3. Al-‘Imran (The Family of Imran)
This sūrah takes its name from the family of Mary (Al-‘Imran). It was revealed in Madīnah and consists of 200 verses. It deals with many matters concerning the relations of the Muslims with the People of the Book, in particular, the Christians. It clarifies some important points regarding Jesus, including his birth, the miracles he performed, and his mission. It discusses at length the lessons to be taken from the Battle of Uhud and teaches the believers about many important points with respect to belief, reliance on God, preference of the other world over the present one, and the wisdom contained in historical events.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Alif. Lām. Mīm.
2. God, there is no deity but He, the All-Living, the Self-Subsisting (by Whom all subsist).
3. He sends down on you the Book in parts with the truth, confirming (the Divine origin of, and the truths still contained by) the Revelations prior to it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel,
4. In time past, as guidance for the people; and He has sent down the Criterion to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and the knowledge, and power of judgment to put it into effect.1 Those who disbelieve in the Revelations of God, for them is a severe punishment. God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, Ever-Able to Requite.
5. Surely God – nothing whatever on the earth and in the heaven is hidden from Him.
6. It is He Who fashions you in the wombs as He wills. There is no deity but He, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
7. It is He Who has sent down on you this (glorious) Book, wherein are verses absolutely explicit and firm: they are the core of the Book, others being allegorical.2 Those in whose hearts is swerving pursue what is allegorical in it, seeking (to cause) dissension, and seeking to make it open to arbitrary interpretation, although none knows its interpretation save God. And those firmly rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it (in the entirety of its verses, both explicit and allegorical); all is from our Lord”; yet none derives admonition except the people of discernment.
8. (They entreat God:) “Our Lord, do not let our hearts swerve after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your Presence. Surely You are the All-Bestowing.
9. “Our Lord, You it is Who will gather humankind for a Day about (the coming of) which there is no doubt. Surely God does not fail to keep the promise.”
10. Those who disbelieve, neither their wealth nor their offspring will avail them at all against God; they are fuel for the Fire.
11. It is just as that which happened to the court (the court and military aristocracy) of the Pharaoh, and those before them. They denied Our Revelations, and so God seized them for their sins. God is severe in retribution.
12. Say (O Messenger) to those who disbelieve: “You will soon be overpowered and gathered into Hell!” – How evil a cradle it is!
13. There has already been a manifest sign (of the truth of God’s way) and lesson for you in the two hosts that encountered (at the Battle of Badr): one host fighting in God’s cause, and the other disbelieving, who saw with their very eyes (the host of the believers) as twice their actual number (during fighting). God confirms with His help and victory whom He wills. Surely in that is a lesson for those who have insight
14. Made innately appealing to men are passionate love for women, children, (hoarded) treasures of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle, and plantations. Such are enjoyments of the present, worldly life; yet with God is the best of the goals to pursue.
15. Say (to them): “Shall I inform you of what is better than those (things that you so passionately seek to obtain)? For those who keep from disobedience to God in due reverence for Him and piety there are, with their Lord, Gardens through which rivers flow, wherein they will abide, and spouses purified, and God’s good pleasure (with them). God sees the servants well:
16. Those (the God-revering, pious) pray: “Our Lord, we do indeed believe, so forgive us our sins and guard us against the punishment of the Fire”;
17. Those who are persevering (in misfortune and steadfast in fulfilling God’s commandments, and in refraining from sins), and truthful (in their words and actions, and true to their covenants), and devoutly obedient, and who spend (out of what God has provided for them, in His way and for the needy), and who implore God’s forgiveness before daybreak.
18. God (Himself) testifies that there surely is no deity but He, and so do the angels and those of knowledge, being firm in upholding truth and uprightness: (these all testify that) there is no deity but He, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.3
19. The (true) religion with God is Islam.4 Those who were given the Book before differed only after the knowledge (of truth) came to them because of envious rivalry and insolence among themselves. Whoever disbelieves in the Revelations of God (should know that God is swift at reckoning.
20. If they still remonstrate with you, say (to them, O Messenger): “I have submitted my whole being to God, and so have those who follow me.” And ask those who were given the Book before, and the common folk who know nothing about the Book: “Have you also submitted (to God)?” If they have submitted, then they are indeed rightly guided; but if they turn away, then what rests with you is only to convey the Message fully. God sees the servants well.
21. Those who disbelieve in the Revelations of God, and frequently kill the Prophets (sent to them) against all right, and who kill those who advocate and try to establish equity and justice – give them the glad tidings of a painful punishment.
22. Those are the ones whose works have been wasted in both this world and the Hereafter, and they have no helpers (to restore their works to their benefit and save them from punishment).
23. Do you not consider those who were given a portion from the Book? They are called to the Book of God to judge between them, and then (after the judgment was given), a party of them turn away in aversion.
24. (They venture to do so) because they claim: “The Fire will not touch us at all, except for a certain number of days.” (The false beliefs) that they used to invent have deluded them in their religion.
25. How then will they fare when We gather them all together for an (awesome) Day about (the coming of) which there is no doubt, and when every soul will be repaid in full for what it earned (while in the world), and none will be wronged?
26. Say: “O God, absolute Master of all dominion! You give dominion to whom You will, and take away dominion from whom You will, and You exalt and honor whom You will, and abase whom You will; in Your hand is all good; surely You have full power over everything.
27. “You make the night pass into the day, and You make the day pass into the night (and so make each grow longer or shorter); You bring forth the living out the dead, and You bring the dead out of the living, and You provide whomever You will without reckoning.”
28. Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends, guardians, and councilors in preference to the believers. Whoever does that is not on a way from God and has no connection with Him, unless it be to protect yourselves against them and take precautions (against the danger of being persecuted and forced to turn away from your Religion or betray your community, or of losing your life). And God warns you that you beware of Himself; and to God is the homecoming.5
29. Say (to the believers): “Whether you keep secret what is in your bosoms or reveal it, God knows it. He knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. God has full power over everything.”
30. The Day when every soul will find whatever good it has done brought forward, and whatever evil it has done, it will wish that there were a far space between it and that evil. God warns you that you beware of Himself; and God is All-Pitying for the servants.
31. Say (to them, O Messenger): “If you indeed love God, then follow me, so that God will love you and forgive you your sins.” God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.6
32. Say (again): “Obey God, and the Messenger.” If they still turn away, (then know that only the unbelievers turn away from this call, and let them know that) God does not love the unbelievers.
33. (They refuse belief in you and some of the Prophets because you did not appear among them, but God favors whomever He wishes with Messengership, and) God made pure Adam and Noah and the House of Abraham and the House of ‘Imrān, choosing them above all humankind,
34. As descendants of one another (and they were following the same way. Therefore, do not, in respect of believing in them as Prophets, make any distinction between the Prophets and do not think or speak ill of God’s preference). God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.7
35. (Remember) when the woman (from the House) of ‘Imrān entreated: “My Lord, I have dedicated that which is in my womb to Your exclusive service. Accept it, then, from me. Surely You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
36. When she was delivered of it, she said: “My Lord, I have given birth to a female.” – God knew best of what she was delivered, (so she did not need to be sorry, because) the male child (she expected) could not be the same as (the) female child (whom We bestowed on her and would honor with a great favor). – I have named her Mary, and commend her and her offspring to You for protection from Satan eternally rejected from God’s Mercy.”
37. (In response to her mother’s sincerity and purity of intention in dedicating the child,) her Lord accepted her with gracious favor and enabled to her a good growth (upbringing), and entrusted her to the care of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah went in to her in the Sanctuary, he found her provided with food. “Mary,” he asked, “how does this come to you?” “From God,” she answered. Truly God provides to whomever He wills without reckoning.
38. At that point, Zachariah turned to his Lord in prayer and said: “My Lord, bestow upon me out of Your grace a good, upright offspring. Truly, You are the All-Hearer of prayer.”
39. It was when, after some time, he stood praying in the Sanctuary that the angels called to him: “God gives you the glad tidings of John, to confirm a Word from God, and as one lordly, perfectly chaste, a Prophet, among the righteous.”
40. “Lord,” said he (Zachariah), “How shall I have a son when old age has overtaken me, and my wife is barren?” “Just so,” he (the angel) said, (quoting God): “God does whatever He wills.”
41. “Lord,” he (Zachariah) entreated, “appoint a sign for me.” “Your sign,” He said, “is that you will not be able to speak to people for three days except by gesture. And (meanwhile) remember and mention your Lord much, and glorify Him in the afternoon and the early hours of morning.”
42. And (in due time came the moment) when the angels said: “Mary, God has chosen you and made you pure, and exalted you above all the women in the world.
43. “Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord, prostrate and bow (in the Prayer and devotion to Him) with those who bow!”
44. (O Messenger:) that is of the tidings of the things of the unseen (the things that took place in the past and have remained hidden from people with all their truth), which We reveal to you, for you were not present with them when they drew lots with their pens about who should have charge of Mary; nor were you present with them when they were disputing (about the matter).
45. And (remember) when the angels said: “Mary, God gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him, to be called the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary,, highly honored in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those near-stationed to God.
46. “He will speak to people in the cradle and in manhood, and he is of the righteous.”
47. “Lord,” said Mary, “how shall I have a son seeing no mortal has ever touched me?” “That is how it is,” he (the Spirit who appeared before her) said, (quoting God): “God creates whatever He wills; when He decrees a thing, He does but say to it ‘Be!’ and it is.
48. “And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom – and the Torah and the Gospel,
49. “(And He will make him) a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying to them, by way of explaining his mission): ‘Assuredly, I have come to you with a clear proof from your Lord: I fashion for you out of clay something in the shape of a bird, then I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind from birth and the leper, and I revive the dead, by God’s leave. And I inform you of what things you eat, and what you store up in your houses. Surely in this is a clear proof for you (demonstrating that I am a Messenger of God), if you are sincere believers (as you claim.)8
50. ‘And confirming (the truth contained in) the Torah that was revealed before me, and to make lawful for you certain things that had been forbidden to you. Be sure that I have come to you with a clear proof (demonstrating that I am a Messenger of God) from your Lord. So keep from disobedience to God in due reverence for Him and piety, and obey me.
51. ‘Surely, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is a straight path (to follow).’ ”9
52. (Having preached his message in this way for a long time,) Jesus perceived their willful persistence on unbelief (and open hostility), and called out: “Who will be my helpers (on this way) to God?” The disciples answered: “We are the helpers of God(’s cause). We believe in God, and (we call you to) bear witness that we are Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).
53. “Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger, so write us down among the witnesses (of Your Oneness and Lordship, and of the truth You have revealed).”
54. And they (the unbelievers) schemed (against Jesus), and God put His will into effect (and brought their schemes to nothing). God wills what is the best (for His believing servants) and makes His will prevail.
55. (It was part of His countering their scheme) when God said: “Jesus, (as your mission has ended,) I will take you back (to Myself) and raise you up to Myself, and will purify you of (the groundless slanders of) those who disbelieve, and set your followers above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection.10 Then, to Me you will all return, and I will judge between you concerning all that on which you were used to differ.
56. “As for those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe punishment in the world and the Hereafter; and they will have no helpers (against My punishment).
57. As for those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, He will pay their rewards in full. God does not love the wrongdoers (and Himself never does wrong).”
58. Thus (O Messenger,) all this that We recite to you consists of Revelations and is from the Wise Reminder (the Qur’ān).
