O Prophet! Fear Allah and hearken not to the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites: verily Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. 3666
But follow that which comes to thee by inspiration from thy Lord: for Allah is well acquainted with (all) that ye do. 3667
And put thy trust in Allah and enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. 3668
Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body: nor has He made your wives whom ye divorce by Zihar your mothers: nor has He made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth and He shows the (right) Way. 3669 3670 3671
Call them by (the names) of their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah but if ye know not their father's (names call them) your Brothers in faith or your Maulas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning Most Merciful. 3672 3673
The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves and his wives are their mothers. Blood-relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allah than (the Brotherhood of) Believers and Muhajirs: nevertheless do ye what is just to your closest friends: such is the writing in the Decree (of Allah). 3674 3675 3676
And remember We took from the Prophets their Covenant as (We did) from thee: from Noah Abraham Moses and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn Covenant: 3677
That (Allah) may question the (Custodians) of Truth concerning the Truth they (were charged with): and He has prepared for the Unbelievers a grievous Penalty. 3678
O ye who believe! Remember the Grace of Allah (bestowed) on you when there came down on you hosts (to overwhelm you): but We sent against them a hurricane and force that ye saw not. But Allah sees (clearly) all that ye do. 3679 3680 3681
Behold! they came on you from above you and from below you and behold the eyes became dim and the hearts gaped up to the throats and ye imagined various (vain) thoughts about Allah! 3682
In that situation were the Believers tried: they were shaken as by a tremendous shaking.
And behold! the Hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease (even) say: "Allah and His Apostle promised us nothing but delusion!" 3683
Behold! a party among them said: "Ye men of Yathrib! Ye cannot stand (the attack)! Therefore go back!" and a band of them ask for leave of the Prophet saying "Truly our houses are bare and exposed" though they were not exposed: they intended nothing but to run away. 3684
And if an entry had been effected to them from the sides of the (City) and they had been incited to sedition they would certainly have brought it to pass with none but a brief delay! 3685
And yet they had already covenanted with Allah not to turn their backs and a covenant with Allah must (surely) be answered for. 3686
Say: "Running away will not profit you if ye are running away from death or slaughter; and even if (ye do escape) no more than a brief (respite) will ye be allowed to enjoy!" 3687
Say: "Who is it that can screen you from Allah if it be His wish to give you Punishment or to give you Mercy?" Nor will they find for themselves besides Allah any protector or helper. 3688
Verily Allah knows those among you who keep back (men) and those who say to their brethren "Come along to us" but come not to the fight except for just a little while.
Covetous over you. Then when fear comes thou wilt see them looking to thee their eyes revolving like (those of) one over whom hovers death: but when the fear is past they will smite you with sharp tongues covetous of goods. Such men have no faith and so Allah has made their deeds of none effect: and that is easy for Allah. 3689 3690 3691 3692
They think that the Confederates have not withdrawn; and if the Confederates should come (again) they would wish they were in the deserts (wandering) among the Bedouins and seeking news about you (from a safe distance); and if they were in your midst they would fight but little. 3693
Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of (conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day and who engages much in the praise of Allah. 3694 3695
When the Believers saw the Confederate forces they said: "This is what Allah and His Apostle had promised us and Allah and his Apostle told us what was true." And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience. 3696
Among the Believers are men who have been true to their Covenant with Allah: of them some have completed their vow to (the extreme) and some (still) wait: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least: 3697
That Allah may reward the men of Truth for their Truth and punish the Hypocrites if that be His Will or turn to them in Mercy: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 3698
And Allah turned back the Unbelievers for (all) their fury: no advantage did they gain and enough is Allah for the Believers in their fight. And Allah is full of Strength Able to enforce His Will. 3699 3700
And those of the people of the Book who aided them Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts (so that) some ye slew and some ye made prisoners. 3701 3702 3703 3704
And He made you heirs of their lands their houses and their goods and of a land which ye had not frequented (before). And Allah has power over all things. 3705
O Prophet! say to thy Consorts: "If it be that ye desire the life of this world and its glitter then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner." 3706
But if ye seek Allah and His Apostle and the Home of the Hereafter verily Allah has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward. 3707
O Consorts of the Prophet! if any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct the Punishment would be doubled to her and that is easy for Allah. 3708 3709
But any of you that is devout in the service of Allah and His Apostle and works righteousness to her shall We grant her reward twice: and We have prepared for her a generous Sustenance. 3710 3711
O Consorts of the Prophet! ye are not like any of the (other) women: if ye do fear (Allah) be not too complaisant of speech lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just. 3712 3713
And stay quietly in your houses and make not a dazzling display like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Apostle. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you ye Members of the Family and to make you pure and spotless. 3714 3715
And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes of the Signs of Allah and His wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with them). 3716 3717
For Muslim men and women for believing men and women for devout men and women for true men and women for men and women who are patient and constant for men and women who humble themselves for men and women who give in charity for men and women who fast (and deny themselves) for men and women who guard their chastity and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. 3718 3719 3720
It is not fitting for a Believer man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Apostle he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path. 3721
Behold! thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favor: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her with the necessary (formality) We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them: and Allah's command must be fulfilled. 3722 3723 3724 3725 3726
There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. It was the practice (approved) of Allah amongst those of old that have passed away and the command of Allah is a decree determined. 3727 3728 3729
(It is the practice of those) who preach the Messages of Allah and fear Him and fear none but Allah: and enough is Allah to call (men) to account. 3730
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men but (he is) the Apostle of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things. 3731
O ye who believe! celebrate the praises of Allah and do this often;
And glorify Him morning and evening.
He it is Who sends blessings on you as do His angels that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers. 3732 3733
Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be "peace!": and He has prepared for them a generous Reward.
