Note Number : 5368This verse, introducing the Sura is identical with lvii. 1. introducing S. lvii. The theme of both is the wonderful working of Allah's Plan and Providence. In the one case it referred to the conquest of Makkah and taught the lesson of humility. In this case it refers to the dislodgment of the treacherous Banu Nadhir from their nest of intrigue in the neighbourhood of Madinah practically without a blow. See next note.
Note Number : 5369This refers to the Jewish tribe of the Banu Nadhi whose intrigues and treachery nearly undid the Muslim cause during the perilous days of the battle of Uhud in Shawwal, A.H. 3. Four months after, in Rabi, 1. A.H. 4, steps were taken against them. They were asked to leave the strategic position which they occupied, about three miles south of Madinah, endangering the very existence of the Ummat in Madinah. At first they demurred, relying on their fortresses and on their secret alliance with the Pagans of Makkah and the Hypocrites of Madinah. But when the Muslim army was gathered to punish them and actually besieged them for some days, their allies stirred not a finger in their aid, and they were wise enough to leave. Most of them joined their brethren in Syria, which they were permitted to do, after being disarmed. Some of them joined their brethren in Khaibar; see n. 3705 to xxxiii. 27. The Banu Nadhir richly deserved punishment, but their lives were spared, and they were allowed to carry away their goods and chattels.
Note Number : 5370That is, without actual hostilities, and the shedding of precious Muslim blood.
Note Number : 5371They had played a double game. Originally they were sworn allies of the Madinah Muslims under the holy Prophet, but they secretly intrigued with the Makkah Pagans under Abu Sufyan and the Madinah Hypocrites. They even tried treacherously to take the life of the Prophet while he was on a visit to them, breaking both the laws of hospitality and their own sworn alliance. They thought the Pagan Quraish of Makkah and the Hypocrites of Madinah would help them, but they did not help them. On the contrary the eleven days siege showed them their own helplessness. Their supplies were cut off; the exigencies of the siege necessitated the destruction of their outlying palm trees; and the unexpected turn in their fortunes disheartened them. Their hearts were stack with terror and they capitulated. But they laid waste their homes before they left: see next note.
Note Number : 5372Their lives were spared, and they were allowed ten days in which to remove themselves, their families, and such goods as they could carry. In order to leave no habitations for the Muslims they demolished their own houses and laid waste their property, to complete the destruction which the operations of war had already caused at the hands of the besieging force of the Muslims.
Note Number : 5373Banishment was a comparatively mild punishment for them, but the Providence of Allah had decreed that a chance should be given to them even though they were a treacherous foe. Within two years, their brethren the Banu Quraiza showed that they had not profited by their example, and had to be dealt with in another way: see xxxiii. 26 and notes.
Note Number : 5374The punishment of the Banu Nadhir was because in breaking their plighted word with the Messenger and in actively resisting Allah's Message and supporting the enemies of that Message, they rebelled against him. For such treason and rebellion the punishment is severe, and yet in this case it was seasoned with Mercy.
Note Number : 5375The unnecessary cutting down of fruit trees or destruction of crops, or any wanton destruction whatever in war, is forbidden by the law and practice of Islam. But some destruction may be necessary for putting pressure on the enemy, and to that extent it is allowed. But as far as possible, consistently with that objective of military operations, such trees should not be cut down. Both these principles are in accordance with the Divine Will, and were followed by the Muslims in their expedition.
Note Number : 5376The arrogance of the Banu Nadhir had to be humbled, and their power for mischief destroyed.
Note Number : 5377Neither cavalry nor troops mounted on camels were employed in the siege. In fact the enemy surrendered at the first onset. See lix. 2, and n. 5369 above.
Note Number : 5378Allah accomplishes His purpose in various ways, according to Ms wise Will and Plan. In some cases a fight is necessary. In some cases the godly attain their objective and overawe the forces of evil without actual fighting.
Note Number : 5379The Jews had originally come from outside Arabia, and seized on the land near Madinah. They refused to adapt themselves to the people of Arabia, and were in fact a thorn in the side of the genuine Arabs of Madinah. Their dispossession is therefore a restoration of the land to its original people. But the word "Fai" is here understood in a technical sense, as meaning property abandoned by the enemy or taken from him without a formal war. In that sense it is distinguished from "Anfal," or spoils, taken after actual fighting, about which see viii. 1 and 41.
Note Number : 5380"The people of the townships": the townships were the Jewish settlements round Madinah, of the Banu Nadhir, and possibly of other tribes. Cf. the "townships" mentioned in lix. 14 below. The reference cannot be to the Wadi-ul-Qura (Valley of Towns), now Madain Salih, which was subjugated after Khaibar and Fadak in A.H. 7, unless this verse is later than the rest of the Sara.
