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Overview of Soorah Sabaa, Faaŧir, and Yaa-Seen

34 Soorah Sabaa Introduction

The name of the soorah is taken from verse 15, indicating the soorah in which the word Sabaa was first used.

From its contents, the soorah appears to have been revealed in the early Makkan period when the Prophet’s Islamic movement was being opposed by ridicule, baseless accusations, rumours and verbal abuse. The style of the Qur-aan in responding to these attacks was more in the vein of providing explanation and evidence, and encouraging rational thinking and exhorting, rather than an emphasis on warning them of the dire consequences that the opponents would face for their opposition to the Prophet. However, they still have been reminded of the consequences of the ingratitude that they practised by assigning partners to Allaah SWT and disbelieving in Islam. Thus, the soorah focusses on educating the audience about Tawĥeed (Allaah SWT having no offspring, partners, equals or intercessors) along with Qiyaamah (Resurrection). It highlights these two beliefs from the perspective of gratitude to the Creator and Provider. It also cites examples of Dawood and Sulayman for their gratitude and its benefits, and the people of Sabaa for their ingratitude and its consequences.

35 Soorah Faaŧir Introduction

This soorah is known by the symbolic name Faaŧir (the Creator – Who brought everything into existence out of nothing by an explosion), which is an attribute of Allaah SWT mentioned in the first verse. The soorah is also known by another symbolic name, Al-Malaaikah (the angels), which is also mentioned in the first verse.

The theme of the soorah, like its twin Soorah Sabaa, is Tawĥeed (Allaah SWT having no offspring, partners, helpers or intercessors) and Qiyaamah (Resurrection). Considering that the Arabs believed angels to be the most important partners of Allaah SWT, the previous soorah briefly commented on this Shirk. Now this soorah particularly focuses on negation of the angels having any sort of divinity or divine attributes.

From its contents, the soorah appears to have been revealed in the early-middle part of the Makkan period when the Prophet’s Islamic movement was being opposed more aggressively than mere ridicule, rumours and verbal abuse of the earlier Makkan era. The Makkan chiefs were devising more vigorous schemes against the Islamic movement. That is why warnings about the consequences of their efforts against the Islamic movement are more pronounced herein than the previous soorah, Sabaa.

36 Soorah Yaa-Seen Introduction

The first two letters of the soorah were adopted as its unique name.

It appears to have been revealed in the second half of the Makkan period to provide a concise but complete guidance, in one eloquent discourse, on the Islamic beliefs of Tawĥeed (Allaah being the one and only Lord and God), Risaalah (the prophethood) and Aakhirah ( the Hereafter).

The previous soorah ended with the mention of Makkan’s rejection of the Prophet and Allaah’s warning to them for this rejection. This soorah starts with presenting the Qur-aan as the evidence that the Prophet was truly a messenger of Allaah and identifying the factors that blinded the disbelievers from perceiving this manifest reality. Its theme is to invite people to Tawĥeed, inculcate the belief in the Hereafter, and warn the Quraish of the consequences of not believing in the Prophet and of opposing him with tyranny, ridicule and mockery. It gives an eloquent discourse about Tawĥeed, Risaalah and Aakhirah and a detailed preview of the Hereafter so that people realize exactly what is at stake. By giving warnings and presenting signs to reflect upon, it inspires people to open their minds and understand the realities that the Qur-aan is calling them to. Using the signs from the natural phenomena and appealing to common sense, it provides rational arguments for Tawĥeed and Aakhirah. By using the story of a town, the Makkans were advised that if they continued to make fun of the Prophet and insisted on rejecting him, they would be destroyed in due course. On the strength of these arguments, the soorah warns of Allaah’s reprobation and reproof in a forceful manner, so that hearts are stirred up and those who have any capacity for accepting the truth are moved to do so.

According to a Hadeeth from Maʻqil ibn Yasaar in Aboo Dawood, Nasaai and Ibn Maajah, the Prophet said, “Soorah Yaa Seen is the Qalb of the Qur-aan.” As we have discussed elsewhere, the word Qalb is used in the Qur-aan and Hadeeth for human mind. Thus, it implies that, like the mind of a thoughtful person, the soorah pronounces the belief in Tawĥeed, Risaalah and Aakhirah in the most eloquent, thought-provoking fashion.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah Al-Aĥzaab

Name, Background and Theme

Al-Aĥzaab (the coalition forces) has been taken from verse 20 of the soorah to serve as its name.

This soorah was revealed in Dzul-Qaʻdah of the fifth year of Hijrah as indicated by its comments on the Battle of Aĥzaab that took place in Shawwaal of 5 HE, the Banoo Quraizhah expedition that took place in the very next month, Dzul-Qaʻdah of the same year, and the Prophet’s marriage to Zainab that also took place in Dzul-Qaʻdah of 5 HE.

Historical Background

The Uĥad setback had largely eroded the awe that the people of Arabia had felt about Muslims because of their victory at Badr over the most powerful tribe of Arabia. It rather suggested to the disbelieving tribes around Madeenah that the Muslims, though not an easy target, could be defeated and eliminated. With these hopes, many tribes began to consider or even to take actions against the Muslims. But some brave, timely actions by the Prophet restored the image of the Muslims as a formidable force to a large extent, especially his initiative to subject the robbing tribes of Doomat Al-Jandal to the law and order and his peace treaties with other tribes of the area, keeping in line with his primary strategy of establishing peace throughout the region. This expedition gave a clear message to all the tribes of Arabia that the days of their lawlessness were over and that one or a few tribes were no more capable of resisting the power of the Muslim government.

While the Prophet was focussing on establishing peace and order in the region, others were plotting to destroy it. In flagrant violation of their solemn pledge to the Prophet because of which they were let go freely from Madeenah, the leadership of Banoo An-Nadheer started scheming to destroy the Islamic movement and the Muslims. They instigated the Quraish to collude with the Jews and gather enough forces from all over Arabia to annihilate the Muslims. The Quraish were still anxious to strike a decisive blow at Madeenah, but they had already exhausted their efforts and did not know what to do next. So, they liked the Jewish idea and both parties agreed to convince the tribes under their influence to join the invading coalition.

After inciting the Quraish, the Jewish leaders went to the Banoo Ghaŧfaan and convinced them to join the coalition. The Ghaŧfaan in turn recruited their allies, the Banoo Asad, as well as the Banoo Saʻd who were also allies of the Jews and were also encouraged by them to join. The Quraish were able to enlist the tribes of Banoo Hawaazin, Al-Muŝtaliq, Sulaim and Aĥaabeesh.

Battle of the Trench

In Shawwal 5 HE, an unprecedentedly large army of the Arab tribes – ten to twelve thousand men (some say 24,000) – marched against the small city of Madeenah. From Khayber and Wadi Al-Quraa in the north came the Jews including the Banoo An-Nadheer and the Banoo Qainuqaʻ. From the east advanced the tribes of Ghaŧfaan, Banoo Sulaim, Fazaarah, Murrah, Ashjaʻ, Saʻd and Asad, and from the south came the Quraish along with a large force of their allies.

Had it been a sudden attack, it would have been disastrous. But the Prophet had become aware of these developments through his intelligence sources and the sympathizers of the Islamic movement who kept him informed of the enemy’s movements. The Prophet took his close companions in confidence about the situation and consulted with them to develop a defensive strategy. Madeenah could be attacked only from the north side – from the east and west of Mt. Uĥad. The other three sides of the city were surrounded by huge lava rocks, mountains, dense date orchards and fortresses, making it impossible to stage a large scale attack. That is why the Battle of Uĥad took place at the north of Madeenah, though the Makkan army had come from the south. So, on the advice of Salman, the Persian, a decision was made to keep the enemy at bay by digging a trench on the north side of Madeenah.

The Prophet and his companions worked day and night and succeeded in digging the trench before the arrival of the invading allied forces. When the invaders arrived, the Prophet took up a defensive position behind the trench, with 3,000 men to guard the trench and defend it from inside. He set up his command headquarters at Mount Salaʻ to be able to keep the whole battlefront in view. The Muslims sent their families to take shelter in the Banoo Quraizhah side of the city in the fortress-type buildings left behind by the An-Nadheer, which had been repaired and restored by the Muslims. A unit of 200 men was sent to watch that area against any infiltration or enemy activity through the streets or groves.