O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a Witness a Bearer of Glad Tidings and a Warner 3734
And as one who invites to Allah's (Grace) by His leave and as a Lamp spreading Light. 3735
Then give the glad tidings to the Believers that they shall have from Allah a very great Bounty. 3736
And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites and heed not their annoyances but put thy trust in Allah for enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. 3737
O ye who believe! when ye marry believing women and then divorce them before ye have touched them no period of `Iddah have ye to count in respect of them: so give them a present and set them free in a handsome manner. 3738 3739 3740
O prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts who migrated (from Mecca) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her this only for thee and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess in order that there should be no difficulty for Thee. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 3741 3742 3743 3744 3745 3746 3747 3748
Thou mayest defer (the turn of) any of them that thou pleasest and thou mayest receive any thou pleasest: and there is no blame on thee if thou invite one whose (turn) thou hadst set aside. This were nigher to the cooling of their eyes the prevention of their grief and their satisfaction--that of all of them--with that which thou hast to give them: and Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All-Knowing Most Forbearing. 3749 3750 3751 3752 3753
It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this nor to change them for (other) wives even though their beauty attract thee except any thy right hand should possess (as handmaidens): and Allah doth watch over all things. 3754
O ye who Believe! enter not the Prophet's houses until leave is given you for a meal (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited enter; and when ye have taken your meal disperse without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet: He is ashamed to dismiss you but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs. Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Apostle or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is in Allah's sight an enormity. 3755 3756 3757 3758
Whether ye reveal anything or conceal it verily Allah has full knowledge of all things. 3759
There is no blame (on these ladies if they appear) before their fathers or their sons their brothers or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons or their women or the (slaves) whom their right hands possess. And (ladies) fear Allah: for Allah is Witness to all things. 3360
Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! send ye blessings on him and salute him with all respect. 3761
Those who annoy Allah and his Apostle Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment. 3762
And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin. 3763
O prophet! tell thy wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested: and Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 3764 3765 3766 3767
Truly if the Hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease and those who stir up sedition in the City desist not We shall certainly stir thee up against them: then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbors for any length of time: 3768
They shall have a curse on them: wherever they are found they shall be seized and slain (without mercy). 3769
(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: no change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah. 3770
Men ask thee concerning the Hour: say "The knowledge thereof is with Allah (alone)": and what will make thee understand? Perchance the Hour is nigh! 3771
Verily Allah has cursed the Unbelievers and prepared for them a Blazing Fire
To dwell therein forever: no protector will they find nor helper.
The Day that their faces will be turned upside down in the Fire they will say: "Woe to us! would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Apostle!" 3772
And they would say: "Our Lord! we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones and they misled us as to the (right) path.
"Our Lord! give them Double Penalty and curse them with a very great Curse!" 3773
O ye who believe! be ye not like those who vexed and insulted Moses but Allah cleared him of the (calumnies) they had uttered: and he was honorable in Allah's sight. 3774
O ye who believe! fear Allah and (always) say a word directed to the Right: 3775
That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: he that obeys Allah and His Apostle has already attained the highest Achievement. 3776
We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains: but they refused to undertake it being afraid thereof: but man undertook it he was indeed unjust and foolish 3777 3778 3779 3780 3781 3782
(With the result) that Allah has to punish the Hypocrites men and women and the Unbelievers men and women and Allah turns in Mercy to the Believers men and women: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. 3783 3784
Note how the transition is effected from the happy life of Moses to the new prophetic mission.
The fifth year A.H. was a critical year in the external history of early Islam, and this Sura must be read in the light of the events that then took place. As explained in the Introduction, the Grand Confederacy against Islam came and invested Madinah and failed utterly. It consisted of the Makkan Unbelievers, the desert Arabs of Central Arabia, the Jews previously expelled for treachery from Madinah, the Jews remaining in Madinah and the Hypocrites led by Abdullah ibn Ubi, who have already been described in ix. 43-110. Their bond of union was the common hatred of Islam, and it snapped under the reverses they met with. It is important to note three points. (1) The Jews as a body now lost their last chance of bearing the standard of Islam: the best of them had already accepted the renewal of Allah's Message. (2) A definite status was given to Prophet's household, after the slanders on Hadhrat Aisha had been stilled (xxiv. 11-26), and the true position of the Mothers of the Believers had been cleared. (3) A further exposition of the purity of sex relation was given, based on the story of Hadhrat Zainab, the "Mother of the Poor". These points will be referred to in later notes.
In the most adverse circumstances, in the midst of the assaults of Evil, the plots of treason and hypocrisy, the darts of slanders and false charges, and stupid superstitions and taboos, the Prophet of Allah should steer his course steadily according to Allah's Law and not fear human evil, in whatever form it appears. Men may misjudge, but Allah knows all. Men may try to overthrow Good, but Wisdom is with Allah.
We must wholly trust Allah; He is the true and efficient Guardian of all interests. Cf. iv. 81, and n. 600.
"Two hearts in his (one) breast": two inconsistent attitudes: such as serving Allah and Mammon; or subscribing to both Truth and Superstition; or hypocritically pretending one thing and intending another. Such a thing is against Allah's Law and Will. Apart from the condemnation of general hypocrisy, two pagan customs of the Times of Ignorance are mentioned, and their iniquity pointed out. See the notes 3670 and 3671.
This was an evil Arab custom. He pronounced words importing that she was like his mother. See also lviii. 1-5. where this is condemned in the strongest terms and punishment is provided for it. A man sometimes said such words in a fit of anger; they did not affect him, but they degraded her position.
If a man called another's son "his son", it might create complications with natural and normal relationships if taken too literally. It is pointed out that it is only a facon de parler in men's mouths, and should not be taken literally. The truth is the truth and cannot be altered by men's adopting "sons". "Adoption" in the technical sense is not allowed in Muslim Law. Those who have been "wives of your sons proceeding from your loins" are within the Prohibited Degrees of marriage; iv. 23: but this does not apply to "adopted" sons.
Freedmen were often called after their master's name as the "son of so and so". When they were slaves, perhaps their father's names were lost altogether. It is more correct to speak of them as the Maula of so and so. But Maula in Arabic might also imply a close relationship of friendship: in that case, too, it is better to use the right term instead of the term "son". "Brother" is not objectionable because "Brotherhood" is used in a wider sense than "fatherhood" and is not likely to be misunderstood.