Note Number : 5381"Belongs to Allah": ie., to Allah's Cause; and the beneficiaries are further detailed. No shares are fixed; they depend upon circumstances, and are left to the judgement of the Leader. Compare a similar list of those entitied to Charity, in ii. 177, but the two fists refer to different circumstances and have different beneficiaries in addition to the portion common to both.
Note Number : 5382The Muhajir are those who forsook their homes and property in Makkah in order to assist the holy Prophet in his migration to Madinah (Hijrat). Their devotion and sincerity were proved beyond doubt by their self-denial, and they were now to be rewarded.
Note Number : 5383This refers to the Ansar (the Helpers), the people of Madinah who accepted Islam when it was persecuted in Makkah, and who invited the holy Prophet to join them and become their Leader in Madinah. The Hijrat was possible because of their goodwill and their generous hospitality. They entertained the Prophet and all the refugees (Muhajirs) who came with him. The most remarkable ties of full brotherhood were established between individual members of the one group and the other. Until the Ummat got its own resources, the Helpers regularly gave and the Refugees regularly received. The Helpers counted it a privilege to entertain the Refugees, and even the poor vied with the rich in their spirit of self-sacrifice. When the confiscated land and property of the Banu Nadhir was divided, and the major portion was assigned to the refugees, there was not the least jealousy on the part of the Helpers. They rejoiced in the good fortune of their brethren. And incidentally they were themselves relieved of anxiety and responsibility on their behalf.
Note Number : 5384Those that came after them: the immediate meaning would refer to later arrivals in Madinah or later accessions to Islam, compared with the early Muhajirs. But the general meaning would include all future comers into the House of Islam. They pray, not only for themselves, but for all their brethren, and above all, they pray that their hearts may be purified of any desire or tendency to disparage the work or virtues of other Muslims or to feel any jealousy on account of their successes or good fortune.
Note Number : 5385Cf. vii. 43, and n. 1021.
Note Number : 5386The Jews of the Banu Nadhir had been assured by the Hypocrites of Madinah of their support to their cause. They had thought that their defection from the Prophet's Cause would so weaken that cause that they would save their friends. But they never intended to undertake any act involving self-sacrifice on their part; if they had helped their Jewish friends, it was not likely that they would have succeeded; and if they had actually gone to the fight; they had neither valour nor fervour to support them, and they would have fled ignominiously before the discipline, earnestness, and Faith of the men of Islam.
Note Number : 5387For this actually happened. They never stirred a finger for the Jews, and they never intended to do so. And Allah knows all their motives and secrets: cf. xlvii. 26, n. 4850.
Note Number : 5388All hopes founded on iniquity and treachery are vain and illusory. There may be honour among thieves. But there is no honour as between dishonest intriguers, and they are not likely to get any real help from any quarter.
Note Number : 5389Being Unbelievers they fear you more than they fear Allah, because your valour they see, but in Allah they do not believe.
Note Number : 5390They have not sufficient self-confidence or clan to sustain them in a fight except under material advantages or defences. Even if they join forces, they have not sufficient trust in each other to expose themselves to open fighting.
Note Number : 5391'It may be that they have a strong fighting spirit among themselves, but they have no Cause to fight for and no common objective to achieve. The Makkan Pagans want to keep their own unjust autocracy; the Madinah Hypocrites wish for their own domination in Madinah; and the Jews want their racial superiority established over the Arabs, of whose growing union and power they are jealous.' Their pretended alliance could not stand the strain of either a defeat or a victory. If they had been wise, they would have accepted the Cause of Unity, Faith, and Truth.
Note Number : 5392The immediate reference was probably to the Jewish goldsmith tribe of the Qainuqa, who were also settled in a fortified township near Madinah. They were also punished and banished for their treachery, about a month after the battle of Badr, in which the Makkan Pagans had suffered a signal defeat, in Shawwal, A.H. 2. The Nadhir evidently did not take that lesson to heart. The general meaning is that we must learn to be on our guard against the consequences of treachery and sin. No fortuitous alliances with other men of iniquity will save us.
Note Number : 5393An apt simile. Evil tempts man in all sort of ways, and presents seductive promises and alliances to delude him into the belief that he will be saved from the consequences. Satan says, "Deny Allah": which means not merely denial in words, but denial in acts, disobedience of Allah's Law, deviation from the path of rectitude. When the sinner gets well into the mire, Satan says cynically: "How can I help you against Allah? Don't you see I am afraid of Him? All our alliances and understandings were moonshine. You must bear the consequences of your own folly."
Note Number : 5394The "fear of Allah" is akin to love; for it means the fear of offending Him or doing anything wrong that will forfeit His Good Pleasure. This is Taqwa, which implies self restraint, guarding ourselves from all sin, wrong, and injustice, and the positive doing of good. See ii. 2, and n. 26.
Note Number : 5395The positive side of Taqwa, or "fear of Allah" (see last note) is here emphasised. It is not merely a feeling or an emotion: it is an act, a doing of things which become a preparation and provision for the Hereafter,-the next life, which may be described as "the morrow" in relation to the present Life, which is "to-day". A) The repetition emphasises both sides of Taqwa: "let your soul fear to do wrong and let it do every act of righteousness; for Allah observes both your inner motives and your acts, and in His scheme of things everything will have its due consequences."