59. (The creation of) Jesus in reference to God resembles (the creation of) Adam. He created him from earth, then said He to him, “Be!” and he is.11
60. (As the truth always consists in what your Lord wills and decrees,) so is this the truth from your Lord (in this matter); do not then be (and you are never expected to be) of those who doubt.
61. After the (true) knowledge has come to you, whoever still disputes with you about him (Jesus), say (in challenging them): “Come, then! Let us summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, our selves and your selves, and then let us pray and invoke God’s curse upon those who lie.”
62. This is indeed the true narrative; and there is no deity but God, and truly God is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
63. If they (still) turn away, be assured that God has full knowledge of those engaged in causing disorder and corruption.
64. Say (to them, O Messenger): “O People of the Book, come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but God, and associate none as partner with Him, and that none of us take others for Lords, apart from God.” If they (still) turn away, then say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).”12
65. O People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Why do you dispute concerning Abraham (whether he was a Jew or a Christian), when both the Torah and the Gospel were not sent down save after him? Will you ever not reason and understand?
66. Indeed, you are such people that you dispute concerning even a matter about which you have knowledge; why, then, should you dispute on a matter about which you have no knowledge? God knows, but you do not know.
67. Abraham was not a Jew, nor a Christian; but he was one pure of faith and Muslim (who submitted to God with a sound heart). He was never of those who associate partners with God.13
68. Surely those of humankind who have the best claim to relationship with Abraham are those who followed him (during the term of his mission), and this (most illustrious) Prophet, and those (in his company) who believe. God is the confidant and guardian of the believers (to Whom they can entrust their affairs, and on Whom they can rely).
69. A party of the People of the Book wish that they could lead you astray; yet they lead none astray except themselves, but they do not perceive (that this is so).
70. O People of the Book! Why do you disbelieve14 in God’s Revelations (the clear proofs of truth), when you yourselves bear witness (to their truth in your own Books)?
71. O People of the Book! Why do you confound the truth (by mixing it) with falsehood, and conceal the truth knowingly?
72. (In attempting a trick on the believers,) a party of the People of the Book say (to each other): “Feign belief at the beginning of the day in what has been sent down upon those who believe, and disbelieve at the end of it, that they may thus (doubt their religion and) turn back (to their former condition).
73. “But do not believe in any but him who follows your religion –Say (O Messenger): “Surely, the only guidance is God’s guidance”– that anyone should be given the like of what you were given, or that they should argue against you before your Lord.” Say: “Assuredly, all grace and bounty is in God’s hand; He gives it to whomever He wills.” God is All-Embracing (with His mercy), All-Knowing.
74. He singles out for His mercy (of favoring with Prophethood or another calling) whom He wills. God is of tremendous grace and bounty.
75. Among the People of the Book are some who, if you entrust them with a weight of treasure, restore it to you; and among them are some who, if you entrust them with one gold piece, do not restore it unless you keep standing over them. That is because they claim: “We have no responsibility toward the unlettered (those who do not have a Book like ours, and follow our religion).” Thus, they speak lies in attribution to God, and do so knowingly.
76. On the contrary (what God decrees is this): Whoever fulfills his pledge and keeps from disobedience to God in due reverence for Him and piety, surely God loves the God-revering, pious.
77. As to those who sell God’s covenant and their oaths for a trifling price, there will be no share for them in the Hereafter; and God will not speak to them nor look upon them (with mercy) on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them (of their sins to absolve them). And for them is a painful punishment.
78. And among them is a party twisting (the words of) the Book with their tongues (during their reading, in order to distort its meaning), so that you may suppose it part of the Book, when it is not part of the Book; and they say it is from God’s Presence, when it is not from God’s Presence. They speak lies in attribution to God, and do so knowingly.
79. It is not (conceivable) that God should give a human being the Book, authority with sound, wise judgment, and Prophethood, and then he should say to people: “Be servants to me, apart from God.” Rather (he would say): “Be pure, dedicated servants of the Lord, in that you teach the Book and in that you study it.”
80. And he never commands you to take the angels and the Prophets for Lords. Would he command you to unbelief, when you have (answered his call and) become Muslims (submitted to God exclusively)?
81. And when God took compact with the Prophets: “That I have given you a Book and Wisdom; then there will come to you a Messenger confirming what (of the Divine Revelations) you already possess – you shall certainly believe in him and you shall certainly help him.”15 So saying, He asked: “Have you affirmed this and agreed to take up My burden (that I lay upon you) in this matter?” They answered: “We have affirmed (it).” He said: “Then bear witness (you and your communities), and I will be with you among the witnesses.”
82. Then whoever after this turns away, those are the transgressors.
83. Do they now seek a religion other than God’s, when to Him submits whoever is in the heavens and on the earth, willingly or unwillingly,16 and to Him they are being returned?
84. Say: “We have believed in God (without associating any partners with Him), and that which has been sent down on us, and that which was sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets who were raised in the tribes, and that which was given to Moses, Jesus, and all other Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them (in believing), and we are Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).”
85. Whoever seeks as Religion other than Islam, (which is the standard Religion conveyed by all the Prophets during history, and is based on complete submission to God,) it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter, he will be among the losers.17
86. How would God guide a people who have disbelieved after their belief, and after they have borne witness that the Messenger is true and after the clear proofs (of His Messengership and the Divine origin of the Book he has brought) have come to them? God guides not wrongdoing people.
87. For those – their recompense is that on them rests the curse of God, and of the angels, and of humankind, all together.18
88. Therein will they abide. Neither will their punishment be lightened, nor will they be granted any respite.
89. Save those who afterwards repent and mend their ways. Surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
90. But those who have disbelieved after their (profession of) belief19 and then have hardened in unbelief, (they have lost the capacity for believing so they can no longer return to faith, nor repent until they are held in the jaws of death, and) their repentance (at that moment) will not be accepted. And they are those who are altogether astray.
91. Assuredly, those who disbelieve and die unbelievers, no ransom, even if it was as much gold as to fill the earth, will be accepted from any of them. Such are those for whom is a painful punishment, and they will have no helpers (against it).
92. You will never be able to attain godliness and virtue until you spend of what you love (in God’s cause, or to provide sustenance for the needy). Whatever you spend, God has full knowledge of it.20
93. All (kinds of) food (that are lawful in the Law revealed to Muhammad) were lawful to the Children of Israel (in the beginning) except what Israel (i.e. Prophet Jacob) forbade for himself before the Torah was sent down. Say (to them, O Messenger): “Bring the Torah and recite it, if you are truthful (in your claim that there is no abrogation in it).”21
94. So whoever fabricates falsehood in attribution to God after that (statement, above, of the truth of the matter) – such are the wrongdoers.
95. Say (O Messenger): “God speaks the truth.” Therefore, follow the way of Abraham as people of pure faith (a faith free of unbelief, of associating partners with God, and of hypocrisy). He was never of those who associate partners with God.
96. Behold, the first House (of Prayer) established for humankind is the one at Bakkah (Makkah), a blessed place and a (center or focus of) guidance for all peoples.
97. In it, there are clear signs (demonstrating that it is a blessed sanctuary, chosen by God as the center of guidance), and the Station of Abraham. Whoever enters it is in security (against attack and fear). Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by all who can afford a way to it. And whoever refuses (the obligation of the Pilgrimage), or is ungrateful to God (by not fulfilling this command), God is absolutely independent of all creatures.
98. Say: “O People of the Book! Why do you conceal and disbelieve in God’s Revelations, God being Witness to all that you do?”
99. Say: “O People of the Book! Why do you bar from God’s way those who believe, seeking to make it appear crooked, when you yourselves are witnesses (to its being the right way)? God is not unaware and unmindful of all that you do.”
100. O you who believe! Were you to obey a party of those who were given the Book, they would turn you, after your faith, into unbelievers.
101. How do you disbelieve, seeing you are the ones to whom God’s Revelations are recited, and His Messenger is amidst you? Whoever holds fast to God, he has certainly been guided to a straight path.
102. O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverent piety, with all the reverence that is due to Him, and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).
103. And hold fast all together to the rope of God, and never be divided. Remember God’s favor upon you: you were once enemies, and He reconciled your hearts so that through His favor, you became like brothers. You stood on the brink of a pit of fire, and He delivered you from it. Thus, God makes His signs of truth clear to you that you may be guided (to the Straight Path in all matters, and be steadfast on it.)
104. There must be among you a community calling to good, and enjoining and actively promoting what is right, and forbidding and trying to prevent evil (in appropriate ways). They are those who are the prosperous.
105. Be not as those who split into parties and followed different ways after the manifest truths had come to them. Those are the ones for whom is a tremendous punishment.,
106. On the Day when some faces turn bright and some faces turn dark. And as to those whose faces have turned dark (they will be told): “What, did you disbelieve after having believed? Taste, then, the punishment because you used to follow the way of unbelief!”
107. As for those whose faces have turned bright, they are (embraced) in God’s mercy, therein abiding forever.
108. These are God’s Revelations: We recite them to you in truth, and God wills not any wrong to the world’s people.22
109. (How could that be so, seeing that) to God belongs whatever is in the heavens and on the earth, and to God are all matters ultimately referred (and whatever He wills occurs).
110. (O Community of Muhammad!) You are the best community ever brought forth for (the good of) humankind, enjoining and promoting what is right and good, and forbidding and trying to prevent evil, and (this you do because) you believe in God.23 If only the People of the Book believed (as you do), this would be sheer good for them. Among them there are believers, but most of them are transgressors.
111. They will never be able to harm you except hurting a little (mostly with their tongues). If they fight against you, they will turn their backs in flight; then they will not be helped (to victory over you).
112. Ignominy has been their (the Jews’) portion wherever they have been found, except for (when they hold on to) a rope from God or a rope from other peoples; and they were visited with a wrath (humiliating punishment) from God, and misery has been pitched upon them24 – and all this because they were persistently disbelieving in Our Revelations, rejecting Our signs of truth (that they continually observed in their lives), and killing the Prophets against all right; and all this because they disobeyed and kept on transgressing (the bounds of the Law).
113. Yet, they are not all alike: among the People of the Book, there is an upright community, reciting God’s Revelations in the watches of the night and prostrating (themselves in worship).
114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin and promote what is right and good, and forbid and try to prevent evil, and hasten to do good deeds, as if competing with one another. Those are of the righteous ones.
115. Whatever good they do, they will never be denied the reward of it; and God has full knowledge of the God-revering, pious.
116. As to those who disbelieve, their riches will not avail them in the least, nor their children, against God; and those (unfortunate ones) are the companions of the Fire, abiding therein.
117. Their spending (to attain their goals in humanitarian or religious guises) in this life of the world is like a biting wind accompanied with frost that smites the harvest of a people who wronged themselves (by their wrong belief and their wrong actions), and devastates it. God has never wronged them but they do wrong themselves.
118. O you who believe! Take not for intimates from among others than your own people, for those (who especially cherish hostility towards you) spare no effort to ruin you, and yearn for you to always suffer. Hatred has shown itself by their mouths, and what their bosoms conceal is even greater. Now We have told you the manifest truths, if you reason and understand.
119. You are such (frank, clear-hearted) people that you love them (even those who are enemies to you), but they do not love you; and you believe in the whole of the Book (without making any distinction between the verses, and believe in all of the God-revealed Books). When they meet you, they say (hypocritically), “We believe;” but when they find themselves alone, they gnaw their fingers in rage against you. Say (to them, O Messenger): “Perish in your rage!” Assuredly, God has full knowledge of what lies hidden in the bosoms.