What is aimed at is to destroy the superstition of erecting false relationships to the detriment or loss of true blood relations. It is not intended to penalise an unintentional slip in the matter, and indeed, even if a man deliberately calls another his son or father, who is not his son or father, out of politeness or affection, "Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful". It is the action of mischievous parties which is chiefly reprehended, if they intend false insinuations. A mere mistake on their part does not matter.
In human relationship the Prophet is entitled to more respect and consideration than blood-relations. The Believers should follow him rather than their fathers or mothers or brothers, where there is conflict of duties. He is even nearer-closer to our real interests-than our own selves.
See last note. This Sura establishes the dignity and position of the Holy Prophet's wives, who had a special mission and responsibility as Mothers of the Believers. They were not to be like ordinary women: they had to instruct women in religious matters visit and minister to those who were ill or in distress, and do other kindly offices in aid of the Prophet's mission.
In the early Madinah period, there was a bond of brotherhood between its inhabitants and the Muslims who migrated. This bond was the reason for mutual inheritance between them. Once the stability of Muslim Ummah was established, the law of inheritance according to blood relationship was revealed superceding the previous brotherhood relationship. This verse and verse No. 75 of Sura 8 abrogate the earlier arrangement.
Cf. iii. 81. There is an implied covenant on all created things to follow Allah's Law, which is the law of their being; see v. 1. But there is a special implied convenant with all Prophets, strict and solemn, that they shall carry out their mission, proclaim Allah's Truth without fear or favour, and be ever ready in His service in all circumstances. That gives them their position and dignity as explained in the last verse, and their tremendous responsibility in respect of the people whom they come to instruct and lead to the right Path.
The men to whom Allah's Truth has been committed for promulgation will be asked in the Hereafter as to how the Truth fared in the world-how it was received, who opposed it, and who assisted it. Like all trustees, they will have to give a full account of their trust. Allah knows all, and it will not add to His information. But it will be evidence for and against those to whom it was preached, so that the responsibility of those who dishonoured it may be duly enforced. The primary custodians of spiritual Truth are the Prophets, but in descending degrees all men to whom Allah's Message comes are included.
In this verse is summed up the beginning and the end of the fateful struggle of the Siege of Madinah in A.H. 5. The composition of the unhallowed Confederacy that came to destroy Islam is referred to in the Introduction. They came with a force of ten to twelve thousand fighting men, an unprecedented army for that time and country. The battle is known as the Battle of the Trench.
After a close investment of two to four weeks, during which the enemy were disheartened by their ill success, there was a piercing blast of the cold east wind. It was a severe winter, and February can be a very cold month in Madinah, which is about 3,000 ft. above the sea-level. The enemy's tents were torn up, their fires were extinguished, the sand and rain beat in their faces, and they were terrified by the portents against them. They had already well nigh fallen out amongst themselves, and beating a hasty retreat, they melted away. The Madinah fighting strength was no more than 3,000, and the Jewish tribe of the Banu Quraiza who were in their midst was a source of weakness as they were treacherously intriguing with the enemy. And further there were the Hypocrites: see n. 3666 above. But there were hidden forces that helped the Muslims. Besides the forces of nature there were angels, though invisible to them, who assisted the Muslims.
Allah sees everything. Therefore we may conclude that the discipline and moral fervour of the Muslims, as well as the enemy's insincerities, intrigues, and reliance on brute force, were all contributory causes to his repulse, under Allah's dispensation. There were many hidden causes which neither party saw clearly.
The psychology of the combatants is described with matchless vigour in the holy Text. The onrush of the enemy was really tremendous. The Trench round Madinah was between the defenders and the huge attacking force, which had some high ground behind them "above you": when any of them came through the valley or over the Trench, they seemed to come from below. The showers of arrows and stones on both sides must also have seemed to come from the air.
Before this year's mass attack on Madinah the Muslims had successfully reached the Syrian border on the north, and there were hopes of reaching Yemen in the south. The holy Prophet had seen signs of expansion and victory for the Muslims. Now that they were shut in within the Trench on the defensive, the Hypocrites taunted them with having indulged in delusive hopes. But the event showed that the hopes were not delusive. They were realised beyond expectations in a few years.
All the fighting men of Madinah had come out of the city and camped in the open space between the City and the Trench that had been dug all round. The disaffected Hypocrites sowed defeatist rumours and pretended to withdraw for the defence of their homes, though their homes were not exposed, and were fully covered by the vigilant defensive force inside the Trench.
The brunt of the fighting was on the north side, but the whole Trench was guarded. At one or two points enemy warriors did break in within the circuit of the Trench, but they were soon disposed off. Hadhrat 'Ali particularly distinguished himself in many fights, wearing the Prophet's own sword and armour. If any of the enemy had been able to penetrate into the City, the disaffected element, which was only sitting on the fence, would have risen against the Muslims at once-with no delay except what might have been necessary to put on their armour and arms.
Apparently, after the battle of Uhud, certain men who had then shown cowardice were forgiven on undertaking that they would behave better next time. A solemn promise made to the Messenger of Allah is a promise to Allah, and it cannot be broken with impunity.
The coward in a fight does not usually save himself from death. He is subject, after desertion, to the fury both of the enemy and of his own side for cowardice and desertion. Assuming that he did escape with his life, where could he go to? The brand of cowardice will be on him, and he will be Subject to the vegeance of his own people. In any case, his life would be in ignominy and would be brief, and he would have lost irretrievably the meed of valour.
It is still worse if the cowardice or desertion is shown in a Cause, which, because of the high issues of truth and justice, may be called the Cause of Allah. How can any one escape Allah's Punishment? And in the same way, how can any one prevent another from obtaining Allah's Mercy by repentance and amendment? The better path, therefore, is to stand firm in Allah's Way, and if you fail through human weakness, to repent and seek Allah's Mercy. Cf. xxxiii. 24, and n. 3698 below.
Ashihhatan: covetous, grasping, niggardly. Here the meaning is twofold: (1) they spare themselves in the fight as compared with you; they are niggardly with themselves as against you: they contribute little either in personal effort or with their money and resources; and (2) they covet any gains made or booty won, on the part of the real fighters.
