Surah Al-Imran Part 9 (Ayat 137-153)

{137. Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced [by nations (believers and disbelievers) that have passed away] before you, so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied.

138. This is a plain statement for mankind, a guidance and instruction for the Muttaqin.

139. So do not become weak, nor be sad, and you will be triumphant if you are indeed believers.

140. If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. And so are the days, that We give to men by turns, that Allah may know (test) those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the wrongdoers.

141. And that Allah may test those who believe and destroy the disbelievers.

142. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who performed Jihad and knows (tests) those who are patient?

143. You did indeed wish for death before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes.}

The Wisdom Behind the Losses Muslims Suffered During Uhud

Allah states to His believing servants who suffered losses in the battle of Uhud, including seventy dead, ”Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced before you”, for the previous nations who followed their Prophets before you, they too suffered losses. However, the good end was theirs, and the ultimate defeat was for the disbelievers. This is why Allah said, ”so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied”. Allah said next, ‘‘This is a plain statement for mankind”, meaning, the Qur’an explains the true reality of things and narrates how the previous nations suffered by the hands of their enemies. ”And a guidance and instruction” for the Qur’an contains the news of the past, and, ”guidance” for your hearts, ”and instruction for the Muttaqin” to discourage committing the prohibited and forbidden matters. Allah comforts the believers by saying, ”nor be sad, and you will be triumphant if you are indeed believers”, for surely, the ultimate victory and triumph will be yours, Obelievers.

”If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others” (3:140).

Therefore, the Ayah says, if you suffered injuries and some of you were killed, then your enemiesalso suffered injuriesand fatalities. ”So do not become weak”, because of what you suffered, ”And so are the days, that We give to men by turns”, and at times — out of wisdom — We allow the enemy to overcome you, although the final good end will be yours. ”and that Allah may know (test) those who believe” meaning, “So that We find out who would be patient while fighting the enemies,” according to Ibn Abbas. ”and that He may take martyrs from among you” those who would be killed in Allah’s cause and gladly offer their lives seeking His pleasure.

”And Allah likes not the wrongdoers. And that Allah may test those who believe” (3:140,141), by forgiving them their sins if they have any. Otherwise, Allah will raise their grades according to the losses they suffered. Allah’s statement, ”and destroy the disbelievers”, for it is their conduct that if they gain the upper hand, they transgress and commit aggression. However, this conduct only leads to ultimate destruction, extermination, perishing and dying out.

Allah then said, ”Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who will perform Jihad and (also) knows (tests) those who are the patient?” (3:142).

The Ayah asks, do you think that you will enter Paradise without being tested with warfare and hardships? Allah said in Surat Al-Baqarah,

”Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken…” (2:214).

Allah said,

”Alif Lam Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (29:1,2)

This is why He said here,

”Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who will perform Jihad and (also) knows (tests) those who are the patient?” (3:142)

meaning, you will not earn Paradise until you are tested and thus Allah knows who among you are the ones who struggle and fight in His cause and are patient in the face of the enemy. Allah said,

”You did indeed wish for death (martyrdom) before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes’‘ (3:143).

The Ayah proclaims, O believers! Before today, you wished that you could meet the enemy and were eager to fight them. What you wished has occurred, so fight them and be patient.

In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Do not wish to encounter the enemy, and ask Allah for your well-being. However, if you do encounter them, then observe patience and know that Paradise is under the shade of swords.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:181)

This is why Allah said here, ”Now you have seen it” death, you saw it when the swords appeared, the blades were sharpened, the spears crisscrossed and men stood in lines for battle.” This part of the Ayah contains a figure of speech that mentions imagining what can be felt but not seen.

 

{144. Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will reward the grateful.

145. And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in the world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.

146. And many a Prophet fought and along with him many Ribbiyyun. But they never lost heart for that which befall them in Allah’s way, nor did nor they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves the patient.

147. And they said nothing but: “Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.”

148. So Allah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves the good- doers.}

The Rumor that the Prophet was Killed at Uhud

When Muslims suffered defeat in battle at Uhud and some of them were killed, Shaytan shouted, “Muhammad has been killed.” Ibn Qami’ah went back to the idolators and claimed, “I have killed Muhammad.” Some Muslims believed this rumor and thought that the Messenger of Allah had been killed, claiming that this could happen, for Allah narrated that this occurred to many Prophets before. Therefore, the Muslims’ resolve was weakened and they did not actively participate in battle. This is why Allah sent down to His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, His statement, Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him.”  He is to deliver Allah’s Message and may be killed in the process, just as what happened to many Prophets before. Ibn Abi Najih said that his father said that a man from the Muhajirin passed by an Ansari man who was bleeding (during Uhud) and said to him, “O fellow! Did you know that Muhammad was killed?” The Ansari man said, “Even if Muhammad was killed, he has indeed conveyed the Message. Therefore, defend your religion.” The Ayah, ”Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him”, was revealed. This story was collected by Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi in Dala’il An-Nubuwwah. (Dala’il An-Nubuwwah 3:248. This is a Mursal Narration)

