the historical sketches. Thus it is obvious that the first tour Gospels are not the Injil, the discourses and sayings of Jesus, but they contain it. We have no means of recognizing thetas from the works of the authors except this: Wherever the authors say "Jesus said so or taught so and so," there the Injil begins and where they resume the narration, there it ends. According to the Qur'an, only such portions are the Injil and these alone are condensed by it. If these portions are compiled together and compared with the Qur'an, one will tied no serious difference between the two, and, if somewhere a trivial difference appears, it can be removed very easily with unbiased thinking.

[5-9] Nothing in the Earth or in the heavens is hidden from Allah.3 It is He Who shapes you in the wombs of your mothers as He wills.4 There is no deity but He, the Al-Mighty, the All-Wise. It is He Who has sent down this Book to you. There are two kinds of verses in this Book: muhkamat (which are precise in meaning: ) they are the essence of the Books5 and the other kind is mutashabihat (which are ambiguous. ) Those, who are perverse of heart, always go after the mutashabihat in pursuit of mischief and try to interpret them arbitrarily, whereas in fact, none save Allah knows their real meanings!6 In contrast to them, those, who possess sound knowledge, say, "We believe in them because all of them are from our Lord."7 And the fact is that only the people of insight can learn lessons from such things. They pray to Allah, "Our Lord, let not our hearts become perverse after 'Thou hast once guided us aright, bestow upon us mercy from Thyself for Thou art the real Benefactor! Lord! Thou wilt surely gather all mankind together on a Day which is inevitable, for Thou never failest to fulfil Thy promise."

3That is, "He has full, perfect and exact knowledge of the whole universe. Hence the Book revealed by Him will contain nothing but the Truth. As a matter of fact, one can learn pure Truth from that Book alone which has been sent down by the All-Knowing and All-Wise."

4This implies two important things here:

(1) Allah knows your nature better than yourself or anybody else: therefore, there is no other alternative for you but to trust in the Guidance sent down by Him.

(2) The Benevolent Allah Who has been providing for all your needs, great and small, throughout all the stages of your life, ever since your mothers conceived you, could not possibly have neglected to provide for your guidance, which is after all the greatest need of your life.

5"Muhkam" is that which is precise, exact, clear and decisive. Muhkamat are those verses of the Qur'an which have been so couched as to make their meaning quite plain without any shade of ambiguity. They have been purposely so worded as to make their meaning definite and precise leaving little room for misinterpretation. These verses constitute the fundamental principles of the Book, i. e.. they and they alone determine the aim and object for which the Qur'an has been sent down. They invite the world to Islam, teach morals and give warnings. They refute wrong beliefs and practices, and lay down the way of right living. They expound the fundamentals of religion and state beliefs and practices, morals and duties, commandments and prohibitions. Therefore a seeker after Truth should turn to these verses as these alone can satisfy his needs. Naturally such a person will concentrate on these verses and endeavour to derive the greatest benefit from them.

6Mutashabihat are those verses in which there is a possibility of more than one meaning. Their object is to give a certain minimum knowledge about the universe, its beginning and end, the position of man therein, and such other basic things, for these things are essential for the formulation of any system of life. It is obvious that no human language possesses words, expressions, idioms etc., to depict clearly those supernatural things, which have never yet been grasped by human senses, nor seen nor heard nor smelt nor touched nor tasted by human beings. That is why such supernatural things have to be described in terms of human life. That is why the Qur'an uses ambiguous verses in human language which are liable to give rise to more than one meaning. Thus it is clear that the main benefit of such verses is that they help one approach the Reality and form a conception of it. Hence the more one tries to determine their precise meanings, the more one gets involved in doubts and ambiguities. As a result of this, one will not be able to find the Reality but will be led further away from it and cause mischief. Therefore those, who seek after the Truth and do not hanker after superfluities, rest content with the simple idea of Reality they get from the ambiguous verses, which suffices thetas for an understanding of the Qur'an; they concentrate their whole attention on a fuller comprehension of the verses which are precise in meaning. On the other hand, those who love superfluities or seek after mischief, spend their tune and energies in giving arbitrary interpretations to the ambiguous verses.

7This might give rise to a question: how can one believe in the truth of the ambiguous verses, if one does not know their precise meaning? The answer is that a study of the precise verses, and not of the different interpretations of the ambiguous verses, confirms a sensible man in his belief that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah. When the study of the precise verses once convinces him that the Book is really from Allah, then the ambiguous verses do not create any doubt in his mind and he accepts the simple meanings which are within his comprehension and leaves alone any complicacies if and when they appear. Instead of hair splitting and probing into them, he believes in the Word of Allah as a whole and turns his attention to more useful things.

[10-13] As for those, who have adopted the attitude of disbelief,8 neither their riches nor their children shall avail them against Allah: they shall become fuel for Hell. Their end shall be the same as that of the people of Pharaoh and other disbelievers who went before them; they treated the Divine Revelations as falsehoods and Allah seized them because of their sins; for Allah is very stern in retribution. Therefore, O Muhammad, say to those who have rejected your Message, "The time is approaching fast when you shall be overpowered and driven to Hell: and Hell is a horrible abode. You have already had a Sign in the two hosts which met on the battle-field (at Badr). One of these hosts was fighting for the cause of Allah and the other was of the disbelievers: the lookers-on saw with their own eyes that the host of the disbelievers,9 was twice as big as that of the believers, but (the result of the Battle proved conclusively that) Allah strengthens with His succour whom He wills: there is truly a great lesson hidden in it for those who have eyes to discern."10

8Please see E.N. 161, AI-Baqarah.

9Although the actual ratio was three to one, yet even a casual observer could not have failed to notice that the number of the unbelievers was at least twice as great as that of the Muslims.

10A brief review of the Battle of Badr, which had recently taken place, is being made with a view to imparting lessons by snaking a reference to its events and its results. This Battle taught three important lessons:

It taught that even on the battlefield the Believers, who tight in the way of Allah, behave in quite a different manner from the disbelievers. The latter, like the Quraish, indulge in merry making and enjoying wine, women, music, dance etc., while the former, like the Muslims, practise piety, and fear Allah and absorb themselves in prayer.

(2) The victory of the Muslims, in spite of their smaller number and less equipment, over the disbelievers who had a larger number and better weapons was a clear proof that they had Allah's succour with them.

(3) The defeat was a shocking lesson for the disbelievers, who were neglectful of Allah's power and proud of their equipment and the large number of their helpers. By this, Allah taught that He can bestow power on a small number of poor migrants from Makkah arid the farmers of Al-Madinah, to inflict crushing defeat on the Quraish, the most influential and powerful clan of Arabia.

[14-17] Love of lusts for women and children. hoarded Heaps of gold and silver, choicest horses, cattle and corn fields, has been made very tempting for people, but these are mere provisions for the transitory life of this world; the ever-lasting and the best abode, however, is with Allah. Say, "Should I tell you a thing better than these? There will be Gardens underneath which canals flow for those, who adopt the attitude of piety; there they will dwell for ever and will have pure spouses11 and they will enjoy Allah's favour. And Allah watches very closely the conduct of His servants."12 These are the people, who say, "Lord, we have believed sincerely; forgive us our sins and save us from the fire of Hell." They show fortitude,13 are truthful, obedient and charitable, and implore Allah's forgiveness in the early hours of the morning.

11Please see E.N. 27, Al-Baqarah.

12That is, "Allah dces not shower His favours erroneously nor whimsically nor dces He make cursory and superficial decisions. He is fully aware of the actions, deeds and intentions of His servants, and evaluates them correctly and knows full well who should deserve His favour and who should incur His displeasure."

13It means, "They stand steadfast for the sake of truth, are not daunted by losses or hardships, are not disheartened by failures, and are not turned aside from the right path by temptations. They stick to the Truth even when there appears to be no chance of success." (Please see E.N. 60, Al-Baqarah also.)

[18] Allah Himself has testified to the fact that there is no deity save Him:14 the angels and all those endowed with knowledge testify the fact with truth and justice 15 that there is no deity save the All-Mighty the All-Wise.

14That is: This' is the testimony of Allah Himself that He alone in the whole universe possesses the attributes of God-head and the authority and the rights of God-head. This is His testimony, and who could be a more reliable Testifier than He Who has direct knowledge of all the realities of the universe? He sees His whole c: eation spread before Him, and from Him nothing is hidden in the heavens or in the earth.

15Next to Allah, the most trustworthy witnesses are angels, who are the managing agents of the affairs of His Kingdom of the Universe. Their evidence is based on their personal knowledge, that is,

"None but Allah wields command in this kingdom and none but He gives orders for the administration of the affairs of the earth and the heavens." Then all those people, who have been bestowed with the knowledge of the realities, have been unanimously bearing witness, since the beginning of the world to the present day. that Allah alone is the Master and the Designer of the whole universe.

[19-20] Indeed, Islam is the only right way of life in the sight of Allah.16 Those who were given the Book, had adopted ways different from this Way for no other reason than to enable themselves to behave unjustly towards one another, after knowledge .had come to them;17 they should know that Allah is very prompt at reckoning with those who deny and reject His Commandments and Guidance. Now, if they dispute with you, tell them, "As for me and my followers, we have surrendered to Allah." Then ask those, who possess the Book and those who do not, "Have you also surrendered to Him"?18 If they have surrendered, they are rightly guided. But if they turn away (you need not worry), for your sole responsibility was to convey the Message. As to the consequence, Allah Himself watches closely what His servants do.

16It implies that in the sight of Allah there is only one correct system and one right way of life for man. It is this: Man should worship Allah, acknowledge Him as his Master and surrender himself completely to Him in His worship and service. He should not invent his own way of worship but should faithfully follow that Guidance alone which Allah has revealed through His Messengers, without adding anything to or taking away anything from it. This way of thinking and behaving is called "Islam." And it is the absolute right of the Creator and the Master of the Universe that He should not accept as lawful from His subjects, His own creation, any way other than Islam. One might ignorantly think it to be one's right to follow any system, atheism, idolatry, etc., but the Ruler of the Universe will regard this behaviour as rebellious.

17It means that originally Islam and Islam alone was professed and preached by every Messenger who was sent by Allah at any time in any comer of the world. Hence any Scripture sent down to any community in any language taught the same Islam. Afterwards, the people distorted this original religion and added to it something to suit their interests or to gratify their lusts, and omitted those things from it which went against their interests. They invented new religions just because they wanted to transgress the prescribed limits and run after undue privileges and gains and distinctions. Thus they made changes in the beliefs, principles and injunctions of the true Faith to make it subservient to their own desires and lusts.

18The same thing may be expressed thus: "My followers and I have been convinced of this same pure Islam and have accepted the true religion of Allah; now tell us whether you also will give up the innovations which you and your elders have introduced into it and turn to the original true religion."

[21-22] Give the good tidings of a painful chastisement19 to those who reject Allah's .Revelations and slay His Prophets unjustly and are deadly against those who rise up from among the people to enjoin right and justice. They are the ones whose works have come to naught in this world and in the Next,20 and they have no helpers.21

19This is an ironical way of bringing home to the disbelievers the consequences of those mischievous deeds in which they rejoice today, regarding them as "nice things."

20That is, "As they have spent all their energies and powers in evil ways, their works will bring them to ruin both in this world and in the Next World"

21That is, "There is no such power which can bring out good results from their wrongly directed efforts or at least make them harmless. All the various agencies, which they believe will help them in this world or in the Next World or in both, shall be absolutely of no avail to them anywhere."

[23-25] Have you not marked the behaviour of those who have received a share of the knowledge of the Book? When they are invited to the Book of Allah so that it may judge between them, some of them evade it and turn away from Its judgement.22 They do this because they say, "The fire of Hell is not going to touch us and even if it does at all, it will be only for a few days."23 Such self invented beliefs have involved them in various kinds of misunderstandings about their religion. But what will they do when We will gather them together on the Day which is sure to come? On that day, everyone will be paid in full for what one has earned, and none shall be wronged.

22That is, "They are asked to acknowledge the Book of Allah as the final authority and bow before its decrees and accept as true whatever is proved to he true by it, and reject whatever is proved to be false by it. "It should be noted that here by the Book of God is meant the Torah or the Gospel and by "the people who have received a share of the knowledge of the Book" are meant the learned people of the Jews and the Christians.

23As such people regard themselves to be the favourites of God, they delude themselves that they are going to enter into Paradise anyhow, irrespective of the quality of their deeds. They foolishly believe that the fire of Hell dare not touch them because they are "true" believers and the children of such pious ancestors, and the followers of such and such prophets and the disciples of such and such saints, etc., etc. And if at all they are cast into Hell, they argue, they will be kept there only for a few days and that, too, to be cleansed of the impurity of sins and then will go into Paradise permanently. Such misleading ideas and conceptions have made them so bold that they commit the gravest crimes and the most heinous sins fearlessly: so much so that they openly disown the Truth without the least fear of Allah.

[26-27] Say, "O Allah, Sovereign of the Kingdom, Thou bestowest kingdom on whomever Thou wilt and Thou takest it away from whomever Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whomever Thou wilt and Thou abasest whomever Thou wilt. All that is good is in Thy power: indeed Thou hast full power over all things. Thou causest the night to pass into the day and Thou causest the day to pass into the night; Thou bringest forth the living out of the dead and Thou bringest forth the dead out of the living and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou wilt without stint."24

24Verses 26 and 27 fit in beautifully between the preceding and the subsequent verses. From verse 19 begins a warning and challenge to the opponents of Islam, and in verse 25, the Muslims have been consoled with the assurance that their enemies shall be paid in full on the Day of Judgment. But in order to reassure them, Allah has in these verses, answered an unasked question which arises when one sees that the disbelievers and the disobedient to Allah are prospering in the world, while the believers and the obedient servants of Allah are starving and suffering from hardships. The question is: What wisdom underlies this disparity in the prosperity and adversity of the two groups? At the time (A.H. 3) of the revelation of this discourse the Holy Prophet and his Companions were so hard pressed on all sides that the same question was arising in the people's minds. Its answer is contained in these verses: Allah to Whom belongs all authority, power, wealth, prosperity etc., etc., gives a portion of these to whomsoever He wills, and they should not feel uneasy and anxious about this disparity because He is All Wise and All-Knowing. Moreover Allah gives wealth to whomsoever He wills; therefore it is not to be made the criterion of honour and friendship. Hence in the subsequent verses, the Muslims have been prohibited from making the prosperous disbelievers their friends.

[28] Let not the Believers make the disbelievers their friends and take them into their confidence in preference to the Believers. Whoever will do this shall have no relation left with Allah; however your show of friendship towards them will be pardonable, if you do so to guard against their tyranny.25 Anyhow Allah warns you to fear Him because to Him you shall return.26

25That is, "If a believer falls into the hands of the enemies of Islam and is afraid of maltreatment and high-handedness, he may conceal his Faith, and live among them as if he were one of them. Or, if they come to know of his Faith, he may make a show of his friendship towards them to save his life. In case of extreme fear, he is permitted even to disown his Faith, if he feels that he is not strong enough to endure their oppression."

26This is the admonition: Let not the fear of the people dominate over you so much as to drive out the fear of Allah from your hearts. The greatest harm the people can do to you is confined to the worldly life only, but Allah has the power to inflict an everlasting torment on you. Therefore, if you are forced in a case of extremity to hide your Faith due to any danger to your life, you may save your own life and property, provided that you do not in any way harm the interests of the Islamic mission and the Islamic community or the life or property of any Muslim. At the same time you must remain on your guard against becoming the instrument in the hands of disbelievers so as to strengthen the evil forces against Islam and render any service to the disbelievers that might enable them to overpower the Muslims. Remember that, if to save your life you do any kind of harm to the religion of Allah or to the community of the faithful or even to the person of a single believer, or if you render any real service to the rebels against Allah, you will never be able to save yourselves on the Day of Reckoning, when you shall have at last to return to Allah

[29-30] O Prophet, warn the people to note it well that Allah knows whatever is in your hearts whether you hide it or reveal it, for He knows everything that is in the heavens and in the earth and He has full power over all things. That Day is approaching when everyone shall find before him whatever he has done be it good or evil. On that Day one would wish that there were a long span of time between himself and that Day. Allah warns you to fear Him for He is very Compassionate towards His servants.27

27That is, "It is simply out of His extreme compassion for you that Allah warns you beforehand of those things that might lead you to ruin."

[31-32] O Prophet, tell the people, "If you sincerely love Allah follow me; then will Allah love you and forgive your sins, for He is Forgiving and Merciful. " Also say to them, "Obey Allah and His Messenger." And if, in spite of this, they do not accept your invitation, (warn them that) Allah does not love those who refuse to obey Him and His Messenger.28

28Here the first discourse ends. If We consider its theme, and especially its reference to the Battle of Badr, we come to the conclusion that the probable period of the revelation of this was some time after the Battle of Badr and before the Battle of Uhd, that is 3 A.H. A tradition of Muhammad bin Ishaq has generally misled people to fix the period of the revelation of the first 80 verses to 9 A.H., for according to that tradition it was sent down on the occasion of the deputation from Najran. But obviously, that is wrong for two reasons: first, the subject of this introductory discourse shows clearly that it was revealed much earlier. Second, the tradition of Mugatil-bin-Sulaiman is explicit on the point that on the occasion of the said deputation only those verses (33-63) were revealed which give an account of John the Baptist and Jesus (God's pe ace be upon them).

[33-37] Allah29 had chosen (for His Message) Adam, and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of Imran30 in preference to all the people of the world. They all belonged to the same chain and were the offspring of one another. Allah knows everything and hears everything.31 (He was hearing,) when the woman of `Imran32 was saying,. "My Lord, 1 vow to Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: so accept this offering of mine for Thou hearest and knowest everything."33 Afterwards when she delivered her child, she said, "Lord, I have delivered a girl" --- and Allah knew very well what she had delivered --- "and the male is not (handicapped) like the female.34 As it is, I have named her Mary, and I implore Thy protection for her and for her future offspring from the mischief of Satan, the Accursed." So, her Lord very graciously accepted the girl and made her grow up as a good girl and entrusted her to the care of Zacharias.

29From here begins the second discourse. It was sent down in 9 A.H. on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christian State of Najran, which lay between Hijaz and Yemen. It is said that it comprised 73 villages and towns and was capable of raising an army of more than one hundred thousand strong. The population was wholly Christian and was governed by the "Aqib," who was the head of the community, and the "Sayyid," who was in charge of the social and political affairs and the Bishop, who looked after the religious affairs of the people. The above-mentioned deputation was one of the many who visited the Holy Prophet after the conquest of Makkah, when the whole of Arabia came to realize that the future. of the country was now in his hands. This deputation from Najran to AI-Madinah consisted of 60 men and the three heads of the government. As they had no mind to go to war, the question before them was either to embrace Islam or to live as zimmi (proteges). On this occasion Allah sent down this discourse to the Holy Prophet to invite the members of the deputation to Islam.

30`Imran was the name of the father of Moses and Aaron and has been mentioned as "Amram" in the Bible.

31The main cause of the misguidance of the Christians is that they consider Jesus to be the son of God and a partner in God-head, instead of His Servant and Messenger. Therefore this basic error is being corrected with a view to making them understand the true and real Islam. That is why the introduction to the discourse begins with the assertion that Adam and Noah and the Prophets from the family of Abraham and from the family of `Imran, were all human beings and none of them was "God. " Their only distinction was that Allah had chosen them for the preaching of His religion and reforming the World.

32If by the "woman of `Imran" is meant the "wife of `Imran", then this must be a different 'Imran from the one mentioned above in v. 33. In that case one comes to the conclusion that the father of Mary was named 'Imran after that ancestor. But if by the "woman of `Imran" is meant a woman from the family of 'Imran, then it merely shows that Mary's mother was a descendant of `Imran. We possess no authentic knowledge of the basis on which one opinion may be preferred to the other. Though according to some Christian traditions the name of Mary's father was Iaachim, history does not say who the father of Mary was and to which family her mother belonged. But if the tradition that the mothers of Mary and Elisabeth, the mother of John, were cousins be taken as we, (Luke 1: 36), then the "woman of `Imran" will mean a woman from the family of `Imran. The Gospel of Luke (1:5) says that Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias. "was of the daughters of Aaron", that is, 'Imran daughter or woman of `Imran; therefore it is clear that there is no anachronism of confounding Miriam, the sister of Aaron, with the virgin Mary. It is a common practice to call children by the names of their ancestors; so both the explanations are equally acceptable. Moreover, it does not make any difference whatsoever, in the line of argument adopted here to explain the miraculous birth of Jesus, whether 'Imran was really the name of Mary's father or has been called so in the ancestral sense.

33That is, "Thou hearest the prayers of Thy servants and art aware of their intentions."

34By this she meant, "Had it been a male, it would have been better because the female is handicapped by many natural frailties and social restrictions and cannot become a priest. A male child would, therefore, have served the purpose better for which I have dedicated my child in Thy way."