In times of danger, they would look to the holy Prophet for protection, and keep themselves snugly from the fight. When the danger is past, they will come and brag and wrangle and show their covetousness or greed for gain though they gave of themselves but sparingly.
Even any good they may have done becomes vain because of their motives of envy, greed, and covetousness, and their cowardice.
It is not surprising that men's deeds fall as it were dead because there is no pure motive behind them. For men it may be difficult to probe motives, but it is easy for Allah, Whom hypocrisy or false show can never deceive.
This completes the picture of the psychology of the Hypocrites, begun at verse 12. Let us analyse it. (1) When they first saw the enemy they were already in a defeatist mood, and thought all was over (verse 12). (2) Not content with disloyalty themselves, they tried to infect others, who made paltry excuses to withdraw from the fight (verse 13). (3) They were ready to betray the City to the enemy if once the enemy had gained entrance (verse 14). (4) They forgot all the promises of fidelity which they had previously sworn (verse 15). (5) In their paltry calculations they forgot that cowardice in war does not pay (verses 16-17). (6) Without taking much part in the actual defence, they were ready to talk glibly and claim a lion's share in the fruits of the victory (verses 18-19). (7) Even when the enemy had withdrawn, their cowardly minds were still afraid that the enemy would return, and were already meditating what they would do in that case: perhaps they would dwell in the deserts and spy on Madinah from a safe distance; and if caught in Madinah they would fight little and intrigue much. It was a miracle that with such men in their midst, the holy Prophet and his band won through.
We now have the psychology of the Believers,-God-fearing men, led by that pattern of men and of leaders, Muhammad Al-Mustafa.
Cf. xxvi. 227: see especially the last clause of that verse in a Makkan Sura, which was amply fulfilled in Madinah.
This is in contrast to what the Hypocrites said in verse 12 above. The divine promise of help and success is contigent upon our striving and faith. Nothing comes to the poltroon and the sceptical idler. Dangers and difficulties, and conflict with Evil, are foretold us, and we must meet them with fortitude and courage.
In the fight for truth were (and are) many who sacrificed their all-resources, knowledge, influence, life itself-in the Cause, and never wavered. If they won the crown of martyrdom, they were blessed. Such a one was Sad ibn Mu'az, the chief of the Aus tribe, the intrepid standard-bearer of Islam, who died of a wound he had received in the Battle of the Trench. Other heroes fought valiantly and lived, always ready to lay down their lives. Both classes were staunch: they never changed or wavered.
Before Allah's Mercy there is always room for repentance and forgiveness, even after treason and crime; but the forgiveness will be according to Allah's Will and Plan, which will judge the penitent's sincerity and capacity for good to the nicest degree in his favour. Cf. also xxxiii. 17 above.
In spite of the mighty preparations and the great forces which the Makkans in concert with the Central Arabian Bedouins, the discontented Jews, and the treacherous Hypocrites, brought to the siege of Madinah, all their plans were frustrated. Their fury availed them nothing. They departed in hot haste. This was their last and dying effort. The initiative thereafter lay with the forces of Islam.
For the meaning of Aziz, see n. 2818 to xxii. 40
The reference is to the Jewish tribe of the Banu Quraiza. They counted among the citizens of Madinah and were bound by solemn engagements to help in the defence of the City. But on the occasion of the Confederate siege by the Quraish and their allies they intrigued with the enemies and treacherously aided them. Immediately after the siege was raised and the Confederates had fled in hot haste, the Prophet turned his attention to these treacherous "friends" who had betrayed his City in the hour of danger.
The Banu Quraiza (see last note) were filled with terror and dismay when Madinah was free from the Quraish danger. They shut themselves up in their castles about three or four miles to the east (or north east) of Madinah, and sustained a siege of 25 days, after which they surrendered, stipulating that they would abide by the decision of their fate at the hands of Sad ibn Mu'az, chief of the Aus tribe, with which they had been in alliance.
Sad applied to them the Jewish Law of the Old Testament, not as strictly as the case warranted. In Deut. xx. 10-18, the treatment of a city "which is very far off from thee" is prescribed to be comparatively more lenient than the treatment of a city "of those people, which the Lord thy God does give thee for an inheritance," i.e., which is near enough to corrupt the religion of the Jewish people. The punishment for these is total annihilation: "thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth" (Deut. xx. 16). The more lenient treatment for far-off cities is described in the next note. According to the Jewish standard, then, the Banu Quraiza deserved total extermination-of men, women, and children. They were in the territory of Madinah itself, and further they had broken their engagements and helped the enemy.
Sad adjudged them the milder treatment of the "far-off" cities which is thus described in the Jewish Law: "Thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: but the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself, and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee" (Deut. xx. 13-14). The men of the Quraiza were slain: the women were sold as captives of war; and their lands and properties were divided among the Muhijirs.
This part of the Sura is considered a prophecy. It may refer to the conquest of Khaibar. Khaibar is a Harrat or volcanic tract, well-watered with many springs issuing from its basaltic rocks. It has a good irrigation system and produces good harvests of grain and dates in its wet valleys, while the outcrop of rocks in the high ground affords sites for numerous fortresses. In the holy Prophet's time there were Jewish colonies settled here, but they were a source of constant trouble especially after Siege of Madinah. It became a nest of all the hostile Jewish elements expelled for their treachery from elsewhere. Its capital, Khaibar, is about 90 miles due north of Madinah. Its inhabitants offered some resistance, and Hadhrat 'Ali, though he had just risen from a bed of illness, performed prodigies of valour. After its surrender, a land settlement was made, which retained the cultivators of the soil on the land, but brought them under control, so that no further focus of active hostility should remain near Madinah. The terms of the settlement will be found in Waqidi.