The armies of the disbelievers were surprised to encounter the trench. This kind of a defensive strategy was unknown to the Arabs. Thus, they had to lay a long siege, while figuring out ways to cross the trench and infiltrate Madeenah. Every now and then, some of their units would come forward in their fury but would find the trench impassable. If they tried to come closer to fill it up at any point, the Muslims who were monitoring it day and night attacked them with arrows in full force. Some of the enemy soldiers tried to jump their horses over the trench, but fell inside and were killed. Both armies would shoot arrows and throw stones at each other causing a few casualties, but a comprehensive attack was not possible. The following map shows the location of the trench and the geographical features of the city. The items schematically shown on the map are not drawn according to scale, nor are they meant to be exact, but are only meant to provide a rough idea of the situation:

Azhzab3

Their siege was very tight and the Muslims were cut off completely from the outside world, which made the shortage of food and supplies in Madeenah even worse than before. The disbelievers were hoping that the Muslims would soon give up and surrender, but the Muslims had proven to be quite resilient. The allied armies themselves had not come prepared for a long siege and were having trouble meeting their needs, though they were able to get supplies from neighbouring areas as well as from the Jews of Khayber.

To make the war decisive, the disbelievers had only one alternative: to incite the Jewish tribe of Banoo Quraizhah to commit treachery and attack the Muslims from behind. They convinced the Banoo Quraizhah that the Muslims could be defeated and destroyed. So Banoo Quraizhah set aside all moral and religious obligations and agreed to join the allied forces in violation of their treaty with the Prophet. When the Prophet found out about their betrayal, he immediately sent his confidant companions to discuss the matter with the leadership of the Banoo Quraizhah and assess their intentions first hand. When their treachery was confirmed, the Prophet deployed an additional 300 men under the leadership of Zaid ibn Ĥaarithah to aid the two hundred men that were deployed at the beginning.

This news spread among the Muslims and caused great consternation among them, because of this new vulnerability on the side where their families were taking shelter. The hypocrites had a heyday in rumour mongering and psychological attacks to break the morale of the Muslims. They would say, “How strange! We were being foretold that the lands of Caesar and Khosrau would fall to us, but here we cannot go out even to relieve ourselves.” Or they would ask for permission to leave their posts at the trench so that they could go and protect their houses, which they claimed were in danger. Some hypocrites would shirk their responsibilities and would find a place on the trench where there was no activity and would encourage duty-conscious Muslims to come to that point for rest and security, thus trying to spoil the spirit and sense of responsibility of those true Muslims. Some of them even went as far as secretly suggesting to the effect: “Settle your affair with the invaders yourselves and hand over Muĥammad (ŜA‘WS) to them.” These kinds of things were said to depress the morale of the Muslims. This was a highly critical hour of trial, which exposed every person who harboured any hypocrisy in his heart. Only the true and sincere Muslims remained firm and steadfast in their resolve and devotion.

The besiegers were also losing heart due to the length of the siege because not only had the siege not produced any results, but it was also becoming increasingly difficult by day to arrange food and fodder for such a huge army. Thus, with the Banoo Quraizhah on their side, the enemy planned an all-out offensive from the front as well as from the back (the Banoo Quraizhah) side. On the front, the trench was not uniformly wide along its length. So the enemy focussed on the area where the trench was narrower and planned a general assault from that point. Intense exchange of arrows continued all day between the two sides. This was the day when the Prophet could not offer Ŝalaah on time due to the intensity of the war.

When this was going on, and the Muslims were engaged on all fronts, the Jews of Banoo Quraizhah planned to attack the quarters where Muslim women and children had been kept for their safety during the siege. To assess the arrangements made for their protection, they sent a fully armed person snooping around the fortress where women were residing. When the aunt of the Prophet, Safiyyah, noticed him, she came out quietly behind him, and hit him so forcefully on his head from behind with a wooden peg that he fell dead. Then, she cut off his head and threw it out of the fortress towards the Jewish territory so that they could see it. It gave the Jews the impression that the women quarters were strongly protected so they did not dare attack them. All the while, they continued to help the invading armies by providing them supplies at the time when Muslims were facing severe shortage of necessities inside Madeenah.

The siege had already lasted for about 25 days. It was winter. The supply of food and water for men and animals of the allied forces was becoming harder by the day. The allied forces wanted to make one last storming from the front while Banoo Quraizhah does the same from behind, but some mistrust and misgivings developed between the two, which dampened the spirits of the allied forces. Then, a miracle happened in response to the duʻaa of the Prophet who was praying, “O Allaah, the Swift in taking account, the Revealer of the Book, defeat the allied forces.” The help came from Allaah in the form of a sudden severe windstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning. The cold, gusty wind overthrew the allied forces’ tents, pots and belongings, creating chaos in their camps. Disappointed and fed up, they left the battleground right away during the night and returned to their homes. When the Muslims awoke in the morning, there was not a single enemy soldier to be seen on the battlefield. It was unbelievable that they had gone like that. In fact, the hypocrites tried to spread rumours that they had gone in hiding and would launch a surprise attack. The Prophet had sent some people to ensure their departure and after confirmation of the battlefield being completely empty, he said to his companions, “Now we will fight with them, they will not fight with us; we will march towards them.” This was signal that the Islamic movement will now shift from defensive mode to a strategy of offense. The final assault against Islam, employing all possible resources and anti-Islam elements had occurred and had failed. They had come to obliterate Islam and Muslims, which they thought would be easy with so much manpower and equipment, but had returned failed and disappointed. This was not only a defeat in war for the Quraish but also the loss of offensive capability. The Muslims did not need to be defensive any more, they could now go on the offensive.

Siege of the Banoo Quraizhah

When the Prophet returned home from the Trench on 23 Dzul Qaʻdah 5 HE, Jibreel (Gabriel) came to him at Zhuhr with Allaah’s command that the Muslims should not lay aside their arms yet, but should deal with the Banoo Quraizhah first. A prompt action against them for their treachery was necessary before they could call for outside help or Ĥuyayy could scheme up some other trouble. Thus, the Prophet commanded his companions to lay siege around the dwellings of the Banoo Quraizhah. The siege continued for 25 days. When nothing seemed to work for them, they asked the Prophet a way out and requested him to let Saʻd ibn Muʻaadz, their long-time ally, act as a judge in their matter.

When Saʻd was brought to adjudicate the matter, he asked the leaders of the Banoo Quraizhah if they would accept his decision and then asked the Prophet and his tribesmen if they would execute his decision exactly as he would pronounce. When confirmed from both sides, he decreed that all the adult male members of the Quraizhah should be executed for treason, their women and children taken prisoners, and their properties confiscated. The sentence was carried out as committed. When Ĥuyayy was brought to be executed, he looked at the Prophet and said, “By God, I do not blame myself for my animosity towards you but I do confess that whoever abandons Allaah, Allaah abandons him.” Then he addressed people saying, “O People! There is certainly nothing wrong in executing Allaah’s decree; it was a matter written and a punishment that Allaah had written for Banee Israʻeel.” It was because his (Sa’d‘s) judgment was exactly according to the Jewish law, as given in the Torah:

If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.

Focus on a New Front

The enemies of Islam in general, and the Jews of the Banoo An-Nadheer in particular, had done their utmost to annihilate Islam and Muslims, but had failed. Although they were already using the hypocrites and the Arab Jews of Madeenah as their agent provocateur, after the defeat of the allied forces, they decided to focus completely on this front. They noted that despite all the challenges and continuously imposed wars, the Muslim society was simultaneously growing in justice and excellence, morally and socially. In fact, their sense of equality, brotherhood, loyalty to principles and morally superior qualities were the main factors helping them defend themselves successfully against all odds. So, they decided to defeat them on this front. If they succeeded on this front, they would be able to defeat the Islamic Movement in the long run. The idea was to spread slanderous rumours and accusations about Muslims especially about Muslim ladies and to create scandals about the Prophet’s family and himself so much that focus of the Muslims shifted from the pursuit of excellence to be busy with these kinds of stories while at the same time weakening their loyalty to the Prophet and raising doubts about him. Soorah Al-Aĥzaab addresses many of those issues as well.