[180-182] Glorified is your Lord, Lord of Honour, (and free) from all that they attribute to Him., and peace on the Messengers, and all praise is only for Allah, Lord of the Universe.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[242] Thus Allah makes clear His commandments for you: it is expected that you will use your common sense.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[216] You have been enjoined to go to war, and you dislike it; it may be that you dislike a thing and the same is good for you, and you love a thing and the same is bad for you: Allah knows but you do not.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[215] The people ask, "What should we spend?" Tell them, "Whatever you spend, spend for your parents, your relatives, orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, Allah has knowledge of it.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[212] This worldly life has been made very charming and alluring for those who have adopted the way of disbelief. So they mock at those who have adopted the way of belief ,but (they forget that) the pious people will rank above them on the Day of Resurrection. As to the wordly provisions, Allah has full authority and power to bestow these without measure on anyone He wills.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[137] Then if they believe the way you have believed, they have the right guidance,and if they turn away from this, it will become obvious that they are obdurate. Therefore, rest assured that Allah will suffice to defend you against them: He hears everything and knows every thing.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[116-117] They say "Allah has adopted a son." Allah is above such things. As a matter of fact, whatever is in the heavens and on the earth belongs to Him and all are obedient to Him. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth: when He decrees a thing, He merely says, "Be," and there it is.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[91-93] When it is said to them, "Believe in that which Allah has sent down," they say, "We believe only in that which has been sent to us", and reject everything else, though it is the Truth and confirms what is with them. Well, ask them, "If you sincerely believed in what was sent down to you, why did you kill the Messengers of Allah (who were sent to you from amongst yourselves)? (More than that:) Moses came to you with clear Signs, yet no sooner was he away from you than you transgressed and took the calf for worship. Recall also to mind the Covenant We made with you while We raised the Tur over you: `Follow strictly the precepts We are giving you and give ear to Our Commandments.' Your forefathers replied, "We have heard but we will not obey." They were so prone to unbelief that they cherished the calf in their hearts. Tell them (O Muhammad). "If indeed you are believers, yours is a strange Faith that enjoins you to do such evil things."

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[83] Remember that We made a solemn covenant with the children of Israel to this effect: worship none save Allah: be good to your parents, to your relatives, to the orphans and to the helpless; speak aright with the people: establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. But with the exception of a few, you all slid back from it and are paying no heed to it even now.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[50] Remember the time when We parted the sea to make way for you and let you pass safely through it and then drowned Pharaoh's people before your very eyes.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[5] Such people are on the right way from their Lord and such are truly successful.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[282] O Believers, when you contract a debt for a fixed;325 term, you should put it in writing.326 Let a scribe write with equity the document for the parties. The scribe whom Allah has given the gift of literacy should not refuse to write. Let him write and let the one under obligation (the debtor) dictate, and he should fear Allah, his Lord, and should not diminish from or add anything to the terms which have been settled. But if the borrower be of low understanding or weak or unable to dictate (for any reason), then let the guardian of his interests dictate it with equity. And let two men from among you327 bear witness to all such documents. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. The witnesses should be from among such people whom you approve of as witnesses.328 When the witnesses are asked to testify, they should not refuse to do so. Do not neglect to reduce to writing your transaction for a specified term, whether it be big or small. Allah considers this more just for you, for it facilitates the establishment of evidence and lessens doubts and suspicions. Of course, there is no harm if you do not put in writing the common transactions you conclude daily on the spot,329 but in case of commercial transactions you should have witnesses. The scribe and the witnesses should not be harassed:330 if you do so, you shall be guilty of sin. You should guard against the wrath of Allah; He gives you the knowledge of the right way for Allah has the knowledge of everything.

325From this it is deduced that the term for a debt must be specified.

326This warns against a common practice: friends and relatives do not put debt agreements into formal writing, for such a thing, according to them, shows lack of trust. Allah admonishes that agreements concerning debt and business should be recorded and testified by witnesses in order to keep the affairs of the people clean. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that three kinds of the people cry out to Allah for help but are not answered: first, those who have ill tempered wives but do not divorce them; second, those who are entrusted with the property of orphans but return it to them before they attain maturity; third, those who lend money to others without any document or evidence.

327"From among you": from among the Muslims. Imam Abu Hanifah, holds the opinion that the non-Muslims also can be made the witnesses.

328As the establishment of the truth of a case depends to a great degree on the reliability of witnesses, a very high standard of qualification is demanded of them. Only those persons who are known to lead respectable lives and bear good moral character and are honest should be made the witnesses.

329Even in the case of those transactions which are carried out on the spot in everyday business, it is better to record them; nevertheless there is no harm if commercial transactions carried on daily between neighbouring traders are not recorded.

330It implies two things. No one should be forced to become a scribe or a witness against his will, and no one should harass the scribe or the witness just because he gives true evidence against the interests of a party.

[93-95] All these articles of food (which are lawful in the Muhammadan Law), were also lawful to the children of Israel76 except those which Israel77 had forbidden for himself before the Torah had been sent down. Say to them, "Bring the Torah and read out any passage from it (in support of your objection), if what you say be true. "-If even after this, some people persist in attributing to Allah false things of their own fabrication, they are, indeed, unjust people. Say, "What Allah has said is the very Truth; so follow exclusively the way of Abraham, and Abraham was not of those who associated other gods with Allah."78

76Verse 93 answers an objection. When the Jews could not find fault with the basic teachings of the Qur'an and of the Holy Prophet (Allah's peace be upon him), for there was absolutely no difference between these and the teachings of the previous Prophets, they began to raise legal objections. One of their objections was that the Holy Prophet had made lawful certain things which had been unlawful during the time of the previous Prophets.

77If Israel refers to the children of Israel, then it would mean that before the revelation of the Torah, they themselves had made certain things unlawful because these had been unlawful by custom. But if it refers to Jacob (and that is more probable), then it means that he did not eat certain things because he did not like them or abstained from them on account of some illness, but his children began to believe these to be unlawful. The subsequent verse shows that the law in the Bible which declared the camel and the hare etc., to be unlawful was not in the Torah, but was later on inserted in it by the Jewish scholars. (For details please refer to E. N. 122 of Al-An'am).

78It is meant to bring home to them this lesson: obedience to God alone is the root of the real Faith, which was taught by Abraham, but you have discarded that and associated other gods with Him. Besides this, you have , entangled yourselves in minor legal issues which had been raised by your scholars after you had deviated from the way of Abraham during the centuries of your degradation.

[96-97] Undoubtedly the first house of worship ever to be built for mankind is the one which is at Makkah: it was blessed and made the centre of Guidance for all peoples.79 In it are clear Signs:80 there is the spot where Abraham used to worship: then it is the sanctuary, and whoso enters it becomes safe and secure.81 Allah has, therefore, a right on the people that the one, who can afford to reach the house, should perform Haj there: and the one who disobeys (this Commandment should know that) Allah is All-Sufficient and does not stand in need of any creature of the worlds.

79Their objection was about the change of qiblah to the Ka`abah (Makkah) from the Temple (Jerusalem), which had been the qiblah of the previous Prophets. This objection had already been answered in Al-Baqarah, but as the Jews persisted in their criticism, it has again been answered here. It has been asserted that the Ka`abah was built by Abraham long before the Temple and therefore it had priority of time for being the qiblah. The Bible itself bears testimony to the fact that the Temple was built by Solomon some 450 years after Moses (I Kings, 6: 1) and made qiblah during his reign. (I Kings, 8: 29-30.) On the other hand, all the traditions of Arabia unanimously agree that the Ka`abah was built by Abraham some 900 years before the advent of Moses. The fact that the Ka`abah has priority of time over the Temple is so obvious that none can deny it.

80There are such clear Signs in "the House:" to show that Allah has accepted it and approved it as "His House." Though it has been built in a barren place, Allah has provided the people of the neighbourhood with the best of provisions. Besides this, though there was chaos and disorder in the whole of Arabia for about 2500 years before the advent of Islam, yet there reigned peace and security in the Ka`abah and in its surroundings. Not only this: there was because of it, peace for four months every year in the whole of Arabia. Another Sign was the miraculous destruction of Abrahah and his army, when he attacked Makkah in order to destroy the Ka'abah. At the time of the Revelation of the Qur'an, every Arab knew well even the details of this incident and there wen even those who had actually beheld the occurrence.

81The inviolable sanctity of the Ka`abah was so much respected even in the dark days of ignorance that blood thirsty enemies dared not touch each other in it. In v. 97, the word kafara does not mean that the one, who disobeys this Commandment of Allah and does not perform Haj even if one can afford it, becomes a disbeliever in the technical sense. It means that the person has adopted the attitude of a disbeliever even after his profession of belief in Allah and His Prophet. This is obvious because the Commandment to perform Haj has not been addressed to the disbelievers but to those who profess to be Muslims. A Muslim judge, therefore, will not declare him to be a disbeliever and apostate for this reason, as if he had gone out of the pale of Islam.

"Allah does not stand .... world :" Allah does not stand in need of any help from the people, whether they be believers or dis-believers. It is for their own good if they become sincere believers. On the other hand, those people, who reject the Commandments of Allah by word or deed, will not be considered to be Believers by Allah, even if they professed to be Believers

[102-103] O Believers, fear Allah as He should be feared and see that you do not die save as true Muslims82 - Hold fast together to Allah's cord83 and Iet nothing divide you. Remember the favour of Allah upon you, when you were enemies to one another, then He united your hearts, and by His grace, you became like brothers, and you were on the brink of the abyss of Fire and He rescued you from it.84 Thus does Allah make His signs clear to you so that you may find the right path to true success by these.85

82That is, "Be loyal and obedient to Allah up to your last breath."

83"Allah's cord" is the way of life prescribed by Him. It is a "cord" because it keeps intact the relations of the Believers with Allah and also binds and unites them into a community. "Hold fast together to Allah's cord" implies that the Muslims should give the greatest importance to Allah's Way, and should make it the centre of all their interests, and exert their utmost to establish it and co-operate with one another for its service. When and if they let loose this cord and deviate from its basic principles, they would inevitably suffer from disunity and would be divided into sections and sub-sections, like the communities of the former Prophets. As a consequence of this, they would mat with disgrace both in this world and in the Next.

84This refers to that horrible state of the Arabs from which they were rescued by Islam. Before Islam, their clans were divided into hostile camps, who went to war for frivolous reasons. Human life had lost its sanctity and people were killed without any pangs of conscience. The fire of enmity would have burnt to ashes all the Arabs, if blessed Islam had not rescued them from it. This blessing had appeared in a tangible form at AI-Madinah at the time of the revelation of these verses. The two clans-Aus and Khazraj-who had been enemies for years and had been involved in bitter feuds and bloody battles, became brethren after they embraced Islam. Not only this: they also showed that spirit of sacrifice for the rehabilitation of the refugees from Makkah that has no parallel in history.

85That is to say, "If you have eyes to see, you can yourselves judge whether your welfare lies in holding fast to Allah's way or in discarding it and reverting to the old ways of ignorance, and whether your well-wishers are Allah and His Messenger or the Jews and the hypocrites and the polytheists who are trying to revert you to your former condition.

[104-109] There should always be among you some people who invite to what is good and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong: They alone will attain true success. And do not be like those, who became divided into sects and got involved in differences of opinion even after receiving clear teachings.86 Those (who have caused divisions), shall suffer a terrible punishment on the Day, when the faces (of some) will be brightened with joy and those of others shall be blackened with gloom. (It will be said to those,) whose faces shall be blackened, "Did you adopt the way of disbelief after receiving Faith? Well, then taste the torment for showing gross ingratitude towards it." As regards those, whose faces will be brightened, they will enjoy Allah's mercy and abide therein for ever. These are Allah's Revelations, which We are reciting to you in all Truth, for Allah does not will to be unjust87 to the people of the world. All that is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah, and to Allah are all the matters presented.

86This refers to those communities which received the Guidance and clear teachings from the Messengers of Allah but after some time discarded the basic principles of the Guidance and divided themselves into different sects on the basis of irrelevant and minor side-issues and were involved in useless and meaningless squabbles. They became so engrossed in these things that they totally forgot the mission which Allah had entrusted to them and lost interest even in the basic principles on which, in fact, depends the real success of humanity.

87As Allah, does not will to be unjust to the people of the world, He is showing them Guidance and warning them before-hand of those things of which they shall have ultimately to render an account. Thus, those who follow the crooked ways even after this and do not return to the Right Way are doing injustice to themselves

[31-32] Losers indeed are those who consider it a lie that they will ever have a meeting with Allah. When the Hour overtakes them unawares, they will exclaim, "Alas! how negligent we have been of this matter!" and they will be carrying the burdens of their sins on their backs: behold, how heavy is the burden they are carrying! This worldly life is but a sport and pastime.20 In fact, the abode of the Hereafter is better for those who desire to be safe from harm. Will you not, then, use your commonsense?

20This does not mean that the life in this world is not real and earnest and has been created merely for sport and pastime without any serious purpose. What it means is that compared with the everlasting life in the Hereafter, the short transitory life in this world is like sport and pastime, which are diversions from serious work, to which one has to return after recreation. Moreover, this worldly life has been likened to sport and pastime, because here are many things of deceptive appearances that are liable to involve in misunderstanding those people, who lack common-sense and vision, and help them assume false positions so as to make life mere sport and pastime. For instance, the role of a ruler in this worldly life is, in fact, not any different from that of an actor who plays the role of a king on the stage, wears a crown and gives commands which are obeyed like those of a real king; whereas, in fact, he has no powers of a real king and is deposed, imprisoned and killed by the order of the director; likewise many other such dramas are being performed on the stage of this world day and night all around us. There is `the court' of a `saint' or a goddess, where the needs are being "fulfilled", whereas, in fact, that `court' has no such power. Then there is another actor who performs the feats of divining the unseen and the future; whereas, in fact, none possesses such knowledge. Still another poses to be the nourisher of others, when in fact, he himself stands in need of obtaining provisions from others. There is still another who poses as if he has the power of bestowing honor and benefit or of inflicting disgrace and loss and behaves arrogantly as if he were the absolute master of all around him. In fact, he himself is utterly powerless and helpless, for a little turn of fortune can dethrone him from the high pedestal of greatness to the lowest depths of disgrace. So much so that he might even be at the feet of those very people, over whom he was ruling as a despot. All these dramas that are being played on the stage of life are abruptly brought to an end by death. Then everyone will cross over to the other world and see for himself everything in its true color; then all the misunderstandings of the life of this world shall be removed and everyone will be shown the real worth of what he had earned for the Life-after-death

[33-36] O Muhammad, We know that what they say, grieves you, but it is not you whom they charge with falsehood; these wicked people are, in fact, denying the Revelations of Allah.21 Many Messengers before you have also been treated as impostors, but they bore with fortitude the charge of imposture and persecution (by the disbelievers), till Our help came down to them. None has the power to change the Law of Allah22 and you have already received the news of what happened to the Messengers before you. However, if you find it hard to bear their aversion, then seek out, if you can, an opening into the earth, or set up a .ladder to the sky so that you may bring them a Sign.23 Had Allah willed, He would have gathered them all on guidance; so do not behave like the ignorant people.24 Only those, who listen to it, accept the Message; as for the dead,25 Allah will raise them from the graves only and they shall be brought back (to be produced in His Court).

21The fact is that all the people of his tribe regarded the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) truthful and honest up to the time he had not begun to recite the Revelations of Allah before them. They falsified him only when he began to deliver to them the Message of Allah. Even then, there was none who dared charge Muhammad, the Man, with falsehood; nay, even his bitterest enemies never accused him of having ever told a lie concerning any worldly matter. It was Muhammad, the Prophet, whom they charged with falsehood. So much so that even Abu Jahl, who was the bitterest of all his enemies never accused him of falsehood. According to a tradition related by Hadrat 'Ali, Abu Jahl himself declared during a conversation with the Holy Prophet, "We do not call you a liar; but regard as false what you are presenting. " On the occasion of the Battle of Badr, Akhnas bin Shariq asked Abu Jahl in private, "There is no third person here besides us two. Tell me the truth whether you regard Muhammad as a truthful man or as a liar." He answered, "By God, Muhammad is a truthful person and has never told a lie in his life, but if Bani Qusayy, who have already the privilege of being the bearers of the national flag and the providers of water to the pilgrims and the keepers of the keys of the Ka bah, should also be acknowledged as the recipients of Prophethood, what would then be left for the rest of the Quraish?" For this very reason Allah is comforting His Prophet, saying, "It is not you whom they are rejecting as an impostor but it is Our Message which they are rejecting; when We are forbearing everything and giving them respite after respite, why should you show any kind of anxiety'?"

22The "Law" referred to here is the Law of Allah concerning the conflict between the right and the wrong. According to this Law, it is essential that the righteous should be tried for along period to stand their test in order to prove their fortitude, their righteousness, their spirit of sacrifice and their fidelity, their limn belief in their Faith and their complete trust in Allah. For this they must pass through afflictions and hardships in order to develop those high moral qualities which can be learned only by going through this hard and tough course, for with these weapons alone, they are required to win the battle against falsehood. When, according to this Law, they prove their competence, then will Allah's help come at the right moment to support them and this help cannot be brought about before its time by anyone.

23Whenever the Holy Prophet felt that his people did not accept the Message in spite of his continuous preaching, he cherished the desire that Allah Might send such a clear Sign that they should have no alternative left but to accept his Message. In this verse Allah has admonished His Messenger against cherishing any such desire, so as to say, "Do not show impatience at their obduracy, but go on performing your mission persistently in the way and order We are laying down for it. If this mission had to be performed by means of miracles, could We not Ourselves have done so? But We know that this method is not suitable for bringing about that intellectual and moral revolution and for the establishment of that righteous society for which you have been appointed a Messenger. If, however, you cannot endure the heart-burning caused by their indifference and rejection and if you imagine that a tangible Sign, that might appeal to them, is required to break this inert state of their minds, then you should yourself try to bring about such a Sign: you may, if you can, go deep down into the bowels of the earth or ascend up to the heavens for this purpose, but you should not expect from Us that We would fulfill this desire of yours, for there is no room for it in Our scheme."

24This is to impress that it is not the purpose of Allah that all human beings should be forced to accept the Guidance somehow or other. Had it been so, He would have created them in such a way that they would have been righteous by birth like angels. Then there would have been no need of sending the Prophets and the Books and of making the Believers enter into a conflict with the disbelievers for the gradual establishment of the Way of Allah. But Allah does not desire this. On the contrary, He intends that the Truth should be presented to the people in a rational way so that those, who are convinced of it, may adopt it without any coercion, and then mold their characters in accordance with it to prove their moral superiority over the disbelievers. In this way they would go on attracting the best among the people towards it till they succeeded in establishing the Way by virtue of their high ideals, best principles of life, pure characters and strong arguments and with resolute struggle with the disbelievers. Then Allah assures them of the guidance and help they need and deserve at any stage. But if one wishes that, instead of this natural process, Allah should adopt some supernatural method and eradicate false ideas from the minds of the people and bring in pure ones instead and establish the righteous civilization in place of the evil ones, he should know that Allah will not do this for this will be against the wisdom of the scheme of His creation of Man. He has created Man as a responsible being granted him powers to exploit the things of the world and given him the freedom of action-both good and evil-and granted him a definite term for the preparation of the test and fixed the time for the declaration of the result of the test to punish or reward him according to his efforts.

25"Those, who listen to it... " are the people whose conscience is alive, who try to judge rationally between right and wrong, and who do not deliberately and obdurately lock the doors of their hearts. "Those who are dead..." are the people who blindly follow a way and are not ready to leave it and follow any other way even though that may manifestly be the Right Way.

[37-41] These people ask, "Why has no Sign been sent down to this Prophet from his Lord?" Say, "Allah is able to send down a Sign, but most of these people do not understand the wisdom underlying it."26 As regards Signs, just have a look at any of the beasts that move upon the earth and at any of the birds that fly in the air: they too are species like you. We have left out nothing in pre-determining the courses of their lives: then ultimately they are all gathered to their Lord. But those, who deny Our Signs, are deaf and dumb, dwellings in many sorts of darkness;27 Allah lets go astray whom He wills and guides to the Right Way whom He pleases.28 Ask them to consider deeply and answer, "When some great misfortune befalls you, or the last hour approaches you, do you invoke any other than Allah? Answer, if you be in the right." At that time you invoke Allah alone: then, if He pleases, He averts the affliction from you, and on such occasions, you forget those whom you had set up as His partners.29

26''Sign" means a tangible miracle. Allah says that the reason why he is not showing a Sign is not that He is unable to do so but for another reason whose wisdom they do not understand. (See E.N. 6).

