59. Al-Hashr (The Banishment)

Revealed in Madīnah, most probably in the fourth year after the Hijrah, this sūrah consists of 24 verses. It takes its name from the word hashr in verse 2, which means gathering people to dispatch them somewhere. Al-Hashr (The Banishment or The Gathering) deals with the Muslims’ encounter with the Jewish tribe of Banū Nadīr, and mentions the conspiracies of the hypocrites in alliance with some of the Jews. It gives instructions on the distribution of the war-gains obtained from the enemy without fighting. It also advises the believers to always be God-revering and pious, and describes God through some of His Attributes. 

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

1. Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth glorifies God. He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.

2. He it is Who drove out those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book from their (fortified) homes as the first instance of gathering (them for punishment and banishment from the heartland of Islam). You did not think that they would go forth (so easily), just as they thought that their strongholds would protect them against God. But (the will of) God came upon them from where they had not reckoned (it could come): He cast dread into their hearts. And so they were wrecking their homes by their own hands, as well as by the hands of the believers.1 Learn a lesson, then, O people of insight.

3. Had it not been that God had decreed banishment for them, He would certainly have punished them (with death and expropriation) in this world. And for them, in the Hereafter, there is the punishment of the Fire.

4. This is because they defied and opposed God and His Messenger. Whoever defies and opposes God, then surely God is severe in retribution.

5. Whatever (of their) palm-trees you may have cut down or left them standing on their roots,2 it was by God’s leave and so that He might disgrace the transgressors.

6. What of theirs God bestowed as gains of war on His Messenger – and you did not spur any horse or riding-camel for it, but God gives His Messenger mastery over whomever He wills. God has full power over everything –

7. What God has bestowed on His Messenger as gains of war from the peoples of the townships, (one-fifth of) it belongs to God, and to the Messenger, and his near kinsfolk, and orphans, and the destitute, and the wayfarer (lacking means to sustain a journey), so that it should not become a fortune circulating among the rich among you.3 Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it willingly; and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it. Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Surely God is severe in retribution.

8. It is also for the poor Emigrants, who have been driven from their homes and their property, seeking favor with God and His approval and good pleasure, and who help (the cause of) God and His Messenger. Those are they who are truthful (in their profession of faith and loyalty to its commands).

9. Those who, before their coming, had their abode (in Madīnah), preparing it as a home for Islam and faith, love those who emigrate to them for God’s sake, and in their hearts do not begrudge what they have been given; and (indeed) they prefer them over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot.4 (They, too, have a share in such gains of war.) Whoever is guarded against the avarice of his own soul – those are the ones who are truly prosperous.

10. And all those who come after them (and follow in their footsteps) pray: “O our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers (and sisters) in Religion who have preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any ill-feeling against any of the believers. O our Lord! You are All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate (especially toward Your believing servants).5

11. Have you not considered those who are hypocrites? They say to their brothers who disbelieve from among the People of the Book: “If you are driven away (from Madīnah), we will certainly go out with you, and we will never obey anyone against you. If war is waged against you, we will most certainly help you.” God bears witness that they are indeed liars.6

12. For if they are indeed driven away, they will never go out with them; and if war is waged against them, they will never help them. Even supposing that they would help them (in such an eventuality), they would most certainly turn their backs in flight, and so they would not receive help (from anywhere, and be destroyed because of their manifest treachery to the Muslims).

13. The dread they have of you in their hearts is more intense than their fear of God. This is because they are a people who are devoid of understanding and so cannot grasp the truth.

14.  They will never fight against you as a united body (in alliance with the Hypocrites, with the Jews of Khaybar, and others), unless it be from within fortified strongholds or from behind high walls. Severe is their belligerent discord among themselves (except when not opportunistically allied in warfare against you). You think of them as one body; but, in fact, their hearts are at odds with one another. This is because they are a people who do not reason (and come to an understanding about the situations they face).

15. Just like those (the Jews of the Banū Qaynuqa‘) who, a short time before them (the Jews of the Banū Nadīr), tasted the evil result of their own doings – and (in the Hereafter) for them, there is (also) a painful punishment.