Social Reforms

The period of two years between the Battles of Uĥad and the Trench was one of nerve-wrecking tensions and turmoil for the fledgling Islamic polity. Though the Prophet and his companions could hardly relax in peace even briefly during this period, the work of reformation and the reconstruction of the Muslim society continued uninterrupted. Major reforms had been promulgated and implemented during this period, allowing the opportunity to identify remaining problematic situations and decree solutions for them.

One such factor that created problems in the society was the custom of establishing relationships through verbal pronouncements. The natural system of building relationships promulgated by Allaah SWT is that a relationship is established either by birth or by marriage. But the Arabs had a custom of adopting sons, whereby an adopted son was treated like a genetic son for all intents and purposes, including taking the name of the adopting father, and thus losing his real identity established by birth. There was also an absurd practice whereby a person would declare that he would treat his wife’s body to be his mother’s body. Once all other pertinent social reforms had been implemented, it was time to stop treating such inaccurate utterances of one’s mouth as realities, although such practices were deeply entrenched in the society.

The matter of an adopted son being treated as the real son in all matters whatsoever, including marital and inheritance affairs, was graver. It had far reaching implications that were detrimental to the just, clean and healthy society that Islam wanted to establish. Thus, this soorah declared this practice unlawful.

This concept, however, could not be rooted out by merely issuing an edict, saying, “The adopted son is not the real son.” The centuries old deep-rooted conventions, traditions and views cannot be changed merely by verbal statements. Even if the people had accepted the command that these relations were not the real relations, their practical dealings would still honour the old taboos as they used to honour in this regards and they would still take the traditional liberties they used to take in such cases, unless practical measures were taken to uproot the concept completely. For example, in the case of mere moral exhortation, they would still look upon marriage between the adopted mother and the adopted son, the adopted brother and the sister, the adopted father and the daughter, or the adopted father-in-law and the daughter-in-law generally detestable. Moreover, there would still exist some mixing together freely. Therefore, it was inevitable that the custom should be eradicated practically, not by an ordinary person whose actions may be disregarded as an individual’s action, but through the Prophet himself as the authoritative representative of Allaah SWT. For no Muslim could ever conceive that a thing done by the Prophet himself, and done by him under Allaah’s command, could be objectionable.

The circumstances were right to address this issue and all essential elements were available to make it happen. The Prophet had an adopted son, Zaid, who had just divorced his wife, Zainab. Therefore, to achieve the above-mentioned goals, Allaah SWT commanded the following actions:

  • Allaah SWT disallowed Muslims giving adopted children the family name of the adoptive father. It was mandated that if the family of the adopted child is known, they must be called by the name of the family they were born into. So the Prophet’s adopted son who was known as Zaid ibn Muĥammad (ŜA‘WS) was now called Zaid ibn Ĥarithah.
  • To break the taboos, the Prophet was commanded to marry Zainab, the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid ibn Ĥarithah. The Prophet executed Allaah’s command and married her during the siege of the Banoo Quraizhah, though he was extremely wary of the reaction from the people. But he had no choice except to obey his Lord.

Storm of Propaganda at the Prophet’s Marriage with Zainab

As expected, the moment the marriage was announced, there arose a storm of propaganda against the Prophet. The Mushriks, the hypocrites and the Jews, all were dejected over his triumphs – one after the other. The way they had been humbled within two years after Uĥad, in the Battle of the Trench, and in the matter of the Quraizhah, had made them boiling inside. They had also lost hope that they could ever crush his movement in the battlefield. Therefore, they needed to win in the psychological warfare. For that purpose, they were always on the lookout for opportunities to invent stories, spread rumours and cause misunderstandings in their efforts to pressurize the Muslim society to break apart. Thus, they seized on the news of this marriage and activated their propaganda machine. Stories were concocted that the Prophet had fallen in love with his daughter-in-law; so, when the son had come to know of this, he divorced his wife; and the Prophet married his daughter-in-law. The propaganda, however, was evidently outright absurd. First of all, Zainab was the Prophet’s first cousin. He had known her from childhood to youth. So, it was not his first encounter with her to fall in love. Secondly, it was the Prophet himself who had arranged her marriage with Zaid under his personal influence, although her whole family had opposed it. They did not like that a daughter of the noble Quraish should be given in marriage to a freed slave. But everyone had to submit to the Prophet’s command. If the Prophet had in reality any desire for Zainab, he could have easily married her at that time and made everyone happy. Thirdly, the Prophet was not happy with their divorce and he wanted them to reconcile and remain together. However, their personality clash made it impossible.

Those who honestly ponder on the episode of Zainab’s marriage to Zaid, divorce and then marriage to the Prophet, cannot help but profoundly appreciate the tremendous service provided by all three parties in order to establish and practically implement the Islamic principle of equality among all people as well as breaking the taboos about the adopted relationships. Consider the following:

  • The marriage of Zainab to Zaid had set a precedent in Arabia through which Islam had practically raised a freed slave to the status of the Quraishi nobility, the highest nobility in Arabia. It broke the big idol in people’s hearts of assuming freed slaves inferior to other people and practically demolished the concept of classes of people on racial or social grounds, other than Taqwa. Here, Zainab did make a personal sacrifice by agreeing to the marriage, especially considering the fact that in case of divorce from or death of Zaid, she would not find a suitable match by reason of being the ex-wife of a freed slave.
  • The marriage of Zainab to the Prophet after divorce from Zaid broke two huge social pariahs. It smashed the taboo of marrying the ex-wife of an adopted son as well as it underscored that the divorcee of a freed slave is honourable in the sight of Allaah and fit for a Messenger of Allaah. Through this, once again, any remaining effects of class-mentality were removed from the Muslim mind. In addition, Zainab was compensated for her decision to listen to the Prophet and marry his freed slave. In doing so, the biggest and the toughest sacrifice was made by the
    Prophet who was viciously attacked by the hypocrites of the world at that time. And he is still being attacked to this day by those shameless critics whose own minds and lives are abhorrently filthy.

The attack on the Prophet for his marriage to Zainab had another dimension as well. The Prophet already had four wives at that time: Sawdah, ‘Aaishah, Ĥafŝah, and Umm Salamah. As Soorah An-Nisaa had already limited the maximum number of wives to four, Zainab being the Prophet’s fifth wife, the opponents raised this objection as well. Some Muslims also started entertaining doubts in this respect. What people forget is that it is Allaah SWT Who has absolute right to command people as He likes and it is Allaah Who has the right to make exceptions for the people as He wants. If He commands the Prophet to do something extraordinary, the Prophet has no option but to obey Him.

Domestic Affairs of the Prophet

There was one other problem that needed attention at that time. The Prophet was facing economically straitened circumstances because all of his energies were going into the work of the Islamic movement, not allowing him any time to earn a living. During the first four years in Madeenah, he had no source of income whatsoever. In 4 HE, after the banishment of the Banoo An-Nadheer, a portion of their evacuated lands was reserved for his use by the command of Allaah, but it was not enough for his family needs. Naturally, when his wives asked for money to meet their basic needs, he would feel doubly strained and taxed. Although the issue pertained to the Prophet’s domestic life, Allaah interfered and addressed it to provide him domestic tranquillity so that he could continue paying his undivided attention to the Islamic movement.

In summary

The theme of this soorah that binds all of its components together is its dealing with the mischiefs, accusations, slanders and propaganda of the Jews and hypocrites against the role and the person of the Prophet and against the moral fabric of the Islamic society. While doing this, the soorah provides guidance with respect to the following:

  • Impresses on the Prophet that he is to execute whatever he is commanded without regard to societal reaction;
  • Highlights the Prophet’s special status among Allaah’s messengers;
  • Underscores the nature of the Prophet’s relationship with his followers;
  • Defines the role, status and special responsibilities of the Prophet’s wives among the believers;
  • Comments on the battles and their results;
  • Warns the hypocrites and disbelievers about the consequences of their anti-social and destructive activities; and
  • Reminds people of the authority bestowed upon them and the responsibility that comes with it and the performance evaluation that they will face in that regard.