27That is, "If you are really serious in your demand of seeing a Sign in order to judge whether the Message of this Prophet is true or false, you should see and ponder over the innumerable Signs that are found in abundance all around you. For instance, if you consider animal life, you will see that the structure of the bodies of each species of birds and beasts suits its functions immensely well; the qualities and characteristics that have been ingrained in its nature help to fulfill all its needs; the provision of its nourishment has been arranged in a wonderful way; and the course of its life has been so predetermined that it cannot transgress its limits in any way whatever. Allah also sees that each and every animal, nay, even the smallest insect, is being looked after, protected and guided, wherever it be, for the performance of the functions pre-destined for it. In short, you will find that its structure suits it well; it has been given inherent powers that help provide its needs: excellent provisions have been made for its food. The process of its birth, procreation and death has been going on according to a regulated fixed scheme. If you give a careful consideration to this Sign alone, you will realize that the teachings of this Prophet about the Oneness of God and His attributes and the way of life based on these to which he invites you are absolutely we. Yet you neither try to see with open eyes these Signs nor listen to the Message this Prophet is conveying to you. As a result, you have been involved in ignorance and, therefore, desire to see some wonderful miracle for mere pastime. "

28This is how Allah lets them go astray: (1) He holds back the opportunity for observing His Signs from the one who chooses to remain in ignorance; (2) He keeps hidden the pointers to the Reality from the one who is a victim of prejudices, even though he should see His Signs, and lets him remain involved in misunderstandings and move farther and farther away from the Reality. On the contrary, He guides the seeker after truth to the Right Way by affording him the opportunity to make use of his knowledge for the purpose of discovering the Reality, and showing him the signs guiding towards it. We daily notice instances of these types. There are millions of people before whose eyes countless Signs are spread in their own persons and in the universe, but they see them like animals and do not learn any lessons from them. Then there are the physicists, chemists, zoologists, botanists, biologists, geologists, astronomers, physiologist, anatomists, historians, archaeologists, social scientists, etc., who observe such Signs as may enlighten the minds and the hearts with Faith, but they seem to see no "Sign" to lead them to the Reality, just because they begin their study with prejudiced minds, merely for the sake of material gains. Not only this, but every Sign leads them to atheism, disbelief, materialism and nature worship. In contrast to them, there are those, who observe the wonders of the universe and the phenomena of Nature with open eyes and open hearts, and find the Signs of God all round them: SO much so that they can see His Sign in each and every green leaf.

29In answer to the demand of the disbelievers for a Sign, they were told that there was not one Sign, but innumerable Signs scattered all around them and their attention has been drawn in v. 38 to study the mystery of the life of any bird or beast and they would find Sign of God. Now in v. 40-42, they have been directed to another Sign that they can fmd in their own selves. When some affliction befalls a man or death confronts him with all its dreads, then he sees no refuge in any other than Allah. On such occasions even the most confirmed polytheists forget their gods and invoke Allah's help. Likewise the most obdurate atheists, in their utter helplessness, involuntary pray to Allah for rescue, this Sign-man's own state of mind is being presented here as a pointer to the Reality, for this is a clear proof of the existence of One God, and of the urge of God-worship that has been embedded deep in the heart of every human being. Though it might have been kept suppressed by negligence and ignorance, sometimes it comes to the surface under the stimulus of some misfortune.

Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl, who was an arch enemy of Islam, was led towards Islam by witnessing such a Sign. When the Holy Prophet conquered Makkah, 'Ikrimah fled to Jaddah and sailed for Abyssinia. During the voyage, there came a furious storm which threatened to sink the boat. At first the passengers began to invoke their gods and goddesses for help. But when the storm became so violent that they feared that the boat was going to sink. they all cried out, "This is not the time to call any open except Allah, because He alone can save us. " This opened the eyes of `Ikrimah and the locked doors of his heart: "If there is none here except Allah to help us, how can there be any to help us in any other place? This is what Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) has been teaching us for the last twenty years any we have been fighting it out with him". That as the most decisive moment in the life of `Ikrimah. He made a solemn pledge with Allah to this effect: "If I escape from this storm, I will directly go to Prophet Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him) to become a follower of his." Allah rescued him from that storm and he fulfilled his pledge. He not only became a Muslim, but spent the rest of his life in the service of Islam by performing Jihad.

[46-49] O Muhammad, ask them, "Have you ever considered this: If Allah were to take away your hearing and your sight and set a seal upon your hearts,30 is there a deity other than Allah to restore them to you?" Behold! how We present Our Signs before them over and over again, and how they turn away from them in disdain. Say, "Have you also ever considered this: If the scourge of Allah comes upon you suddenly or openly, shall any but the transgressors be destroyed? For We send Our Messengers only to give good news to the righteous people and to warn the evil-doers: then those, who accept their Message and reform their own conduct, will have no cause for fear and sorrow and those who treat Our Revelations as false, shall have to suffer punishment in consequence of their evil deeds.

30"... and set a seal upon your hearts" means" ...deprive you of the powers of thinking and understanding.

[50] Tell them, O Muhammad, "I do not claim that I possess the treasures of Allah nor that I know the "unseen", nor do I claim that I am an angel. I only follow the Revelation that is sent down to me."31 Then ask them, "Can the blind man and the seeing man be alike?32 Do you not consider this thing?"

31This verse removes the silly notions about Prophethood and answers the absurd objections raised against the claim of Prophethood by Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him). The foolish people have always had the silly notion that a Prophet of Allah must be supernatural and capable of performing wonderful miracles. For instance, they expected that a whole mountain should turn into a mass of gold at his bidding: that the earth should throw out treasures by his orders: that he should be able to tell the people all about their past and future: that he should be able to locate a lost thing and foretell whether a sick person will get well or die and whether a pregnant woman will give birth to a male or a female. They also believed that such a person should be above the common human limitations. They could not conceive anyone to be a prophet, if he suffered from hunger or thirst and needed sleep, or, if he had wife and children and went to the bazaar to buy and sell the necessities of life, or, if he was sometimes forced to borrow money or was involved in poverty and indigence.

When Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) put forward the claim that he was a Messenger of Allah, his contemporaries wanted to test his claim with the touch-stone of such silly notions. They would ask him questions about the unseen things and demand supernatural miracles from him. They would also raise the objection that he was merely a common man, who needed food and drank water like them: who had wife and children and who moved about in the bazaars. In answer to these things, Allah told His Prophet to inform them that he never claimed to be supernatural; his only claim was that he was following the Revelations he received from Allah and that he should be judged by that standard only.

32The question is meant to bring home to them this fact: "I have seen with my own eyes and experienced directly the realities I am presenting to you, and I have gained their accurate knowledge through Revelation; therefore my evidence is that of an eye witness. On the contrary, you are blind with regard to those realities: all your notions concerning them are based on guess-work and speculation or on the blind following of others. Therefore the difference between you and me is the same as of the man who is able to see and the one who is blind. That is what gives me superiority over you and not that I possess the treasures of God or have the knowledge of the unseen or that I am free from the common human limitations."

[51-53] And, O Muhammad, admonish with this (knowledge based on Revelation) those, who fear that one Day they shall be brought before their Lord in such a state that they will find none other than Allah (with competent powers) as protector or intercessor: it may be that (by this admonition) they adopt the God-fearing attitude.33 And do not drive away those who invoke their Lord morning and evening and are engaged in seeking His favor.34 You are not in any way accountable for them, nor are they in any way accountable for you: so, if you should drive them away, you shall be counted among the unjust.35 As a matter of fact, in this way We have made some of them a means for testing the others,36 so that, seeing them, they should say, "Are these the people from among us upon whom Allah has showered His blessings?" Yes: does not Allah know His grateful servants better than they?

33That is, "You should pay special attention only to those who believe that One Day they shall have to go before Allah to render an account of their deeds and who do not cherish any such false hopes that somebody's intercession and help will save them. It is because this "Admonition" can produce good effect only on such people and not on those who are so absorbed in the enjoyment of the pleasures of this world that they never think of their death or of going before Allah. Likewise, this "Admonition" will fall flat on those who are making merry in this world, deluding themselves into believing that no harm will come to them in the Hereafter because of their `spiritual' relation with such and such a saint or because such and such a holy person will intercede with Allah in their behalf or because such a one has already made atonement for them. Obviously, no admonition can be beneficial to such people."

34In this passage Allah has answered one of the objections that me big chiefs of the Quraish used to raise in regard to the followers of the Holy Prophet. They would say that none but the lowest stratum of society, consisting of slaves, menials and the like, had accepted Islam: they would taunt him of having such companions as Bilal, `Ammar, Suhaib, Khabbab, etc., and ask in a jeering way, "Are these the only (honorable) people from amongst us, upon whom Allah has showered His blessings?" They did not rest content with making fun of their poor condition, but also passed stinging remarks about their past shortcomings, saying. "Just have a look at the past history of such and such people, who are today forming the "pious" group of the believers." Allah has advised His Prophet not to be disheartened by their unkind remarks.

35That is, "If they had done something wrong in the past, they themselves shall be accountable for it and not you, for everyone shall get the reward of the good or evil one has done. Therefore, no good deed of yours will be put to their credit, nor will you be burdened with any evil deed of theirs. They come to you merely as seekers after truth and it will be injustice to look down upon them and drive them away."

36That is, "By bestowing the blessing of Islam at the outset on the poor and indigent and those who held a low position in society, We have involved the upper rich and proud class in trial."

[1-3] Praise is only for Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth and ordained light and many kinds of darkness; in spite of this, those who have rejected the Message of their Lord have set up equal partners with Him1 It is He Who has created you from earth2 and decreed a fixed term of life for you, and with Him there is another settled3 term also yet you have doubts thereof. He is the same One Allah in the heavens as well as on the earth: He knows all that you make known and all that you keep secret and is fully aware of the good or evil that you earn.

1It should be noted that the addressees were the mushrik Arabs, who acknowledged that the Creator of the earth and heavens and of the sun and the moon is Allah, who brought about the day and night. None of them believed that these were the works of Lat or Hubal or `Uzza or of any other god or goddess. Therefore Allah admonished them, saying (so to speak), "O foolish people, when you yourselves admit that the Creator of the heavens and earth and of the night and day, is Allah, why do you, then, make others your gods, and prostrate before them, make offerings to them, present your needs before them and invoke them for help`" (Refer to E.N.2 of Al-Fatihah and E.N. 163, Al-Baqarah).

It may be noted that Zulumat (plural of Zu1mat) has been used in contrast to nur (light, singular form). It is because 'darkness is merely the absence of light and may be of many kinds.

2Allah says that He has created man from "earth" because each and every particle of the human body comes from the earth and from nowhere else.

3"The other settled term" is the "Day of Resurrection", when all human beings will be brought back to life and presented before Allah for rendering the account of their life on the earth.

[4-6] Yet the reaction of the people has been that whenever a Sign from the Signs of their Lord has come to them, they have turned away from it: accordingly, they have rejected as false the Truth that has come to them now. Well, they will receive some news4 about what they have been ridiculing so far. Do they not see that We destroyed before them many a people who were dominant in the world during their time? We had given them such power in the land as We have not given you. We sent down for them abundant rains from heavens and made canals flow beneath them. But (when they showed ingratitude), We destroyed them because of their sins and raised up other people in their place.

4The reference is to the "news" of the successes that were to follow the emigration of the Holy Prophet to Madinah. At the time of this revelation, neither the disbelievers nor the Believers could ever imagine the nature of the "news" they were going to receive. So much so that even the Holy Prophet himself was unaware of the kind of successes the Muslims were going to achieve in the near future.

[7-9] O Messenger, even if We had sent down to you a Book written on paper, and even if they had touched it with their own hands, the disbelievers would have said, "This is nothing but manifest sorcery." And they say, "Why has no angel been sent down to him?"5 If We had sent down an angel, their fate would have been decided long before this and they would have been given no respite after this;6 for if We had sent an angel, We would have sent him in human form and thus involved them in the same doubt in which they are involved now.7

5The ignorant objectors argued that if Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was really a Messenger from Allah, an angel ought to have come down from heaven to declare to the people: "This is the Messenger of Allah, so obey him; otherwise you shall be punished".

The ignorant objectors did not understand how the Creator of the heavens and earth could leave His Messenger in such a plight as to be maligned and stoned by his enemies. They argued that the Messenger of such a Supreme Sovereign ought to have come with a large retinue or at least an angel in attendance on him, to protect him from his enemies and to fill the people with awe and to convince them of his Prophethood and to carry out his orders in some supernatural ways.

6The first answer to their objection is that in case Allah had sent down an angel, no respite would have been given them for reforming themselves and mending their ways. They have been given a chance because no angel has been sent to make the Reality so naked as to leave no alternative for them but to believe. It is obvious that this would have defeated the very purpose of their life in the world to undergo their test. That is why no angel has been sent. Man should undergo his test and discover the unseen Reality without actually seeing it, merely by the right use of his reasoning and thinking powers, and then bring under control his own self and its lusts in accordance with the dictates of that Reality. It is thus obvious that the "Unseen" must remain unseen for the sake of that test.

The worldly life, the period of that test, will remain so only as long as the "Unseen" remains unseen. No sooner will the "Unseen" become evident than that "Period" will automatically come to an end, and instead of test, it will be the time of the result of the test. Therefore Allah is not granting your demand for an angel to appear before you because Allah does not like to end the term of your test before the expiry of the period of the test. (Refer also to E.N. 228, Al-Baqarah).

7The only other alternative was to send an angel in human form. Allah says that if He had sent an angel in human form, they would have felt the same difficulty in recognizing him as they were feeling in recognizing Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him). This, too, would have involved them in doubts. Therefore it was for their own good that Allah had not sent an angel in attendance on His Messenger.

[10-11] O Muhammad, many Messengers before you have also been ridiculed, but in the long run those who mocked were overpowered by the very thing they had mocked. Say to them, "Just travel in the land and see the end of those who treated the Truth as false."8

8That is, those, who ridicule the Message, should travel through the land and see the remains, and study the history of the former peoples. These will bear witness to the horrible end of those who behaved in the way they are behaving towards Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him).

[12] Ask them, "To Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth?" Say, "To Allah,9 Who has prescribed mercy and generosity for Himself: (that is why He does not catch hold of you immediately at your first disobedience). He will, however, certainly muster all of you on the Day of Resurrection. There is no doubt about this; yet those who have made themselves liable to ruin, do not believe in this."

9It is a nice way of cornering the mushrikin. At first Allah tells His Messenger to ask them, "Whose is all that is in the heavens and the earth?" The questioner put the question and waited for an answer. But they kept silent because their answer could neither be in the negative nor in the affirmative. They could not deny this because they themselves believed that `all belongs to Allah.' But they could not affirm this because in that case, they themselves would have supplied the adversary with an argument against their own creed of shirk. After putting them in this critical position, Allah enjoined His Messenger to say, "All belongs to Allah."

[13-16] All that lies in the darkness of the night and in the light of the day belongs to Allah, and He hears and knows everything. Say, "Should I take as my guardian any other than Allah? Should I forsake that Allah Who is the Creator of the earth and the heavens and Who nourishes all and does not stand in need of nourishment from anyone?"10 Say, "I have been enjoined to be the first of those who surrender to Him, (and I have been urged) not to be of those who commit shirk" Say, "I do fear the torment of a (dreadful) Day, if I should disobey my Lord." He, who will be delivered from the torment of that Day, will have received Allah's mercy, and this is a great success.

10This contains a subtle argument: all those, whom the mushrikin have made their gods besides Allah, stand in need of nourishment from their devotees, not to speak of giving nourishment to them. No Pharaoh can set up his grandeur unless his subjects pay taxes and make offerings to him; no saint becomes worthy of worship, unless his worshipers build a grand mausoleum for him; no god becomes a god unless his devotees make his idol and set it up in a grand temple and decorate it with ornamentation. Thus, all the artificial gods stand in need of their servants. It is the Lord of the universe alone, Who does not stand in need of anyone's help but all others stand in need of Him, and it is His Godhead alone that does not stand in need of any prop from anyone whatsoever, but supports itself.

[120] The Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and whatever is therein belongs to Allah and He has power over everything.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[107-108] But if it is discovered that the two had been guilty of the same sin, then two other better qualified witnesses than the former, from among those who were deprived of their right, should come forward and testify upon oath, by Allah, "Our testimony is truer than their testimony, and we have not made any transgression in our testimony: we shall be among the unjust, if we do so." It is expected that in this way the people will give only true evidence: or, at least, they will fear lest their oaths should be contradicted by subsequent oaths. Fear Allah and listen: Allah does not show His Guidance to those who are disobedient.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[93] Those, who have believed and done good deeds, shall not be called to account for whatever they might have eaten in the past, provided that they abstain in future from those things that have been made unlawful, and remain steadfast in their Faith, and do good works: then restrain themselves from whatever they are forbidden and believe in the Divine Law: then fear Allah and adopt the righteous attitude, for Allah likes those who do righteous deeds.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[82-86] You will find that the most hostile of all people in their enmity to the Believers are the Jews and the mushriks; and you will find that the nearest in friendliness to the Believers are those, who say, "We are Christians. " This Is because there are among them some pious scholars and monks and because they are free from pride. When they listen to that which has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflow with tears because of the Truth they recognize therein. They spontaneously say, "Our Lord, we have believed; therefore, write down our names with those who bear witness to it." And they say, "Why should we not believe in Allah and accept the Truth that has come to us, when we are eager that our Lord may count us with the righteous people?" And, for these words of theirs, Allah rewarded them with the Gardens underneath which canals flow, wherein they will live for ever. This is the reward of the righteous people. As for those who rejected Our Revelations and treated them as false. they deserve Hell.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[73-74] Most certainly they committed blasphemy, who said, "God is one of the three": whereas there is no deity other than the One Deity. And if these people do not desist from uttering such words, a painful chastisement shall be inflicted on all those from among them who have been guilty of blasphemy. Will they not, then, turn to Allah and ask His pardon? Allah is very Forgiving and Compassionate.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[70-71] We made a solemn covenant with the children of Israel and sent many Messengers to them; but whenever any Messenger came to them with a thing which was against their desires, they either treated him as a liar or slew him: yet they presumed that no mischief would come of it: they, therefore, became blind and deaf: after this Allah forgave them but again most of them went on behaving even more like the blind and the deaf;.Allah has been watching all the evil things they have been doing.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[61-63] When they come to you, they say, "We have believed," but in fact they had come in a state of un-belief and departed with disbelief; Allah knows full well what they were concealing in their hearts. You see most of them are striving for sinful and wicked deeds and eating what is unlawful: evil indeed are the things they have been doing. Why do their rabbis and divines not forbid them to say sinful words and to eat unlawful things? It is indeed an evil record of their lifework which they are preparing!

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[55-56] Your friends, indeed, are Allah and His Messenger and the Believers who establish the Salat, pay the Zakat and bow down before Allah. And whoever makes Allah and His Messenger and the Believers his friends, let him know that Allah's party will surely come out victorious.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
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[51] O Believers, do not take the Jews nor the Christians as your friends: they are one another's friends only. If anyone of you takes them as friends, surely he shall be counted among them; indeed Allah deprives the wrong-doers of His Guidance.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[37] They will wish to get out of the fire of Hell but shall not be able to come forth from it and theirs shall be an everlasting torment.

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[18] The Jews and the Christians say, "We are the sons of Allah and His beloved ones." Ask them, "Why then does He punish you for your sins? In fact, you are also human beings like the other human beings He has created. He forgives whomever He wills and punishes whomever He wills. To Allah belongs the Kingdom of the earth and the heavens, and all that is in it and all shall return to Him."

No commentary for this ayah in the source work
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[9-10] Allah has promised that He will pardon the errors of those who believe and do good deeds, and will give them a rich reward. As for those who disbelieve and treat the Revelations of Allah as false, they shall go to Hell.

No commentary for these ayaat in the source work
.

[109-114] On the Day,122 -- when Allah will assemble all the Messengers, He will ask, "What was the response you received?"123 They will answer, "We have no knowledge:124 You alone have the full knowledge of all that is hidden." Just imagine the occasion, when Allah will say125 "O Jesus, son of Mary, recall to mind My favor I bestowed upon you and upon your mother: I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit; you talked to the people even in the cradle as you talked when you were grown up; I taught you the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel: by My leave you made from clay the likeness of a bird, and breathed into it, and by My leave it became a living bird; by My leave you healed the born-blind and the lepers; by My leave you brought forth the dead.126 Also remember that I protected you from the Israelites, when you came to them with clear signs, and the disbelievers among them said, `These signs are nothing but obvious sorcery" and remember also that I inspired the Disciples to believe in Me and My Messenger; then they said, `We have believed and bear witness that we are Muslims."127 (In regard to the disciples),128 this incident may also be kept in mind: They said, "O Jesus, son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us from heaven a tray of food?" Jesus said, "Fear Allah, if you are true Believers." They replied, "We only wish to eat of this tray so that our hearts may be re-assured and we may know it for certain that what you have said to us is true, and that we may bear witness to it." At this, Jesus, son of Mary, prayed, "O Allah, our Lord, send to us from heaven a tray of food that it may become a recurring festival to us, to the first of us and to the last of us, and that it may be a Sign from You. Provide for us and You are the best of providers."

122The Day of Resurrection.

123That is, "What was the response of the world to the invitation that you gave towards Islam?"

124That is, "We know only of that outward response which was made to our invitation during our lifetime. As regards the real practical response, we have no correct knowledge of it for that is known to You alone."

125At first this question will be put collectively to all the Messengers. Then each of the Messengers will stand as a witness individually. Here that question, which will be put to Jesus Christ (Allah's peace be upon him), has been specially mentioned because it fits into the context.