We now come to the subject of the position of the Consorts of Purity (azwaj mutahharat), the wives of the holy Prophet. Their position was not like that of ordinary women or ordinary wives. They had special duties and responsibilities. The only youthful marriage of the holy Prophet was his first marriage-that with Hadhrat Khadija, the best of women and the best of wives. He married her fifteen years before he received his call to Prophethood; their married life lasted for twenty-five years, and their mutual devotion was of the noblest, judged by spiritual as well as social standards. During her life he had no other wife, which was unusual for a man of his standing among his people. When she died, his age was 50, and but for two considerations, he would probably never have married again, as he was most abstemious in his physical life. The two considerations which governed his later marriages were: (1) compassion and clemency, as when he wanted to provide for suffering widows, who could not be provided for in any other way in that stage of society; some of them, like Sauda, had issue by their former marriage, requiring protection; (2) help in his duties of leadership, with women, who had to be instructed and kept together in the large Muslim family, where women and men had similar social rights. Hadhrat Aisha, daughter of Hadhrat Abu Bakr, was clever and learned, and in Hadith she is an important authority on the life of the Prophet. Hadhrat Zainab, daughter of Khuzaima, was specially devoted to the poor; she was called the "Mother of the Poor". The other Zainab, daughter of Jahsh, also worked for the poor, for whom she provided from the proceeds of her manual work, as she was skillful in leather work. But all the Consorts in their high position had to work and assist as Mothers of the Ummat. Theirs were not idle lives, like those of Odalisques, either for their own pleasure or the pleasure of their husband. They are told here that they had no place in the sacred Household if they merely wished for ease or worldly glitter. If such were the case, they could be divorced and amply provided for.
They were all well-doers. But being in their exalted position, they had extra responsibility, and they had to be specially careful to discharge it. In the same way their reward would be "great", for higher services bring higher spiritual satisfaction, though they were asked to deny themselves some of the ordinary indulgences of this life.
"Evident unseemly conduct" i.e., proved misconduct, as opposed to false slanders from enemies. Such slanders were of no account, but if any of them had behaved in an unseemly manner, it would have been a worse offence than in the case of ordinary women, on account of their special position. Of course none of them were in the least guilty.
Cf. xxxiii. 19 and n. 3692. The punishment in this life for a married woman's unchastity is very severe: for fornication, public flogging with a hundred stripes, under xxiv. 2; or for lewdness (see iv. 15) imprisonment; or stoning to death for adultery, according to certain precedents established in Canon Law. But here the question is not about this kind of punishment or this kind of offence. Even minor indiscretions, in the case of women who were patterns of decorum, would have been reprehensible; and the punishment in the Hereafter is on a higher plane, which we can scarcely understand.
Twice, i.e., once as a righteous woman, and again as a Mother of the Believers, serving the believing women and thus showing her devotion to Allah and His Apostle.
Sustenance: all that is necessary to sustain her in happiness in her future life.
This is the core of the whole passage. The Prophet's Consorts were not like ordinary women, nor was their marriage an ordinary marriage, in which only personal or social considerations enter. They had a special position and special responsibilities, in the matter of guiding and instructing women who came into the fold of Islam. Islam is a Way of Life, and the Muslims are a family: women have as much place in Islam as men, and their intimate instruction must obviously be through women.
While they were to be kind and gentle to all, they were to be guarded on account of their special position lest people might misunderstand or take advantage of their kindness. They were to make no vulgar worldly displays as in the times of Paganism.
Obedience to Allah's Law sums up all duties. Regular Prayer (seeking nearness to Allah) and Regular Charity (doing good to fellow-creatures) are mentioned as special features of our Religion.
Ahl al-Bait: i.e. the household of the Prophet (S.A.S) which includes his wives as well as his daughter Fatima, his son-in-law Ali and his grandsons, Hasan and Husain generally in accordance with the narrative of Umm Salama.
The verb is uzkurna, feminine gender, as referring to the Azwaj again. It means not only "remember", but "recite", "teach", "make known", "publish", the Message which ye learn at home from the holy Prophet, the fountain of spiritual knowledge. The "Signs of Allah" refer specially to the verses of the Qur-an, and Wisdom to the resulting Instruction derived therefrom.
Cf. xxii. 63 and n. 2844. Allah's understanding is perfect in every detail, however minute. Therefore use His Revelation for every phase of life.
Islam, or submitting our will to Allah's Will, includes all the virtues, as particularly specified in this verse. See n. 3720.
A number of Muslim virtues are specified here, but the chief stress is laid on the fact that these virtues are as necessary to women as to men. Both sexes have spiritual as well as human rights and duties in an equal degree, and the future "reward" of the Hereafter.
The virtues referred to are: (1) Faith, hope, and trust in Allah, and in His benevolent government of the world; (2) devotion and service in practical life; (3) love and practice of truth, in thought and intention, word and deed; (4) patience and constancy, in suffering and in right endeavour; (5) humility, the avoidance of an attitude of arrogance and superiority; (6) charity, i.e., help to the poor and unfortunate ones in life, a special virtue arising out of the general duty of service (No. 2); (7) self-control, typically in food, but generally in all appetites; (8) chastity, purity in sex life, purity in motive, thought, word, and deed; and (9) constant attention to Allah's Message, and cultivation of the desire to get nearer to Allah.
We must not put our own wisdom in competition with Allah's wisdom. Allah's decree is often known to us by the logic of facts. We must accept it loyally, and do the best we can to help in our own way to carry it out. We must make our will consonant to the Allah's Will.
This was Zaid son of Haritha, one of the first to accept the faith of Islam. He was a freedman of the holy Prophet, who loved him as a son and gave him in marriage his own cousin Zainab. The marriage however turned out to be unhappy. See next note.
Zaid's marriage with the Prophet's cousin Zainab daughter of Jahsh did not turn out happy. Zainab the high-born looked down upon Zaid the freedman who had been a slave. And he was not comely to look at. Both were good people in their own way, and both loved the Prophet, but there was mutual incompatibility and this is fatal to married life. Zaid wished to divorce her, but the Prophet asked him to hold his hand, and he obeyed. She was closely related to the Prophet; he had given a handsome marriage gift on her marriage to Zaid; and people would certainly talk if such a marriage was broken off. But marriages are made on earth, not in heaven, and it is no part of Allah's Plan to torture people in a bond which should be a source of happiness but actually is a source of misery. Zaid's wish-indeed the mutual wish of the couple-was for the time being put away, but it became eventually an established fact, and everybody came to know of it.