In this way, it becomes an effective closing to the fourth group of soorahs, the main theme of which was dealing with the attacks of the disbelievers on the role and the person of the Prophet.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah Luqman and As-Sajdah

31 Soorah Luqman Introduction

The name of the soorah is derived from verses 12-13 where Luqman, a wise man of the past, and his advice to his son has been mentioned. As usual, it implies “the soorah wherein Luqman has been mentioned.”

Luqman was a historical personality renowned as a wise man in Arabia. Multiple Arab poets mentioned or quoted him in their poetry. There is a difference of opinion among scholars about his biographical details, but there is no benefit in researching or determining those details because knowledge about them does not serve any Islamic purpose whatsoever. By the way he is mentioned in Arab poetry, it appears that he had some position of leadership and authority in his society. From the contents and style of his advice to his son, it appears that he advised his son when appointing him to a position of leadership.

People also report some additional quotations attributed to him that are not reported in the Qur-aan. Allaah SWT quoted whatever was necessary for the benefit of the audience of the Qur-aan. Muslims should not refer to those sayings because the statements of the ancient people quoted by the Qur-aan are sufficient for us, supplanting any need to refer to anything else attributed to them that is not mentioned in the Qur-aan. Besides, the authenticity of those quotations is suspect and we do not have any way of verifying them. There is an odd opinion about his being a prophet of Allaah, but the majority of scholars are of the view that he was a wise man and not a prophet. Most importantly, he has never been mentioned in the Qur-aan along with other prophets. Some people report that he was given an option to choose between wisdom and Prophethood, and he chose wisdom. This is an absurd statement considering that according to the Qur-aan, the prophethood was always accompanied by wisdom; it was not a matter of choosing one over the other. In fact, the prophets of Allaah used to be the teachers of wisdom. The only reliable source for us to learn about the wisdom of previous prophets is through their stories as mentioned in the Qur-aan. The wisdom taught by the Prophet (ŜAʻWS) is well documented through his Seerah, Aĥaadeeth and Tawaatur – his ways taught from generation to generation through an unbroken chain of trained people.

The Theme and the Message

This soorah is one of the earlier soorahs that were revealed when the opponents of Islam had started experimenting with the ways of distracting people from listening to the Prophet, and parents were pressuring their children to stay away from and/or renounce Islam. The Qur-aan mentioned Luqman and quoted him to show how imprudent this behaviour was and how it was diametrically opposite to the behaviour of the one they revered as a wise man. It also shows the children that if their parents do not advise them on the same lines as Luqman did, they are devoid of any understanding of what is best for their children.

The soorah uses natural observable phenomena to explain the rationality of Tawĥeed and the absurdity of Shirk (polytheism). It encourages people to use their common sense instead of blindly following the beliefs and lifestyle of their forefathers. In this way, its theme is closely related to Soorah Ar-Room wherein Islam was presented as the Deen of nature.

32 Soorah As-Sajdah Introduction

Verse 15 of this soorah mentions that the true believers fall into prostration (Sajdah) when they are reminded of Allaah’s revelations (Qur-aan). Thus, the soorah was referred to as “The soorah in which the prostration (As-Sajdah) is mentioned”, which is how As-Sajdah became its name.

From the contents, it is evident that this soorah was revealed at the stage of the Islamic movement when the opponents were bombarding the Prophet and the Muslims with questions and objections in an agitated emotional manner in reaction to the Prophet’s call to Islam. However, the persecution of the believers had not yet intensified. To guide them aright by bringing them to their senses and out of their emotional blindness, the focus of the Qur-aanic revelation at that time was to make them think rationally about Tawĥeed (total submission to Allaah, the One and Unique Creator), the Qur-aan and the Aakhirah (the Hereafter). Because their opposition had grown strong and relentless, they were already being warned about their worldly destruction in addition to the punishment in the Hereafter, if they did not accept Islam.

The Theme and the Message

The theme of the soorah is to address the doubts expressed by the opponents about Tawĥeed, the Qur-aan and the Aakhirah. It starts with the assertion that the Qur-aan is not something forged by the Prophet, but is in fact sent down by Allaah SWT to warn its audience of the wrongs they do and to reform them. Then, it presents rational evidence on the basis of natural signs that people observe around them so that they can reflect upon them and understand the validity of the Qur-aanic messages about Tawĥeed and Aakhirah.

It also gives the example of Moosa and the Israelites to make the point that, like them, the Prophet and Muslims will also reach their goals if they persevere, and that their opponents will be destroyed. The destruction of other peoples known to Makkans has also been cited. It ends with a comment about the taunting question that the Makkans were asking about the arrival of Allaah’s punishment and the end of the world.

In this way, this soorah is the twin of Soorah Luqman. Both soorahs complement each other. The points that are given in more detail in one are abridged in the other.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah Al-‘Ankaboot and Ar-Room

29 Soorah Al-‘Ankaboot Introduction

The name of this soorah implies “the soorah in which Al-‘Ankaboot (the spider) has been mentioned.” It occurs in verse 41 whereby the weakness of an edifice has been indicated by comparing it to a spider web.

The contents of the soorah indicate that it was revealed just before the migration of the Muslims from Makkah to Abyssinia. By the time this soorah was revealed, the persecution of the Muslims by the Makkans had become viciously intense. Muslims from among the slaves and weak segments of the society were tortured barbarically by their owners/relatives as well as by the hoodlums and bullies of the society. Muslim trades-people were deprived of the price for their goods or services and thus were devastated economically and forced to endure starvation. The Muslims from influential families were beaten up, imprisoned and tortured by their own families (parents, uncles and brothers). Because of this persecution and torture, those who believed in the message of the Prophet became divided into three types: The first and foremost were those sincere believers who persevered through persecution and openly, boldly and steadfastly stood up for Islam regardless of how severely they were tortured. Then, there were some who could not take the persecution and surrendered to the pressure of the opponents of Islam. And there were others who realized the truth of the Prophet’s message in their heart, but lacked the commitment to declare it publicly and face the persecution. The subject matter of the first part of the soorah is to provide appropriate guidance to all factions involved in this difficult situation and to warn the persecutors of the dire consequences of their behaviour.

The second part of the soorah gives a series of historical examples of the earlier messengers and the nations known to the Arabs. These citations underscore the point that the messengers and their followers always succeeded eventually and the rejecters of the messengers were always destroyed. Those rejecters disregarded the warnings of the messengers but could never ward off the destruction, once their respite ended and Allaah SWT decreed their destruction.

In the last part of the soorah, Islamic beliefs of Tawĥeed and Aakhirah have been presented in a rational manner for the reflection and understanding of the disbelievers. The Muslims have been provided further guidance for their continuous pursuit of excellence in character. They have also been advised that if the persecution becomes unbearable, they should emigrate to find a place where they could practice Islam properly and freely without compromising in any of its teachings. In doing so, they should rely on Allaah and not worry about their sustenance or their survival. They have also been advised to discuss the matters of Deen with the Believers of the Book in the best manner.

30 Soorah Ar-Room Introduction

The name “Ar-Room” (Rome) has been taken from the first verse of the soorah, implying the soorah that mentions Rome.

It was revealed after the Hijrah to Abyssinia had taken place. The permission by King Negus of Abyssinia to Muslim refugees to stay in his country had created an environment of goodwill between the two faiths. As a result, the Makkans started considering the two communities as each other’s sympathizers. Commonality of belief in the Hereafter and in the revelation of the Book was also a factor in this perception. The perception was reinforced when a delegation of Abyssinian Christians came to Makkah to meet with the Prophet ŜA’WS, and after talking to him, readily accepted Islam.

The mention of Rome in this soorah refers to the strife between the two superpowers of that time: the Persian (Sassanid) Empire on the North and East of Arabia and the Roman (Byzantine) Empire on the North West.