120. If anything good happens to you, this grieves them; if any misfortune befalls you, they rejoice at it. Yet if you endure and persevere in your way and act in piety, keeping from evil and any injustice, their guile will never harm you. Surely God fully encompasses (with His Knowledge and Power) all that they do.
121. (Remember, O Messenger) when you set forth from your home at dawn to place the believers in battle order – God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing (He heard and knew all that was happening and being talked about on that day).25
122. When two parties of you were about to lose heart, although God was their helper and protector – and in God, let the believers put all their trust.26
123. For sure God had helped you to victory at Badr when you were a despised (small) force. So observe your duty to God in due reverence for Him, that you may be thankful.
124. When you said to the believers: “Does it not suffice you that your Lord will come to your help with three thousand angels sent down?”
125. Surely it does. (More than that), if you are steadfast and act in piety, to deserve His protection, and the enemy should fall upon you all at once, your Lord will come to your help with five thousand angels swooping down.
126. God did not ordain this save as a message of good hope for you, and so that thereby, your hearts might be at peace – victory comes only from God, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.
127. And that (through you) He might cut off a (leading) party of those who disbelieved, or overwhelm them, so that they (and others) would retreat in utter disappointment.
128. (O Messenger, you are a servant charged with a certain duty, therefore) it is not a matter for you whether He turns towards them in mercy (to accept their repentance for their unbelief, and grants them faith) or punishes them because they are wrongdoers.
129. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth; He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
130. O you who believe! Do not consume usury, doubled and redoubled; and act in piety, keeping from disobedience to Him, so that you may prosper (in both worlds).27
131. And (be careful of your acts and transactions, and) guard yourselves against the Fire, prepared for the unbelievers.
132. Obey God and the Messenger, so that you may be shown mercy (granted a good, virtuous life in this world, and eternal happiness in the Hereafter).
133. And hasten, as if competing with one another, to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a Garden as spacious as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the God-revering, pious.
134. They spend (out of what God has provided for them,) both in ease and hardship, ever-restraining their rage (even when provoked and able to retaliate), and pardoning people (their offenses). God loves (such) people who are devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing them.
135. They are also the ones who, when they have committed a shameful deed or wronged themselves (through any kind of sinful act), immediately remember God and implore Him to forgive their sins – for who will forgive sins save God? – and do not persist knowingly in whatever (evil) they have committed.
136. Such are the ones whose reward is forgiveness from their Lord and Gardens through which rivers flow, to abide therein. How excellent is the reward of those who always do good deeds!
137. Assuredly, before you have passed many ways of life and practices (that illustrate the law God has established for the life of human societies). Go about, then, on the earth, and behold how the outcome was for those who denied (God’s manifest signs and Messengers).
138. This (history of peoples past) is a plain exposition (of the truth) for all people, and a clear guidance (to a more substantial faith and devotion) and an instruction for the God-revering, pious.
139. Do not, then, be faint of heart, nor grieve, for you are always the superior side, if you are (true) believers.
140. If a wound has touched you (at Uhud), (you know that) a similar wound touched those (disbelieving) people (at Badr). Such (historic, eventful) days – We deal them out in turns among people so that God may mark out those who (truly) believe and select from among you such as bear witness to the truth (with their lives) – (it is a fact that) God does not love the wrongdoers (and in the end He punishes wrong and makes truth superior) –
141. And that He may purify the believers (individually, of all base metal, and collectively, of the hypocrites among them), and gradually blot out the unbelievers.
142. Did you suppose that you should enter Paradise without God marking out those among you who really strive hard (in His cause), and marking out the patient and steadfast?
143. You did indeed long for death (for God’s cause) before you came face-to-face with it; now you have faced it (on the battlefield), only observing it with your own eyes (without doing anything to meet it).
144. (Did you think that this cause of Islam subsisted not by God but while Muhammad was alive among you? If so, know that this cause depends on God and as for his part in it, know that) Muhammad is but a Messenger, and Messengers passed away before him. If, then, he dies or is killed, will you turn back on your heels? Whoever turns back on his heels can in no way harm God. But God will (abundantly) reward the thankful ones (those who are steadfast in God’s cause).
145. It never occurs that a soul dies save by God’s leave, at a time appointed. So whoever desires the reward of this world, We give him of it (in the world); and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter, We give him of it; and We will soon reward the thankful.
146. And how many a Prophet has had to fight (for God’s cause), followed by numbers of godly, dedicated servants of God; and they did not become faint of heart for all that befell them in God’s cause, nor did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves (before the enemy). And God loves the patient and steadfast.
147. What they said (when they encountered the enemy) was: “Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and any wasteful act we may have done in our duty, and set our feet firm, and help us to victory over the disbelieving people!”
148. So God granted them the reward of this world as well as the best reward of the Hereafter. Indeed, God loves those devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing them.
149. O you who believe! If you follow those who disbelieve (the hypocrites and Jews in Madīnah who spread negative propaganda concerning the events at Uhud), they will drive you back on your heels (into unbelief), and you will turn utter losers (in both this world and the next).28
150. But God is your Guardian and Owner, and He is the Best of helpers.
151. We will throw alarm into the hearts of those who disbelieve because they associate with God partners, for which He has sent no authority at all, and their refuge will be the Fire; and how evil is the dwelling of the wrongdoers!
152. God did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you routed them by His leave, up to (the point) when you lost heart, and disagreed about the order (given to the archers among you not to leave their positions), and disobeyed, after He had brought you within sight of that (victory) for which you were longing. Among you were such as cared for this world, and among you were such as cared for the Hereafter. Then He diverted you from them (the enemy), that He might try you. But He has surely pardoned you: God has grace and bounty for the believers.29
153. When you were running off (from the battlefield), paying no heed to anyone, and at your rear the Messenger was calling out to you (to stay in the battle), then God requited you with grief after grief so that you might not grieve either for what escaped you, or for what befell you.30 God is fully Aware of all that you do.
154. Then, after grief, He sent down peace and security for you: a slumber overtook some of you; and some, being concerned (merely) about themselves, were entertaining false notions about God – notions of (the pre-Islamic) Ignorance – and saying: “Do we have any part in the authority (in the decision-making)?” Say (to them, O Messenger): “The authority rests with God exclusively.” Indeed, they concealed within themselves what they would not reveal to you, and were saying (among themselves): “If only we had had a part in the authority (in the decision-making), we would not have been killed here.” Say (O Messenger): “Even if you had been in your houses, those for whom killing had been ordained would indeed have gone forth to the places where they were to lie (in death).”31 (All of this happened as it did) so that He may test what (thoughts, intentions, and inclinations) is in your bosoms, and purify and prove what is (the faith) in your hearts. God has full knowledge of what lies hidden in the bosoms.
155. Those of you who turned away on the day when the two hosts encountered (at Uhud), Satan made them slip because of some of the errors they themselves had committed. But now, God has pardoned them. Surely God is All-Forgiving, All-Clement.
156. O you who believe! Be not as those who disbelieve and say of their brothers who (died) after having set out on a journey or gone forth to war, “Had they remained with us, they would not have died or been killed.” God wills that such thoughts as this should be a cause of sighs and anguish in their hearts. God (He alone) gives life and causes to die; and whatever you do, God sees it well.
157. And if you are killed, or die, in God’s cause, then forgiveness from God and mercy are far better than all that they could amass (in this life).
158. And, assuredly, if you die or are killed, it is to God that you will be gathered.
159. It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you. Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs (of public concern); and when you are resolved (on a course of action), put your trust in God.32 Surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him).
160. If God helps you, there will be none who can overcome you; if He forsakes you, who is there that can help you thereafter? In God, then, let the believers put all their trust.
161. It is not conceivable that a Prophet defrauds; and whoever defrauds (by stealing from public property or war-gains) will come with what he gained by his fraud on the Day of Resurrection. Then, every soul shall be repaid in full what it has earned (while in the world), and they will not be wronged.
162. What, is he who strives after God’s good pleasure and approval like him who is laden with God’s condemnation and whose refuge is Hell? How evil a destination to arrive at!
163. They are in varying grades in God’s sight, and God sees well all that they do.
164. Assuredly, God has done the believers a great kindness by raising among them a Messenger of their own, reciting to them His Revelations, and purifying them (of false beliefs and doctrines, and sins, and all kinds of uncleanness), and instructing them in the Book and the Wisdom; whereas, before that, they were lost in obvious error.
165. And do you, now that a disaster has befallen you, though you inflicted the double (of that on your foes at Badr), say: “Whence is this?” Say (to them, O Messenger): “It is from your own selves.” Surely God has full power over everything.
166. What befell you on the day when the two hosts met (in battle) was by God’s leave, and that He might mark out the (true) believers.
167. And that He might mark out those who acted in hypocrisy. When they were told, “Come and fight in God’s cause, or defend yourselves (actively, in order to keep the enemy outside the city),” they said: “If we but knew there would be fighting, we would indeed follow you.” They, that day, were nearer to unbelief than to faith, uttering with their mouths what was not in their hearts. God knows very well what they were concealing.
168. They who, having themselves held back (from fighting), say of their (slain) brothers, “Had they but paid heed to us, they would not have been killed.” Say (to them, O Messenger): “Avert, then, death from yourselves, if you are truthful (in your claim).”
169. Do not think at all of those killed in God’s cause as dead. Rather, they are alive; with their Lord they have their sustenance,
170. Rejoicing in what God has granted them out of His bounty, and joyful in the glad tidings for those left behind who have not yet joined them, that (in the event of martyrdom) they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
171. They are joyful in the glad tidings of God’s blessing and bounty (that He has prepared for the martyrs), and in (the promise) that God never leaves to waste the reward of the believers.33
172. Those who responded to the call of God and the Messenger after the hurt had befallen them – for all those of them who persevered in doing good, aware that God was seeing them, and acted in reverence for God and piety, there is a tremendous reward.
173. Those to whom some people said: “Look, those people have gathered against you, therefore be fearful of them.” But it increased them only in faith, and they responded: “God is sufficient for us; how excellent a Guardian He is!”
174. So they returned with favor and bounty from God, having suffered no harm. They strove after God’s good pleasure by acting in the way He approved of. God is of tremendous grace and bounty.34
175. It was but that (human) devil who (by provoking alarm), desires to make you fearful of his allies. So do not fear them, but fear Me,35 if you are (true) believers.36
176. Let not those who rush in unbelief as if competing with one another grieve you; they can in no way harm God (and His true friends). God wills that they will have no share in (the blessings of) the Hereafter. For them is a tremendous punishment.
177. Those who have bought unbelief in exchange for belief can in no way harm God (and His true friends, who fear and rely on Him.) For them is a tremendous punishment.
178. And let not those who disbelieve think that Our giving them rein is good for them. We give them rein only that they may grow in sin and wickedness (and deserve God’s punishment).37 For them is a shameful, humiliating punishment.
179. It was not (the will) of God to leave the believers in the state you are now in (with the people of true faith indistinguishable from the hypocrites,) until He distinguishes the corrupt from the pure. Nor was it (the will of God) that He would make you aware of the Unseen (so that you would know your future, and have insight into the hearts of people). But (to that end) God chooses of His Messengers whom He wills (and completes the test to which He puts you in the world). So believe in God and His Messengers: if you (truly) believe and live in piety, keeping from disobedience to Him and to His Messenger, then there is for you a tremendous reward.
180. Let not those who are niggardly with what God has granted them out of His bounty think that it is good for them: rather, it is bad for them. What they are niggardly with, they will have it hung about their necks on the Day of Resurrection. (Why are they niggardly, seeing that to God belongs the absolute ownership of the heavens and the earth?, And) He will inherit them in the end. And God is fully aware of all that you do.