All actual facts are referred to Allah. When the marriage is unhappy, Islam permits the bond to be dissolved, provided that all interests concerned are safeguarded. Apparently there was no issue here to be considered. Zainab had to be considered, and she obtained the dearest wish of her heart in being raised to be a Mother of the Believers, with all the dignity and responsibility of that position. See n. 3706 to xxxiii. 28 above.
The Iddat or period of waiting after divorce (ii. 228, and n. 254) was duly completed.
The Pagan superstition and taboo about adopted sons had to be destroyed. See xxxiii. 4-5 and notes 3671-3672 above.
See n. 3724 above.
The next clause is parenthetical. These words then connect on with verse 39. Among the people of the Book there was no taboo about adopted sons, as there was in Pagan Arabia.
Allah's ordering of the world is always full of wisdom. Even our unhappiness and misery may actually have a great meaning for ourselves or others or both. If our first Plan seems to fail, we must not murmur and repine, but retrieve the position by adopting a course which appears to be the best possible in the light of our duties as indicated by Allah. For Allah's Plan is framed on universal principles that cannot be altered by human action.
Our responsibility is to Allah, not to men. Men's opinions may have a bearing on our own interpretation of duty, but when that duty is clear, our only course is to obey Allah rather than men.
When a document is sealed, it is complete, and there can be no further addition. The holy Prophet Muhammad closed the long line of Messengers. Allah's teaching is and will always be continuous, but there has been and will be no Prophet after Muhammad. The later ages will want thinkers and reformers, not Prophets. This is not an arbitrary matter. It is a decree full of knowledge and wisdom: "for Allah has full knowledge of all things."
Blessings: good wishes and mercies. Allah wishes well to all His creatures, and His angels carry out His work, for their will is in all things His Will. His chief and everlasting blessing is that He gives us a knowledge of the spiritual world, and helps us towards its attainment.
His Mercies are for all His creatures, but for those who believe and trust in Him, there are special mercies, "a generous Reward" as in the next verse.
The Prophet was sent by Allah in five capacities. Three are mentioned in this verse, and the other two in the verse following. (1) He comes as a Witness to all men about the spiritual truths which had been obscured by ignorance or superstition, or by the dust of sectarian controversy. He did not come to establish a new religion or sect. He came to teach Religion. He is also a witness to Allah about men's doings and how they receive Allah's Message: see iv. 41 and n. 560. (2) He comes as a bearer of the Glad Tidings of the Mercy of Allah. No matter how far men may have transgressed, they have hope if they believe, repent, and live a good life. (3) He also comes as a Warner to those who are heedless. This life will not last. There is a Future Life, and that is all-important. See next note.
See last note. The two other capacities in which the Prophet was sent are here specified. (4) He comes as one who has a right to invite all men to repentance and the forgiveness of sins: but he does this, not of his own authority, but by the permission and authority given to him by Allah. This is said lest people may deify the Prophet as they did with other Prophets before him. The personal responsibility of each individual remains, but the Prophet can lead him on the Right and help him. (5) The Prophet also comes as a Light or a Lamp (Siraj) to illuminate the whole world. In lxxi. 16 and elsewhere the same word (Siraj) is used for the sun. The comparison is apt. When the sun appears, all the lesser lights pale before its light. And the Message of Islam, i.e., of the Universal Religion, is to diffuse Light everywhere.
The light of Islam is the Biggest Bounty possible and if they truly understand it, they should glory in it.
Men of little or no Faith will often lay down the law and tell better men than themselves what to do. In case of refusal they shower insults and injuries. No attention is to be paid to them. It is their way. All will be right under the government of Allah.
See n. 254 to ii. 228. The Iddat counts for three monthly courses, or if there are no courses, for three months: see lxv. 4.
This present is held, by some, to be in addition to the half dower due to them under ii. 237. If the dower had not yet been fixed, the gift would presumably be larger, and it would absorb the gift prescribed in ii. 236.
The gifts should be given with good grace, and the freedom of the woman should not be interfered with in any way. If she chooses to marry again immediately, no obstacle should be placed in her path. On no pretext should she be allowed to remain doubtful about her freedom.
This introduces no new exemption or privilege. Verses 50-52 merely declare the points in which, on account of the special circumstances (see n. 3706 above), the Prophet's marriages differed from those of ordinary Muslims. This is considered under four heads, which we shall examine in the four notes following.
Head 1. Marriage with dower (iv. 4): this is the universal Muslim marriage. The difference in the Prophet's case was that there was no limitation to the number of four (iv. 3), and women of the People of the Book (v. 6) were not among his wives, but only Believers. These points are not expressly mentioned here, but are inferred by his actual practice. Obviously women who are expected to instruct other women in Islam must be Muslims.
Head 2. Women Prisoners of War: the same remark as in the last note.
Head 3. These are first cousins, and not within the Prohibited Degrees of Marriage (see iv. 23-24). These are specially mentioned here by way of limitation. None of them could marry the Prophet unless she had performed the Hijrat with him.
Head 4. A believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet: obviously this case, like the last, is only applicable to the Prophet, and it is hedged round with the limitation that the Prophet considers it suitable.
The ordinary law of Muslim marriage will be found chiefly in ii. 221-235, iv. 19-25, iv. 34-35, and v. 6.
The words "this only for thee ... right hands possess" are parenthetical, and the words "in order that..." connect on with the previous clauses beginning with "O Prophet, We have made lawful .... wishes to wed her".
Marriage is an important relationship not only in our physical life, but in our moral and spiritual life, and its effects extend not only to the parties themselves but to children and future generations, A number of special problems arise according to special circumstances. Every man and woman must seriously consider all sides of the question and must do the best in his or her power to temper instincts and inclinations with wisdom and guidance from Allah. Allah wishes to make every one's path easy, for He is indeed "Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful".