In 610 CE, Khosrau II, also called Khosrau Parvez, of the Persian Empire had invaded the Roman Empire. When Heraclius was proclaimed emperor, he attempted to make peace with the Persians, but Khosrau transformed his attack into a religious war with the stated aim of destroying Christianity and establishing Zoroastrianism. In 613, the Byzantine army suffered a crushing defeat in Antioch, allowing the Persians to move freely and swiftly in all directions and to capture Tarsus and Damascus. But the most devastating loss in 614 for the Romans was that of Jerusalem, which was besieged and captured by the Persians in three weeks. The invaders sacked Jerusalem, massacred sixty thousand Christians, plundered the devout offerings of three hundred years, set on fire the sepulchre of Christ and the stately churches of Helena and Constantine, and carried off to Ctesiphon what had been for centuries treasured as the ‘True Cross’, on which Jesus Christ had been allegedly crucified.

When this news reached Makkah, the Makkans rejoiced at the defeat of the Christians and the victory of the “pagan” fire worshippers. Considering the extremely precarious situation of both Roman Christians and Makkan Muslims, they would taunt Muslims and claim that they would exterminate Islam and Muslims just as the Persians were routing the Christians. The circumstances appeared to be going in the direction that was being claimed by the Makkans, instead of the ultimate victory that the Qur-aan had indicated. It was in such difficult circumstances that this soorah was revealed. The first six verses of the soorah reiterated Allaah’s promise to the Muslims and prophesied their victory over the polytheists as well as the Roman victory over the Persians within a decade.

For a few years after the revelation of these verses, the Roman defeats continued. In 616, Khosrau Parvez invaded Egypt and captured Alexandria. In 617, his forces took and garrisoned Chalcedon, facing Constantinople across the Bosporus (Bosphorus). In 619, all of Egypt (to the border of Ethiopia) was captured. Thus, by 620, nothing remained of the Byzantine Empire except for a few maritime Asiatic ports (from Tyre to Trebizond), some fragments of Italy, Sicily, Africa, the Balkan coast, Greece and a besieged capital. The end of the Byzantine Empire seemed at hand.

Despair caused the Romans to stand together to save their religion and country. So, on March 25, 624, Heraclius left Constantinople to attack the Persian heartland. By July 624, he conquered major parts of Azerbaijan. The Roman soldiers extinguished the Great Fire and destroyed the temples of the Magi and other important Zoroastrian shrines in the cities around the lake Urumia (ارومیه), including Urumia, Gandzaca and Takht-i-Suleiman (تخت سلیمان). Thus they avenged the desecration and usurpation of their relics by the Persians. Year after year, success followed success. Heraclius penetrated victoriously further into the heart of Persia than any Roman commander before him. He continued his campaigns in 625. Towards the end of 627, Heraclius shattered the last Persian armies near Nineveh. Heraclius then moved on to Khosrau’s Great Palace of Dastagird (Dastagerd) and plundered its tremendous riches. Finally, Heraclius offered Khosrau peace on January 6, 628, but did not receive a positive response. This was the last blow to Khosrau’s hold on power. His own troops deposed him on February 25, 628, and his successor immediately negotiated peace with Heraclius by returning all the lands that Persia had taken from Byzantium along with the True Cross. Heraclius returned in 628 to Constantinople reaching there on September 14, and in 629 Heraclius restored the “True Cross” to Jerusalem in a grand ceremony.

The Theme and the Message

This soorah is the twin of the previous soorah, Al-‘Ankaboot, in its theme: the reinforcement and reassurance of the ultimate success of the Islamic mission and the destruction of its opponents. The mention of the Roman defeat and prediction of its eventual victory has also been made for the same purpose.

In continuation of the lessons from the Roman situation, it also teaches people to avoid forming views and beliefs about crucial matters on the basis of the superficial impressions they get from a surface perspective of current events. Views and beliefs should be based upon rational thinking about the universal realities. Then the soorah presents a series of examples of rational evidence for the Hereafter and for Tawĥeed.

Addressing the Prophet, and thereby Muslims, it commands them to wholly, solely and steadfastly adopt the Islamic way of life – the natural way of life according to the nature on which human beings were created. The Deen must not be broken into pieces by segmenting life into different portions governed by different lords. Every aspect of life must be in submission to Allaah SWT. If any aspect of life is governed by a different lord, it is Shirk (polytheism), which must be avoided at any cost.

In closing, the Prophet has been commanded to continue with his mission with perseverance – knowing that the ultimate success of his mission is guaranteed by the true promise of Allaah SWT – so steadfastly, strongly and boldly that any amount of abuse, persecution, ridicule, intimidation or pressure of the disbelievers should not be able to weaken his resolve, shake his firmness, dampen his spirit, cause him to surrender or make him feel defeated.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah An-Naml and Al-Qaŝaŝ

27 Soorah An-Naml Introduction

The name of this soorah implies “the soorah in which An-Naml (the ant) has been mentioned.” It is mentioned in verse 18, while describing an event in the life of Prophet Sulayman.

The soorah was revealed during the middle of the Makkan period after the revelation of Shu‘araa, before Al-Qaŝaŝ.

The Prophet was rightly and sincerely presenting the Qur-aan as a profound and serious message from Allaah SWT on which the wellbeing of the people depended; hence, it should have been taken seriously by people, if they wanted to avoid dire consequences. The Makkan chiefs, on the other hand, were constantly advising people to dismiss the Qur-aan as something containing only imaginative poetry and divining prose that did not deserve any serious attention. Soorah Shu‘araa focussed on warning the Makkans against such attitude, and presented them a series of historical accounts of previous nations who were destroyed because of an attitude similar to that which had been adopted by the Makkans against the Messenger and the revelations from Allaah SWT.

This soorah underscores the point that the reaction of people to a messenger and his mission is entirely dependent on the motives and attitudes of people. If people have decided not to accept the message for their own vicious reasons, even the most astounding miracles and proofs of reality cannot make them believe in the truth. In support of this premise, the examples of Fir‘awn (Pharaoh) and the people of Looŧ have been quoted. The example of Pharaoh indicates how one’s arrogance and desire to preserve his power and control over his society hindered him from accepting Islam, while the behaviour of people of Loot shows how people’s focus on their lusts becomes an impediment in the way of their accepting the right views and conduct. In contrast to Pharaoh, Sulayman’s story demonstrates how a believer is free of arrogance and is full of humility and gratitude towards Allaah SWT. Then, the story of the queen of Sheba illustrates how a person who is open-minded and sincere accepts the truth readily at the first encounter with any evidence, sign or miracle that highlights the truth.

These stories were told to impress upon the Makkans that they needed to correct their attitude and adopt sincerity instead of constantly asking for signs. They were rejecting the truth because of the problems with their attitude, not because of a lack of signs.

Then, the last 35 verses of the soorah focus on explaining the absurdity and irrationality of Shirk (polytheism) and presenting the signs and rationality of the belief in the Hereafter. This section also mentions that the Qur-aan is being sent as a source of guidance and mercy not only for the Arabs but also for the Israelites for whom it provides the correct views and information about their religious stories and teachings in which they have developed invalid views and inconsistencies or fallen into discord. The Qur-aan started playing this role more visibly starting with this soorah by providing the factual information about Moosa, Pharaoh, Sulayman and the Queen of Sheba, free of the mythological and contradictory stories that the Bible and the Talmud are replete with.

28 Soorah Al-Qaŝaŝ Introduction

The name of the soorah is taken from verse 25, where it is mentioned that Moosa narrated his whole story (Al-Qaŝaŝ) to his future father-in-law.

The soorah was revealed at a time when the Islamic movement had become known even among non-Arabs. Firstly, many Muslims had taken refuge in Abyssinia to avoid the barbaric persecution by the Makkans. When some sincere followers of ‘Eesa in Abyssinia heard about the Prophet from the Muslim refugees, a delegation from them went to Makkah and questioned the Prophet. Finding him to be a true messenger of Allaah, they became Muslims. Secondly, the Makkans had already used whatever objections and accusations they could forge to attack the credibility of the Prophet. When they felt that their propaganda was losing effectiveness, they contacted the Jews to learn from them the kind of objections they could employ in order to oppose the Prophet effectively. When this soorah was revealed, the Jews were already coaching them. The previous soorah, An-Naml, had hinted about their involvement; this soorah includes the Qur-aanic response to the objections emanating from them.