Allah said next, while chastising those who became weak, ”If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels”, become disbelievers, ”And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful”, those who obeyed Allah, defended His religion and followed His Messenger whether he was alive or dead. The Sahih, Musnad and Sunan collections gathered various chains of narration stating that Abu Bakr recited this Ayah when the Messenger of Allah died. Al-Bukhari recorded that A’ishah said that Abu Bakr came riding his horse from his dwelling in As-Sunh. He dismounted, entered the Masjid and did not speak to anyone until he came to her [in her room] and went directly to the Prophet, who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face, knelt down and kissed him, then started weeping and proclaimed, “My father and my mother be sacrificed for you! Allah will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death, which was written for you.”

Ibn Abbas narrated that Abu Bakr then came out, while Umar was addressing the people, and Abu Bakr told him to sit down but Umar refused, and the people attended to Abu Bakr and left Umar. Abu Bakr said, “To proceed; whoever among you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die. Allah said, ”Muhammad is no more than a Messenger and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will reward the grateful.”

The narrator added, “By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this verse before until Abu Bakr recited it, and then whoever heard it, started reciting it.” Said bin Al-Musayyib said that Umar said, “By Allah! When I heard Abu Bakr recite this Ayah, my feet could not hold me, and I fell to the ground.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:751)

Allah said, ”And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term.” (3:145) meaning, no one dies except by Allah’s decision, after he has finished the term that Allah has destined for him. This is why Allah said, “at an appointed term” which is similar to His statements,

“And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life, but it is in a Book” (35:11), and,

“He it is Who has created you from clay, and then has decreed a (stated) term (for you to die). And there is with Him another determined term (for you to be resurrected)” (6:2).

This Ayah (3:145) encourages cowards to participate in battle; for doing so, or avoiding battle neither decreases, nor increases the life term. Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that, Habib bin Suhban said that a Muslim man, Hujr bin Adi, said in a battle, “What prevents you from crossing this river (the Euphrates) to the enemy?

”And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term” He then crossed the river riding his horse, and when he did, the Muslims followed him. When the enemy saw them, they started shouting, “Diwan (Persian; crazy),” and they ran away. (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:584)

Allah said next, ”And whoever desires a reward in the world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof.” Therefore, the Ayah proclaims, whoever works for the sake of this life, will only earn what Allah decides he will earn. However, he will not have a share in the Hereafter. Whoever works for the sake of the Hereafter, Allah will give him a share in the Hereafter, along with what He decides for him in this life. In similar statements, Allah said,

”Whosoever desires (by his deeds) the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world (by his deeds), We give him thereof (what is decreed for him), and he has no portion in the Hereafter.” (42:20), and,

”Whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell; he will burn therein disgraced and despised. And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it while he is a believer, then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated” (17:18-19).

In this Ayah (3:145), Allah said, ”And We shall reward the grateful” meaning, We shall award them with Our favor and mercy in this life and the Hereafter, according to the degree of their appreciation [of Allah] and their good deeds.

Allah then comforts the believers because of what they suffered in Uhud, And many a Prophet fought and along with him many Ribbiyyun.” It was said that this Ayah means that many Prophets and their companions were killed in earlier times, as is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir. It was also said that the Ayah means that many Prophets witnessed their companions’ death before their eyes. However, Ibn Ishaq mentioned another explanation in his Seerah, saying that this Ayah means, “Many a Prophet was killed, and he had many companions whose resolve did not weaken after their Prophet died, and they did not become feeble in the face of the enemy. What they suffered in Jihad in Allah’s cause and for the sake of their religion did not make them lose heart. This is patience, ”and Allah loves the patient.” As-Suhayli agreed with this explanation and defended it vigorously. This view is supported by Allah saying; ‘‘And along with him many Ribbiyyun”. In his book about the battles, Al-Amawi mentioned only this explanation for the Ayah. Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that, Ibn Mas’ud said that, ”many Ribbiyyun” means, thousands. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Said bin Jubayr, Ikrimah, Al- Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi and Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the word Ribbiyyun means, ‘large bands’. Abdur-Razzaq narrated that Mammar said that Al-Hasan said that, ”many Ribbiyyun” means, many scholars. He also said that it means patient and pious scholars. ”But they never lost heart for that which befell them in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves.”

Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anas said that, ”nor did they weaken”, means, after their Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was killed. ”nor degrade themselves”, by reverting from the true guidance and religion. Rather, they fought on the path that Allah’s Prophet fought on until they met Allah. Ibn Abbas said that, ”nor degrade themselves” means, nor became humiliated, while As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd said that it means, they did not give in to the enemy.