126That is, "You brought them back to life after death. "

127That is, "It was a favor upon you that the Disciples believed in you, by Our Grace; otherwise you had no power by yourself to convert even a single person out of the disbelievers."

Incidentally, the use of the word Muslims for the Disciples is meant to show that their religion was Islam and not Christianity.

128This incident has been inserted here as a parenthesis to show that even his Disciples, who had received his teachings from him directly, considered Jesus a man and servant of God. Therefore, they could never conceive to make their master a god or a partner of God or son of God. This also shows that Jesus also presented himself as a servant without having any authority of his own.

It may be asked, "What was the occasion of inserting this parenthesis here to interrupt the conversation that was being cited?" The answer is that the conversation that would take place on the Day of Resurrection has been quoted here for the benefit of the Christians so that they may learn the lesson and adopt the right way. It is, therefore, quite pertinent to insert the incident mentioned in the parenthesis to impress the same lesson. "

[115-119] Allah answered, "I am going to send it down to you,129 but whoever among you shall disbelieve after that, I will surely give him such a chastisement wherewith I will not have chastised any other creature in the world." (After reminding him of these favors), Allah will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to the people, 'Make me and my mother deities besides Allah'?"130 He will say. "Glory be to You! It did not behoove me to say that which I had no right to say. Had I ever said such a thing, You would most surely have known it, for You know all that is in my mind, but I do not know what is in Your mind: indeed You have full knowledge of all the hidden things. I never told them anything other than what You bade me. I said, `Worship Allah, Who is my Lord as well as your Lord.' I was a witness to their conduct as long as I remained among them but when You recalled me, You watched over them; for You keep watch aver everything. Now, if You punish them, they are your own servants, and if You forgive them, You are All-powerful and All Wise. " Then Allah will declare, "This is the Day when the truthfulness of the truthful benefits them; there are such Gardens for them underneath which canals flow; they will dwell therein for ever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him; this is the Greatest success."

129The Qur'an is silent as to whether the `tray' was sent down or not and there is no other authentic source of information. Possibly it was sent down, but it is equally possible that the Disciples themselves might have taken back their request after the warning in verse 115.

130This refers to another error of the Christians. They had made Mary an object of worship along with Christ and the Holy Ghost, though there is not a word or hint in the Bible about this doctrine. During the first three centuries after Christ, the Christian world was totally unaware of this creed. Towards the end of the 3rd century, the words "Mother of God" were used for the first time by some theologians of Alexandria. Though the response which these words found in the popular heart was great, yet the Church was not at first inclined to accept the doctrine and declared that the worship of Mary was a wrong creed. Then at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the words `Mother of God' were officially used by the Church. As a result `Mariolatry' began to spread by leaps and bounds both inside and outside the Church. So much so that by the time the Qur'an was revealed, the exaltation of the 'Mother of God' had eclipsed the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Her statues were set up in Churches and she was worshiped, implored and invoked in prayers. In short, the greatest source of reliance of a Christian was that he should obtain the help and protection of the `Mother of God.' Emperor Justinian in the preamble to one of his laws bespeaks her advocacy for the empire and his general, Narses, looks to her directions on the battlefield. Emperor Heraclius, a contemporary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, bore her image on his banner and believed that because of its auspicious nature it will never be lowered. Though the Protestants after the Reformation did their best to fight against Mariolatry, yet the Roman Catholic Church still adheres to it passionately. Al-Ma `idah493 but it is equally possible that the Disciples themselves might have taken back their request after the warning in verse 115. 130. This refers to another error of the Christians. They had made Mary an object of worship along with Christ and the Holy Ghost, though there is not a word or hint in the Bible about this doctrine. During the first three centuries after Christ, the Christian world was totally unaware of this creed. Towards the end of the 3rd century, the words "Mother of God" were used for the first time by some theologians of Alexandria. Though the response which these words found in the popular heart was great, yet the Church was not at first inclined to accept the doctrine and declared that the worship of Mary was a wrong creed. Then at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., the words `Mother of God' were officially used by the Church. As a result `Mariolatry' began to spread by leaps and bounds both inside and outside the Church. So much so that by the time the Qur'an was revealed, the exaltation of the 'Mother of God' had eclipsed the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Her statues were set up in Churches and she was worshiped, implored and invoked in prayers. In short, the greatest source of reliance of a Christian was that he should obtain the help and protection of the 'Mother of God.' Emperor Justinian in the preamble to one of his laws bespeaks her advocacy for the empire and his general, Narses, looks to her directions on the battlefield. Emperor Heraclius, a contemporary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, bore her image on his banner and believed that because of its auspicious nature it will never be lowered. Though the Protestants after the Reformation did their best to fight against Mariolatry, yet the Roman Catholic Church still adheres to it passionately.

[89] Allah does not take you to task for the inadvertent oaths you swear, but He will surely call you to account for the intentional and deliberate oaths you make. The expiation (of breaking such an oath) is to feed ten indigent persons with the normal food you serve in your own family, or to give them clothes, or to free one slave, and the one who cannot afford any of these let him fast three days. This is the expiation of breaking the solemn oaths you have taken;106 be mindful of your oaths.107 Thus Allah makes His Commandments plain to you so that you may show gratitude.

106The Commandment about oaths has been laid down here in connection with instructions about food, because some people had taken oaths of making some lawful things unlawful for themselves. The Commandment is that if one uttered a word of oath without any Intention behind it, one shall not be bound to observe it, for there is no punishment or expiation for this. But if one has deliberately taken such an oath, one must break it and expiate the violation because one must abrogate such a sinful oath. (Please also refer to E.N.'s 243 and 244 of Al-Baqarah and E.N. 125 of An-Nisa).

107"Being mindful of an oath'' implies three things. First, one should make the right use of an oath and should not take it for useless and sinful things. Secondly, when one takes an oath for anything, one should remember it lest one should forget' it and violate it. Thirdly, if one takes a deliberate oath to do aright thing, one must fulfill it, and if one violates it, one should expiate the sin.

[90-92] O Believers, wine, gambling, (ungodly) shrines and divining devices are all abominable works of Satan:108 therefore refrain from these so that you may attain to true success.109 Indeed Satan intends to sow enmity and' hatred among you by means of wine and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salat. Will you not, , therefore, abstain from these things? Obey Allah and His Messenger and abstain from these things; but if you disobeyed, note it well that Our Messenger's only responsibility was to convey the Message clearly.

108Please refer to E.N.'s 12 and 14 of this Surah for the meaning of ansab (ungodly shrines), azlam (methods of divination) and maisar (gambling). Though azlam, divination, is in its very nature a form of gambling, there is a slight difference between it and maisar. Azlam applies to those forms of divination and casting of lots, which are tinged with shirk and superstition and maisar applies to all those forms by which wealth is acquired or divided by devices of chance.

109In this verse four things have been made absolutely unlawful. They are wine, gambling, ungodly shrines (which are dedicated, to the worship of others than Allah and in which sacrifices are made and offerings given in the name of others than Allah) and divining devices. The nature of the last three has already been explained. Here are the details of the Commandment about wine.

Before making wine absolutely unlawful in this verse, two other Commandments concerning its prohibition had already been given in Al-Baqarah, II: ? 19 and An-Nisa, IV: 43. Before this last Commandment was given, the Holy Prophet addressed the people in order to prepare them for its absolute prohibition. He warned and said, 'Allah does not like at all that people should drink wine. Probably absolute prohibition will soon be prescribed: therefore those who possess wine are advised to sell it. " Some time after this, when verse 90 was sent down he declared. "Now those who possess wine, can neither drink it nor sell it; they should, therefore, throw it away." Accordingly it was spilt in the streets of Madinah to run wastefully. Some people, however, asked the Holy Prophet, "May we give it as a present to the Jews?" He replied, "The One Who has trade it unlawful has also forbidden to give it as a present." Others asked, "May we convert it into vinegar?" He replied, "No, you must spill it." Another asked again and again, "Is one permitted to use wine as medicine?" The Holy Prophet emphatically rejected this also and said, "No, it is not a medicine but a disease." Yet another asked, "Sir, we live in a place, which is very cold, and we have to do tiresome labor. So we drink wine to refresh ourselves from fatigue and to keep warm in the cold." He asked, "Is what you drink intoxicant?" The man replied, "Yes." The Holy Prophet replied, "Then refrain from it." At this the man said, "The people of our part of the country will not submit to this." He replied, "If they do not submit to this, then go to war with them."

According to a Tradition related by Ibn 'Umar, the Holy Prophet declared, "Allah has cursed wine and the one who drinks it and the one who serves it and the one who sells it and the one who buys it and the one who extracts it and the one who has it extracted and the one who carried it and the one for whom it is carried. "

According to another Tradition the Holy Prophet prohibited the Muslims from eating the food which is served along with wine. In the initial stage of the prohibition, he forbade even the use of those utensils which were employed for extracting wine or for drinking it. Afterwards when the prohibition had become thoroughly effective, the use of such utensils was permitted.

Though originally the Arabic word khamr meant only wine made from grapes, and it was also applied to the liquors made from wheat, barley, dried grapes, dates and honey, the Holy Prophet applied the prohibition to all the intoxicants, and there are Traditions that clearly support this. For instance, "Every intoxicant is khamr and is unlawful." "Every drink that intoxicates is unlawful." "I prohibit every intoxicant." In one of his Friday sermons, the Caliph `Umar defined khamr as everything that dulls the faculty of thinking.

In this connection, the Holy Prophet laid down the general principle : if a large dose of something is intoxicant, then its smallest dose also is unlawful, and if a cup of anything is intoxicant, then a drop of it also is unlawful.

During the time of the Holy Prophet. ,there was no fixed punishment for a drunkard. The culprit, who was arrested and brought for trial, was beaten with shoes, kicked, given blows and thrashed with sticks and ropes. Forty stripes were the maximum punishment given for this crime. The same was the punishment during the time of Hadrat Abu Bakr and the early days of Caliph 'Umar. But when the latter saw that the crime was on the increase, he in consultation with the other Companions laid down eighty stripes for this.

Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah and, according to a Tradition, Imam Shafi`i also, were of the same opinion. But Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and, according to another Tradition, lmam Shafi'i also, were of the opinion that forty stripes should be inflicted for the crime of drinking. Hadrat `Ali also considered forty stripes to be the punishment for it.

According to the Shari `at, it is the duty of the Islamic State to enforce prohibition. That is why during the time of Hadrat 'Umar, the shop of a man, named Ruvaishid, who belonged to the clan of Bani- Thaqif, was burnt by his order, because wine was secretly sold there. On another occasion a whole village was burnt down on the orders of Hadrat `Umar, for the crime that wine was secretly extracted and sold there.

[94-95] O Believers, Allah will put you to a hard trial by that game which will come within the very reach of your hands or lances, in order to see who fears Him even though He is invisible: there shall, therefore, be a painful punishment for those who transgress the limits after this warning. O Believers, do not kill game while you are in the state of ihram.110 And, whoever of you kills an animal intentionally, he small have to make an offering of a head of cattle equivalent to it, which will be decided by two just men from among you. This offering shall have to be sent to the Ka`bah or, failing this, he shall have to feed indigent people by way of expiation or compensate for it by equivalent fasting,111 so that he may taste the evil consequence of what he did. Allah has forgiven what has gone before, but if anyone repeats the same, Allah will inflict retribution on him: Allah is All-Mighty and All-Powerful to inflict retribution.

110It is forbidden to hunt game or to help another to hunt it in any way whatsoever, while one is in the pilgrim's garments or in the sacred precincts. It is also unlawful for one in this state to eat of the game that has been specifically killed for him. If, however, someone else, not in this state, kills a game for himself and then gives a part of it to a pilgrim as a present, there is no harm for the latter to eat it. Of course, the harmful animals are an exception to this prohibition. One is permitted to kill a snake, scorpion, mad dog or any other harmful animal, even when one is under the restrictions imposed on a pilgrim.

111Those two just men will also decide how many indigent persons are to be fed, or how many fasts are to be observed, for killing a certain animal.

[96] Game of the sea and its use as food has been made lawful for you:112 you may eat it at your halting place and also use it as a provision for the caravan, but the game of the land has been prohibited so long as you are in the state of ihram. So refrain from the disobedience of that Allah before Whom you shall all be mustered together.

112Game from the sea has been made lawful because sometimes when provisions run short on a sea journey, there is nothing else close at hand to eat.

[97-100] Allah has made the sacred House of the Ka'bah a means of stabilizing the (community) life of the people ; the sacred month and the animal offerings and the animals which are collared as a mark of dedication (have also been made conducive to the same object)113 so that you may know that Allah is fully aware of all that is in the heavens and the earth and that He has perfect knowledge of everything.114 Note it well that Allah is very severe in punishing. and at the same time He is very Forbearing and Merciful. The only duty of the Messenger is to convey the Message ; Allah knows whatever you disclose and whatever you hide.. Tell them, O Messenger, that the pure and the impure cannot be alike anyhow, although the abundance of the impure may allure you much.115 So, O people of understanding, refrain from the disobedience of Allah : it is expected that you will attain to true success.

113For Arabia, the Ka`bah was not merely a sacred place of worship, but it occupied a central position in the country and because of this and of its sanctity, it was the means of stabilizing its economy and culture. The people from all over the country came there to perform Hajj and `Umrah and the huge gathering helped to create the feeling of unity among the Arabs who were otherwise torn by clannish strifes. The pilgrims who came from different clans and places met together and established cultural relations. Poetic contests helped to make their language and literature rich. Trade and commerce which were transacted on the occasion helped to satisfy the economic needs of the people. The sacred months provided peace to the Arabs for four months and this was the only period during which their caravans could travel in security from one part of the country to the other. The animals dedicated to sacrifice and the collars round their necks proved very helpful to the movements of the caravans, for the Arabs showed so much reverence for them that none dared touch them with the intention of robbery.

114That is, "If you just think deeply about the wisdom contained in the sanctity of the Ka`bah and the restrictions laid down for the pilgrimage to it and the benefits accruing from it, you yourselves would be convinced that Allah, Who has prescribed these, has deep and perfect knowledge of the welfare and needs of His creatures. You will realize that each one of His Commandments is very beneficial for different aspects of human life. Even during the centuries of chaos before the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace), Allah had made the Ka`bah a means of security and stability for your national life though you yourselves were senselessly bent upon destroying it. In the same way, Commandments of Allah guaranteed your own security and welfare; therefore you should, for your own good observe these, for there are hidden benefits in them that you can neither foresee nor obtain by your own devices."

115This verse sets up a new standard of values, which is quite different from the standard of those who look only at the outward aspect of things. Such people usually judge things by their quantity and not by their quality. For instance, one hundred rupees are always considered greater in value than five rupees by one who does not attach any value to the means by which these might have been obtained. But contrary to this evaluation, this verse declares that if these one hundred rupees have been obtained by unfair means and those five rupees earned by fair means, then the former are less in worth because of their impurity than the latter because of their purity. According to this standard, it is not the number or the quantity of a thing that increases or decreases its true worth but the question whether it has been obtained by fair means or foul. Obviously, a drop of rose scent has greater value than a heap of filth and a cup of pure water is tar greater in worth than a cistern full of impure urine. Therefore one who is really wise will always remain content with the lawful, though it may appear to be very insignificant and worthless, and will never try to grab the unlawful, though it might appear to be very alluring and grand.

[101-102] O Believers, do not ask questions concerning such things, which, if made known to you, would only vex you116 but, if you will ask such questions at the time when the Qur'an is being sent down, they will be made known to you. Allah has forgiven what you have done so far : for He is Forgiving and Forbearing. Some people before you asked such questions : then they were involved in disbelief because of those very things.117

116This verse forbids people to ask useless and unnecessary questions because some people used to put such questions to the Holy Prophet as were of no practical good for mundane affairs nor for spiritual up-lift. For example, once a certain person while sitting in a gathering asked him, "Who is my real father?'' Likewise, sometimes, some people put unnecessary questions concerning legal matters so as to get these defined, whereas they had been purposely kept undefined for the good of the people. Far example, when Hajj was made obligatory by a commandment in the Qur'an a certain person heard it, and instantly asked. "Has it been made obligatory to perform Hajj every year'" The Holy Prophet did not make any reply. The man repeated the question, but he again kept quiet. When the man put the question for the third time, he replied, "Woe to you! If I had said: 'Yes', the performance of Hajj every year would have become obligatory and people like you would have been unable to perform it and been guilty of disobedience. "

The Holy Prophet himself forbade people to ask questions for the sake of it and to probe into things aimlessly. In a Tradition he warned, "The worst offender against the Muslims is the person who asked a question about something that had not been made unlawful but was made so because of his question." In another Tradition he said, "Allah has prescribed some obligatory duties for you; let not these go unfulfilled, and He has made certain things unlawful, so do not go near them. He has prescribed certain limits, do not transgress them. He has been silent concerning certain things, but not because He has forgotten them; so do not try to probe into such things."

In these two Traditions a warning has been served against a very serious matter. There are certain things and commandments which have been left vague and without details. This is not because the Law-giver had forgo ten to give details or to make them specific but because He did not intend to limit these in order to leave a wide scope for the people. Therefore if a person goes on creating one issue after the other, by putting unnecessary and useless questions and thus creates limitations and specifications, he puts the people to unnecessary trouble. Likewise if he tries to deduce the details by the force of his "reasoning". and does trot rest content till .he has made the vague things specific and the indefinite definite. he in reality puts the Muslims in a very awkward position. This is because the more details we otter for the Unseen and the Next World, the more will be the chances for creating doubts about them and, likewise, the more limitations are imposed concerning the Commandments, the greater will be the chance for their violation.

117The people, who were involved in disbelief because they asked useless and unnecessary questions, were the Jews. At first they were involved in hairsplitting, which led them to put unnecessary questions about the details of the Faith and the Commandments. Consequently, they helped to impose upon themselves such restrictions as they could not observe and so became guilty of disobedience and disbelief, What a pity that the Muslims are following the Jews, step by step, in spite of these warnings by the Qur'an and the Holy Prophet!

[103-104] Allah has ordained neither Bahirah nor Sai bah nor Wasilah nor Ham118 but the unbelievers have invented a falsehood against Allah, and most of them lack understanding (so they believe in such superstitions). And when it is said to them, "Come to the Law which Allah has sent down and to the Messenger," they reply, "Sufficient for us is the way on which we found our forefathers.' What! will they go on following their forefathers, even if they knew nothing, and were quite ignorant of the Right Way?

118In this verse the superstitious practice of dedicating animals to idols, graves, gods or saints, and leaving them to roam about and graze at liberty has been condemned. In the pre-Islamic Arabia, they gave different names to such animals and marked them off, and considered it unlawful to take any service from them or slaughter them for food or derive any benefit from them in any way. Bahirah was the name given to a she-camel which had five young ones, the last of which was a he-camel. Her ear was then split and she was turned loose to roam at liberty. After this, none would ride her nor drink her milk nor slaughter her nor shear her hair. She was allowed to graze in any field and pasture and drink from any watering place.

Sa'ibah was the name given to that he-camel or she-camel which was let loose as a mark of gratitude in fulfillment of a vow taken for recovery from some illness or safety from some danger. Sa ibah was also the name given to the she-camel which had ten young ones, each of which was a she-camel. Wasilah was the name given to a special he-goat which was one of the first born twins, the other of which was a she-goat. The practice about the first born young ones was that they used to sacrifice, in the haute of their deities, the first horn young one if it happened to be a he-goat. But if they happened to be twins the: would not sacrifice the he-goat and would call it Wasilah and set it at liberty in the name of deities. Ham was the name given to a he-camel as soon as his "grandson" became grown up and fit for riding: it was then set at liberty. The same name also was given to a he-camel which begot ten young ones and was set at liberty.

[105] O Believers, look after your own souls ; it can do no harm to you, if anyone else goes astray, provided that you yourselves are on the right path.119 To Allah shall you all return :then He will let you know what you have been doing.

119This is a warning against a common human weakness. Some people are always on the look-out to find out and criticize errors in others. Here such people have been admonished against this evil and asked to concentrate their attention on their own acts, deeds, morals and beliefs instead of probing into and criticizing the conduct and beliefs of others. If a man himself is obedient to Allah and fulfills his obligations to Him and man, and treads the path of truth and righteousness, which also includes the establishment of virtue and the eradication of vice, then most surely the crookedness and deviation of any other can do him no harm.

This verse however, does not mean that a person should think only of his own salvation and leave alone the reform of others. Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq refuted this misconception in an address, saying, "O people, you recite this verse and put on it a wrong interpretation. I myself heard the Holy Prophet say, `When the people become so indifferent that they see evil and do not try to eradicate it and see an unjust person doing an injustice and do not prevent him from it, Allah may punish all of them.' I swear by Allah that it is obligatory on you to enjoin virtue and forbid evil; (if you neglect this) Allah will place you under the worst people who will inflict hardships on you. Then your good people will offer prayers but He will not accept these."