The first half of the soorah narrates the story of Prophet Moosa, illustrating how the selection, appointment, duties, mission and methodologies of both prophets were identical and how the Makkans and the Jews could understand the work and the mission of the Prophet in the light of the story of Moosa (‘AS). His story was included in the two preceding soorahs as well, detailing different aspects of the story in each soorah to highlight different lessons that should be learned. The three soorahs taken together present his complete story. The points highlighted through Moosa’s story in this soorah are:

Lessons for the Makkans:

  • The appointment of Allaah’s messenger does not occur randomly; rather, a messenger is specially raised from birth and nurtured and trained under Allaah’s care specifically to fulfil responsibilities for the extremely difficult task of messengerhood. So, like Moosa, the Prophet is a special person raised for this purpose and this job could not have been given to any other Makkan chief.
  • The chosen person does not know anything about it at all until he is officially appointed as a messenger. Appointment as Allaah’s messenger occurs by surprise, without any prior notice, warning from Allaah or any anticipation or aspiration on the part of the messenger.
  • If the attitude is not right and a person is not a sincere seeker of truth, no number of miracles is ever helpful. Those who do not want to believe due to their own expediencies continue to demand a variety of miracles merely as an excuse for not believing. When miracles are shown, they are disregarded as magic.
  • The Prophet has been sent to the Quraish as Moosa was sent to Fir‘awn (Pharaoph). The Prophet will succeed and his opponents will be defeated just as it happened with Moosa and Pharaoh. It is the Sunnah of Allaah that those who reject Allaah’s messengers are destroyed after being given a respite to mend their ways.

Lessons to the Israelites:

  • They should see the similarities between Moosa and the Prophet and believe in him instead of siding with the disbelievers who labelled both Moosa and the Prophet as magicians and their books as magic.
  • The Qur-aanic description of the story proves the truth of the Prophet; otherwise there was no way for him to describe even those matters that were not precisely known to the Israelites.

Reminders to the Prophet and the believers:

  • Allaah SWT has His own ways of achieving His objectives. On the surface, things may be going the wrong way but they are, in fact, stepping stones for the attainment of Allaah’s objectives.
  • He creates opportunity out of adversity. When there seems to be no hope or no way out of a situation, Allaah SWT creates a way beyond everyone’s imagination, such as He did to save Moosa from being killed at birth.
  • The Prophet and the Muslims should not be upset or worried about the antics of the Makkan chiefs and their derisive taunts. All the elite who reject Allaah’s messengers for their ulterior motives behave that way.
  • Similarly, they should ignore the opponents’ demand for miracles because no miracle will be sufficient for them as they have already made up their minds not to believe. If they just open their minds to accept the truth on its own merits, the Qur-aan is more than enough of a miracle to guide any sincere person.

The main theme of the soorah is providing the appropriate perspective and guidance to the disbelievers on the objections raised by the Prophet’s opponents. Shirk (polytheism) has been refuted logically and many examples from the natural signs have been given that demonstrate the baselessness of Shirk.

The soorah ends with some words of consolation for the Prophet reminding him that he did not ask to be the Messenger or to receive the revelations; it was Allaah who chose him and obligated him to carry out the Islamic mission. Thus, it is Allaah Who will ensure that the Prophet eventually succeeds in a stupendous manner.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah Al-Furqaan and Ash-Shu‘araa

25 Soorah Al-Furqaan Introduction

The name has been taken from the first verse of the soorah as its symbol. Al-Furqaan means the criterion that clearly identifies right from wrong and good from bad. This is one of the names of the Qur-aan that describe its role.

The soorah was revealed during the middle period of the Prophet’s mission in Makkah. It was a time when the Qur-aan was citing the stories of the previous messengers and their people. The Makkans knew that the Prophet did not have any way of acquiring knowledge of these matters personally. To avoid the natural conclusion that it was revealed by Allaah SWT, his opponents were claiming that someone must be writing the Qur-aan for the Prophet using the stories from the earlier books. This accusation was based merely on that fact that the Qur-aan was being presented in bits and pieces, not all at once. The soorah responds to this and other related objections and accusations; provides signs and rational evidence supporting Islamic beliefs; and urges the Prophet to take the attacks of the adversaries in stride and continue his mission vigorously with Tawakkul on Allaah SWT. On the front of training Muslims in attaining excellence of character and behaviour, it gives them a list of attributes that the true believers are expected to have.

In closing, the soorah reminds the disbelievers that it is only because of Allaah’s mercy and kindness that he is revealing the Qur-aan to guide them in order to save them from punishment. Otherwise, there is no reason for Allaah to care for them. So if they do not utilize this opportunity, they are utterly doomed.

26 Soorah Ash-Shu‘araa Introduction

The name “Ash-Shu‘araa” (the poets) has been taken from verse 224 of the soorah. It implies the soorah that mentions the word Ash-Shu‘araa.

It was revealed during the middle of the Makkan period after the revelation of Ŧaa Haa and Al-Waaqi‘ah, as per a report from Ibn ‘Abbas quoted in Rooĥul-Ma‘aani.

At the time of the revelation of this soorah, the Prophet had been working hard for over six years in his efforts to bring salvation to his people. He had striven non-stop in the best manner that could have been adopted, using the best approaches that could have been employed, while:

  • His selflessness was evident from the tremendous personal sacrifices he was continuously making for his mission while seeking nothing whatsoever in return;
  • His approach to people was evidently sincere and compassionate;
  • His style was so loving and caring that he never reacted with anger or annoyance even towards his worst opponents; and
  • His message delivered through the words of the Qur-aan was completely logical, entirely rational and abundantly clear.

Despite all the excellence on the Prophet’s part, the Makkans were opposing him viciously, responding violently to his message of salvation, reacting emotionally rather than thinking rationally and asking for physical miracles while disregarding the Qur-aan – the most evident and clearest miracle. In response to his compassionate calls, the Makkan chiefs would taunt him that only the “lower” class people or immature youth were following him, which they argued was evidence that his call was not worth responding to. The Prophet was doing more than his duty by continually striving to his maximum capacity and by worrying continuously about their well-being and salvation. The Makkans, on the other hand, would disregard and ignore his pleas, calling him a mere poet or a soothsayer. Because the message was so logical, rational and clear that any reasonable person should have readily accepted it, in all his sincerity, the Prophet would be concerned that perhaps the reason for people’s disbelief was some weakness in the delivery of the message. Hence, he would exert himself even more, worrying that perhaps there was something he needed to do better to open the hearts and minds of his opponents so that they would care about attaining salvation both in this world and the Hereafter.

The soorah was revealed on the one hand to console the Prophet, advising him not to over-exert himself, and on the other hand, to answer the questions and concerns of the disbelievers and opponents. Multiple examples from the previous messengers have been given to show the parallels between the mission of the Prophet and that of previous messengers in terms of what the previous messengers faced at the hands of their opponents and the consequences that their opponents faced as a result of their opposition to the messengers. The objective was to demonstrate that it was usual for the opponents to behave in that manner and to raise those kinds of objections as well as warn the opponents about the gravity of their obdurate behaviour and the consequences they would be facing as a result. History demonstrates that the disbelievers and opponents of Islam have always had the same kind of mentality and have always adopted the same kind of vicious attitude against the truth.

Because the opponents’ main point was that they want to see a clear “sign” of the Prophet being the true Messenger of Allaah, the soorah draws peoples’ attention to the clear signs in the miracle of the Qur-aan, the signs in the natural phenomena that people witness around them and the historical signs in the stories of the previous messengers. Thus, eight times throughout the soorah, the Qur-aan repeats the statement at different junctures “In this there definitely is a sign, but most of them do not believe, and your Lord is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.” This reminds people that for their opposition against His Messenger, Allaah SWT has the might to destroy them at any time, but He is mercifully giving them opportunities to find the truth rationally by reflecting on the ample signs surrounding them. If they were smart, they would think rationally and open their mind for the truth, rather than choosing the path of destruction and incurring the wrath of Allaah SWT.