16. (The hypocrites have deceived them) just like Satan, when he says to human, “Disbelieve (in God)!” Then when he disbelieves, he says (to human): “Surely I am quit of you, for surely I fear God, the Lord of the worlds!”7

17. So the end of both (Satan and those whom he has deceived, and the hypocrites, and those whom they have betrayed) is that they will find themselves in the Fire to abide therein. That is the recompense of the wrongdoers.

18. O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and let every person consider what he has forwarded for the morrow. Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Surely God is fully aware of all that you do.

19. And do not be like those who are oblivious of God and so God has made them oblivious of their own selves.8 Those, they are the transgressors.

20. Not equal are the companions of the Fire and the companions of Paradise. The companions of Paradise, they are the triumphant.

21. If We had sent down this Qur’ān on a mountain, you would certainly see it humble itself, splitting asunder for awe of God. Such parables We strike for humankind so that they may reflect (on why the Qur’ān is being revealed to humankind, and how great and important their responsibility is).

22. God is He save Whom there is no deity: the Knower of the unseen (all that lies beyond sense-perception), and the witnessed (the sensed realm). He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

23. God is He save Whom there is no deity: the Sovereign, the All-Holy and All-Pure, the Supreme Author of peace and salvation, and the Supreme Author of safety and security Who bestows faith and removes all doubt, the All-Watchful Guardian, the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Compelling of supreme majesty, the One Who has exclusive right to all greatness. All-Glorified is God in that He is absolutely exalted above what they associate with Him.

24. He is God, the Creator, the All-Holy Maker (Who creates without any defects), the All-Fashioning. To Him belong the All-Beautiful Names.9 Whatever is in the heavens and on the earth glorifies Him (declaring Him to be absolutely above having any defects). He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.10

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. When God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, emigrated to Madīnah, he signed a pact with the Jewish tribes living there. The pact stipulated that the Jews would remain neutral in the hostilities between the Muslims and the pagan Quraysh, but if there were to be an attack on Madīnah, they would defend the city together with the Muslims. But the Jewish tribes were reluctant to honor their agreements. During the Battle of Badr, they favored the Makkan polytheists; after Badr, they openly encouraged the Quraysh and other Arab tribes to unite against the Muslims. They also collaborated with the hypocrites, who were apparently an integral part of the Muslim body-politic. To sabotage the spread of Islam, they began to fan the flames of old animosities between the Aws and Khazraj, the two tribes of Madīnan Muslims. Ka‘b ibn Ashraf, the chief of the Banū Nadīr, went to Makkah and recited stirring elegies concerning the Makkans killed at Badr to provoke the Quraysh into renewed hostile action. He also slandered the Muslims and satirized God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in his poems.

The violation by the Jewish tribes of their obligations according to the treaty exceeded all reasonable limits. A few months after Badr, a Muslim woman was treated indecently by some Jews of Banū Qaynuqa‘, the most anti-Muslim Jewish tribe. During the ensuing fight, a Muslim and a Jew were killed. When God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reproached them for this conduct and reminded them of their treaty obligations, the Jews threatened him: “Don’t be misled by your encounter with a people who have no knowledge of warfare. You were lucky. But if we fight you, you will know that we are the men of war.”

Finally, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, had to attack the Jewish Banu Qaynuqa‘; he defeated them and banished them from the outskirts of Madīnah.

As for the Jewish Banū Nadīr tribe, its members also secretly intrigued with the Makkan pagans and the Madīnan hypocrites to destroy the Muslim community once and for all. They even tried to kill the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, while he was visiting them. God’s Messenger  asked them to leave their strategic position, about three miles south of Madīnah, and depart from the city. They would be allowed to return every year to gather the produce of their date groves. But when ‘Abdullāh ibn Ubayy, the chief of the hypocrites, promised them help in case of war, the Banū Nadīr disagreed. They had great faith in their strongly built houses and other strongholds.