181. God has indeed heard the saying of those who said, “God is poor, and we are rich.” We will record what they have said, as well as their killing the Prophets against all right; and We will say (to them): “Taste the punishment of the scorching fire!”
182. This is because of (the unrighteous deeds) that your own hands have forwarded, for never does God do the least wrong to the servants.
183. (Also it is) they who said: “God made covenant with us, that we believe not in any Messenger unless he brings us an offering which (as a sign of its being accepted by God) a fire (from heaven) will consume.” Say (to them, O Messenger): “Before me, there came to you Messengers with the clear proofs (of their Messengership) and with that (same miracle) which you describe;. why, then, did you kill them, if you are true in your claim?”
184. (O Messenger!) If they deny you, (do not grieve!), for in the same way, Messengers were denied before you, who came with the clear proofs (of their Messengership), Scrolls (full of wisdom and advice), and the Book (like the Torah and the Gospel), enlightening (their mind and hearts), and illuminating (their way).
185. (No one will live forever doing what they do:) Every soul is bound to taste death.38 So (O people), you will but be repaid in full on the Day of Resurrection (for whatever you have done in the world). Whoever is spared the Fire and admitted into Paradise has indeed prospered and triumphed. (Know that) the present, worldly life is nothing but a transient enjoyment of delusion.
186. (So O believers, as a requirement of the wisdom in, and purpose for, your life of the world,) you will surely be tested in respect of your properties and your selves, and you will certainly hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and those who associate partners with God. If you remain patient (are steadfast in your Religion, and observe the bounds set by God in your relations with them) and keep within the limits of piety (in obeying God, and in your conduct toward them), (know that) this is among meritorious things requiring great resolution to fulfill.
187. (Remember) when God took a covenant from those who were given the Book: “You shall make clear to the people (the whole truth of all that is in) the Book (including mention of the Last, promised Prophet), and not conceal it.” But they paid no heed to it, flinging it behind their backs, and sold it for a trifling price (such as worldly advantage and position, status, and renown). How evil a bargain they made!
188. Never suppose that those who rejoice in what they have thus contrived, and who love to be (famed and) praised for what they have not achieved (such as being devout and pious, and defenders of God’s law) – never suppose that they have saved themselves from the punishment: for them is a painful punishment.
189. And God’s is the sovereignty (absolute ownership and dominion) of the heavens and the earth, and God has full power over everything.
190. Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day (with their periods shortening and lengthening), there are signs (manifesting the truth) for the people of discernment.
191. They remember and mention God (with their tongues and hearts), standing and sitting and lying down on their sides (whether during the Prayer or not), and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. (Having grasped the purpose of their creation and the meaning they contain, they conclude and say): “Our Lord, You have not created this (the universe) without meaning and purpose. All-Glorified You are (in that You are absolutely above doing anything meaningless and purposeless), so save us from (having wrong conceptions of Your acts, and acting against Your purpose for creation, and so deserving) the punishment of the Fire!
192. “Our Lord! Whomever You admit into the Fire, indeed You have brought him to disgrace. (Having concealed or rejected God’s signs in the heavens and on the earth, and so denied God or fallen into associating partners with Him,) the wrongdoers will have no helpers (against the Fire).
193. “Our Lord! Indeed We have heard a caller calling to faith, saying: ‘Believe in your Lord!’, so we did believe. Our Lord, forgive us, then, our sins, and blot out from us our evil deeds, and take us to You in death in the company of the truly godly and virtuous.
194. “Our Lord! Grant us what You have promised us through Your Messengers. Do not disgrace us on the Day of Resurrection; indeed You never break Your promise.”
195. And thus does their (All-Gracious and Generous) Lord answer them: “I do not leave to waste the work of any of you (engaged in doing good), whether male or female. (As males and females following the same way) you are all one from the other. Hence, those who have emigrated (in My cause), and been expelled from their homelands, and suffered hurt in My cause, and have fought and been killed, indeed I will blot out from them their evil deeds and will admit them into Gardens through which rivers flow, as a reward from God (with infinite Mercy and Power to fulfill whatever He promises).” With God lies the best reward.
196. Let it not deceive you (O Messenger) that those who disbelieve strut about the land in pomp and show of dominion.
197. It is but a brief enjoyment, with Hell thereafter as their final refuge: how evil a cradle it is!
198. Whereas those who keep from disobedience to their Lord (Who created and raised them, and sustains them, and Who has sent them the best of laws to order their lives), and act within the limits of piety – for them are Gardens through which rivers flow, therein to abide: a hospitality from the Presence of God; and that which is with God is best for the truly godly and virtuous.
199. And, behold, among the People of the Book are those who believe in God and what has been sent down to you, and what was sent down to them, those humbling themselves before God in reverence, not selling God’s Revelations for a trifling price. Such are those whose reward is with their Lord. God is swift at reckoning.
200. O you who believe! Be patient (persevere through what befalls you in the world, in God’s cause); encourage each other to patience, vying in it with one another and outdoing all others in it; and observe your duties to God in solidarity, and keep from disobedience to God in due reverence for Him and piety, so that you may prosper (in both worlds)!
1. For the Criterion, refer to 2: 53, note 61.
As for the Torah and the Gospel, which are confirmed by the Qur’ān: the Torah, in the Qur’ānic usage, signifies the Revelations made to the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, from the time he was appointed as a Messenger until his death. These also include the Ten Commandments, which were handed over to him inscribed on tablets. Moses, upon him be peace, took down the rest of the revealed injunctions and handed over one copy to each of the tribes, and one copy to the Levites for safe-keeping. It is this book which was known as the Torah, and it existed until the first destruction of Jerusalem. The copy entrusted to the Levites was put beside the Ark (of the Covenant) along with the tablets of Commandments, and the Israelites knew this as the Torah. The Jews, however, neglected the Book: during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah, the Temple of Solomon was under repair and the high priest, Hilkiah, chanced to find the Book lying in the construction area. He gave it to the King’s secretary, Staphan, who in turn took it to the King; they acted as if this were a strange object to find (see: II Kings, 22: 8–13).
Hence, when the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem and razed it and the Temple of Solomon to the ground, the Israelites lost forever the few original copies of the Torah which they had possessed. At the time of Ezra, some Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, and when Jerusalem was rebuilt, the entire history of Israel, which comprises the first 14 books of the Old Testament, was recorded by Ezra with the assistance of some other elders of the community. Four of these books, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, consist of a biographical narrative of Moses, upon him be peace. In this biography, those verses of the Torah available to Ezra and the other elders were also recorded, along with the contexts in which they were revealed. The present Torah, therefore, comprises fragments of the original book interspersed throughout with a biography of Moses (composed in the manner described above).
In locating these fragments of the original Torah, there are certain expressions which help us. These are interspersed between the different pieces of biographical narrative and usually open with words such as: “Then the Lord said to Moses,” and “Moses said, the Lord your God commands you.” These expressions, then, are most probably fragments of the original Torah. When the biographical narration re-commences, however, we can be sure that the fragments of the true Torah cease. Wherever authors and editors of the Bible have added anything of their own accord, by way of their elaboration or elucidation, it becomes very difficult for an ordinary reader to distinguish the original from the explanatory additions. Those with insight into Divine Scripture, however, do have the capacity to distinguish between the original revealed fragments and the later human interpolations.
It is the original Book revealed to Moses, some of the verses of which are to be found in the Bible, which the Qur’ān terms as the Torah, and it is this which it confirms. When these fragments are compared with the Qur’ān, there is no difference between the two as regards the fundamental teachings. Whatever differences do exist relate to legal matters and are of secondary importance. Even today, a careful reader can appreciate that the Torah and the Qur’ān have sprung from the same Divine source.
Likewise, the Injīl signifies the inspired orations and utterances of Jesus (upon him be peace), which he delivered during the last three years of his life in his capacity as a Messenger. There are no certain means by which we can definitely establish whether or not his statements were recorded during his lifetime. It is possible that some people took notes of them and that some followers committed them to memory. After a period of time, however, several treatises on the life of Jesus were written. The authors of these treatises recorded, in connection with the biographical account, those sayings of his which they had received from the previous generation of co-religionists, in the form of either oral traditions or written notes about events in his life. As a result, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, whose authors belonged to the second or third generation after Jesus, and which were chosen from among more than 300 other similar versions and accepted by the Church as the Canonical Gospels, are not identical with the Injīl. Rather, the Injīl consists of those statements by Jesus which form part of these Gospels. Unfortunately, we have no means of distinguishing the fragments of the original Injīl from the pieces written by the authors themselves. All we can say is that only those sections explicitly attributed to Jesus, for example, statements such as: “And Jesus said” and “And Jesus taught,” most probably constitute the true Injīl. It is the totality of such fragments which is designated as the Injīl by the Qur’ān, and it is the teachings contained in these fragments that the Qur’ān confirms. If these fragments are put together and compared with the teachings of the Qur’ān, one notices very few discrepancies between the two, and any discrepancies that are found can be resolved easily by unbiased reflection. (Largely quoted from al-Mawdūdī, 1: 233–234.)
2. Muhkam means that which has been made firm and perfect, while Mutashābih derives from the root shibh, which means resemblance. All the verses of the Qur’ān are muhkam in the sense that there is no doubt about their Divine authorship, yet they are mutashābih as well in the sense that they are interrelated with one another. Nevertheless, what is meant in this verse by muhkam and mutashābih is as follows:
The muhkam verses are those verses whose meaning is so clear that they are not open to any ambiguity or equivocation. Such verses are the core of the Qur’ān. They embody admonition and instruction, as well as the refutation of erroneous doctrines. They also contain the essentials of the true faith, teachings related to faith, worship, daily life and morality, and the mandatory duties and prohibitions. These are the verses which will guide the genuine seeker of the truth, which will guide those who turn to the Qur’ān in order to find out what they ought or ought not to do.
The mutashābih verses are those which, having more than one meaning, require other evidence in order to be understood. The reason for these multiple meanings is that time progresses, conditions change, human information increases, and there are as many levels of understanding as there are people. The Qur’ān, being the Word of God, addresses all levels of understanding from the time of its revelation to the Day of Resurrection. It explains to people matters which cannot be easily understood by using metaphors, similes, personifications, and parables. This way of explanation does not harm the unchanging, essential truths of religion, for God has clearly informed us of what He demands from us relating to faith, worship, morality, and the mandatory duties and prohibitions. The mutashābih (allegorical) verses contain relative truths which can be understood by considering the relevant verses and referring to the muhkam ones.
Because of the realities of human life in this world, the relative truths are more in number than the absolute, unchanging ones. In order to understand this point, let us take a crystal chandelier as an example. While the light remains the same, those sitting around it perceive different colors or light of varying strength as their positions change. Such differences arise from the different shapes of the crystals in the chandelier, and the different angles of the crystals. In the same way, God Almighty included in the Qur’ān several allegorical verses in order to provide unlimited meanings with limited words to all people, whatever their level of knowledge or understanding might be, in order to teach them until the Last Day; in this way, they are invited to reflect on the Book and to be guided to the truth. It should not be forgotten that an exact resemblance is not sought between that which is compared and that to which it is being compared.
Since the allegorical verses have multiple meanings, the interpreters of the Qur’ān may be able to discover one or more of those meanings. Each of their discoveries can be regarded as being true, provided it is in conformity with the muhkam verses and the essentials of Islam, the rules of Qur’ānic Arabic, and the rules of the science of interpretation. But whatever true meaning is arrived at by a scholar, the exact meaning of these verses is always referred to God, the All-Knowing; this is exegesis.