Although there will not be any new prophets or messengers, these topics are still very relevant. The struggle between truth and falsehood and between true Muslims and other people will continue until the Last Day. Muslims have the responsibility to stand up for true Islam. Such Islamic workers should understand that whenever they strive for truth, they will face the same kind of opposition that the messengers faced, and against which they will have to adopt the same kind of behaviour that the messengers adopted in the past. Similarly, the opponents of the true Islam should also see themselves in the mirror presented by these narratives and learn to behave the way that will make them succeed eternally, instead of following the path of falsehood.

The soorah ends with the exposition of the absurdity of the Makkans’ propaganda that the Prophet was a soothsayer or a poet. It highlights the deviant, wicked personalities of the soothsayers and poets and the absurdity and crassness of their speech as compared to the excellence of the Prophet’s personality and the rationality and magnificence of the Qur-aanic teachings.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah An-Noor

Name and Period of Revelation

Noor (light) was taken from verse 35 of the soorah to serve as its symbol. It is not the topic of the soorah.

There is a consensus among the scholars that this soorah was revealed after the military campaign against Banoo Al-Muŝtaliq and the incident of the slander of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah, the wife of the Prophet, the mother of the believers; however, there is a difference of opinion whether these events occurred in year 5 HE or 6 HE. In that respect, we agree with those who hold the opinion that 6 HE is the year of the Banoo Al-Muŝtaliq campaign and the revelation of this soorah. Thus, it belongs to the early stages of the final phase of the Islamic movement, corresponding to the third of the four stages of the Madeenan era.

Historical Background

Since the Makkans (mushriks, idolaters or polytheists) and the Jews had been defeated in their direct military confrontations, the only tool they had left in their arsenal was to use the hypocrites of Madeenah to destroy the society from inside through unrelenting psychological warfare aimed at causing distrust and infighting among the Muslims and making people lose trust and loyalty to the Prophet. Thus, the hypocrites, led by their chief, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, had intensified their subversive rumour and scandal mongering in order to create discord between the Anŝaar and the Muhaajireen and to destroy cohesion of the Islamic society. They also started sending their women to the wives of the Prophet to gossip and cause whatever misunderstandings they could, in order to use them for fabricating and circulating demeaning stories about the Prophet and his wives. They were always on the lookout for any situation they could find or create that could be exploited for subversion and sedition.

Although their hypocrisy and their anti-Islam tactics were fully known and clearly observed since the Battle of Uĥad, the Prophet was tolerating them and treating them kindly. The major reason was that the Prophet wanted to keep the doors open so that when any of them who had some propensity for goodness decided to become a sincere Muslim, they would find it easy and seamless to do so. That is why they were never condemned by name, and whenever a hypocritical behaviour was condemned in the Qur-aan, the path of sincerity was also explained in the most beautiful and inspirational manner. Also, even their flagrant infractions were ignored because it was not appropriate to open a front at home while fighting with the enemies from outside. For these reasons, the Prophet continued for a long time to deal with them as if they were Muslims, and accepting on face value their apparent profession of faith, while knowing them to be hypocrites. But when they started crossing all limits in their subversive activities, they were sternly warned in Soorah Al-Aĥzaab about the dire consequences they would have to face if they did not desist. However, they did not pay heed to those warnings and continued with their campaigns of sabotage.

On the other hand, despite their disbelief, the hypocrites did not want to be seen as disbelievers, for their own reasons. First of all, they neither had the power nor the courage to fight the believers openly or face them in the battlefield by brazenly allying with the invading disbelievers. Allaah SWT had vividly portrayed their condition in Soorah Al-Ĥashr. Therefore, they thought that their well-being lay only in posing as Muslims. They came to the Masjid, performed Ŝalaah, gave Zakaah, and would make tall verbal claims to the faith, which the true Muslims never felt the need to do. They would offer numerous justifications for each of their hypocritical acts by which they would try to deceive their compatriots, the Anŝaar, into believing that they were with them. By going along and portraying themselves as Muslims, they were saving themselves from the disadvantages that would naturally result if they separated themselves from the Muslim tribes. They were also keeping themselves in a position to take advantage of the opportunities to make mischief that could be available to them only as members of the Muslim community. And for the aforementioned reasons they would also participate in some expeditions, such as the Banoo Al-Muŝtaliq one.

The Banoo Al-Muŝtaliq were a clan of the Banoo Khuzaʻah. They were settled in Qudaid, around a spring called Al-Muraiseeʻ, between Jeddah and Raabigh, about a nine-day journey from Madeenah. The Prophet received intelligence that their chief Ĥaarith ibn Aboo Dhiraar was preparing to attack Madeenah and was inciting other tribes for that purpose as well. The Prophet sent Buraidah ibn Ĥuŝaib Al-Aslami to gather and verify facts of the situation. He confirmed the news. The Prophet led his companions to apprehend them in their own territory before they could come out to attack.

During this expedition, the hypocrites engineered two serious campaigns of sabotage (Fitnahs) simultaneously, which could have shattered the Muslim unity. However, by virtue of the wonderful training in discipline that the Muslims had received through the profound teachings of the Qur-aan and the effective coaching by the Prophet, both campaigns were blunted in time, and the hypocrites themselves were disgraced instead. One of these Fitnahs has been discussed in Soorah Al-Munaafiqoon while the other is mentioned in this soorah.

This soorah comments on the terrible Fitnah they created by spreading utterly baseless and slanderous rumours accusing the mother of the believers, Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (RAʻ), to have illicit relations with a companion of the Prophet, Ŝafwaan ibn Muʻaŧŧal As-Salami, merely on the basis of a chance encounter between the two during the expedition.

To any reasonable person, there was absolutely no ground for suspicion. Both parties involved were flawless in their fear of Allaah and their piety; and the two had never had any prior interaction or encounter. Thus, only those who had a diseased mentality suspected wrongdoing, reflecting their own immoral psyche. As for the sincere believers, they did not even entertain any idea of wrongdoing. For example, when Aboo Ayyoob Anŝaari’s wife mentioned the rumours, he asked her, “Suppose if you were in place of ‘Aaishah, would you have done anything like that what is being alleged?” She responded, “By Allaah, I would absolutely have not done anything like that.” So, he said, “How could you expect such from ‘Aaishah who is much more pious a Muslim than you are.” Then, he added, “Had I been there in place of Ŝafwaan, any such thought would not even have occurred to me; and it would not have occurred to Ŝafwaan either, because he is much better a Muslim than I am.”

When the slanderous campaign led by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the chief of hypocrites, would not stop, the Prophet confidentially asked the members of the family and close-ones, including servants at the house, as to what they thought of ‘Aaishah; they witnessed her innocence. Then, the Prophet addressed the people from the pulpit, saying, “O Muslims, who from among you will defend my honour against the attacks of the person who has transgressed all bounds in doing harm to me by slandering my wife? By Allaah, I have made a thorough enquiry and found nothing wrong with her, nor with the man whose name has been linked with this slander.”

At this, when the attendees discussed the matter, it developed into a heated contention between Muslims from Aows and Khazraj, causing much uproar in the Masjid, which would have developed into a riot, but the Prophet calmed them down with much difficulty and came down from the pulpit. This shows the enormity of the subversion that was engineered by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy.

Subject Matter

Soorah An-Noor was revealed to address the above-mentioned issues, declare the innocence of ‘Aaishah, teach Muslims about dealing with such issues in the future, inculcate in them appropriate spirit and understanding to cure the weaknesses that caused and sustained such inappropriate behaviour, and teach them rules and practices to help them in the pursuit of excellence in related areas of social life.