Note Number : 5396To forget Allah is to forget the only Eternal Reality.
Note Number : 5397The others, the Companions of the Fire, will find their lives wasted and nullified. Their capacities will be rendered inert and their wishes will end in futility.
Note Number : 5398There are two ideas associated in men's minds with a mountain: one is its height, and the other that it is rocky, stony, hard, Now comes the metaphor. The Revelation of Allah is so sublime that even the highest mountains humble themselves before it. The Revelation is so powerful and convincing that even the hard rock splits asunder under it. Will man then be so arrogant as to consider himself superior to it, or so hard-hearted as not to be affected by its powerful Message? The answer is "No" for unspoilt man; "Yes" for man when degraded by sin to be the vilest of creatures.
Note Number : 5399Cf. vii. 143, and n. 1103, where, in the story of Moses, the Mount became as dust "when the Lord manifested His Glory". Also cf. xxxiii. 72, and n. 3778, where the mountains are mentioned as an emblem of stability, but as refusing to accept the Trust (Amanat) because they felt themselves to be too humble to be equal to such a tremendous Trust.
Note Number : 5400Here follows a passage of great sublimity, summing up the attributes of Allah. In this verse, we have the general attributes, which give us the fundamental basis on which we can form some idea of Allah. We start with the proposition that there is nothing else like Him. We think of His Unity; all the varying and conflicting forces in Creation are controlled by Him and look to Him, and we can never get a true idea of Him unless we understand the meaning of Unity. His knowledge extends to everything seen and unseen, present and future, near and far, in being and not in being: in fact these contrasts, which apply to our knowledge, do not apply to Him. His Grace and His Mercy are unbounded: see i. 1, and n. 19; and unless we realise these, we can have no true conception of our position in the working of His Will and Plan.
Note Number : 5401This phrase is repeated from the last verse in order to lead us to the contemplation of some other attributes of Allah, after we have realised those which form our fundamental conceptions of Allah. See the preceding and the following note.
Note Number : 5402How can a translator reproduce the sublimity and the comprehensiveness of the magnificent Arabic words, which mean so much in a single symbol? (1) "The Sovereign" in our human language implies the one undisputed authority which is entitled to give commands and to receive obedience, and which in fact receives obedience; the power which enforces law and justice. (2) Human authority may be misused, but in the title "the Holy One", we postulate a Being free from all stain or evil, and replete with the highest Purity. (3) "Salam" has not only the idea of Peace as opposed to Conflict, but wholeness as opposed to defects: hence our paraphrase "Source of Peace and Perfection". (4) Mu-min, one who entertains Faith, who gives Faith to others, who is never false to the Faith that others place in him: hence our paraphrase "Guardian of Faith". (5) "Preserver of Safety"; guarding all from danger, corruption, loss, etc.; the word is used for the Qur-an in v. 51. These are the attributes of kindness and benevolence: in the next note are described the attributes of power.
Note Number : 5403See last note. (6) Allah is not only good, but He can carry out His Will. (7) And if anything resists or opposes Him, His Will prevails. (8) For He is Supreme, above all things and creatures. Thus we come back to the Unity with which we began in verse 22.
Note Number : 5404Such being Allah's attributes of Goodness and Power, how foolish is it of men to worship anything else but Him? Who can approach His glory and goodness?
Note Number : 5405Allah's attributes of Goodness and Power having been referred to, we are now told of His creative energy, of which three aspects are here mentioned, as explained in the following note. The point is emphasised that He does not merely create and leave alone; He goes on fashioning, evolving new forms and colours, and sustaining all the energies and capacities which He has put into His Creation, according to various laws which He has established.
Note Number : 5406The act or acts of creation have various aspects, and the various words used in this connection are summarised in n. 120 to ii. 117, as supplemented by n. 916 to vi. 94 and n. 923 to vi. 98. Khalaqa is the general term for creation, and the Author of all Creation is Khaliq. Baraa implies a process of evolving from previously created matter or state; the Author of this process is Bari-u, the Originator. Sawwara implies giving definite form or colour, so as to make a thing exactly suited to a given end or object: hence the title Musawwir, Fashioner for this shows the completion of the visible stage of creation.
Note Number : 5407Cf. vii. 180, n. 1154; and xvii. 110, n. 2322.
Note Number : 5408Thus the argument of the Sura is rounded off on the same note as was struck at the beginning lix. 1. The first verse and the last verse of the Sura are the same, except as regards the tense of the verb sabbaha. In the first verse it is the optative form of the preterite sabbaha: everything declares the Glory of Allah! After the illustrations given, the declaratory form of the aorist is appropriate, yusabbihu: "everything doth declare the Glory of Allah'.