3. This verse, by virtue of its being the greatest evidence of God’s Existence and Oneness, of being the verse that is the most expressive of this, is regarded as being equal to God’s Greatest Name.
Everything in the universe, from the minutest particles to the most expansive galaxies, and every event that takes place in it, bears decisive evidence of the Existence and Oneness of God. For with a thing’s coming into existence, with its life and particularities, and with the function it fulfills in the general network of existence, every creature and every object points to a single Deity Who has absolute and infinite Attributes, including, in particular, Knowledge, Power, and Will.
Imagine that you are standing by a river at midday. In each of the bubbles floating by on this river there can be seen a tiny, shining sun. When those bubbles go into a distant tunnel, the tiny suns can no longer be seen. But in the bubbles that are passing in front of us at that moment, we can still see the same tiny suns. This proves that the suns found in the bubbles do not actually belong to the bubbles themselves, nor are they of their own making. They are the reflections of the one, single sun in the sky. This is how each bubble bears witness to the existence and oneness of the sun. It also shows that the sun provides light. (If we look at the sun through a prism, we are able to discern the light of the sun in different colors.) The tiny suns continue to be reflected in new bubbles that pass us by, while others are getting lost in the tunnel – all this goes to demonstrate that the sun is a permanent object.
Thus, all the things in the universe are like a bubble. The coming into existence of these things, provided as they are with the necessary equipment for life in the proper environment, goes to prove the Existence of a Creator Who has full knowledge of both the object and the universe, for every object has a relationship with almost everything else in the whole of the universe. The power that those living creatures have to see and hear indicates that the Creator sees and hears, and their ability to satisfy their vital needs proves that the Creator is All-Providing. The death of living beings and their being replaced by new ones show that the Creator is Permanent. Likewise, the order of the universe and the reality that its components mutually help one another also indicate the fact that the Creator is One. For example, in order for a morsel of food to enter the human body as sustenance, the sun, soil, water, and the plant from which the morsel has been produced, and all the organs of the human body, must cooperate. This can only be explained by attributing this cooperation to a Unique Being Who has full knowledge of, and power over, all these things. It is clear that whoever has created and directs the solar system has also created the human body and directs it. Among creatures, humanity has will and consciousness. Despite this, no human being plays a role in his coming into this world, in the choice of his family, color or race, nor in the time or his place of birth and death. Moreover, human beings have the minutest part, even in their most ordinary acts, like eating and drinking. It is not we who make it necessary for us to eat or drink; someone else has designed this body, which works automatically, outside of our free will; someone else has placed us in this welcoming environment and has determined the relationship between our body and the environment, including what is edible and what is not. The part we play in eating only consists of putting the morsel in our mouth and chewing. All this clearly demonstrates that the One Who has designed the human body with all its vital needs and organs, is the same Being as the One Who has created its environment including the sun, the soil, water and plants, and Who has undertaken to meet these vital needs. That Being is One Who has full knowledge of the universe and humanity and has enough power to create and direct them all at the same time, with an absolutely free will.
Apart from this “objective” reality, there is the fact that human beings feel in their conscience the Existence of God as a point of reliance, especially in instances when they are left with nothing to resort to in order to achieve their desire, or to be saved from a calamity; it is at this time that they ask for help. Humans feel that there must be One Who can help them to achieve their desires or to save them from danger. Even if they do not encounter difficult situations, all humans have an innate feeling for His Existence.
In short, it is absolutely impossible to explain existence without the Existence of God. His Existence is more manifest than anything else in the universe. The person who denies Him is no different from one who closes his eyes at midday and claims that there is no sun in the universe. God’s Existence is even more manifest than that of the sun. A person can act like a sophist and doubt his own existence, but he cannot doubt God’s Existence or Oneness. Certain factors, such as vainglory, wrongdoing, having an incorrect perspective of existence because of, for example, the education that one has had, or the environment in which one has grown up, or the lifestyle that one leads and one’s personal interests, may have sealed the faculties of “seeing,” “hearing,” and “thinking,” which then leads some to the denial of God. However, the angels and those possessed of “knowledge,” who view and study things and events with eyes that are able to “see,” with ears that are able to “hear,” with a heart that is keen and lively enough to understand, and with a pure conscience, and those who rely on the knowledge that the Prophets received from God through Revelation, witness that God exists and that He is One.
4. Literally, Islam means submission, salvation, and peace. It is possible only through submission to God that one can attain peace in both individual and social spheres, and salvation in both this world and the next. This is why all the Prophets came with the same doctrine of faith, the same precepts of worship and good conduct, and the same principles for regulating social life. It is only in some secondary matters of law that they differed; and this was only in connection with the time and conditions in which they lived. The name of the religion that encompasses this doctrine and these precepts and principles is Islam. Names such as “Judaism” and “Christianity” were given to this standard religion by either its followers or by its opponents, and they were given some time after Moses and Jesus, upon them both be peace, had left this world. What this means is that all the Prophets came with Islam and communicated it, but individual followers failed to observe and preserve it, making changes in it over time. It was communicated for the final time by the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, in a way that would embrace all people until the end of time. So it is only “the Islam” which the Prophet Muhammad preached that is approved by God as the true religion: Say (O Messenger): “We have believed in God (without associating any partners with Him), and that which has been sent down on us, and that which was sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets who were raised in the tribes, and that which was given to Moses, Jesus, and all other Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them (in believing), and we are Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively). Whoever seeks as religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers..” (3: 84–85)
5. This verse does not forbid believers to treat others well; even if the others are unbelievers, the believers should do good to them. Obeying the law, remaining faithful to promises and covenants, earnestness and trustworthiness in transactions, doing good for others, and showing mercy—are all requirements of the faith. But believers cannot prefer unbelievers, especially if they are openly hostile to Islam and to Muslims, in the deputation of their affairs. They cannot establish a relationship with them in a way that will harm Islam or the Muslim community.
6. This verse alone would be enough to proclaim the infallibility of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and the importance of following his Sunnah, even if there were no other verse of equal importance.
Love is the very substance of existence and the link amongst all its parts. With all His essential Qualities originating in His very Essence, and Attributes, Names and acts, the Creator of existence is absolutely perfect. Any perfection is loved because of itself. Since God is All-Perfect, and the source of all perfection in existence, He is worthy of love above everything else. Being the All-Loving, He loves Himself in a way suitable for His all-sacred and all-holy Essence. This love is the origin of existence or the universe. That is, due to His sacred love of Himself, He has created the universe and loves all of His creatures beyond all comparison. This infinite love is focused, first of all, on the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as he is both the seed and most illustrious fruit of creation: one who has manifested God with his whole life and the Religion he preached. He made God known to people and loved by them, thus realizing the purpose for God’s creation of the universe. Humanity has the loftiest position and is expected to respond to God’s love of creatures, including, in particular, humanity itself, with a recognition and love for Him. Love of God requires loving His most beloved servant and Messenger – the Prophet Muhammad – because the door to the love of God opens through him. Loving him shows itself by following him and designing one’s life according to the religion he preached. People cannot be sincere in their claim of love unless they follow the practices of the Prophet Muhammad in their daily life and practice Islam. The following verse confirms this point.
7. Muslim scholars, such as Muhyi’d-dīn ibn al-‘Arabī and Bediüzzaman Said Nursi compare creation to a tree. A tree grows from a seed. This seed contains the laws God has established to govern the future life of the tree. The program and the general future form of the tree, with all its parts, are also encapsulated or encoded in the seed. The main substance or essence of the tree encoded or encapsulated in the seed is gradually refined and develops until it yields fruit. Just as the life of a tree begins with and ends in a seed, humanity is not only the fruit, but also the seed of the Tree of Creation.
The roots of the Tree of Creation are in the heavens. This Tree first produced its main two branches as the spiritual/metaphysical and material/physical worlds. The physical worlds are divided into two: the heavens and the earth, each being filled with its own inhabitants. The Tree of Creation finally yielded humanity as the main fruit.
Since the fruit contains the seed, and the seed, as pointed out above, contains all the characteristics of the tree, this means that in addition to humanity having particular aspects, such as will-power and speech as a developed system of communication, it also has both angelic and satanic, heavenly and earthly, elemental, vegetable, and animal aspects.
Although a tree yields much fruit, it grows from a single seed. Since humanity is endowed with free will and human beings vary in capacity, there are among them as many degrees in mental and spiritual progress as there are human beings. The Prophets are the most developed and perfect among human beings, these fruits of the Tree of Creation. They descended from the Families of Abraham and ‘Imrān, upon them be peace, the two being related, and their history dates back to Noah and Adam, upon them be peace. Therefore, all the Prophets are the descendants of Adam; and after him, Noah; and after him, they are from the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imrān. The family of ‘Imrān was the family from which Jesus, upon him be peace, descended, while the family of Abraham, upon him be peace, is that from which the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, came. The chain of the Prophets was selected among all of humanity and finally, at the point of greatest perfection and purity, ended in the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. This means that as the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is the most perfect and the purest fruit of the Tree of Creation, for his nature and essence is the seed of the Tree of Creation.
The fact that the Prophets are the descendants of one another does not mean that one family or dynasty is given priority, however. The line to which the Prophets belong spreads throughout the Tree of Creation; in this way, one or more Prophets came to every people. This is made quite clear in the Qur’ān, which declares that God will not punish a people unless He has raised a Prophet among them (17: 15), and that He raised almost every Prophet among his own people (26: 106, 124, 142, 161, 176).
The fact that the Prophets are pure and are chosen above all other people makes them distinguished by important qualities or characteristics, known as the characteristics of the Prophets. These characteristics are absolute truthfulness and trustworthiness; intellect and sagacity to the highest degree; infallibility; communication of the Divine Message; and being exempt from all mental and bodily defects (The Messenger of God, 43).
8. While explaining the meaning of the Names taught to Adam, it was pointed out (note 32 to the previous sūrah) that the knowledge of things was given to Adam in a summarized form and was taught to the Messengers in relative detail during the course of history according to the mission of each. This is why the Messengers also became the forerunners in scientific knowledge and progress, in addition to being guides in spirituality and morality. The knowledge given to the Prophets to make them the forerunners in scientific knowledge and progress was usually manifested as miracles. The miracles a Prophet worked, by God’s leave, usually concerned the science that was being studied the most at that time. So, just as the miracles left the scientists of the time helpless in creating a similar miracle, they also marked the final point of progress which that science would be able to realize by the Last Day.
Through Jesus’ miracles, such as healing the congenitally blind and the lepers, or in bringing the dead back to life by His leave, God Almighty means:
I gave two gifts to one of My servants who renounced the world for My sake: the remedy for spiritual ailments, and the cure for physical sicknesses. Dead hearts were quickened through the light of guidance, and sick people, who were like the dead, found health through his breath and cure. You may find the cure for all illnesses in My “pharmacy,” in nature, where I attached many important purposes to each thing. Work and find it (The Words, “the 20th Word,” 268).
Thus, this verse marks the final point of medical development, which is far ahead of the present level, and urges us toward it.
The Prophetic Traditions that inform us that Jesus will return to the world toward the end of time suggest that the science of medicine will be in great demand and will have realized significant progress. The community of believers who will represent the Messianic spirit at that time will have to not only revive dead hearts with the light of faith, but also find cures for almost every illness.