As one can understand, the circumstances in which this soorah was revealed were causing severe anguish to the Prophet, so much so that he stood up on the pulpit and expressed his desperation. But the text of this soorah does not reflect any anguish, frustration or any emotion whatsoever. Rather, in a calm tone, graceful manner and rational basis, it presents its purity and excellence oriented teachings and commands. Those people who assume, without any basis, that the Qur-aan is the product of Prophet Muĥammad (ŝall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) need to consider the question: is it possible for a human being to author some text that does not reflect even a bit of his mental and emotional state at the time of authoring the piece?

Placement

This soorah follows and supplements the previous soorah, Al-Mu’minoon, that began with the mention of some basic attributes of success that true Muslims possess and that will take them to Jannah, the Gardens of Paradise. Among them were: they stay away from vain, unproductive, non-constructive and indecent talk and acts; and they maintain their chastity, protect their modesty and guard their private parts completely from everyone except as prescribed by Islamic law. That soorah was revealed in Makkah, where each Muslim was abiding by these values and principles individually. But in Madeenah, Islam was the religion of the state and society, so appropriate enactment was needed to implement those values and principles as the law and policies for the whole society collectively. Soorah Noor legislates the rules for the values and principles that were declared in Soorah Al-Mu’minoon.

Soorah An-Noor is also the last soorah of the third group that highlighted the need for perseverance on the part of the believers in order to attain their mission objectives. The core theme of this group has been to inculcate in the audience a clear understanding of the Sunnah of Allaah about His messengers, their steadfast followers and their unrepentant opponents. This has been explained by repeated examples from the messengers of the past and their people. The purpose has been to give a clear and stern warning to the opponents of the Prophet so that they can clearly see the destiny they are heading towards, and to encourage the believers to persevere through the very testing times because ultimate success is theirs, both in this world and the Hereafter. Thus, the soorahs in this group have underscored the points that:

  1. Regardless of how powerful and well-established the opponents of the Prophet are, they are destined for utter failure and destruction, and nothing can save them except their sincere repentance, acceptance of Islam and obedience to Allaah and His Messenger.
  2. Although it may appear that the Prophet and the Muslims have no future, the reality is that they are destined for success and complete dominance in the society, as well as ultimate success in the Hereafter, for which they must persevere without relenting in their efforts.

The same two themes continue in this soorah, but reflecting changes in the context as the movement had entered into the penultimate phase of the Madeenan era:

  1. By the time of the revelation of this soorah, most of the enemies from the declared disbelievers had been defeated. The major enemies left were the hypocrites (disbelievers who claimed to be believers); therefore, just like the declared disbelievers, they have been invited to reform themselves or else be prepared for Allaah’s punishment in this world and the Hereafter, as happens to all disbelievers (open or hidden) once a messenger has done his job.
  2. The perseverance needed at the time of revelation of An-Noor was in pursuit of excellence despite the hypocrites’ efforts to destroy the moral superiority of the Muslims; in complete and ready obedience to the Prophet; and in continued dedication to Jihad until the Islamic objectives were fully achieved. Thus, the soorah urges Muslims to develop these and other appropriate qualities needed for leadership of the world and gives them the following promise in verse 55:

    Allaah has promised those who believe from among you and do righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession to authority upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will certainly establish for them their Deen which He has approved for them and that He will surely substitute peace and security for them, after their fear; so that they serve only Me as slaves, not equating anything with Me; and whoever disbelieves after this, then it is they who are defiantly disobedient.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

Overview of Soorah Al-Ĥajj and Al-Mu’minoon

22 Soorah Al-Ĥajj Introduction

The word Al-Ĥajj (the pilgrimage) was taken from verse 27 to serve as the symbol of the soorah.

Most of this soorah was revealed at the end of the Makkan period when the Muslims had started emigrating from Makkah and it was just about the time for the Prophet to emigrate as well. The soorah presented to the Makkans a concise précis of the Qur-aanic teachings that had been presented to them over the previous 13 years as a final call, concluding arguments and evidence, and a stern warning of the consequences of their behaviour if they ignored this call. It gave them a last chance to listen to the Prophet directly before he emigrated and they lost that opportunity. It was a parting attempt to encourage them to reflect rationally on the basis of the signs of Allaah SWT and accept the sensible and logical Islamic beliefs in place of their beliefs that were based on ignorance, superstitions and tribal traditions. The soorah also reminded the Makkans of the real purpose for which the Sacred House in Makkah was built by Ibraheem. It showed them how the Prophet and Muslims were the true inheritors of the legacy of Ibraheem and genuine custodians of the House, instead of the Makkans who were using the House for practices that were totally in conflict with the way of Ibraheem.

Some of its verses were revealed soon after the Prophet’s arrival in Madeenah, whereby the Muslims were given permission to fight with the Makkans until they succeed in wresting the control of the Sacred House (Kaʻbah) from the Makkan usurpers and dedicate it again for the Islamic mission, for which it was initially built. Because of the proximity of the time of revelation as well as close connection of the subject matter, these Madeenan verses were inserted where this soorah mentioned the expulsions of Muslims and the pilgrimage embargo imposed on them in violation of the original purpose of the House.

Although there are different opinions about which portions were revealed in Makkah and which verses were revealed in Madeenah, there is consensus that the first 24 verses were revealed in Makkah and verses 38-41 were revealed in Madeenah. However, Amin Ahsan Islahi is of the opinion that the whole soorah was revealed in Makkah, other than the four verses 38-41. We agree with his opinion for the following reasons:

  • The revelation of the Qur-aanic verses was always perfectly timed and no instructions were given that could not be practised immediately. Thus the mention of Hajj and elaboration of its rites (verses 25-37) could not have been revealed in the first year in Madeenah because right after their emigration until the 7th year of Hijrah, the Muslims were barred from entering Makkah for performing Hajj. However, revelation of these verses in Makkah was quite relevant because they elaborate as to what the Hajj was meant to be, what was its spirit, and how it was performed at the time of Ibraheem, but how the Makkans had destroyed this noble act of worship, and how they were hindering the Prophet and the Muslims from doing the things the House was built for.
  • The style, tone and subject matter of verses 42-76 is clearly Makkan, while 77-78 lay down the instructions being given to the Muslims in Makkah to prepare for their role in the Madeenah phase.

23 Soorah Al-Mu’minoon Introduction

Al-Mu’minoon (the Believers) was taken from the first verse of the soorah to serve as its symbolic name.

It was sent down in the middle of the Makkan period, when ‘Umar had already accepted Islam. ‘Urwah ibn Zubair reports that ‘Umar stated, “This soorah was revealed in my presence and I myself observed the state of the Prophet during its revelation. When the revelation ended, the Prophet remarked, ‘Ten verses have just come down to me that the one who measures up to them, will most surely go to Jannah (the Garden of Paradise)’. Then he recited the initial verses of the soorah” (Aĥmad, Tirmidzi, Nasaai, Ĥakim).

The theme of the soorah is presenting rational evidence of the Hereafter and making it clear that the real success is the success of the believers in the Hereafter and that the true losers are the disbelievers who will face the ultimate failure, loss and punishment in the Hereafter, forever. To demonstrate the invalidity of the excuses used by the Makkans to disbelieve in the Prophet and in the Hereafter, the soorah cites the similarities of the Makkans’ comments to those made by the opponents of the previous messengers, who were eventually destroyed for rejecting their messengers. By referring to their end, it warned the Makkans that if they continued to behave similarly, they would eventually encounter the same fate.

Placement

This soorah is the twin of its predecessor, Soorah Al-Ĥajj, which had the same theme. Soorah Al-Ĥajj ended with describing the attributes of the Muslims who will attain Falaaĥ, and Soorah Mu’minoon starts exactly with that topic of Falaaĥ, just like the linking of two rings of a chain. Because of the difference of the stage of the Islamic movement at the time of the revelation of the two, both soorahs differ in the style, details, level of rights and responsibilities and types of examples used to make the points, despite the common theme. However, to indicate the Hereafter as a natural progression of human life, both soorahs describe the human reproduction process in almost identical ways and in more detail than in any other soorah of the Qur-aan.

For reading the complete translation and/or Tafseer, please visit: teachingsofthequraan.com or qur-aan.com.

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