In iv. 3 it is laid down that more than one wife is not permissible "if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with them". In a Muslim household there is no room for a "favourite wife" in the sense that such a wife is recipient of favours denied to other wives. In the special circumstances of the Prophet there were more than one, and he usually observed the rule of equality with them, in other things as well as in the rotation of conjugal rights. But considering that his marriages after he was invested with the Prophetic office were mainly dictated by other than conjugal or personal considerations (see n. 3706. xxxiii. 28), the rotation could not always be observed, though he observed it as much as possible. This verse absolves him from absolute adherence to a fixed rotation. There are other interpretations, but I agree with most of the Commentators in the view I have explained.
Where the rotation was for some reason interfered with, it was permissible, by another interference with the usual rotation, to bring satisfaction to one who had been previously set aside. This was not only permitted, but commended, as tending to remove dissatisfaction and cheer and comfort the eyes and hearts of those who were disappointed in their turn.
Cooling the eyes: an Arabic idiom for cheering and comforting eyes which yearn to see those they love. A verse of Zeb-un-nisaa, daughter of the Mugal Emperor Aurangzeb, may be rendered thus: "My heart is glad whenever lover-wise I dwell upon thy beauties and thy grace! But how can I content my hungry eyes, That ask continually to see thy face?"
There was not much in the way of worldly goods or satisfaction that the Prophet could give them: see xxxiii. 28 above. But he was kind, just, and true;-the best of men to his family, and they all clung to him.
Our human hearts, however good on the whole, may yet, in their motives, have possibly some baser admixture. The feminine hearts are not more immune in this respect than the masculine. But everything is known and understood by Allah, Who will in His mercy make all allowance for our human weaknesses. His title of "Most Forbearing" (Halim) also gives His devoted worshippers the cue: why should we not also forbear with the faults and weaknesses of our neighbours and fellow-creatures?
This was revealed in A.H. 7. After that the Prophet did not marry again, except the handmaiden Mary the Copt, who was sent as a present by the Christian Muqauqas of Egypt. She became the mother of Ibrahim, who died in his infancy.
The rules of refined social ethics is as necessary to teach to-day as it was with the rude Arabs whom the holy Prophet had to teach in his day. Those mentioned in this verse may be briefly recapitulated thus: (1) Enter not a friend's house without permission; (2) if invited to dine, don't go too early; you are asked to dine, not to wait for the preparation of the food; (3) be there at the time appointed, so that you enter when you are expected and invited; (4) after the meal, don't get familiar with your host, especially if there is a great distance between him and you; (5) don't waste time in tittle-tattle, causing inconvenience and perhaps annoyance to your host; (6) understand what is proper behaviour for you: he may be too polite to ask to depart. All this has a social bearng: respect and delicate consideration for others are among the highest virtues.
The actual manner of showing respect to ladies may be different in different circumstances. But it is an essential principle of good society to show the greatest deference to them. To the "Mothers of the Believers" this respect was due in an exceptional degree.
Considering his position, the holy Prophet deserved to be respected before all other men and nothing should be done to cause him the least harm and annoyance. This applied not only during his life-time, but it applies now, because his teaching and personality are alive to us. It was not fitting that his widows, both for their own position and for the position of the Prophet, should be married by other men after him. And this mark of respect was duly observed in history.
"Annoy": Aza (IV) may equally mean: to vex, to cause hurt or injury, to insult, to ill-treat by slander or unseemly conduct, or hurt the feelings of (some one). The Prophet came with a divine mission to teach and reclaim the world, and he is entitied to the respect of all, even of those who do not consciously acknowledge his mission, for his mission works constantly like the forces of nature. In a minor degree the "Mothers of the Believers" are also entitied to respect.
Respect or opposition may be shown overtly or in devious hidden ways. All good and evil are open before Allah, and He will take due account of everything.
Allah and His angels honour and bless the holy Prophet as the greatest of men. We are asked to honour and bless him all the more because he took upon himself to suffer the sorrows and afflictions of this life in order to guide us to Allah's Mercy and the highest inner Life.
Cf. n. 3758 above.
Cf. iv. 112. In that passage we were told that any one who was himself guilty but accused an innocent man of his guilt, was obviously placing himself in double jeopardy; first, for his own original guilt, and secondly for the guilt of a false accusation. Here we take two classes of men instead of two individuals. The men and women of faith (if they deserve the name) and doing all they can to serve Allah and humanity. If they are insulted, hurt, or annoyed by those whose sins they denounce, the latter suffer the penalties of a double guilt, viz., their sins to start with, and the insults or injuries they offer to those who correct them. Instead of resenting the preaching of Truth, they should welcome it and profit by it.
This is for all Muslim women, those of the Prophet's household, as well as the others. They were asked to cover themselves with outer garments when walking out of doors.
Jilbab, plural Jalabib: an outer garment; a long gown covering the whole body, or a cloak covering the neck and bosom.
The object was not to restrict the liberty of women, but to protect them from harm and molestation. In the East and in the West a distinctive public dress of some sort or another has always been a badge of honour or distinction, both among men and women. This can be traced back on the earliest civilisations. Assyrian Law in its palmiest days (say, 7th century B.C.), enjoined the veiling of married women and forbade the veiling of slaves and women of ill fame: see Cambridge Ancient History, 111. 107.
That is, if a Muslim woman sincerely tries to observe this rule, but owing to human weakness fails short of the ideal, then "Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful".
It was necessary to put down all kinds of unseemly conduct in the Prophet's City. And here is the warning in the plainest terms. And the warning had its effect. The "Hypocrites" were men who pretended to be in Islam but whose manners and morals were anti-Islamic. Those "with diseased hearts" may have been the ones that molested innocent women. "Those who stiffed up sedition" put false rumours in circulation to excite the crowd. Alas! we must ask ourselves the question: "Are these conditions present among us to-day?"
They will be deprived of the blessing and guidance of Allah. They sought to cause disorder in Allah's world-moral as well as material; but they will themselves be destroyed. Those who become outlaws, rebels against the Law, will themselves be destroyed by the Law.