[106] O Believers, when the time of death approaches anyone of you,and he is going to make his will, the principle of evidence is that two just men120 from among you should act as witnesses. Or, if you are on a journey and the calamity of death befalls you there, the two witnesses may be taken from among the non Muslims.121 Then, if you have any doubt, both the witnesses should be detained (in the mosque) after the Prayer, and they should testify upon oath by Allah, "We are not going to sell our evidence for any personal benefit, and even though he be our own relative, (we will not be partial to him) ; we are not going to hide evidence which we are giving for the sake of Allah for we shall be sinners if we do so"

120That is, pious, righteous and trustworthy Muslims.

121This shows that the Muslims are permitted to make the non-Muslims their witnesses only in case the Muslim witnesses are not available.

[72] Most certainly they committed blasphemy, who said, "Allah, He is indeed the Messiah, Mary's son"; whereas the Messiah had said, "O children of Israel, `worship Allah alone, Who is my Lord and your Lord as well"99a Whoever joins a partner with Allah, Allah shall forbid him the Garden, and Hell shall be his abode: and such workers of iniquity shall have no helpers.

99a"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4 : 10).

[75] The Messiah, son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger: many Messengers had already passed away before him. His mother was a righteous woman and they both ate food. Behold! how We make clear to them the signs leading to the Reality, and, again behold, how they are perverted.100

100This verse repudiates very clearly the Christian doctrine of the divinity of Jesus. If one sincerely wishes to know what he really was, one can judge very easily with the help of the signs given herein that he was no more than a man. The Gospel itself bears witness that he was a human being, and subject to the usual wants and necessities of ordinary persons: he was born of a woman (Mary): he had a genealogical tree like all other human beings: he had a human body which had all the characteristics and limitations of other human bodies: he slept, he ate food and he felt heat and cold: he was even tempted by the devil. These things clearly show that he could not be God nor could he have been a partner with God in His Godhead.

But it is a strange feat of mental perversion that the Christians insist on ascribing Godhead to Jesus in spite of the fact that their own Gospels depict him purely as a human being. This is a clear proof of the fact that they do not believe in the Gospels but in an imaginary Christ whom they themselves have invented and raised to Godhead.

[76-77] Say to them, "Do you worship instead of Allah that which has no power to harm nor benefit you'? In fact, it is Allah alone Who hears everyone and knows everything." Say, "O people of the Book, do not transgress the bounds of truth in your religion, and do not follow the fancies of those who themselves went astray before you and led astray many others and strayed away from the Right Way."101

101This refers to the mis-guided nations from whom the Christians picked up wrong creeds and false ways. The reference is especially to the Greek philosophers whose fancies misled the Christians from the Right Way which had been shown to them at the start. The beliefs of the first followers of the Messiah conformed to .a great extent to the reality they themselves had witnessed and to what had been taught to them by their Prophet. But later on the Christians went so much beyond the limits in showing reverence and veneration to the Messiah and were so influenced by the fancies and philosophical interpretations of their beliefs that they invented a new religion that had nothing in common with the real teachings of the Messiah. In this connection, the following extracts from Jesus Christ, by the Rev. Charles Anderson Scott (Encyclopedia Britannica, Fourteenth Edition) are worth reading :-

"Apart from the Birth stories at the opening of Matthew, Mark and Luke (the exact significance of which in this respect is ambiguous) there is nothing in these three Gospels to suggest that their writers thought of Jesus as other than human, a human being specially endued with the spirit of God and standing in an unbroken relation to God which justified His being spoken of as the "Son of God". Even Matthew refers to him as a carpenter's son and records that after Peter had acknowledged Him as Messiah he "took him and began to rebuke Him" (Matt. XVI. 22). And in Luke the two disciples on the way to Emmaus can still speak of Him as "a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (Luke, XXIV. 19). It is very singular that inspite of the fact that before Mark was composed, "the Lord" had become the description of Jesus common among Christians; he is never so described in the second Gospel (nor yet in the first, though the word is freely used to refer to God). All three relate the Passion of Jesus with a fullness and emphasis of its great significance, but except the "ransom" passage (Mark, X. 45) and certain words at the Last Supper. there is no indication of the meaning which was afterwards attached to it. It is not even suggested that the death of Jesus had any relation to sin or forgiveness. Had the "ransom" saying been suggested by Paul, it would not stand as it does in its isolated vagueness."

The same author says, "That He ranked Himself as a Prophet appears from a few passages such as `I have to go on my way today, tomorrow or day after tomorrow, because it cannot be that a Prophet perish out of Jerusalem." (Luke, 13 : 33) He frequently referred to himself as "the Son of Man. '...... "Jesus never refers to Himself as the "Son of God", and the title when bestowed upon Him by others probably involves no more than the acknowledgment that He was the Messiah. But He does describe himself "as the Son" absolutely.....Moreover, he uses the word "Father" in the same absolute way to define His relationship to God. It is conceivable that He did not always realize the uniqueness of this relationship, that in early life He thought of the privilege as one which He shared with other men, but that experience of life and deeper knowledge of human nature forced upon Him the discovery that in this He stood alone.

"Certain words of Peter spoken at the time of Pentecost, `A man approved of God,' describe Jesus as He was known and regarded by His contemporaries......The Gospels leave no room for doubt as to the completeness with which these statements are to be accepted. From them we learn that Jesus passed through the natural' stages of development, physical and mental, that He hungered, thirsted, was weary and slept, that He could be surprised and require information, that He suffered pain and died. He not only made no claim to omniscience, He distinctly waived it. Indeed any claim to omniscience would be not only inconsistent with the whole impression created by the Gospels, it could not be reconciled with the cardinal experiences of the Temptation, of Gethsemane and of Calvary. Unless such experiences were to be utterly unreal, Jesus must have entered into them and passed through them under the ordinary limitations of human knowledge. subject only to such modifications of human knowledge as might be due to prophetic insight or the sure vision of God. There is still less reason to predicate omnipotence of Jesus. There is no indication that He ever acted independently of God, or as an independent God. Rather does He acknowledge dependence upon God, by His habit of prayer and in such words as "this kind goeth not forth save by prayer". He even repudiates the ascription to Himself of goodness in the absolute sense in which it belongs to God alone. It is a remarkable testimony to the truly historical character of these Gospels that though they were not finally set down until the Christian Church had begun to look up to the risen Christ as to a Divine Being, the records on the one hand preserve all the evidence of His true humanity and on the other nowhere suggest that He thought of Himself as God..... "

"It may not be possible to decide whether it was the primitive community or Paul himself who first put fully religious content into the title "Lord" as used of Christ. Probably it was the former. But the Apostle undoubtedly adopted the title in its full meaning and did much to make that meaning clear by transferring to "the Lord Jesus Christ" many of the ideas and phrases which in the Old Testament had been specifically assigned to the Lord Jehovah. He gave unto him that name that is above every name the name of "Lord." At the same time by equating Christ with the Wisdom of God and with Glory of God, as well as ascribing to Him Sonship in an absolute sense, Paul claimed for Jesus Christ a relation to God which was inherent and unique, ethical and personal, eternal. While, however, Paul in many ways and in many aspects, equated Christ with God, he definitely stopped short of speaking of him as God....." (Pages 22-25, Enc. Britt., Vol. 13, 1946).

The molds of thought (of Trinity) are those of Greek philosophy and into these were run the Jewish teachings. We have thus a peculiar combination the religious doctrines of the Bible, as culminating in the person of Jesus, run through the forms of alien philosophy....."

For the Doctrine of Trinity, "The Jewish source furnished the terms Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus seldom employed the last term and Paul's use of it is not altogether clear. Already in Jewish literature it has been all but personified. Thus the material is Jewish, though already doubtless modified by Greek influence: but the problem is Greek; it is not primarily ethical nor even religious but it is metaphysical. What is the ontological relationship between these three factors'? The answer of the Church is given in the Nicene formula, which is characteristically Greek....."

(Enc. Britannica, Vol. 5, page 633 last line, Article "Christianity"')

In the same connection, the following passage from "Church History" (Enc. Britannica, Vol 5, Copy Right 1946) is also worth reading:

"The recognition of Christ as the incarnation of the "logos" was practically universal before the close of the 3rd century, but His deity was still widely denied and the Arian controversy which distracted the Church of the 4th century concerned the latter question. At the council of Nicaea in 325 the deity of Christ received official sanction and was given formulation in the original Nicene creed. Controversy continued for some time, but finally the Nicene decision was recognized both in East and West as the only orthodox faith. The deity of the Son was believed to carry with it that of the Spirit, who was associated with Father and Son in the baptismal formula and in the current symbols and so the victory of the Nicene Christology meant the recognition of the doctrine of the Trinity as a part of orthodox faith.

"The assertion of the deity of the Son incarnate in Christ raised another problem which constituted the subject of dispute in the Christological controversies of the 4th and following centuries. What is the relation of the divine and human natures in Christ? At the council of Chalcedon in 451 it was declared that in the person of Christ are united two complete natures, divine and human, which retain after the union all their properties unchanged. This was supplemented at the third council of Constantinople in 680 by the statement that each of the natures contains a will, so that Christ possesses two wills. The Western Church accepted the decisions of Nicaea, Chalcedon and Constantinople and so the doctrines of the Trinity and of the two natures in Christ were handed down as orthodox dogma in West as well as East.......

"Meanwhile in the Western Church the subject of sin and grace and the relation of divine and human activity in salvation, received special attention and finally, at the 2nd Council of Orange in 529, after both Pelagianism and semi- Pelagianism had been repudiated, a moderate form of Augustinianism was adopted, involving the theory that every man as a result of the Fall is in such a condition that he can take no steps in the direction of salvation until he has been renewed by the divine grace given in baptism, and that he cannot continue in the good thus begun except by the constant assistance of that grace which is mediated only by the Catholic Church". (Page 677-678).

It has become very clear from the above quotations from Christian Scholars that the first thing which misled the Christians was their exaggerated credulity. Accordingly, they went beyond the limits in their reverence and love of Christ. That is why they began to apply epithets like "Lord" and "Son of God" to Jesus Christ (Allah's peace be upon him) and to ascribe Divine Attributes to him and to invent the Doctrine of Atonement, when, in fact, there was absolutely no room, for such things in his teachings. Afterwards when they came under the influence of philosophy, they began to put forward interpretations to justify the errors of their former religious leaders and went on inventing new creeds, one after the other, in utter disregard of the real teachings of Jesus Christ, merely on the strength of Philosophy and Logic, whereas the right thing for them would have been to turn to the real teachings of Christ. It is against such wrong beliefs that the Qur'an warns in vv. 72-77.

[78-81] Those who adopted the way of disbelief from among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and of Jesus. Mary's son, because they had grown rebellious and become transgressors: they would not forbid one another to do the wrong deeds they committed;102 evil was the way they had adopted. Today you see many of them who take the side of the disbelievers (against the Believers). Indeed it is an evil end to which their souls have prompted them: for they have incurred the wrath of Allah and they are going to suffer eternal torment. Had they believed in Allah and the Prophet and in what was revealed to him, they would never have made friends with the disbelievers”103 (against the Believers), but many of them have become disobedient to Allah.

102The corruption of the children of Israel took place according to the universal process. At first some individuals of a community become corrupt, and if the collective conscience of the community is alive, the public opinion keeps them suppressed, and the community, as a whole, is saved from corruption. But, on the other hand, if the community connives at their evil ways, and leaves them free to do as they like, by and by, that corruption which was at first confined only to some individuals, spreads in the whole community. The same thing happened in the case of the children of Israel.

As to the curse by the tongue of the Prophets David and Jesus, please refer to Psalms 10 and 50 and Matthew 23.

103If the Jews had been sincere believers in God, Prophethood and Revelation, they would naturally have taken the side of the Muslims, who were believers in these teachings. But the Jews were a strange sort of believers in the Book: they sided with the mushriks against the Believers in the battle between the Unity of God and shirk Moreover, they professed to believe in Prophethood, but took the side of those who did not believe in it. Still they shame-facedly declared that they were believers in God, Prophets and the Books.

[87-88] O Believers, do not make unlawful those pure things which Allah has made lawful for you,104 and do not go beyond the limit;105 indeed Allah does not like the transgressors. Eat easefully of the lawful and pure things which Allah has provided you, and refrain from disobeying Allah in Whom you have believed.

104This Divine Commandment implies two things. First, "You have no authority to make certain things lawful and others unlawful. Lawful is only that which Allah has made lawful and unlawful is that which Allah has made unlawful. Therefore if you make a lawful thing unlawful, and vice versa, you will be following your own law and not the Divine Law." Secondly, "You should not adopt the way of asceticism like the Christian monks or the Hindu friars or the Buddhist mendicants and the like." This was meant to warn the Muslims against the general tendency, which has always existed among the religious-minded people, to consider even the normal satiation of the desires of the body and mind to be against spiritual progress. They imagine that self-torture, self-denial and abstinence are virtues in themselves and that one could not approach God without these austerities. As a matter of fact, there were some Companions, who had developed such tendencies. When the Holy Prophet came to know that some of his Companions had taken vows that they would always observe fast during the day and would not go to bed for sleep but keep awake and worship God the whole night, and would abstain from flesh, fat and women, he forbade them from such practices. He said, "I have not ordained such things; your own self has rights on you; therefore observe fast and also eat easefully. Stand in worship at night and also go to sleep. I myself sometimes observe fast and at others I do not. I eat flesh and butter. (This is my way) and the one who does not like my way, is not of me."

According to another 'Tradition, he emphasized the same and said, "Now is it that some people have made unlawful for themselves women, good food, scents and perfumes, sleep and other good things of the world? As for me I have not taught you to become monks and hermits. The way of life taught by me does neither allow abstention from women nor from eating flesh nor retirement and seclusion from the world. The Law has prescribed Fasting for self-discipline, and Jihad for the same benefits that might be obtained from asceticism. Worship Allah and associate none with Him as partner, perform Hajj and `Umrah, establish the Salat and pay Zakat and observe the Fasts during the month of Ramadan. The people who were doomed before you, were doomed because they practiced austerity of their own accord, and when they did so, Allah also prescribed the same for them. Those are of them whom you now see in the Monasteries.

In the same connection, we learn from some Traditions that when the Holy Prophet came to know that a certain Companion had been abstaining from having conjugal relations with his wife for a long time and had been devoting himself to worship, he immediately sent for him and ordered, "Go to your wife instantly. " The Companion replied, "I am with fast" The Prophet again said, "Break the fast and go to your wife. "

There is another instance of the same kind. A woman came to Caliph 'Umar and complained, "My husband observes fast during The day and passes the night in worship and does not have conjugal relations with me." Hadrat `Umar ordered Ka`b bin Saur al-Azdi to hear the case. He decreed that the husband was permitted to pass three nights in worship but he must go to his wife on the fourth night.

105"To go beyond the limits" has very extensive meanings. One goes beyond the limits, if one makes lawful things unlawful or abstains from things which Allah has declared to be pure as if they were impure or if one is extravagant in the use of pure things, or if one makes use of unlawful things as if they were lawful. Allah does not like such acts of transgression.

[57-60] O Believers, do not take your friends from among the people, who were given the Book before you and such as make a jest and pastime of your Faith; and (likewise ,do not take for your friends) the other disbelievers; fear Allah, if you are true Believers. When you make a call for the Prayer, they make it an object of jest and sport;89 this is because they are devoid of understanding.90 Say to them, "O people of the Book, what is there that gives you offense against us other than that we believe in Allah and what has been sent down to us and what was sent down before us? And the fact is that most of you are transgressors." Then say, "Should I inform you of those, who will have even worse recompense from Allah than the transgressors?" They are those whom Allah has cursed; who have been under His wrath; some of whom were turned into apes and swine; who worshiped taghut; those are the people who are in a far worse plight and who have turned farthest away from the Right Way."91

89They make the call to the Prayer an object of ridicule by mimicking and deriding it and by perverting its words.

90'This very fact of their making the call to the Prayer an object of ridicule is a clear proof of their lack of understanding. Had they not been involved in folly and ignorance, they would never have indulged in such frivolous things in spite of their religious difference with the Muslims, because no sensible person would ever think of ridiculing the call to the worship of Allah made by any people whatsoever

91Verse 60 contains a subtle reference to the shamefaced impudence of the Jews in opposing the Muslims in spite of the fact that they had often been under the curse and wrath of Allah for their evil deeds. According to their own history they broke the Sabbath and many of them were turned into apes and swine. They had become so degraded that they began to worship taghut. Therefore they were warned to desist from their opposition to the Muslims who sincerely believed in Allah and followed the Right Way, whereas they themselves were involved in disobedience and indecency and other moral sins of the worst type.

[64] The Jews say that the hands of Allah are chained92 Nay chained indeed are their own hands93 and accursed they have become because of the blasphemy they utter94 Allah's hands are free and He expends in whatever way He wills. The fact is that the Message which has been sent down to you from your Lord has rather increased the rebellion and disbelief of many of them:95 (as a consequence of this) We have cast between them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. Whenever they kindle the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it; now they are striving to spread mischief in the world but Allah does not like the mischief makers.

92According to the Arabic idiom, one whose hands are `chained' is an excessively parsimonious person. What the Jews meant by this was that Allah had ceased to be bounteous. When they had fallen into the lowest state of degradation for centuries and lost all hope of their national recovery, they used to lament their lost glory and blame Allah for showing niggardliness towards them. The foolish people from among them went so far as to say, "God has become so stingy that He has shut the doors of His treasures against us. He has now nothing left with Him for us except calamities and misfortunes."

This attitude is not peculiar to the Jews alone. The foolish people of other communities also instead of turning to Allah, utter insolent words like these when a calamity befalls them.

93That is, they themselves have become so niggardly as to become a proverb for parsimony and narrow-mindedness.

94If they meant to provoke Allah to bounty by their taunts, they miserably failed in their object. On the contrary, they became subject to the curse of Allah in consequence of their insolent and impudent words and were deprived of His blessing and clemency.

95Instead of producing the desired effect on the Jews, the Word of God fell on deaf ears. So they did not learn any lesson from it but in their obduracy began to oppose the Truth. Instead of redressing their wrong doings and evil deeds and mending their ways, they strove hard to suppress that Voice so that no one else might listen to it. Thus the Word of God that was sent down to Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) for their own good and the good of humanity produced no good effect upon them but increased the rebellion and disbelief of many of them.

[65-66] If (instead of this rebellion), the people of the Book had believed and adopted the way of God-fearing, We would have removed their evils from them, and admitted them into the gardens of bliss. Had they observed the Torah and the Gospel and the other Books which had been sent down to them by their Lord, abundance would have been given to them from above and from beneath.96 Though there are some among them who are righteous, most of them are evil-doers.

96This concise sentence refers to a speech of the Prophet Moses contained in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. In this he warned the Israelites in detail: "If you will carefully carry out all His Commands......., then your God will lift you high above all the nations of the earth and all His blessings shall come Upon you", but "If you do not listen to the voice of God and are not mindful of all His commands and rules,........ then shall all sorts of curses, calamities and plagues come upon you.......The Eternal will have you routed in front of your foes . "

[67-68] O Messenger, convey to the people whatever has been sent down to you from your Lord; for, if you do not do this, you will not be doing justice to His Message. Allah will protect you from the mischievous deeds of the people. Rest assured that He will not show the disbelievers the way to success (against you). Tell them plainly, "O people of the Book, you have no valid ground to stand on unless you observe the Torah and the Gospel and the other Books which have been sent down to you from your Lord."97 It is certain that the foregoing decree which has been sent down to you from your Lord, will increase all the more the rebellion and disbelief of many of them,98 but you should not grieve for the disbelievers.

97"To observe the Torah and the Gospel" means to follow their teachings sincerely and to follow the code of life laid down in them.

In this connection, one must keep in mind that the Bible contains two kinds of writings. Some portions in it have been interpolated by the Jewish and the Christian scholars. It is obvious that the Qur'an does not demand the observance of these parts. But there are other portions that have been put down as the Commandments of God or as the sayings of Moses, Jesus and other Prophets (Allah's peace be upon them all). The Qur'an demands the observance of the latter parts only, for there is no marked difference between the teachings contained in them and those !;f the Qur'an. Though even these parts of the Bible have not remained wholly intact and have been tampered with by the translators, the commentators etc., nevertheless, one does feel that they teach the same fundamental principle of Tauhid that the Qur'an teaches, present the same creed which the Qur'an presents, and guides man to the same way of life that has been laid down in the Qur'an. Thus it is clear that if the Jews and the Christians had been following those teachings which have been attributed to God and their Prophets in the Bible, must surely they would have been a community of righteous people at the time when Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was sent as a Messenger and would have readily recognized that the Qur'an contained the same Message that was contained in the former Books. In that case they would have felt no difficulty in following the Holy Prophet, for, then, there would have been no question of changing their religion: this would have been a continuation of the same way that they were following before.

98The foregoing decree enjoined by Allah will increase their rebellion and disbelief .because they will not consider it with a cool mind but in their obduracy oppose it more vigorously.