Jesus’ insistence on repeating “by God’s leave” while presenting his miracles is a serious warning that it is not Jesus, upon him be peace, who created all such miracles; rather it is God, underlining the fact that Jesus, upon him be peace, was only a human being, neither a deity nor a son of a deity.
9. The verses both refute those among the Jews who rejected the Prophethood of Jesus, upon him be peace, and reject the “divinity” of Jesus, upon him be peace, or the relationship of a “son” that is claimed by some Christians. If he had been an imposter, not designated by God, Jesus, upon him be peace, would surely have attempted to make use of his miracles to found an independent religion. He believed in, and confirmed, the validity of the teachings of the original Religion preached by the earlier Prophets. This is also clear in his statements in the existing Gospels: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew, 5: 17) A Jewish lawyer asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment of the Law?” Jesus, upon him be peace, replied: “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Ibid., 22: 35–40).
The fundamental points of Jesus’ mission were the same as those of the other Prophets and were as follows:
- Humanity should believe, first of all, in the Existence and Oneness of God, and acknowledge His exclusive sovereignty, which demands absolute service and obedience to Him.
- Humanity should obey the Prophets, since they have been designated by God to convey His religion.
- God establishes the law which orders human life.
10. Like his coming into the world, Jesus’ departure from the world was unusual. He did not die as other people do, but God took back his spirit and body, which took on the form of, or changed into, an “astral” body. This can be analogous with the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. However, while, Jesus, upon him be peace, having completed his mission, remained where he ascended, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, returned to the world to complete his mission.
The Divine will that Jesus’ followers will be above the unbelievers until the Day of Judgment has two meanings:
- The people of pure monotheism, including primarily the community of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, will generally be above the unbelievers until the Day of Resurrection. (Such rules are general, having certain exceptions, but an exception does not nullify the rule.)
- Those who believe and follow Jesus, upon him be peace, even with some errors and deviations, will generally be above the Jews who reject him.
11. The particles or atoms that formed Adam’s body existed in the ground, water and air. As mentioned in note 7 above, the essence of humanity, which constitutes the essence or seed of the Tree of Creation, was inherent in the “roots, trunk,” and the “main branches” of the corporeal and immaterial worlds during the process of its continual refinement. The corporeal or visible world ramified into the branches of the heavens and the earth. As understood from a supplication of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, which contains, “All-Glorified is He Who has laid soil over a fluid solidified,” the earth was initially a hot fluid. The fluid was later solidified into a rock stratum and formed a crust. The rock stratum crumbled over a long period, and the soil stratum was formed. This stratum was prepared for life with rain that descended from the direction of heaven. The essence or seed of the Tree of Creation, which underwent a continual process of refinement, during which it grew into many worlds inhabited by animate and inanimate beings that are particular to each, yielded the elements, vegetables, and animals, as its twigs, leaves, and blossoms, each of which serve the other as source or main material in coming into existence and as food for its survival. At the final point of the refinement process, and as the fruit of the Tree of Creation on the branch of the earth, God created Adam and Eve. The verse, Did there pass (– and surely there passed –) over human a stretch of time when he was a thing not mentioned and remembered (as human)? (76: 1, also see note 1) indicates this process of refinement during which the human essence existed at its center or origin, although there was, as yet, no mention of humanity.
In order to remove the doubts concerning creation which existed at that time (and still continue to exist in different forms today), as well as to balance the Jewish materialism with an accurate spiritualism of the Divine Religion, and to demonstrate His Will and Power in a more obvious way, God created Jesus, upon him be peace, as He had created Adam. Out of the same elements from which He fashioned Adam, upon him be peace, in the “womb” of the earth, He fashioned Jesus, upon him be peace, in the womb of a virgin. The difference between this type of fashioning and the fashioning of other humans is that God, out of wisdom, uses sperm in the creation of the latter.
While narrating Adam’s creation, the verse uses the past tense, but concludes with “fe-yekūn,” meaning “becomes” or “is.” This is done in order to stress that it is God alone Who creates and gives life; nothing else plays any part. This is the same for all living beings, including Adam and Jesus, upon them be peace. The verse also implies that God creates every thing and every being separately and individually.
12. This call, made by Islam 14 centuries ago to the People of the Book, is still being made to the People of the Book and people of learning today; it is of great significance, especially from the following viewpoints:
- In conveying Islam to others, we should seek a common point on which to meet the audience. If it is worshipping One God without associating any partners with Him in relation to People of the Book, then when dealing with atheists, it can be sharing the same human nature and destiny on the earth.
- Using an attractive, gentle style, and endearment are of great importance. If we can liken Islam to a magnificent palace that has as many roads to reach it as there are in the whole of creation, and as many portals to enter it as there are human beings, then there is a door for each human being to enter it, and what we must do is to be able to detect to whom we must show which door (Kur’an’dan İdrake, 109–110).
- Despite their deliberately refractory attitude, the People of the Book are not cut off from dialogue in the Qur’an, indicating that common points should be given priority in this dialogue.
- “The verse has shown how various consciences, nations, religions, and books can unite in one essential conscience and word of truth, and how Islam has instructed the human realm in such a wide, open, and true path of salvation and law of freedom. It has been shown fully that this is not limited to Arab or non-Arab people. Religious progress is possible not by narrow consciences or by being separate from one another, but by being universal and broad” (Yazır, 2: 1131–32).
- Worshipping God without associating any partners with Him in His Divinity and Lordship (His being the One Who nurtures, raises and trains all creation, the One Who has exclusive right to be worshipped, and the sole authority to establish the fundamental rules and principles to govern human life) is the primary condition of believing in One God and following His Religion.
13. The Jews claimed that their religion was the true religion and, therefore, Abraham, upon him be peace, was considered to be a Jew, whereas the Christians claimed that their religion was the true one and, therefore, Abraham, upon him be peace, was considered to be a Christian. Naturally this is impossible. While they could not agree on several matters contained by their Books and matters like that of Jesus, upon him be peace, it was completely senseless that they would make claims and dispute about matters about which they had no knowledge. It is impossible that Abraham, upon him be peace, should be a Jew or a Christian, because both the Torah and Gospel were revealed centuries after Abraham, upon him be peace. Historically, Judaism and Christianity are the names given to the religions revealed to Moses and Jesus, upon them be peace, respectively by either their followers or opponents centuries later. So, Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian but a Muslim, one who submitted to God wholly or who followed Islam – the Religion of submission to God.
14. The Holy Qur’ān has broadened the meaning of many words and has introduced them as concepts. For this reason, it is almost impossible to render them in other languages with only one word. Such words require explanation or description when translated. The original of unbelief is “kufr.” It means concealing a truth and rejecting it willfully. In most cases, it originates in vainglory and egotism, obstinacy, mental and spiritual deviation, wrongdoing, having an incorrect viewpoint, seeking self-interest, and gratifying one’s ambitions.
15. In a general sense, a Prophet is one who receives Revelation from God and has the duty of communicating it to people. In this sense, Messengership is included in the meaning of Prophethood. In a more particular sense, a Prophet is one who receives Divine Revelation, and follows the Book and the Law that the Messenger prior to him brought, or follows a contemporary Messenger, without himself having received a separate Book. What is meant by the Book in the verse must be the Book, or the part of it, to which a Prophet becomes heir. Every Messenger is also a Prophet, but not vice versa.
Prior to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, in former communities, there used to be several Prophets at the same time, even in the same place. When circumstances required a Messenger to come with a new Book, or Law, or some amendment, God sent one. Since the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, meticulous, pure scholars and great spiritual masters have carried on the mission of the Prophets, without, of course, receiving Revelation, and great “revivers,” who have combined both scholarship and spiritual mastery, have become heirs to the mission of Messengership. The saying, “The scholars of my community are like the Prophets of the Children of Israel,” attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is not well-authenticated as a Hadith; but in respect of its meaning, it still remains true in that scholars and spiritual masters have done what the previous Prophets and Messengers did, with the exception that there is no longer any need for a new Book to be sent. No scholar or spiritual master, however great and virtuous he or she may be, can be on the same level with a Prophet in virtue.
16. God has two kinds of laws: one is related to the creation and operation of the universe, including each separate being, and to human (biological) life; the other is established to govern human individual and social life. The former constitutes the subject matter of sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, sociology, psychology, etc). Some aspects of human social life are also included in the scope of this kind of laws. For example, the fruit of working is usually wealth or success, while that of laziness is frequently poverty. The second kind of laws can be summed up as being Religion. The whole of creation absolutely obeys the first kind of laws, while obeying the second is optional. However, it is also God Who determines the results of obeying or disobeying both kinds of laws. Therefore, the whole universe, including the human kingdom, is subject to God’s laws, and no one can escape them.
17. Verse 83 declares that the only, authentic Religion is God’s Religion, because whoever is in the heavens and the earth submits to God willingly or unwillingly. In Verse 84, it is stated that all the Prophets followed and conveyed this Religion, and this verse gives its name: Islam. As is explicit in the verses, Islam is the only Religion in God’s sight, and it is based on unconditional submission to God. The verses also make it clear that Islam is, first of all, the Religion of all things and beings outside the human realm, as they are submitted to God, willingly or unwillingly, and because they lead their lives according to the laws that God has established. Second, human life, outside the aspects related to human free will, is also ruled by Islam. Third, Islam is the Religion that God wants human beings to follow in life through their free will, as well. As mentioned above, all the Prophets followed and conveyed Islam, and other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity, are the forms it took on over time after being preached by other Prophets and Messengers, such as Moses and Jesus, upon them be peace, respectively. Moreover, these names, at least in case of Christianity, were given to them by outsiders, rather than by their own followers.
As the whole universe is submitted to, and strictly follows the laws of, One God as the Single Deity, Lord and Sovereign, in it there is magnificent peace, balance, and harmony. What humanity must do as that part of existence that enjoys free will is to take part in this chorus of peace, balance, and harmony, with that free will, and attain true happiness in both worlds. Any other belief or act would result in nothing more than corruption, unrest, anarchy, and wrongdoing in the world, and torment and darkness upon darkness in the Hereafter.
18. Even though the majority of people are not usually true believers, the human conscience does not admit or confirm unbelief, wrongdoing, and transgression. A human being falls into unbelief only after he followed his evil-commanding carnal soul and silences his conscience. However, as the human conscience rejects unbelief, and wrongdoing, and transgression, the destruction that these cause in both individual and social life never remains hidden. For this reason, succeeding generations have cursed their predecessors who have transgressed. This is why the Prophets are remembered and mentioned with feelings of blessing, even after thousands of years, and why the unjust tyrants of human history are always cursed. Such people will be cursed by God, the angels, and all humankind, especially in the Hereafter.
God’s cursing means excluding from His mercy and condemning to punishment. Cursing by others denotes their asking God to exclude those deserving the curse from His mercy and condemn them to punishment.
19. Like unbelief, belief or faith is an act of confirmation by the heart. So, both have two aspects, one true, and the other apparent and related to the law. A human being who professes belief and fulfills the legal requirements of being a Muslim member of a Muslim community (such as giving the Prescribed Alms – the Zakāh) is regarded as a believer and a Muslim. Whether he or she is truly so must be referred to God. The Qur’ān includes such people in its address of, “O you who believe,” and by doing so, it encourages believers to do what they are expected to as professors of the faith. It is hoped that they may confirm their profession of their faith through their actions, and belief may be implanted in their hearts. Despite their never-ending conspiracies, the hypocrites were always treated as believers and Muslims by God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, unless ordered to do otherwise by God; an example of such a case is the matter of ‘Abdullāh ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl, the chief of the hypocrites. When he died, the Messenger was forbidden by the Revelation to perform the funeral prayer for him.