The Jewish law was much more severe: see notes 3703 and 3704 to xxxiii. 26. That severity is mitigated in Islam. But it is a universal principle that any element which deliberately refuses to obey law and aggressively tries to subvert all order in society, secretly and openly, must be effectively suppressed, for the preservation of the life and health of the general community.
Cf. vii. 187 and n. 1159, where the idea is further explained. The knowledge of the Final Hour is with Allah alone. The fact of its coming is certain; the exact time when it will come has not been revealed. If it were, it would disturb our thoughts and life. "Heavy were its burden through the heavens and the earth." But at any given moment it cannot be far distant. In theological language, each individual's death is a Final Hour, a Qiyamat Sugra (Lesser Day of Judgement). In that sense it is not the same for all individuals, and is certainly always near.
The face is the expression of their Personality, their Self; and turning upside down is a sign of degradation and ignominy. When the Retribution comes, the evil ones will be humiliated, and they will wish that they had followed right guidance when they had the chance. They will then fall to accusing their leaders who misled them. But they forget their own personal responsibility.
Cf. xxv. 69 and n. 3129, and xi. 20 and n. 1515. The double Penalty invoked will be because (1) they went wrong themselves and (2) they misled others.
The people of Moses often vexed him and rebelled against him and against God's Law. Here the reference seems to be to Num. xii. 1-13. It is there said that Moses's own sister Miriam and his brother Aaron spoke against Moses because Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. God cleared Moses of the charge of having done anything wrong: "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house." Miriam was afflicted with leprosy for seven days as a punishment, after which she was forgiven, as also was Aaron. This is the Old Testament story. The holy Prophet was also attacked because of his marriage with Zainab bint Jahsh, but not by his own circle, his motives were of the highest and were completely vindicated as we have seen above.
We must not only speak the truth as far as we know it, but we must always try to hit the right point; i.e., we must not speak unseasonably, and when we do speak, we must not beat about the bush, but go straight to that which is right, in deed as well as in word. Then Allah will make our conduct right and cure any defects that there may be in our knowledge and character. With our endeavour directed straight to the goal, we shall be forgiven our errors, shortcomings, faults, and sins of the past.
This is salvation, the attainment of our real spiritual desire or ambition, as we are on the highway to nearness to Allah.
The Trust is something given to a person, over which he has a power of disposition; he is expected to use it as directed or expected, but he has the power to use it otherwise. There is no trust if the trustee has no power, and the trust implies that the giver of the trust believes and expects that the trustee would use it according to the wish of the creator of the trust, and not otherwise.
Cf. lix. 21, where the hypothetical sending down of the Qur-an to the Mountains is mentioned, and it is mentioned that such Parables are put forth in order to aid men to reflection.
The Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains, ie., other creatures of Allah, besides man, refused to undertake a Trust or a responsibility, and may be imagined as happy without a choice of good or evil being given through their will. In saying that they refused, we imply a will, but we limit it by the statement that they did not undertake to be given a choice between good and evil. They preferred to submit their will entirely to Allah's Will, which is All-Wise and Perfect, and which would give them far more happiness than a faculty of choice, with their imperfect knowledge. Man was too audacious and ignorant to realise this, and the result has been that man as a race has been disrupted: the evil ones have betrayed the Trust and brought Punishment on themselves, though the good have been able to rise far above other Creation, to be the muqarrabin, the nearest ones to Allah: lvi. 11 and lvi. 88. What can be higher than this for any creature? It follows incidentally from this that the Heavens and the Earth were created before man was created and this is in accordance with what we know of the physical world in science: man came on the scene at a comparatively late stage.
Hamala: to undertake, bear, carry (the Trust or responsibility), to be equal to it. This is the ordinary meaning, and the majority of Commentators construe so. But some understand it to mean "to carry away, run away with, to embezzle (the thing entrusted); hence to be false to the Trust, to betray the Trust." In that case the sense of verses 72-73 would be: "Allah offered the Trust to other creatures, but they refused, lest they should betray it, being afraid from that point of view: but man was less fair to himself: in his ignorance he accepted and betrayed the Trust, with the result that some of his race became Hypocrites and Unbelievers and were punished, though others were faithful to the Trust and received Allah's Mercy". The resulting conclusion is the same under both interpretations.
See ii. 30-34 and notes. Allah intended a very high destiny for man, and placed him in his uncorrupted state even above the angels, but in his corruption he made himself even lower than the beasts. What was it that made man so high and noble? The differentiating quality which Allah gave man was that Allah breathed something of His own spirit into man (xxxii. 9; xv. 29 and n. 1968; and other passages). This meant that man was given a limited choice of good and evil, and that he was made capable of Forbearance, Love, and Mercy. And in himself man summed up Allah's great world: man is in himself a microcosm.
Zalum (translated "unjust") and Jahul (ignorant) are both in the Arabic intensive form; as much as to say, 'man signally failed to measure his own powers or his own knowledge.' But Allah's Grace came to his assistance. Where man did his best, he won through by Allah's Grace, even though man's Best was but a poor Good. How did man generically undertake this great Responsibility, which made him Vicegerent on earth (ii. 30)? Here comes in the doctrine of a Covenant, express or implied, between Allah and Humanity. See vii. 172,73 and notes 1146-48 also v. 1 and n. 682. A Covenant (Mithaq) necessarily implies Trust, and its breach necessarily implies Punishment.
Man's generic Covenant, which flowed from his exercising the option given him, choosing Will, Forbearance, Love, and Mercy, made it necessary that breach of it should carry its own punishment. Breach of it is here classed under two heads: those who betray their Trust act either as Hypocrites or as Unbelievers. Hypocrites are those who profess Faith but bring not forth the fruits of Faith. Unbelievers are those who openly defy Faith, and from whom therefore no fruits of Faith are to be expected.
Those who remain firm to their Faith and their Covenant (see notes 3781-82) will receive the aid of Allah's Grace; their faults and weaknesses will be cured; and they will be made worthy of their exalted Destiny. For Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. So ends a Sura which deals with the greatest complications and misunderstandings in our throbbing life here below, and points upwards to the Great Achievement, the highest Salvation.