[69] (Believe it that none enjoys any privilege): whoever from among the Muslims or the Jews or the Sabaeans or the Christians believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds will have no cause of fear or grief or sorrow.99

99Please refer to verse 62 and E.N. 80 of Al-Baqarah.

[45] We had prescribed this decree in the Torah for the Jews: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and for all wounds equal retaliation."74 However, whoever forgoes retaliation as charity, it shall be expiation for him:75 those, who do not judge by the Law which Allah has sent down, are indeed the unjust people.

74Compare this with Exodus, 21 : 23-27.

75It implies that if one forgoes retaliation with the intention of doing a good turn, this good act will atone for many of his sins. The Holy Prophet explained this, saying, "If one receives a wound in one's body and forgoes its retaliation, then one's sins will be forgiven in proportion to the degree of forgiveness."

[46-47] Then after those Prophets, We sent Jesus, son of Mary; he confirmed whatever had still remained intact of the Torah in his time. And We gave him the Gospel wherein was Guidance and Light; that too, confirmed what was intact of the Torah76 at the time; moreover, it was guidance and admonition for the God-fearing people. We had enjoined that those who were given the Gospel. should judge by the Law which Allah has sent down in it: those, who do not judge by the Law which Allah has sent down, are the transgressors.77

76This means that Jesus did not bring any new religion but followed the same way that was followed by all the Prophets before him and invited the people to the same. He believed in what was intact in his time from among the original teachings of the Torah, and the Gospel also testified to the same.(Matthew, 5: 17-18). The Qur'an reiterates the fact that each and every prophet, who was sent by Allah to any part of the world, confirmed the Message of all the Prophets who had gone before him and exerted his utmost to complete the work which they had left as a holy heritage, for he did not come to refute them or efface their religion and establish his own religion instead. Likewise Allah did not send down any of His Books to refute any of His own previous Books, but to support and confirm them.

77In this passage (vv. 44-47) Allah has shown that those who do not judge by the Law sent down by Him are: (1) disbelievers, (2) unjust people and (3) transgressors. As a corollary to this, the person who discards the Law of Allah and judges by the law formulated by himself or by others is guilty of three crimes. First, he practices disbelief by his rejection of the Law of Allah. Secondly, he becomes guilty of injustice because he violates the Law of Allah which is perfectly just and equitable. Thirdly, he became a transgressor (Fasiq against Allah, because, in spite of being Allah's servant, he transgressed against his Master's Law and adopted his own law or that of another. Thus practically he broke away from the allegiance and subjection of his Master and denied His Authority: this is risq.

This disbelief, injustice and transgression are Inherently part and parcel of the violation of Divine Law. It is, therefore, not possible to avoid these three crimes where there is such a violation. They, however, vary in their relative guilt in accordance with the nature and extent of the rejection of the Law. If one gives judgment against the Divine Law on the basis that he considers that Law to be wrong and his own or someone else's law to be right, such a person shall be a disbeliever, an unjust person and transgressor, in the fullest sense of the words. However, if one holds the belief that the Law of Allah is right, but in practice gives judgment against it, such a one shall not be outside the Muslim community, but shall be considered to be mixing his belief with disbelief, injustice and transgression. Likewise, if one rejects the Law of Allah in all affairs of life, he shall be considered to be a disbeliever, unjust person and transgressor in every aspect of life and if one accepts the Law in certain matters and rejects it in others, One shall have a mixture of belief and Islam, disbelief, injustice and transgression all mixed together in one's life, exactly in the proportion one obeys the Law or violates it.

Some commentators are of the opinion that the above-mentioned verses apply only to the People of the Book, but the words of the Qur'an do not support this at all. Hadrat Hudhaifah refuted this version very aptly. Someone said to him that these verses applied to the children of Israel only, that is, if one of the Jews judged against the Law sent down by Allah, he would be a disbeliever, transgressor and rebel but not a Muslim. Hadrat Hudhaifah replied. "What good brethren the children of Israel are to you: all that is bitter is for them and all that is sweet is for you! By God, you will follow their way step by step (and shall be dealt with like them)."

[48-50] Then, O Muhammad, We sent this Book to you which has brought the Truth: it confirms whatever has remained intact from the Book78 at the time of its revelation and safeguards79 and protects it. Therefore you should judge between the people by the Law sent down by Allah and do not follow their desires by turning aside from the Truth that has come to you.80 We prescribed a law and a way of life for each of you, though your Lord could have made all of you a single community, if He had so willed. But (He willed otherwise) in order to test you in what He has bestowed upon each of you: therefore try to excel one another in good deeds. Ultimately, you shall all return to Him; then He will let you know the truth about that in which you have been differing81 So,82 O Muhammad, judge between these people by the Law that has been sent down to you and do not follow their wishes: be on your guard lest these people should tempt you away, even in the least, from the Guidance that has been sent down to you by Allah. If they turn away from it, then know that Allah wills to involve them in trouble in consequence of some of their sins. And the fact is that the majority of these people are transgressors. (If they turn away from the Divine Law, then) do they desire to be judged by the laws of ignorance?83 Yet there is no better judge than Allah for those who believe in Him.

78The use of the word Al-Kitab (the Book) here is very significant. Instead of saying, "The Qur'an confirms whatever has remained intact from the former Books," it says, "from the Book." This is to show that the Qur'an and all the Books that were sent down by Allah in different languages and in different ages are in reality one and the same Book which has one and the same Author and one and the same object and aim: they impart one and the same knowledge and teaching to mankind with the only difference that they are couched in different languages and employ different methods to suit the various addresses. Therefore the fact that these Books support and do not refute, confirm and do not contradict, one another, shows that they are all different versions of one and the same Book (Al-Kitab) .

79The Arabic word Muhaimin is very comprehensive in meaning. It means one who safeguards, watches over, stands witness,.preserves, and upholds. The Qur'an safeguards "the Book," for it has preserved within it the teachings of all the former Books. It watches over them in the sense that it will not let go waste then true teachings. It supports and upholds these Books in the sense that it corroborates the Word of God which has remained intact in them. It stands a witness because it bears testimony to the Word of God contained in those Books and helps to sort it out from the interpretations and commentaries of the people which were mixed with it; what is confirmed by the Qur'an is the Word of God and what is against it is that of the people.

80"We prescribed.......... to differ" is a parenthesis, which answer a perplexing question that might arise from the preceding passage. The question is: Why are there differences in the details of their Laws, if all the Prophets and all the Books taught the same way of life and all of them confirmed and supported one another ? For instance , how is it that there are some differences in the details of the form of worship, in the limits of the lawful and the unlawful and in cultural and social regulations taught by different Prophets and Books?

81Here is the answer to the above-mentioned question:

(1) It is wrong to infer from the above-mentioned differences in the details of the different Laws that they have been derived from different sources and have different origins. As a matter of fact, they all have come from Allah, Who prescribed different regulations to suit different communities and different ages.

(2) No doubt Allah could have prescribed one and the same Law for all human beings from the very beginning and made them a single community but He did not do so for many good reasons. One of these reasons is to test people whether they obey or not what is given to them by Allah. Those people, who understand the real nature and spirit of the Divine Way and the position of the regulations in it and are not prejudiced, will recognize and accept the Truth in whatever form it comes. Such people will never hesitate to submit to the new regulations sent by Allah to replace the former ones. On the contrary, those, who do not understand the true spirit of the Way, but consider the regulations and their details alone to be the Way and who have become static and prejudiced because of their own additions to it, will reject every new thing that comes from Allah to replace what they already possess. And such a test was essential to distinguish the two above-mentioned kinds of people; therefore different laws and regulations were prescribed.

(3) As the real object of all the laws is the cultivation of virtues, Allah has commanded the people to excel one another in virtues, without paying heed to the apparent differences in different Laws. This is why those people, who keep in view the real aim of the Law, should advance towards it on the lines indicated by the Divine Laws and regulations.

(4) As regards the differences, which have been produced by the prejudices, obduracies and wrong mental attitudes, these can neither be resolved in polemical symposiums nor on the battlefield, but will be decided by Allah Himself in His Final Judgment. Then the Reality will be revealed and the people will come to know the amount of truth or falsehood that lay hidden in the arguments in which they were engaged throughout their lives.

82From here the same subject has been resumed that was interrupted by the parenthesis.

83The word Jahiliyyat (ignorance) is the antonym of Islam. The way of Islam is entirely based on the knowledge imparted by Allah Who possesses the knowledge of all realities. On the contrary, every way different from and opposed to the way of Islam is the way of ignorance. The pre-Islamic period of Arabia is called the period of ignorance in the sense that the people had invented their own ways of life that were based on mere guess-work or lusts. Therefore whenever any of these ways will be adopted, that period will be called the period of "ignorance". Likewise the knowledge which is imparted in Schools and Universities today is only a partial knowledge end cannot in any way suffice for the right guidance of mankind. That is why all the systems of life that are based on fancies and and lusts with the help of such partial knowledge, in utter disregard of knowledge, shall likewise be the ways of "ignorance" like the ways of the pre-Islamic period. conjectures the Divine.

[52-53] You see that those, who have the disease of hypocrisy in their hearts, are always moving among them. They say, "We fear lest we should get involved in some disaster."84 But it may be that these people will feel ashamed of the hypocrisy they are hiding in their hearts; when Allah will give you a decisive victory or show something else from Himself.85 At that time the Believers will say, "Are these the same people who stated upon solemn oaths by Allah that they were with you?" - All their deeds became vain and they ended in utter failure.86

84This refers to the condition of the hypocrites during the period when the conflict between Islam and kufr had not yet come to any decisive conclusion. Although Islam had become a power by dint of the sacrifices of its followers, the opposing forces were also very powerful and there were equal chances of the victory of either side. The hypocrites, while living among the Muslims, wanted to keep good relations with the Jews and the Christians so that if the conflict ended in the defeat of the Muslims, they might safely take refuge with their enemies. Then there was also the economic factor; at that time the Jews and the Christians were economically the most powerful people in Arabia. The money-lending business was almost entirely in their hands and they had a strong economic hold upon the people. Moreover, the most fertile regions of Arabia were in their possession. This also led the hypocrites to preserve their old relations with them. In short, they considered it very dangerous to break relations with these people because of the conflict between Islam and kufr, for they feared that it might ruin them economically and politically.

85That is, something short of a decisive victory that might convince the people that it was Islam that was ultimately going to win in the conflict.

86All the good acts that they did as Muslims were lost because they lacked sincerity. The Prayers they offered, the Fast they observed, the Zakat dues they paid, and other things they did in obedience to the Islamic Law became null and void because there was no sincerity in them. They did not dedicate themselves wholly to Allah but had divided their loyalties equally between Allah and His rebels for the sake of their worldly interests.

[54] O Believers, whoever turns away from Islam, (let him); Allah will raise many such people ' whom He will love and who will love Him; who will be lenient towards the Believers but stern towards the disbelievers;87 who will exert their utmost in the way of Allah and will not fear the censure of anyone who censures them.88 This is Allah's bounty: He bestows it on whomever He wills, for Allah's resources are boundless and He is All-Knowing.

87"Who will be lenient towards the Believers" means that they will never use force against the Believers and will never employ their intelligence, ability, influence, wealth, power or anything else to suppress or oppress them or inflict loss on them. The Muslims will always find such persons to be mild, kindly, amiable and sympathetic.

"..........but stern towards the disbelievers" means that a Believer will be firm, strict, uncompromising and militant towards the opponents of Islam by virtue of his firm faith, sincere religious sense, strict principles, strong character and God-given intelligence. Whenever the disbelievers will come in conflict with him, they will find that a Believer can neither be bought nor coerced because he is so uncompromising in his Islamic principles that he would rather die than yield.

88That is, they will fearlessly follow the Way of Allah and act upon His commandments, and declare to be right what is right, and wrong what is wrong, according to it, and will not mind in the least the opposition, the censure, the criticism, the objections, the derision and ridicules of their opponents. They will boldly follow the Way of Islam which they sincerely believe to be right, even if the popular opinion is against Islam and they are exposed to the ridicule, derision and taunts of the world.

[27-31] And tell them accurately the story of the two sons of Adam. When the two offered their sacrifices, the offering of the one was accepted but that of the other was not accepted. The latter said, "I will kill you. " The other answered, "Allah accepts the offerings of the pious people only.48 Even if you stretch your hand to kill me, I shall not lift my hand to kill you,”49 for I fear Allah, the Lord of the Universe; I would rather prefer that you should bear the burden of my sin as well as of your own sin,50 and become a dweller of hell; this is the just retribution of the iniquity of the aggressors." Even after this his evil soul prompted him to slay his brother without the slightest compunction; so he killed him and became one of the losers. Then Allah sent a raven which began to scratch the ground to show him how he might hide the corpse of his brother. Seeing this, he cried, "Woe be to me! I have not been able to do even as this raven has done and so devise a plan of hiding the corpse of my brother."51 After this he became very remorseful of what he had done.52

48That is, "It is no fault of mine if your sacrifice has not been accepted; it is because you lack piety. You should, therefore, try to foster piety in yourself instead of making an attempt at slaying me."

49It does not mean: "If you attempt to kill me, 1 will sit with folded hands before you, ready to be killed without any resistance." What it means is: "You may cherish evil intentions of murdering me, but I will not you may make schemes for my murder but I will do nothing to forestall you, even after knowing that you are making preparation for my murder." In this connection, it should be understood clearly that it is not virtue to offer oneself for murder, nor is it a virtue to refrain from resisting an aggressive attack. True virtue is that one should not plan the murder of an enemy though he might be in search of an opportunity to kill the one. A virtuous man would rather prefer, like the noble son of Adam, that the enemy might be the aggressor and not he.

50That is, "I would rather prefer that you alone should be guilty of the sin of cherishing evil intentions of slaying me than that I should also be guilty of the same. Thus you shall bear the burden of your own sin of aggression as well as of the injury that I might inflict on you in self-defense."

51Thus Allah warned the erring son of Adam of his ignorance and folly through a raven. And when once he became aware of the fact that the raven was better equipped for hiding the dead body, he was not only filled with remorse on this account but also began to feel that he had done an evil deed by slaying his brother. This is implied in: "After this he became very remorseful of what he had done "

52The story of the two sons of Adam has been related here to reproach the Jews in a subtle manner for their plot to kill the Holy Prophet and some of his eminent Companions. (Please refer to E.N.30 of this Surah).

The similarity between the two incidents is quite obvious. The Jews plotted against the Holy Prophet and his Companions for the same reason for which the erring son of Adam had slain his pious brother. The Jews became jealous of the Holy Prophet and his Companions because God withdrew His Favor from them and bestowed it upon the un-lettered Arabs just because the former lacked piety and the latter were God-fearing. Instead of considering the matter coolly and considering why they had been condemned and making up for their error which had brought God's wrath on them, they plotted to kill those whom God had blessed with His favors. And they did so in spite of the fact that they knew it well that their evil reaction could not win the favor of Allah but would make them even more condemnable than before.

[32] That was why We prescribed this for the children of Israel:53 "He who killed any person, unless it be a person guilty of manslaughter, or of spreading chaos in the land, should be looked upon as though he had slain all mankind, and he who saved one life should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind."54 But the majority of them went on committing excesses in the land even after Our Messengers came to them one after the other with clear directions.

53That is, "Allah enjoined the Israelites to refrain from murder because they were showing the same murderous symptoms as had been shown by the cruel son of Adam. That is why such strict checks on murder were applied." But the pity is that these precious instructions are not found in the present Bible. The Talmud, however, says, "To him who kills a single individual of Israel, it shall be reckoned as if he had slain the whole race and he who preserves a single individual of Israel, according to the Book of Allah, he preserves the whole world." It also says that a judge of the Israelites in a case of murder would warn the witness saying, "To him who kills a single individual of Israel, it shall be reckoned as if he has slain the whole race."

54This is to emphasize the sanctity of human life: it is essential for the preservation of human life that everyone should regard the life of the other as sacred and help to protect it. The one who takes the life of another without right, does not commit injustice to that one alone, but also proves that he has no feeling for the sanctity of human life and of mercy for others. Hence he is most surely the enemy of the whole human race, for if every individual suffered from the same kind of hard-heartedness, the whole human race would come to an end. On the contrary, if one helps to preserve a single human life, he is indeed a helper of all mankind for he possesses those qualities upon which depends the survival of the whole human race.

[33-34] The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and run about to spread mischief in the land55 is this; they should be put to death or crucified or their alternate hands and feet should be cut off, or they should be banished from the land.56 This is the disgrace and ignominy for them in this world and there is in store for them a harsher torment in the Hereafter, except those, who repent before you have power over them for you should know that Allah is Forgiving and Compassionate.57

55Here "the land" refers to that country or. territory in which the maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the Islamic State and "to wage war against Allah and His Messenger" is to wage war against the righteous system of government established by the Islamic State. As Allah likes that such a system of government should be established, He sent His Messenger to establish an equitable system of government, which should guarantee peace and justice to human beings, animals, trees, vegetation and everything in the earth, which may enable human beings to develop to -the fullest their natural capabilities; which should exploit natural resources of the earth for the true progress and improvement of humanity and not for its destruction. It is obvious that any attempt, big or small, to undermine or overthrow such an established system, is in reality a war against Allah and His Messenger. It does not make any difference whether that mischief is created by criminals and murderers who cause disorder in the settled and peaceful society, or by armed forces who attempt to overthrow the Islamic State and establish some corrupt un-lslamic system instead. And every sovereign treats such a violation directed against his authority or against any of his officials as war against himself.

56An abstract of these alternative punishments has been given so That the judge or the ruler may exercise his discretion and award punishment according to the nature and extent of the crime. The real object is to show that any attempt by any person residing in the Islamic State, to overthrow its government is high treason and a most heinous crime, and that the offender is liable to be awarded any of these capital punishments according to the circumstance.

57This implies that if they have refrained from creating mischief and from making any attempt at overthrowing the righteous system, and have shown by their conduct that they are peace-loving and law-abiding good citizens, none of the above mentioned punishments will be inflicted upon them, even if they might have committed any of the crimes before their repentance. They would, however, be liable to be called to account in a court of law for any offense against any individual, such as murder, theft, etc., but they will not be tried for any previous offense of treason or rebellion or war against Allah and His Messenger.

[35-36] O Believers, fear Allah and seek the means of winning His pleasure58 and exert your utmost in His way59 so that you may attain true success. Note it well that those, who have adopted the way of disbelief, shall not escape retribution, for even if they possessed all the wealth of the earth and the like of it with it and offered it as ransom to redeem themselves from the torment of the Day of Resurrection, that will not be accepted from them and they shall receive a painful punishment.

58That is, You should seek all those means that help obtain Allah's nearness and His pleasure.

59"Exert your utmost" does not fully convey the meaning of Jahidu. It implies that the Believers should struggle against all the forces that stand in the way of Allah, as if to say, "You can please Allah and win His favor only if you exert your utmost in the way of Allah: struggle hard against all the persons, parties and forces which stand in Allah's way, which hinder you from Allah's way to turn you away from it, which do not let you follow Allah's way as His servants and force you to become their servants or servants of others. Such exertion and struggle will lead you to true success and become the means of obtaining your nearness to Allah.."

Thus, this verse exhorts the Believer to fight his enemies on all fronts. On one side, he confronts Satan and a host of his followers, and on the second, his own self and its alluring' temptations. On the third side, he has to fight many people who have swerved from the way of God, and with whom he is bound by close social, cultural and economic relations. On the fourth side, he is required to oppose all those religious, cultural and political systems that are founded on rebellion against God and force people to submit to falsehood instead of the Truth. Though these enemies employ different weapons, they all have one and the same object in view, that is, to subdue their victims and bring them under their own subjection. It is obvious that true success can only be achieved if one becomes wholly and solely a servant of God and obeys Him openly and also secretly, to the exclusion of obedience to all others. Thus there is bound to be a conflict with all the tour enemies: Therefore the Believer cannot achieve his object unless he engages himself with all these hostile and opposing forces at one and the same time and at all events, and removing all these hindrances marches onwards on the way of Allah.

[38-40] As for the thief, whether man or woman, cut off the hand60 of either of them: it is the recompense for what they have earned, and an exemplary punishment from Allah; Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. But whoever repents after his iniquity and reforms himself, Allah will surely turn towards him with His favor;61 Allah is Forgiving and Compassionate. Do you not know that Allah is the Sovereign of the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth? He may punish whom He wills and may pardon whom He wills; He has power over everything.

60One hand of the thief (and not both hands) is to be cut off, and the consensus of opinion is that the right hand should be cut off for the first theft.

The Holy Prophet has excluded an act of breach of trust from theft and decreed that the hand of the one guilty of this is not to be cut off. An act of theft is committed only when a person wrongfully takes away goods from the custody of another and brings them into his own possession.