The Muslim army then besieged them in their fortresses. The Banū Nadīr, seeing that neither the Makkan polytheists nor the Madīnan hypocrites cared enough to help them, had to leave the city. They were dismayed, but their lives were spared. They were given ten days to remove themselves, their families, and all they could carry. Most of them joined their brethren in Syria and others in Khaybar (Ibn Hishām, 3: 47–49, 190–192).

2. God allowed the Muslims to cut down the trees during their siege of the Banū Nadīr to facilitate the operation. However, except for such strict military exigencies, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, continually forbade the destruction of trees and crops. The Qur’ān’s special mention of this incident during the fighting against the Banū Nadīr must refer to this extraordinary exemption.

3. For an explanation of this distribution, see 8: 41, note 8. The principle laid out in the last sentence – it should not become a fortune circulating among the rich among you – is very important and is a basic characteristic of Islamic economy and social justice. Islam orders people to strive and be industrious; it does not commend begging. However, it is a fact that due to human facilities and capacities, people vary in their earning power and their wealth. But, in Islam, there should be no extremely rich people while there are destitute people. So, through ordinances such as those prescribed and recommended alms as a recompense for fasts that have been broken willingly, or that cannot be fulfilled due to extreme old age or permanent illnesses, and for broken oaths and unlawful actions, such as saying to one’s wife, “You are henceforth as my mother’s back to me,” (see 58: 1, note 1), it seeks as broad a distribution of wealth as possible, so that the standard of life will be balanced in the community.

4. These verses tell (and remind) us what praiseworthy qualities the Muhājirūn (Emigrants) and the Ansār (the Helpers – the Madīnan Muslims) had, and their degree in those qualities.

5. Caliph ‘Umar understood from these verses that the spoils gained without fighting are for all the Muslims, including the Emigrants, the Helpers, and those succeeding them in later centuries. His view received a general welcome from other Companions.

6. As explained in note 1 above, when God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, asked the Jewish Banū Nadīr tribe to leave their strategic position, about three miles south of Madīnah, and depart from the city, ‘Abdullāh ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl, the chief of the hypocrites, promised to help the Banū Nadīr in case of war. However, when the Muslim army besieged them in their fortresses, neither the Makkan polytheists nor the Madīnan hypocrites dared to help them.

7. The hypocrites promised help to the Jews of the Banū Nadīr and provoked them to fight against the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. But when fighting began, the hypocrites did nothing. Their manners are like the manner of Satan. He makes promises to humans, and calls them to disbelieve or commit sins, but when they have done whatever he has urged them to do, he withdraws and derides them. Actually, he has no power to do anything to fulfill his promises. Before the Battle of Badr began, Satan told the Makkan army: “Today no power among humankind can overcome you, and for sure I am your supporter.” But when the two hosts came within sight of each other, he turned on his heels to run away and said: “Indeed I am quit of you; surely I see that which you do not see. Indeed, I fear God (8: 48). He had perceived that the Muslim army was supported by angels, and in fear of receiving harsh blows, he preferred to take flight. His words “Surely I am quit of you,” and “for surely I fear God,” were only excuses for his flight.

8. This verse is telling those who are oblivious of God and the believers: you are oblivious and unaware of yourselves. You do not want to remember death, although you always consider others mortal. You hold back when confronting hardship and rendering service, but believe that you should be the first to be rewarded when it is time to collect the wages. You do not like obeying God in your lives and follow your lusts and caprices, and so are oblivious of the purpose for your worldly life. To purify yourselves of this, carry out your responsibilities, be prepared for death, and forget whatever reward you might obtain in the world. You should never forget why you are here in the world and what you should do, and for what end you are heading. You should know your true leader and follow him. Otherwise, (a Day will come and) it will be said: “We are oblivious of you today (so do not hope for forgiveness and favor), as you were oblivious of the encounter of this day of yours, and your (lasting) refuge will be the Fire, and you have no helpers (45: 34).

9. For God’s Beautiful Names, see 7: 180, note 44; 17: 110, note 41.

10. It is sunnah to recite these last three verses after the Early Morning and Evening Prayers.

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