20. Birr, which it is preferable to translate as “godliness,” is an elevated rank in goodness and virtue. Those who have attained this rank are called the barr (plural abrār). Love of God, and seeking out His approval or good pleasure, lie at the essence of worship. In order to be regarded among the abrār, a believer must have acquired the spiritual refinement that enables one to spend in God’s cause or to give others of what one loves. Godliness, or virtue, or piety, cannot be attained only by fulfilling certain formalities.
21. When the qiblah was changed from Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to the Ka‘bah in Makkah, some Israelite rabbis objected, claiming that this was an abrogation (naskh) and that there had been no abrogation in the Torah. Whereas, this verse, which openly declares the Torah to be a witness, announces that all kinds of food that are lawful in the Law revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, were lawful to the Children of Israel in the beginning except what Prophet Jacob, upon him be peace, forbade for himself before the Torah was sent down. However, verse 4: 160 says that, because of the wrong committed by the Jews, God made unlawful for them many pure, wholesome things which had (hitherto) been lawful for them And verse 6: 146 explains that for those who are Jews, God has made unlawful every animal with claws; and of oxen and sheep, He has made unlawful to them their fat save that upon their backs or the entrails, or that which is mixed with the bone, and that it was because He recompensed them for their insolence and defiance. So, all this shows explicitly that there has been abrogation in the Torah as well. (Also see Leviticus, 7: 23-26.)
22. These verses inform the Muslim nation, a nation that is, and indeed should be, a solid, well-compacted structure under a leader, of the keys to true success and prosperity in both worlds:
- In order to maintain their existence and unity and be able to follow the Straight Path without any deviation, Muslims must regard as good whatever God has decreed good, and as evil whatever He has decreed evil. They must always depend on the Qur’ān and the Sunnah and the principles originating from these two main sources, and refrain from referring to another source or confirming and imitating the People of the Book in any mistaken creeds or false ways.
- The Sunnah of God’s Messenger is a highway upon which all Muslims come together to form a strong united body.
- Following the Sunnah leads one to hold fast to God.
- Piety of the highest degree – refraining from disobeying God, and doing one’s best to perform His commands – guarantees that one follows the Sunnah and holds fast to God.
- By following the Sunnah and, thereby, by holding fast to God and the highest degree of piety, a Muslim offers God an irrefutable petition to be able to remain a Muslim until the time of one’s death, and to accomplish the goal of dying a Muslim (submitted to Him exclusively).
- By following the Sunnah, a Muslim follows the Qur’ān and, in a general sense, the religion of Islam based on these two cardinal sources. The Sunnah, in the broadest sense, is how God’s Messenger understood and practiced Islam, dependent on the Qur’ān, in both the life of the individual and society, and the principles God established for this purpose.
- Remembering God’s favors as often as possible, and paying the required thanks, thus being a thankful servant, saves a Muslim against falling into unbelief after having believed. In this way, Muslims are also protected from any sort of misleading errors.
- Enjoining and promoting what is right or good, and forbidding what is evil, means teaching and advising people about whatever God and His Messenger commanded, and what the public view, based on the Qur’ān and Sunnah, regards as good, and preventing the spread of evil in the community. This important duty can and should be performed by every individual in a proper way. However, for this purpose, a group should be formed of individuals who have the requisite qualities, or an institution or a governmental department should be established.
- If people go astray after they have seen and experienced the clear truths, this is because they have followed their evil-commanding carnal souls. This leads people to do wrong and to oppress one another, causing the appearance of different factions, each of which pursues its own interests. This is the main cause of the appearance of different ways followed in the name of the same religion; the consequence of this is a fatal disease that threatens both the life of the individual and society.
- Belief in the Hereafter, the realm where everyone will be called to account for whatever they have done in the world, and where everyone will see the consequences of their actions, is the most effective way for preventing sins and evil in the life of both the individual and society.
23. The Muslims, when they truly and sincerely follow Islam, are the best people among humankind in terms of character and morals, and they have developed in theory and practice the qualities essential for truly righteous leadership, namely the commitment to promoting good and suppressing evil, and the acknowledgement of the One True God as their Lord and Master. In view of the mission entrusted to them, they should become conscious of their responsibilities and avoid the mistakes committed by their predecessors.
24. So long as they continue to have the qualities mentioned in notes 22 and 23 above, God has promised that no power in the world can harm the Muslims; and history bears witness that God has fulfilled His promise.
Bediüzzaman Said Nursi explains why Israel presently enjoys the upper hand against the Muslim Arabs: the Jews are much more obedient to the commandments of their religion, even if it has been abrogated, than the Muslims are to Islam, and more respectful of their religious heritage. They are also supported by many governments throughout the world. That is, the Jews are now holding on to a rope both from God and from other nations. As for the Christians, they, especially the administrative elite of Christendom, are more respectful of their religion than the Muslim governments are of Islam, and Christianity plays a specific part in their policies. Moreover, as mentioned before, God has two kinds of laws: one governing the universe, and the other which has been manifested as Religion. Christendom has discovered God’s laws governing the universe and human life – even if they call them the laws of nature – and lives according to them. This is why, as well as the Jews, the Christians have enjoyed a certain degree of supremacy over the Muslims for the last two or three centuries.
25. The verses to come up to 175 are concerned with the Battle of Uhud, the attitudes of the hypocrites during the war, its aftermath, and the lessons to absorb from it.
The victory of Badr alerted Arabia’s hostile forces. The Muslims were in a state of unease, and they endured the wrath of most neighboring societies.
The Quraysh were still smarting from their defeat in the Battle of Badr. Their women were mourning their dead warriors almost daily, and encouraging the survivors to avenge themselves. In addition, the Jewish efforts to rouse their feelings of revenge were like pouring oil on flames. Within a year, the Quraysh attacked Madīnah with an army of 3,000 soldiers, including 700 in coats of mail and 200 cavalrymen.
Informed of the Makkans’ march upon Madīnah, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, consulted with his Companions about how to meet this threat. He knew that the Makkan army was coming to fight on open ground, but he thought that they should defend themselves within Madīnah’s boundaries. If they defended themselves within Madīnah, the Makkan army could not mount a long siege. However, several young people who had not fought at Badr and longed for martyrdom wanted to fight the enemy outside of Madīnah. Ultimately, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, gave in to this majority demand (Ibn Hishām, 3: 64–67).
26. Having decided to follow the majority, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and 1,000 warriors left Madīnah for Uhud, a volcanic hill only a few miles from its western outskirts. Its main feature was a plain that stretched out before it. When they were only halfway there, however, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl, the chief of the hypocrites, turned back with his 300 men (Ibid., 3: 68). This event, coming just before the battle began, caused such perplexity and confusion that the Banū Salamah and Banū Hārithah tribes also wanted to turn back. Eventually, they were persuaded to remain.
The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, advanced with the remaining ill-equipped 700 Muslims. He lined them up at the foot of Mount Uhud so that the mountain was behind them and the Makkan army was in front of them. The enemy could launch a surprise attack from only one mountain pass. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, posted 50 archers there, under the command of ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr. He told him not to let anyone approach or move from that spot, adding: “Even if you see birds fly off with our flesh, do not move from this place” (al-Bukhārī, “Jihād,” 164).
Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr was the standard bearer, Zubayr ibn ‘Awwām commanded the cavalry, and Hamzah commanded the infantry. The army was ready to fight. To encourage his Companions, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, brought forth a sword and asked: “Who would like to have this sword in return for giving its due?” Abu Dujānah asked: “What is its due?” “To fight with it until it is broken,” the Prophet said (Muslim, Fadāil as-Sahābah,” 128). Abu Dujānah took it and fought. Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqās and ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh prayed to God to let them meet the strongest enemy soldiers. Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle and “Lion of God,” was on the forefront.
27. It is highly significant that an admonition is given while war is being discussed. It should be stressed, before everything else, that the Qur’ān takes a holistic, not a fragmentary, view of life and the universe. It does not consider the matters relating to individuals as being separate from social matters, nor does it see social matters as being apart from the economy, nor the economy from other internal matters, such as education, security, and foreign relations. None of these can be viewed or treated as being separate from the others. In view of this, the use of interest is no longer only an economic matter; it is also deeply connected with the life of the society and the individual. It affects both the spiritual and moral nature of the individual, and their participation in the social and economic life of the society. Therefore, interest will have a significant effect on a person’s attitude to war, which requires them to take away egotism and worldliness from their heart. Interest destroys social solidarity, and the desire to help one another, as well as undermining confidence within a society; these are all important factors if a nation wants to succeed in a war. So, this verse, which, when viewed superficially, may seem to be out of place, is actually just where it should be. It warns us that, instead of making our limited minds or reason the criterion or judge when approaching the Qur’ān, we should design our thinking system according to the Qur’ān.
28. As mentioned in the Foreword, the occasion on which a verse was revealed is important in correctly understanding it. If the occasion were not known, it would be possible for us to incorrectly interpret the verse and to overlook some of the significant aspects of the meaning of the verse. For example, this verse commands that the believers should not obey the unbelievers. However, like many commandments in the Qur’ān, this one also has relative aspects, according to time and conditions. Moreover, the verse is connected with the verses that precede and follow it. To see this connection sometimes requires knowing the reason for the revelation of the verse.
After the Battle of Uhud, the local hypocrites and Jews began to propagate the idea that had Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, been a true Prophet, he would not have suffered the reverse he faced at Uhud. They tried to persuade the Muslims to turn back to their former state of unbelief. The Muslims to whom this verse was addressed in Madīnah understood what the verse was about specifically. For this reason, in order to clarify the meaning and the direct purpose of the verse’s revelation, in translation, explanatory additions are necessary. However, by doing this, we should not forget that with respect to its meaning, connotations and commandments contained, a verse can never be restricted only to the occasion on which it was revealed. “The fact that a verse was revealed on a certain occasion does not prevent the commandment contained in the verse from having a general, inclusive enforcement” is a rule in both Qur’ānic interpretation and Islamic jurisprudence.
29. In the first stage of the Battle of Uhud, the Muslims defeated the enemy so easily that Abu Dujānah, with the sword the Prophet had given him, pushed into the center of the Makkan army. There he met Abū Sufyan’s (the Makkan commander) wife, Hind. He tried to kill her but, “in order not to dirty the sword given by the Prophet with a woman’s blood,” spared her (al-Haythamī, 6: 109). All who carried the enemy standard were killed, one after the other. Self-sacrificing heroes of the Muslim army flung themselves upon the enemy and routed them.
When the enemy began to flee, the Muslims gathered the spoils. The archers on the mountain pass saw this and said to themselves: “God has defeated the enemy, and our brothers are collecting the spoils. Let’s join them.” ‘Abdullāh ibn Jubayr reminded them of the Prophet’s order, but they said: “He ordered us to do that without knowing the outcome of the battle.” All but a few left their posts and began to collect booty. Khālid ibn Walīd, still an unbeliever and commander of the Makkan cavalry, seized this opportunity to lead his men around Mount Uhud and attacked the Muslims’ flank through the pass. ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr’s depleted forces could not repel them.
The fleeing enemy soldiers came back and joined the attack from the front. Now, the battle turned against the Muslims. Both of these sudden attacks by superior forces caused great confusion among the Muslims. The enemy wanted to seize the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, alive or kill him, and so attacked him from all sides with swords, spears, arrows, and stones. Those who defended him fought heroically. Hamzah, the Messenger’s uncle, was martyred.