The Holy Prophet has also decreed that a hand is not to be cut off for the theft of a thing whose value is less than that of a shield. At that time the price of a shield according to (a) 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas was ten dirhams, (b) Ibn 'Umar three dirhams, (c) Anas bin Malik five dirhams, and (d) Hadrat `Aishah one-fourth of a dinar. That is why there has been a difference of opinion among the Jurists in regard to the minimum limit for theft for the cutting off of a hand. According to Imam Abu Hanifah, it is ten dirhams and according to Imams Malik, Shafi'i and Ahmad it is one-fourth of a dinar. (At that time a dirham was equal to the value of three mashas and one ands half rattis of silver, and one-fourth of a dinar was equal to three dirhams).

Moreover, there are many things for the theft of which the hand is not to be cut off. For instance, the Holy Prophet directed that hand should not be cut off for the theft of fruits and vegetables, and that there should be no cutting off of hand for the theft of eatables. According to a Tradition from Hadrat `A'ishah, "Hands were not cut off for the theft of paltry things during the time of the Holy Prophet (Allah's peace be upon him)." Caliphs 'Uthman and 'Ali decreed, and no Companion disagreed, that a hand is not to be cut off for the theft of a bird. Moreover, Caliphs 'Umar and 'Ali did not cut off a hand for a theft from the Public 'treasury and there is no mention of any kind of disagreement among the Companions about this also.

That is why the Jurists have not included certain things in the list of those for the theft of which hands should be cut off. According to Imam Abu Hanifah, hands should not be cut off for the theft of vegetables, fruits, flesh, cooked food, grain which has not yet been gathered together, articles used for sports and music. Besides these, he is of the opinion that the hand should not be cut off for the theft of animals grazing in forests and for theft from the Public Treasury. Likewise the other Imams also have excluded the theft of certain things from this punishment, but this does not mean that there is no punishment at all for those thefts. These crimes should be punished in other ways than this.

61This does not mean that if the thief repents, his hand should not be cut off. It only means that if a person repents after his hand has been cut off and reforms himself and becomes a true servant of God, he will save himself from the wrath of Allah, Who will cleanse him of his sin. On the contrary, if a person does not repent and reform himself even after his hand has been cut off, but goes on nurturing evil thoughts, this clearly shows that he has not cleansed his heart even after this severe punishment. Therefore he shall deserve the wrath of Allah as he did before his hand was cut off. That is why the Qur'an exhorts such a person to beg for the forgiveness of Allah and reform himself. The hand is cut off for the preservation of society. The punishment does not necessarily purify the soul. This can only be achieved by repentance and' turning to God. It is reported in the Traditions that once the hand of a thief was cut off by the order of the Holy Prophet. After this he sent for him and asked him to say, "I beg for Allah's forgiveness and turn to Him." Accordingly, the thief uttered these words. Then the Holy Prophet invoked Allah's forgiveness for him.

[41] O Messenger, let not those who are striving hard in the way of disbelief,62 grieve you, whether they be from among those who say with their mouths, "We believe," but their hearts do not believe, or from among those who have become Jews; for the latter eagerly listen to lies.63 They spy for other people who have never had any chance of coming to you:64 they twist the words of Allah's Book out of their context in order to distort their proper meaning:65 they say to the people, "If you are enjoined to observe such and such teaching, accept it; if it is other than this, reject it."66 You can do nothing to save from Allah's punishment a man whom Allah wills to put to trial.67 They are those, whose hearts Allah does not will to purify;68 there is ignominy for them in this world and a grievous punishment in the Hereafter.

62This refers to the people who were using all their intellectual powers and energies to preserve the previous state of ignorance against the reformative efforts of Islam. They were planning all sorts of shameless schemes against the Holy Prophet; they were distorting the Truth knowingly and doing their worst to defeat his holy mission by lies, deceit, cunning and the like, though he was selflessly working for the good of humanity and their own good. Naturally it grieved him to see that those mean and ignoble people were employing mean tactics to defeat his noble mission. Of course Allah does not mean to ask the Holy Prophet to suppress that grief which is felt over such a state but consoles him not to be disheartened by their evil machinations and advises him to go on working patiently for the reform of the people who cannot be expected to behave otherwise.

63It implies two things: (1) These people are the slaves of their lusts and are not interested at all in the Truth but in falsehood only. They eagerly listen to lies because that alone can gratify their lust for falsehood. (2) They attend the meetings of the Holy Prophet and his followers so that they might spread false reports about them in order to malign them.

64This also implies two things: (1) They come as spies to the meetings of the Holy Prophet and his followers in order to obtain some secret information for the benefit of the enemies of Islam. (2) They come with hostile intent to gather material for bringing false accusations and slander against the Holy Prophet and his followers so that they may cause misunderstandings among those who had no opportunity of making direct contacts with him and the Muslims.

65Allah consoles the Holy Prophet that he should not be disheartened by the behavior of those people who do not hesitate to twist the words of the Torah out of their context and change their meanings to suit their lusts.

66That is, "The Jewish scholars tell their illiterate people to accept any teaching of the Holy Prophet only if it agrees with theirs; if it does not, they should reject it."

67Allah puts to trial a man who cherishes evil inclinations by putting temptations before him to test whether he has any good left in him or not. If he has no goodness left in him, he takes each temptation as an "opportunity," and the evil in him overcomes him and renders him an easy prey to further temptations. In a degenerate case like this, it is not in the power of any well-wisher to save such a person from falling into temptation. Allah puts to trial not only individuals but communities as well.

68Allah did not will to purify such a person because he himself did not wish to purify himself. It is not the way of Allah to deprive a man of purification, if he desires it and tries for it. He does not will to purify only that person who does not intend to purify himself.

[42-43] They are listeners to falsehood and greedy devourers of the forbidden.69 If, therefore, they come to you (with their cases), you may judge between them or refuse to do so: for even if you refuse, they will not be able to do any harm to you; but if you judge between them, then judge with justice, for Allah loves those who act justly.70 Yet, how ' is it that they make you their judge, when they themselves possess the Torah, in which there is Allah's judgment, and even then they are turning away from it?71 In fact, these people have no faith.

69This particularly refers to their jurists and judges who accepted false evidence and unjustly decided cases in favor of those from whom they took bribes or from whom they expected unlawful gains.

70At that time the Jews had freedom in their internal affairs and their cases were decided by their own judges according to their own law, for they had not as yet become subjects of the Islamic State, but had only entered into treaties with it. Therefore they were not bound to bring their cases to the Holy Prophet or to the judges appointed by him. Nevertheless, sometimes, when their own law did not suit them, they would take their cases to the Holy Prophet in the hope that they might obtain a more favorable decree from him than they could from their own law.

Here it refers to a case of illicit relationship between a man and a woman who belonged to respectable families of the Jews of Khaibar. According to the Torah (Deut. 22 : 23-24), their punishment was that both of them should be stoned to death. As the Jews did not want to inflict this punishment, they decided that the case should be taken to the Holy Prophet and that they would accept his decision only if it was other than stoning to death. When the Holy Prophet had heard the case he decreed that they should be stoned to death, but the Jews rejected it. Then the Holy Prophet asked them what the punishment was according to the Torah. They replied that it was to flog the culprits and to blacken their faces and to mount them on a donkey. The Holy Prophet asked their rabbis to declare on oath whether that was the punishment for adultery committed by a married couple. They all but one answered that it was so. The one who had kept quiet was Ibn surya, who was considered to be the greatest scholar of the Torah by the Jews themselves. The Holy Prophet pointedly addressed him and asked, "I want you to swear by that God Who saved your people from the Pharaoh and gave you the Law on the Tur and answer whether it is this same punishment for adultery in the Torah that these people tell." He said, "I would never have confessed that the punishment for adultery is stoning the culprits to death, if you had not laid upon me such a heavy oath. The fact is that when adultery became common among us, the judges would let the offenders go, if they happened to be big people. But as this differentiation caused a great discontent among the common people, we made a change in the Law that instead of stoning the culprits to death they should be flogged and mounted on a donkey with blackened faces." After this, no other course was left for the Jews and the culprits were stoned to death by the order of the Holy Prophet.

71In this verse Allah has fully exposed the dishonesty of these "religious people" who had established their authority for piety and knowledge of the Book throughout Arabia. The very fact that they had discarded the Book they themselves believed to be the Book of Allah and brought their case to the Holy Prophet whom they did not believe to be a Prophet, showed that their claim of belief in the Book was hollow. This also showed that they did not sincerely believe in anything but their lusts. They discarded the Book which they believed to be the Book of God, just because its decree was against their lusts and they went to the one whom they considered to be a false prophet in the hope that they might get a decree that might suit their lusts.

[44] Indeed, We sent down the Torah wherein was Guidance and Light: thereby All the Prophets, who were Muslims, judged the cases of those who had become Jews.72 Likewise the Rabbanis and the Ahbar73 (based their judgment on it), for they were made the guardians of the Book of Allah and witnesses to it. So, (O Jews), do not fear the people but fear Me and do not sell My revelations for paltry worldly gains: those, who do not judge by the Law which Allah has sent down, are indeed the disbelievers.

72Here the fact that all the Prophets were Muslims and that the Jews had given up "Islam" and turned "Jews", has also incidentally been stressed.

73The Rabbani's were the doctors and the Ahbar the jurists of the Law.

[5] All the good and pure things have today been made lawful for you; the food of the people of the Book is lawful for you, and your food for them,21 Likewise you are permitted to marry chaste believing women or chaste women from among the people who were given the Scripture before you22 provided that you give them their dowries and become their protectors in wedlock; this permission is not for sensual license or secret illicit relations; whoever rejects the way of Faith, all the deeds of his life shall become vain and he shall be a bankrupt in the Hereafter.23

21"The food of the People of the Book" also includes what has been slaughtered by them.

"The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you and your food for them" means that there are no restrictions either on us or on them to take food together. The Muslims are permitted to take meals with the People of the Book and they with the Muslims. But the repetition of the sentence "all good and pure things have been made lawful for you" is very significant. It shows that the Muslims should not partake of their food, if the people of the Book do not observe those rules which are essential from the point of view of the Islamic Law, or if they include unlawful things in their food and drink. For instance, if they do not mention the name of Allah over the animal they slaughter or mention any other name than that of Allah over it, the flesh would be forbidden for the Muslims. Likewise if liquor or pork or any other forbidden things is served, the Muslims are not permitted to sit at the same table with them.

The same rule also applies to the food and drink of other non-Muslims except that the Muslims are not permitted at all to eat the flesh of the animals slaughtered by non-Muslims. They are permitted to eat the flesh of the clean animals, slaughtered by the People of the Book only, if they duly pronounced the name of Allah over it.

22This refers to the Jews and the Christians. Permission to marry only their women has been given, and that , too, with the provision that they should be chaste (muhsanat). There is a difference of opinion in the details of the application of this permission. According to Ibn 'Abbas, a Muslim may marry from among the women of the People of the Book who are the subjects of the Islamic State, but is not permitted to marry from among the women of the People of the Book living in the regions which are at war with the Islamic State or are living in a territory of the unbelievers. The Hanafis differ a little from this and consider it undesirable, though not unlawful, to marry women from among the People of the Book living in a foreign territory. On the contrary, Said bin Musayyib and Hasan Basri are of the opinion that the Command is of a general nature; therefore there is no need to make any kind of distinction between the People of the Book whether they are subjects of an Islamic State or living in a foreign territory.

Besides this there also is a difference in the interpretations of the word muhsanat. According to Hadrat `Umar, it refers to virtuous and chaste women. That is why he excludes characterless women of the People of the Book from this permission. Hasan, Sha`bi and Ibrahim Nakha`i are of the same opinion and the Hanafis also approve of this. On the other side, Imam Shafi`i takes it to mean free women of the people of the Book as opposed to the slave-girls from among them.

23The warning that immediately follows the permission given to marry women from among the People of the Book is very significant. The Muslim who makes use of this permission has been warned to guard his faith and morality very cautiously against the influence of his unbelieving wife. There is a genuine danger that his deep love might -tender him a prey to wrong creeds and acts of his unbelieving wife and he might lose both his Faith and morality, or he might adopt a wrong moral and social attitude which might be against the spirit of his faith.

[6] O Believers, when you rise to offer the Salat, you must wash your faces and hands and arms up to the elbows and wipe your heads with wet hands and wash your feet up to the ankles;24 and if you have become unclean, cleanse yourselves with a full bath;25 if, however, you are sick or are on a journey, or if any of you has relieved himself or if you have "touched" women and you can find no water, then cleanse yourselves with pure dust: strike your palms on it and wipe your hands and faces with it.26 Allah does not will to make life hard for you, but He wills to purify you and complete His blessing upon you27 so that you may show gratitude.

24According to the practice and instructions of the Holy Prophet, washing of the face includes the inside washing and cleaning of the mouth, throat and nose. It is also essential to wipe the ears from outside and inside as they form part of the head. The hands should be cleansed first because the other parts are to he cleansed with them.

25A full bath is essential in case one becomes "unclean" by cohabitation or by a discharge of semen during sleep etc. It is forbidden to touch the Qur'an or to offer the Prayer while one is "unclean". (For further details please refer to E.N.`s 67, 68, 69 of An-Nisa).

26Please refer to E.N.'s 69 and 70 of An-Nisa.

27Cleanliness of the body is a blessing like the purity of the soul. The blessing of Allah becomes complete only when one gets full guidance for the purity of both the body and the soul.

[7-8] Keep in mind the blessing28 Allah has bestowed upon you and do not forget the solemn covenant which He made with you (and which you confirmed), when you said, "We have heard and submitted," Fear Allah for Allah knows the very secrets of the hearts. O Believers, be steadfast in righteousness and just in giving witnesses for the sake of Allah;29 the enmity of any people should not so provoke you as to turn you away from justice. Do justice for it is akin to piety. Fear Allah (in your affairs): indeed He is fully aware of what you do.

28The blessing is that Allah has made the right way of life clear for the Muslims and appointed them to the high position of the leadership of the world to guide it on the straight path.

29Please refer to E.N.'s 164 and 165 of An-Nisa.

[11] O Believers, recall to mind the favor which Allah has (recently) shown to you: when some people intended to do harm to you, Allah restrained their hands from you.30 Fear Allah in whatever you do for the Believers should put their trust in Allah alone.

30This refers to the incident that has been related by Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas. Some Jews plotted to kill the Holy Prophet and some of his eminent Companions in order to give a crushing blow to Islam. Accordingly, they invited him to a dinner. But right in time the Holy Prophet by the grace of God came to know of the plot and did not go to the dinner. This incident has been mentioned here by way of introduction, as the address onward is directed towards the Israelites.

The address, which begins from here, has two objects. First, it is meant to warn the Muslims to guard against the attitude which the Jews and the Christians had adopted towards the covenant they had made with God: they had broken the covenant and swerved into wrong and evil ways. Second, it warns the Jews and the Christians of their error and invites them to the Right Way.

[12-13] Allah had bound the Israelites by a solemn covenant, and appointed twelve supervisors31 from among them and said, "I am with you; if you establish the Salat, pay the Zakat and believe in My Messengers,32 and support them and give a generous loan to Allah,33 I shall surely wipe out your evils from you,34 and admit you into gardens under which canals flow, But after this whoever from among you adopted the way of disbelief, has indeed gone astray from the Right Way."35 Then they broke their covenant and because of this We deprived them of Our mercy and hardened their hearts. Now they have become so degenerate that they distort the words of the Scriptures so as to change their meanings completely: moreover, they have forgotten the major portion of the teachings given to them and every now and then you find out one act or the other of their dishonesty. There are only a few of them who are free from this vice: (so whatever mischief they do is to be expected of them). Yet pardon them and connive at what they are doing: Allah likes those who show generosity in their dealings.

31The Arabic word nagib means one who guards and keeps a protecting and restraining watch. Allah commanded Moses to appoint twelve supervisors one each from the twelve tribes of Israel to keep watch over their affairs in order to protect them from irreligious and immoral ways. The Bible mentions twelve "princes of the tribes of their fathers" (Numbers, 1:16) as "heads of thousands in Israel" but not as supervisors of religion and morality as is implied in the word nagib.

32That is, "If you accept the invitation of the Messengers who come from Me and help them in their mission......."

33"...... a good loan to God" is the money spent in His Way. Such money has been called a good loan in the Qur'an at several places and Allah has very graciously promised to return every farthing of the loan after increasing it manifold, provided that it is a "good loan" which has been lawfully earned and spent in accordance with the Divine Law with good intentions.

34Allah "wipes out" evils in two ways: (1) When a person adopts the Right Way and follows the Divine Guidance in thought and action, his soul begins to purify itself and his life begins to be clean of many evils. (2) But if, in spite of this. he does not attain to the high rank of perfection as a whole, and still has some evils left in him, Allah, by the exercise of His grace, will not take him to task and will "wipe out" these from his account. This is because Allah is not hard and strict in taking account of minor evils, provided that the person sincerely accepts the fundamental Guidance and begins to reform himself accordingly.

35The significance of ".....he has indeed gone astray from the Right Way" is that at first he found the Right Way and then lost it and strayed into paths of ruin.

"The Right Way" does not fully express the meaning of "sawa-'as-sabil". It is that way of life which enables a man to develop harmoniously all his powers, faculties, and abilities: which satisfies all his cravings, urges and feelings and the demands of his body and soul in a congenial manner: which guides him rightly to keep balanced the multi fold complex relations with other human beings: which leads him individually and collectively to exploit and use equitably the natural resources for his own good and that of humanity. In short, it is that way of life which enables the individual and the society to solve spiritual, moral, social, physical, economic, political and international problems in a straight, smooth, even and just manner.

It is obvious that man with his limited powers and intellect cannot by himself solve these problems, as he is simply incapable of comprehending at one and the same time all the aspects of human problems so as to weigh and estimate their relative importance and judge between the different courses before him. That is why, whenever he has tried to plan a way of life for himself, he has utterly failed to do justice to his own self or tiffs society, and made a mess of all his affairs and problems, and created a state of chaos everywhere. This is because with his narrow vision he becomes so absorbed in one basic need out of many and one problem out of many that he loses sight of all others and neglects them intentionally or un-intentionally. As a result of this, life loses its balance and begins to rush towards one extreme. When this state of affairs becomes unbearable, one of the neglected needs or problems takes hold of man and life begins to rush towards another extreme with the same destructive result. In this way, life goes on running from one extreme to the other and man never finds the balanced middle way which is "The Right Way", because all the ways planned by him keep him running in wrong directions from one extreme to the other.

As has been pointed out, man cannot plan that right way which may lead him clear of the pitfalls of the myriad wrong and crooked ways; so Allah has very graciously made arrangements for showing the Right Way to mankind. He sent His Messengers with Guidance to lead mankind to the Right Way to real success in this world and in the Hereafter; and the one who loses this way will go wrong here and act wrongly, and inevitably go to Hell in the next world, for all the wrong ways lead to Hell.

In this connection it will be pertinent to point out the blunder that has been committed by some so-called philosophers. When they noticed that human life was continually running between two extremes, they came to the wrong conclusion that the Dialectical process was the natural way of the evolution of human progress. According to them, internal contradictions are inherent in all things and the struggle between these opposites and their synthesis constitutes the contents of the process of development. They apply the Dialectical methods to the study of social life and come to the wrong conclusion that the same is the right way of evolution. Accordingly they start with a thesis of an extreme nature for the solution of a problem and go on rushing away from the Right Way towards one extreme till they discover, to their dismay, that in this process gross injustice has been done to some other equally important problems. Then they turn back with the antithesis of the first theory and presume that the synthesis of the two will help evolve its right solution. Though it is true that the struggle between the two opposite theories helps them approach the Right Way, yet they cross it rapidly towards the other extreme because they do not believe in Divine Guidance which alone can make one firmly adhere to it. Then they do gross justice to same other problems and the same process is repeated over and over again. If such short-sighted philosophers had not rejected God and religion and trade an impartial study of the Qur'an, they would have discovered to their joy that the Right Way is the straight path, leading to the human evolution, and not the myriad crooked and curved paths. Thus they would have saved mankind from continually rushing aimlessly between extremes.

[14] Likewise We bound by a covenant those people, who said,"We are Nasara."36 But they too, forgot much of what had been taught to them. So We sowed among them seeds of discord, enmity and hatred that shall last up to the Day of Resurrection, and surely the time will come when Allah will tell them of what they had been contriving in the world.

36It is wrong to presume that the title Nasara pertains to Nazareth, the home of Jesus. In fact, its root is nusrat (help). The Christians have been called ,Nasara (helpers) for the reason that when Jesus asked, "Who will be my ansar (helpers) in the cause of Allah'?" his disciples answered, "We are ansar in the cause of Allah." (LXI : 14). The Christian writers got the wrong impression that the Qur'an contemptuously calls the Christians Nasara because of the apparent similarity between Nasara and Nazarenes, a sect of early Christians who were contemptuously called Nazarites. But the Qur`an makes it clear here that the Christians themselves said, "We are Nasara." It is obvious that the Christians never called themselves Nazarites.

In this connection, it may be noted that Jesus Christ never called his disciples "Christians" or "Messiahites," for he had not come to found a new religion after his own name but to revive the same religion that Moses and the other Prophets before and after him had brought. Therefore he did not form any new community other than that of the Israelites; nor they lived like a new one; nor adopted a distinctive name or symbol for themselves. They used to go to the Temple (Jerusalem) for prayer along with the other Jews and considered themselves to be bound by the Mosaic Law. (Please refer to the Acts, 3: 1, 10: 14,15: 1 & 5, 21: 22).

Later on the process of separation began froth two sides. On the one side St. Paul, a follower of the Prophet Jesus, put an end to the observance of the law and declared that the only thing needed for salvation was belief in Messiah. On the other side, the Jewish rabbis cut off the followers of Christ by declaring theta to be a misguided sect. But in spite of this separateness, at first the sect bore no distinctive name. The followers of Christ called themselves by different names, such as disciples, brethren, believers, saints etc. (Please refer to the Acts, 2 : 44, 4: 32, 9 : 26, 11 : 29, 13 : 52, IS : 1 & 23; Romans, 15 : 45, and Corinthians, 1:12). But the Jews called them Galileans or the sect of the Nazarenes contemptuously and tauntingly (Luke, 13 : 2, The Acts, 24 : 5) because of the Roman Province of Galilee in which Nazareth, the birth place of Jesus, was situated. These satirical names, however, did not become current as the permanent names of the followers of Christ.

As a matter of fact, the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, when Barnabas and Paul went there in 43-44 A.D. to preach the Gospels. (The Acts, 11: 26). Though this name was also given to them contemptuously by their enemies, yet, by and by, their leaders accepted this, saying, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye,.....if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed." (I Peter, 4: 16). At long last, they lost the feelings that the name "Christian" was a bad title that had been given to them by their enemies.

Thus it is clear that the Qur'an has not called them Christians because of the contempt associated with it, but has called them Ansar (helpers) in order to remind them that they were the name-sake of those disciples of Jesus who had responded to his invitation and said, "We are helpers of Allah." Is it not an irony that instead of being grateful to the Qur'an for giving them their name, the Christian missionaries of today should bear a grievance against it for not calling them "Christians"?

[15-16] O People of the Book, Our Messenger has come to you; he makes manifest to you many things of the Book which you were concealing, and passes over many others.37 Light has come to you from Allah and the Book which guides to the Truth, whereby Allah leads to the paths of peace38 those who seek His pleasure and brings them out of the depths of darkness into the Light by His grace and guides them towards the Right Way.

37That is, "He makes known many things which you were dishonestly keeping back from the Scripture, for these are essential for the establishment of the true Faith, but disregards many other such things for there is no real need to disclose them."

38"Allah leads to the paths of peace" those who intend to walk in the Light of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet. They remain safe from wrong notions, wrong thoughts and wrong acts and their consequences, because at every cross-road they come to know the safe way with the help of that light.

[17] Indeed they committed blasphemy, who said, "The Messiah, son of Mary, is verily God."39 O Muhammad, say to them, "If Allah chose to destroy the Messiah, Mary's son, and his mother, and all the dwellers of the earth, who has the power to prevent Him from this? For, to Allah belongs the Kingdom of the earth and the heavens and all that is between them: He creates whatever He wills40 and has power over everything."

39The Christians were guilty bf blasphemy in regarding Jesus as God and worshiping him as such. This was the result of the error they committed in regarding Jesus as the union of man and God, for it made his personality an enigma, which their scholars have not been able to solve in spite of their verbosity and argumentations. The more they tried to solve it the more complicated it became. Those who were impressed by the human aspect of this complex personality made him the son of God and one of the Trinity, while others, who were impressed by the Divine aspect of his personality, declared him to he the incarnation of God and worshiped him as such. There were still others who tried to adopt the middle course between the two extremes and spent all their abilities to prove the impossibility that Jesus was both man and God at one and the same time and that God and the Messiah were two separate beings, but at the same tune a single being. (Please refer to E.N.'s 212,213,215 of An-Nisa).

40"He creates whatever He wills" implies that the miraculous birth of Jesus was merely' one of God's countless wonderful manifestations, and that this and his moral excellences and his perceptible miracles should not mislead the Christians to regard the Messiah as God. It was their shortsightedness that they did not consider the other creations of God which were even more wonderful than the creation of Jesus and foolishly made him God. They forgot that His power has no bounds and seeing the miracles performed by a wonderful creation of the Creator they began to regard him as a creator; whereas wise men see the All-Powerful Creator in the wonders of His Creation and get the light of Faith from them.

[19] O People of the Book, this Messenger of Ours has come to you and is making clear to you the teachings of the Right Way after a long interval during which there had come no Messengers, lest you should say, "No bearer of good news nor Warner came to us. Lo, now the bearer of the good news and Warner has come.- And Allah has power over everything."41

41In this context, this sentence is very comprehensive and significant and has double meanings. One meaning is that God Who had the power of sending bearers of good news and Warner before, has now appointed the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for the same mission and He has the power to do so. The other meaning is that if they do not obey the bearer of good news and warner they should bear in mind that Allah is All-Powerful and is able to inflict on them any punishment He likes without any hindrance.

[20-26] Call to mind the time when Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember the favor which Allah bestowed upon you. He raised up Prophets from among you and made you rulers and gave you that which had not been given to anyone in the world.42 O my people, enter the Holy Land that Allah has destined for you,43 and, do not turn your backs or you will turn about losers,"44 They replied, "O Moses, in that land dwell mighty people; therefore we are never going to enter it till they leave it; if, however, they leave it we are ready to enter it. " Among those, who were filled with fear, there were two persons45 whom Allah had blessed with His favor: they said, "Make your way into the gate against those mighty people; when you enter it, you will surely be victorious. Trust in Allah, if you are true believers." But even then they replied, "O Moses, we are never going to enter it so long as they remain therein. Therefore, go, both you and your Lord, and fight: we will stay here," At this Moses cried. "My Lord, I have no power over anyone but myself and my brother: so set us apart from these disobedient people." Allah replied, "Very well, they are forbidden this land for forty years, during which period they shall wander homeless on the earth:46 so do not grieve at all for these disobedient people.47

42This refers to the past glory of the Israelites that they enjoyed at a much earlier period before the advent of Moses. On the one hand, Prophets of the high rank of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were raised among them; on the other, they won great political power in Egypt during the time of the Prophet Joseph and after him. For a long time they remained the greatest rulers of their time in the then civilized world, and their currency was in circulation not only in Egypt but also in the countries around it.

In contrast to the general belief that the glory of the Israelites begins with the advent of the Prophet Moses, the Qur'an makes it clear here that the period of their real glory and greatness had passed long before him and he himself was holding that period before his people as an instance of their glorious past.

43By the Holy Land is meant Palestine, which had been the home of the Prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the Israelites left Egypt for good, God allotted this land to them and commanded them to conquer it.

44This speech was made by the Prophet Moses when two years after their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were encamping in the desert of Paran which lies in the Sinai Peninsula contiguous to the northern boundary of Arabia and the southern boundary of Palestine.

45It may mean that the two persons were from among those who were tilled with the fear of the mighty people, or they were from among those who were God-fearing people.

46The details of their homeless wandering can be had from the books, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, of the Bible. In brief, it is this: The Prophet Moses dispatched twelve chiefs of Israel from the desert of Paran to spy out the Holy Land. Accordingly, they spied it out and returned after forty days and made a report before all the congregation of Israel. They said, "Surely it floweth with milk and honey ......Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land: (and) We be not able to go up against (them) .....and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers and so we were in their sight." At this, all the community wailed aloud and said, "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt: or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? But Joshua and Caleb, who had been among the twelve spies, rebuked the community for its cowardice. Caleb said, "Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." Then both declared, "If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it us......Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land.....and the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation stoned them with stones." At last God became wrathful at their continuous misbehavior and decreed, "Doubtless ye shall now wander in the wilderness forty years until all that were numbered of you.....from twenty years old and upward shall fall as carcasses in this wilderness, (and) your little ones (grow young)......then will I bring in and they shall know the land...." According to this Divine decree, they took 38 years to reach Jordan from the desert of Paran. During this period all those who were young at the time of the exodus from Egypt died and after the conquest of Jordan the Prophet Moses also died. After this, during the time of Joshua, son of Nun, the Israelites were able to conquer Palestine.

47The incident contained in vv. 20-26 has been cited here with the special object to warn the Israelites. They have been reminded that they disobeyed Moses and swerved from the right path and showed cowardice and were consequently condemned to wander homeless for forty years but if they persisted in their attitude of rebellion against the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him), the chastisement would be much more severe than that.

[1] O Believers, observe strictly the prescribed limits.1 All kinds of cattle-like animals have been made lawful for you2 except the ones which will be told you here-in-after, but you should not make hunting lawful for yourselves during the state of ihram3 : indeed Allah ordains whatever He pleases.4

1The Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and whatever is therein belongs to Allah and He has power over everything.

2The Arabic word an `am applies to camel, cow (ox), sheep and goat and bahimah to all kinds of grazing quadrupeds. The combination of the two words has made the meaning more comprehensive by including all the grazing quadrupeds that resemble those four contained in the word an'am. It also implies that the carnivore that kill other animals for food are unlawful. The Holy Prophet made this explicit in a Tradition declaring the carnivore unlawful. Likewise he also declared unlawful those birds that have claws and kill other animals for food or eat dead bodies According to Ibn `Abbas, the Holy Prophet prohibited the eating of the flesh of the carnivore and of the birds with claws. Other Traditions from several Companions also support the same.

3Ihram is the pilgrim's robe which has to be put on at fixed boundaries at the known distances from the Ka'abah. It is not lawful for any pilgrim to proceed to the Ka`abah until he puts off his usual dress and puts on the pilgrim's garb. This consists of two pieces of cloth without seam or ornament, one of which is wrapped round the loins and the other thrown over the shoulders. The instep, heel and head must be bare. This is called the state of Ihram because it makes unlawful even some of the things that are ordinarily lawful. For instance, one should not have a shave or a hair-cut and should not wear other clothes or ornaments nor use perfumes nor indulge in sensual desires and the like. Another restriction is the prohibition against killing any animate object or against hunting or against directing any one else to help hunt an animal. (Please refer also to E.N. 213, Al-Baqarah).

4This means that Allah has absolute authority to issue any decree He wills, and that the servants have no right at all to question it. Though all His Decrees and Commands are based on wisdom and are full of excellence, yet a Muslim, His servant, does not obey these just because they are proper and conducive to his good, but obeys them because they are commandments from his Sovereign. If He declares anything to be un-lawful, it becomes un-lawful for no other reason than that it has been made unlawful by Him. Likewise if He makes anything lawful, it becomes lawful for no other reason than that its Owner and the Owner of everything permits His servants to use it. That is why the Qur'an establishes with full force the fundamental principle that the only basis which makes a thing lawful or unlawful is whether there is the permission of the Owner for its use or not. Likewise there is no other basis for the servant to consider a thing to be lawful or un-lawful except that it is lawful if Allah makes it lawful and un-lawful if He prohibits it.

[2] O Believers, do not violate the emblems5 of God-worship. Do not make lawful for yourselves any of the forbidden months nor catch hold of the animals dedicated to sacrifice nor lay hands on those animals which are collared as a mark of their dedication to God, nor molest the people repairing to the Inviolable Mosque (the Ka`abah), seeking their Lord's bounty and pleasure.6 You are, however, allowed to hunt after you have put off ihram.7 -And be on your guard : let not your resentment against those, who have barred you from visiting the Ka`abah, incite you so much as to transgress the prescribed limits.8 Nay, cooperate with all in what is good and pious but do not cooperate in what is sinful and wicked. Fear Allah: for Allah is severe in retribution.

5Sha a-ir is the plural of shi- ar (emblem). Every object or a representation of it, that symbolizes a way or a creed or a mode of thought or action or a system is called its shi'-ar because it serves as an emblem of it. Official flags,police and army uniforms, coins, currency notes, stamps etc., are the sha "a-ir of governments which demand due respect for these from all under them, and, as far as possible, from others as well. For instance, Temple. Altar, Cross etc., are the .sha'a-ir of Christianity. the Hammer and Sickle is the shi-'ar of the Communist Party, and- the Swastika of the Nazi Party. AlI of them demand reverence and respect for their emblems from their followers. If anyone shows disrespect for any of the emblems of any system, it is an indication that he has enmity with that system and it the offender belongs to the same system, this act will be tantamount to apostasy and rebellion against it.

The Sha a-ir-Allah (Emblems of Allah) are those signs and symbols that represent the pure way of God-worship as against the ways of idolatry, unbelief, paganism and atheism. The Muslims are required to show respect to the emblems of Allah wherever they find them in any way or system, provided that their psychological background is purely attributed to God-worship and has not in any way been polluted by any association with idolatry or unbelief. Therefore, if a Muslim comes across anything in the creed and deed of a non-Muslim which has an element of God-worship in it, he will show due respect to that element and to the emblems connected with God-worship. There will be no dispute with the non Muslims on that account: a dispute arises only when he pollutes God-worship with the worship of others.

In this connection, it should be noted that the command to show due respect to the emblems of Allah was given at a time when the Muslims were at war with the pagan Arabs who were in possession of Makkah. This was necessitated because some of the pagan Arabs had to pass on their way to the Ka'abah through places where the Muslims could strike at them easily. Therefore the Muslims were enjoined not to molest them when they were proceeding to the House of Allah, even though they were idolaters and at war with them. Like wise, the Muslims should not attack them during the months of Hajj nor snatch from them those animals, which they were taking to the House of Allah as offering. This is to ensure that the element of God-worship, which had .remained intact in their corrupt religion, should be respected and not violated

6Immediately after this Command, a few emblems of Allah have been specially mentioned because there was an imminent danger of their violation by the Muslims owing to the state of war. This does not, however, mean that these emblems alone are to be respected.

7Incidentally the command about ihram has been given here because this is also one of the emblems of Allah. Hunting during the state of ihram is prohibited, because it is the violation of one of the emblems of Allah. But when the restrictions of ihram come to an end according to the law, one is permitted to hunt, if one desires to do so.

8This prohibition was laid down to check the Muslims from preventing the pagan Arabs from proceeding to Hajj and attacking them when they were passing through their territories. The Muslims had been so enraged when their enemies had prevented them from visiting the Ka'abah and from the performance of Hajj in contravention of their old custom that they were prone to retaliate, but Allah warned them not to transgress the bounds.

[3] You are forbidden carrion9 and blood, the flesh of swine and of that animal which has been slaughtered in any other name than that of Allah,10 and of the strangled animal, and of that beaten to death or killed by a fall or gored to death or mangled by a beast of prey -save of that you duly slaughtered while it was still alive11 -and of that which is slaughtered at (un-godly) shrines.12- 13 It is also unlawful for you to try to find your fortune by means of divining devices,14 for all these things are sinful acts, Today the disbelievers have despaired of (vanquishing) your religion; therefore do not fear them but fear Me. Today15 I have perfected your religion for you and completed My blessing on you and approved Islam as the way of life for you,16 (Therefore observe the limits prescribed by the Law); if, however, one, dying of hunger, eats of any of these forbidden things, provided that he is not inclined towards sin, he will find Allah Forgiving and Compassionate.17

9That is, the flesh of the animal that dies a natural death.

10That is, the flesh of the animal which has been slaughtered in the name of another than Allah or has been slaughtered with the intention of dedicating. it to a saint or a god or a goddess etc. (Please also see E.N. 171 of Al-Baqarah).

11That is, "If an animal falls a victim to any of these accidents but is still alive and is duly slaughtered, it is lawful to eat its flesh". This also implies that the flesh of a clean animal becomes lawful only when it is slaughtered in the prescribed way and that there is no other way of making it lawful. In the prescribed way only that much of the throat is cut that enables the blood to flow out freely. This cannot happen if the whole of the neck is cut off or if the animal is strangled or killed in any other way because in that case most of the blood remains in the body and congeals at different places and sticks to the flesh. But when it is slaughtered in the prescribed way, the whole of the body remains connected with the brain for a sufficiently long time to allow the blood to flow totally out of the body and the flesh is cleansed of the blood which in itself is unlawful. Therefore it is essential that the flesh should be cleansed of blood in order to become lawful.

12The Arabic word nusub applies to all those places which have been specifically dedicated to any saint or god, etc., for making offerings to them or for any other kind of ungodly worship whether there is or is not any sort of stone or wooden idol therein.

13In this connection, it should be understood well that the limits prescribed by the Law for making eatables lawful or unlawful are not laid down from the point of view of physical health but from the moral and spiritual points of view. As regards the matters concerning physical health, these have been left to man's own judgment and discretion, It is his own business to find out what things are useful or harmful for his physical health and nourishment and the Law does not take any responsibility for his guidance in this respect. Had it done so, poison would have been the first thing to be made unlawful, but there is absolutely no mention of this or other deadly things in the Qur'an or the Traditions. The Law is only concerned about what is morally or spiritually harmful or beneficial and also about the right or wrong means for obtaining lawful things. It is obvious that man has no means of finding out these things by himself and is consequently liable to commit errors in this matter without the guidance of the law. For whatever has been prohibited, has been prohibited because it is harmful from the point of view of cleanliness or morality or belief. On the contrary, whatever has been made lawful, has been made so because it is free from all these evils.

One might ask why Allah has not explained the philosophy underlying the prohibition of certain things for the clear understanding of the people. This is because it is not possible for mankind to comprehend this. For instance, it is not possible for us to make a research into the nature of moral evils that are produced by eating carrion, blood or the flesh of swine, nor is it easy to find out how they are produced and to what extent, because we have no means of measuring or weighing morality, It is, therefore, obvious that, even if their evil effects had been explained, the position of the skeptic would have remained the same as before for the lack of means of testing their veracity.

This is why Allah has declared the observance of the limits prescribed for the lawful and the unlawful as a matter of belief. One, who believes in the Qur'an as the book of God and in the Holy Prophet as His Messenger and in Allah as All Knowing and All-Wise, will observe the prescribed limits whether one understands their philosophy or not. On the other hand, if one does not believe in this basic creed, one will avoid only those things which are harmful according to human knowledge and will go on suffering from the consequences of those which man has not learned to be harmful.

14This verse comprises three categories of prohibitions:

(1) It prohibits the pagan ways of taking omens from a god or a goddess and the like, about one's fortune or getting indications as to the future or deciding disputes. For instance, the pagan Quraish of Makkah had specified the idol of Hubal at the Ka`abh for this purpose and kept near it seven divining arrows. They would, after presenting the offering to the priest and performing certain ceremonies, pull out an arrow and regard the words engraved on it as the verdict of Hubal.

(2) The second category consists of the superstitious ways and irrational methods of taking decisions about the daily problems of life for anything regarded as portending good or evil regardless of reason or knowledge, or of finding out future events blindly by the ominous significance of particular things, circumstances, occurrences or proceedings or the like. In short, it included all the so-called arts of prediction and prophetic significance.

(3) The third category includes all kinds of gambling in which the distribution of things etc., is based on mere chance and not on merit, right, service or other rational considerations. For instance, all the schemes of lottery which entitle a certain holder of a ticket to a prize merely on chance, and at the expense of a large number of other holders of such tickets, or the award of prizes for cross-word puzzles in which a certain answer out of a large number of correct ones corresponds, by mere chance, to the answer that has been ear-marked as correct for the purpose - all these things are unlawful.

However, one simple form of casting lots is lawful in Islam, when there are two equally lawful things or rights and there is no rational method of deciding between them. Supposing two persons have equal rights, in every respect, to something and the judge finds no rational justification to give preference to either of the disputants, neither of whom is willing to forgo his rights. In such a case, if they mutually agree, the matter may be decided by casting lots, or if one has to choose one of the two lawful things and is in difficulty in regard to the choice, one is allowed to cast lots for it. The Holy Prophet adopted this method on such occasions as required a choice to be made between two persons with equal rights, whenever he thought that if he himself decided in favor of one, the other might be grieved.

15"Today" does not mean a particular day or date but the time when this verse was revealed.

"The disbelievers have despaired of your religion" means: "After along systematic resistance and opposition, they have lost hope of defeating your religion. Now they do not expect that you wilt ever return to the former way of "ignorance" because your religion has become a permanent way of life and has been established on a firm footing. Therefore. "Do not fear them but fear Me." That is, there is no longer any danger of interference from the disbelievers that they will prevent you from the performance of your religious obligations. You should, therefore, fear God and observe His commands and instructions because no ground for fear has been left for you. Now your disobedience of the Law will mean that you do not intend to obey Allah."

16"I have perfected your religion" means: "I have provided it with all the essential elements of a permanent way of life which comprises a complete system of thought and practice and civilization and have laid down principles and given detailed instructions for the solution of all human problems. Hence there is no need for you to seek guidance and instructions from any other source."

The completion of "the blessing" is the completion of the blessing of guidance.

"I have approved Islam as the way of life for you" because you have practically proved by your obedience and devotion to it that you sincerely believe in Islam which you have accepted. As I have practically set you free from every kind of subjection and servitude there is no compulsion for you to submit to any other than Me in your practical life." It also implies, "As a gratitude for these blessings of Mine, you should show no negligence in the observance of the prescribed limits."

Authentic traditions show tha