Ibn Kāmi’ah martyred Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, the Muslims’ standard-bearer who had been fighting in front of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. Mus‘ab resembled God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in build and complexion, and this caused Ibn Kāmi’a to announce that he had killed the Messenger. Meanwhile, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, had been wounded by a sword and some stones. Falling into a pit and bleeding profusely, he stretched his hands and prayed: “O God, forgive my people, because they do not know (the truth).” (Qadi ‘Iyad, 1: 78–79)
The rumor of the Prophet’s martyrdom led many Companions to lose courage. However, several among them fought self-sacrificingly. Some Muslim women heard the rumor and rushed to the battlefield. Sumayrā, of the Banū Dinār tribe, had lost her husband, father, and brother. Yet all she asked about was the Messenger. When she saw him, she said: “All misfortunes mean nothing to me as long as you are alive, O Messenger!” (Ibn Hishām, 3: 99)
Umm ‘Umārah fought before the Messenger so heroically that he asked her: “Who else can endure all that you endure?” That pride of womanhood took this opportunity to ask him to pray for her: “O Messenger of God, pray to God that I may be in your company in Paradise!” The Messenger did so, and she responded: “Whatever happens to me from now on does not matter.” (Ibn Sa‘d, 8: 415)
Despite the indescribable resistance of the Muslim warriors such as ‘Ali, Abū Dujānah, Sahl ibn Hunayf, Talhah ibn Ubaydullāh, Anas ibn Nadr, and ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh, around the Messenger, defeat seemed inevitable until Ka‘b ibn Mālik, seeing the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, shouted: “O Muslims! Good tidings for you! This is the Messenger, here!” The scattered Companions advanced toward him from all sides, rallied around him, and led him to the safety of the mountain.
30. This verse states a very significant aspect of human psychology: if a person is visited by successive hardships and disasters, the later one causes the previous one to be forgotten. This helps a person to develop immunity toward disasters and realize that one should neither grieve for losing anything of this world or for the disasters that befall one, nor rejoice excessively at any good. Even though disasters may befall a believer in return for his sins or errors, such events are accompanied by several rewards. For example, God forgives believers the sins or errors which caused the disaster and repays it with future rewards; this helps the believers to develop endurance against disasters and come to know the true nature of the worldly life. What is expected of a believer who is visited by a disaster is that he should show patience, especially at the first moment, and he should preserve in his faith, confidence, and trust in God.
31. This verse teaches three significant points concerning Divine Destiny and human free will: (1) In one respect, Destiny is identical with God’s eternal Knowledge, so knowing something beforehand does not mean that it compels that thing to take place. God knows beforehand how each person will use their free will, and He has determined their fate. (2) Destiny considers the cause and its effect or result together; there are not two separate destinies, one for the cause and the other for the effect. If God has destined for a person to be killed in a battle, considering, of course, how that person uses their free will, they will set out for the battle and will be killed. (3) The past and any misfortunes are and should be considered from the viewpoint of Destiny. We should take the necessary lessons from these events, but not spend time regretting them in vain, and we should avoid mutual accusations for them.
The verse also teaches us that if a decision reached after consultation does not give the expected result, we should not criticize it or the consultative assembly.
32. Like many other verses, this verse also contains several important principles.
- It is of great significance that a leader should be lenient toward those around him after any attempt made with a good intention has ended in failure due to unintentional mistakes.
- In addition to establishing devotion to One God, promoting what is good and right, and preventing evil, establishing justice through the rule of law; obedience to the leader, save in sin and rebellion to God; freedom of thought and speech, provided they are not against the public benefit or what is good or right; and an advisory system of government – all these make up essential articles of the Constitution of Islamic rule. When a decision has been reached through counsel, the leader or the head of the government implements the decision in complete reliance on God. If the leader turns back, under the pressure of those who have different opinions or have changed their minds, this will cause a confusion of views and faltering among the people.
- The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, sought counsel with his Companions about how to handle the approaching enemy before the Battle of Uhud. Although he and the elder Companions were of the opinion that they should face the enemy outside Madīnah and lead a defensive war, the young members of the army, who formed the majority, insisted on fighting in the open field. After consultation, the elders warned the younger ones and pressed them to change their minds. They came to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and informed him that the young people had changed their minds. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, who had already donned his armor, responded: “When a Prophet has donned his armor, he does not take it off” (al-Bukhārī, “I‘tisām,” 28).
- Although one of the reasons for the setback at the Battle of Uhud was the decision to go out to face the enemy upon the insistence of the younger members during consultation, it is highly significant for the importance of consultation that God still orders it even after such a setback.
- One of the points that attract our attention is that the Qur’ān uses historical events to teach important lessons, make significant warnings, and create new legislations. This teaches us that action and thought should go side by side, the former engendering thought, and the latter leading to action.
33. Why the Muslims experienced a setback can be summarized as follows:
- The Messenger, the commander-in-chief, thought they should stay within Madīnah. The younger Companions, inexperienced and excited, urged him to march out of the city. This was a mistake, even though for the sake of martyrdom in God’s cause, since the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, tended to apply different tactics in battles and knew in advance that the Quraysh army was coming to fight in an open field.
- The archers posted to defend the army left their posts. They misinterpreted the Messenger’s order not to leave for any reason and went to collect booty.
- Three hundred hypocrites, one-third of the army, deserted half-way and returned to Madīnah. This undermined the morale of the Banūh Salamah and Banū Hārithah tribes, who were persuaded only with difficulty not to leave. Moreover, a small group of hypocrites demoralized the Muslims during the battle.
- Several Companions became impatient. They acted, in certain respects, inconsistently with the dictates of piety and were lured by material wealth.
- Some believers thought that as long as the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was with them, and as long as they enjoyed God’s support and help, the unbelievers could never beat them. However true this was, the setback taught them that deserving God’s help requires, besides belief and devotion, deliberation, strategy, and steadfastness. They also perceived that the world is a field of testing and trial.
- Those who had not taken part in Badr sincerely prayed to God for martyrdom. They were deeply devoted to Islam and longed to meet God. Some, like Hamzah, ‘Abdullah ibn Jahsh, Anas ibn Nadr, Sa‘d ibn Rabi‘, and ‘Amr ibn Jamūh tasted the pleasure of martyrdom; the martyrdom of the others was delayed.
- Any success or triumph lies with God, Who does whatever He wills and cannot be questioned. Belief in God’s Unity means that believers must always ascribe their accomplishments to God and never appropriate anything good for themselves. If the decisive victory of Badr gave some Muslims a sort of self-pride, and if they imputed the victory to their own prudence, wise arrangement, or some material causes, this might have been part of the reason for their setback.
- Among the Makkan army were several eminent soldiers and commanders (such as Khālid ibn Walīd, Ikrimah ibn Abī Jahl, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, and Ibn Hishām) who were destined by God to be great servants of Islam in the future. They were the ones most esteemed and respected among the people. For the sake of their future service, God may not have willed to hurt their feelings of honor completely. So, as expressed by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, the Companions of the future defeated the Companions of the present (Lemalar [“The Gleams”], 28). (The Messenger of God, 233–235)
34. After the Muslims’ setback in the Battle of Uhud, the Makkan army returned and headed for Makkah. However, the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, worried that they might return and launch another attack on Madīnah. On the second day of Uhud, therefore, he ordered those who had fought the day before to gather together and pursue the unbelievers. Some of the Banū ‘Abdi’l-Qays, appointed by Abū Sufyan, the commander of the Makkan army, tried to discourage this line of action by saying: “Those people have gathered against you, therefore, be fearful of them.” But this only increased the faith of the believers, who retorted: “God is sufficient for us; how excellent a Guardian He is!”
Most were seriously wounded; some could not stand and had to be carried by their friends. At this highly critical moment, they girded up their loins and prepared to lay down their lives at the Messenger’s behest. They accompanied him to Hamra’ al-Asad, eight miles from Madīnah. The Makkan polytheists had halted and were talking about a second attack on Madīnah. However, when they saw the believers they had supposedly just defeated coming toward them, they could not muster sufficient courage and so continued on to Makkah. The Messenger’s prudence and military genius, by the Divine will, had turned a defeat into a victory (Ibn Hishām, 3: 240–42).
35. While returning from the Battle of Uhud, Abū Sufyan had challenged the Muslims to another encounter at Badr the following year. But when the appointed time arrived, Abū Sufyan’s courage failed him in his anticipated fight against God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. As a face-saving device, he sent an agent, Nu‘aym ibn Mas‘ud, who was then an unbeliever, to Madīnah, to spread the rumor that the Quraysh were making tremendous war preparations and that they were gathering a huge army which no other power in the whole of Arabia could resist. However, when the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reached Badr with an army of fifteen hundred fighters, they found there no one to fight with them. They stayed at Badr for eight days awaiting the threatened encounter, and when no sign of the Quraysh army appeared, they returned to Madīnah. This campaign was called Badr al-Sughrā (Badr the Minor).
36. It is not possible to find this relationship between God and the servant in other religions. Belief in only One God, bowing before Him alone, and both a fear and a love of Him, liberate and save the servant from fearing and bowing before any other power – such as other human beings, Satan, death, and the so-called natural forces and (evil) spirits – and from suffering all other kinds of fruitless love. One who serves God is a servant, but such servants do not degrade themselves to serve even the greatest of the created; they are so dignified that they do not even pursue Paradise in return for service. They are humble, and only humble themselves voluntarily to their Creator, never exceeding what He has permitted. They are aware of their inherent weaknesses and needs, but are independent of all creation because of what the Munificent Owner has prepared for them in the Hereafter. Relying on the infinite Power of their Master, they are powerful. Their fear of Him makes them fearless of everything else and, as it draws them to Him, is as pleasant as love of Him.
37. As mentioned before, the Qur’ānic expressions used for this particular kind of God’s way of acting, which may give the impression that God wishes for the perdition of some people, should be viewed according to His laws of the creation and operation of the universe, as well as human individual and social life. That is, God has laws which He has established for the life of the individual, the society and humanity, which are followed out of free will, or which are obeyed or disobeyed, and which receive the requital of this obedience or disobedience. Since it is God Who has established these laws, and since it is the whole of creation, including humanity, which lives within their limits, the Qur’ān uses such expressions. So, the above verse actually says: “These people use the rein We give them only to increase in sin and wickedness in such a way that they deserve God’s punishment.”
38. Nafs (translated as soul) has two meanings: (1) the self of a living being, whether transcendent and incorporeal, like that of God, or that composed of a spirit and body; and (2) the faculty which is the source or mechanism of the worldly life, as possessed by humankind and the jinn. So, considered from the viewpoint of its first meaning, the souls meant in the following phrase, “Every soul is bound to taste death,” are those of humankind and the jinn. This is also corroborated by the context.
The idea of a soul (in the meaning of the self of the living being) tasting death also implies that the living being has a part of it which tastes death but does not itself die. This entails that while the body dies, the spirit is transferred to the other world alive. However, the verse, Everything is perishable (and so perishing) except His “Face” (His eternal Self and what is done in seeking His good pleasure) (28: 88) alludes to the idea that the spirits and spiritual beings, like angels, will also taste death, even though for only a short while. On the other hand, if, by the expression Except those whom God wills (to exempt) in the verse, The Trumpet will be blown, and so all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth will fall dead, except those whom God wills (to exempt (39: 68), the absolute authority of the Divine Will is not intended to be emphasized (i.e., if God wills, He may cause whomever He wills to live without tasting death) then it can be said that, in some cases, there will be some living beings who will never taste death. God knows best.