”And Allah loves the patient. And they said nothing but: “Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.” (3:146-147),

and this was the statement that they kept repeating. Therefore, ‘‘So Allah gave them the reward of this world” victory, triumph and the good end, ”and the excellent reward of the Hereafter” added to the gains in this life, ‘And Allah loves the good-doers”.

 

{149. O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back as losers.

150. Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers.

151. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrongdoers.

152. And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His permission; until Fashiltum and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you what you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you. But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.

153. (And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for what struck you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.}

The Prohibition of Obeying the Disbelievers; the Cause of Defeat at Uhud

Allah warns His believing servants against obeying the disbelievers and hypocrites, because such obedience leads to utter destruction in this life and the Hereafter. This is why Allah said,

”If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers” (3:149).

Allah also commands the believers to obey Him, take Him as their protector, seek His aid and trust in Him. Allah said, ”Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers”. Allah next conveys the good news that He will put fear of the Muslims, and feelings of subordination to the Muslims in the hearts of their disbelieving enemies, because of their Kufr and Shirk. And Allah has prepared torment and punishment for them in the Hereafter. Allah said, ”We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrongdoers”. In addition, the Two Sahihs recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”I was given five things that no other Prophet before me was given. I was aided with fear the distance of one month, the earth was made a Masjid and clean place for me, I was allowed war booty, I was given the Intercession, and Prophets used to be sent to their people, but I was sent to all mankind particularly.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:519)

Allah said, ”And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you” (3:152), in the beginning of the day of Uhud, ”when you were killing them”, slaying your enemies, ”with His permission”, for He allowed you to do that against them, ”until when you Fashiltum.” Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn Abbas said that Fashiltum means, ‘lost courage’. ”and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed” such as the mistake made by the archers, ”after He showed you what you love”, that is, victory over the disbelievers, ”Among you are some that desire this world” referring to those who sought to collect the booty when they saw the enemy being defeated, ‘‘and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you.”

 

This Ayah means, Allah gave them the upper hand to try and test you, O believers, ”but surely, He forgave you”He forgave the error you committed, because, and Allah knows best, the idolators were many and well supplied, while Muslims had few men and few supplies.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “We met the idolators on that day (Uhud) and the Prophet appointed Abdullah bin Jubayr as the commander of the archers. He instructed them, ‘Retain your position, and if you see that we have defeated them, do not abandon your positions. If you see that they defeated us, do not rush to help us.’ The disbelievers gave flight when we met them, and we saw their women fleeing up the mountain while lifting up their clothes revealing their anklets and their legs. So, the companions (of Abdullah bin Jubayr) said, ‘The booty, the booty!’ Abdullah bin Jubayr said, ‘Allah’s Messenger commanded me not to allow you to abandon your position.’ They refused to listen, and when they left their position, Muslims were defeated and seventy of them were killed. Abu Sufyan shouted, ‘Is Muhammad present among these people?’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ Then he asked, ‘Is the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) present among these people?’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ He asked again, ‘Is the son of Al-Khattab (Umar) present among these people? As for these (men), they have been killed, for had they been alive, they would have answered me.’ ‘Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), ‘You lie, O enemy of Allah! The cause of your misery is still present.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘O Hubal, be high!’ On that the Prophet said (to his Companions), ‘Answer him back.’ They said, ‘What shall we say?’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘We have the (idol) Al-Uzza, and you have no ‘Uzza.’ The Prophet said, ‘Answer him back.’ They asked, ‘What shall we say?’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is our protector and you have no protector.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘Our victory today is vengeance for yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your killed men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 7:405)

Muhammad bin Ishaq said that, Abdullah bin Az- Zubayr narrated that Az-Zubayr bin Al-Awwam said, “By Allah! I saw the female servants and female companions of Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife) when they uncovered their legs and gave flight. At that time, there was no big or small effort separating us from capturing them. However, the archers went down the mount when the enemy gave flight from the battlefield, seeking to collect the booty. They uncovered our back lines to the horsemen of the disbelievers, who took the chance and attacked us from behind. Then a person shouted, ‘Muhammad has been killed.’ So we pulled back, and the disbelievers followed us, after we had killed those who carried their flag, and none of them dared to come close the flag, until then.”’ Muhammad bin Ishaq said next, “The flag of the disbelievers was left on the ground until Amrah bint Alqamah Al- Harithiyyah picked it up and gave it to the Quraysh who held it.”

Allah said, ”Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you” (3:152).

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said, “My uncle Anas bin An-Nadr was absent from the battle of Badr. He said, ‘I was absent from the first battle the Prophet fought (against the pagans). (By Allah) if Allah gives me a chance to fight along with the Messenger of Allah, then Allah will see how (bravely) I will fight.’ On the day of Uhud when the Muslims turned their backs and fled, he said, ‘O Allah! I apologize to You for what these (meaning the Muslims) have done, and I denounce what these pagans have done.’ Then he advanced lifting his sword, and when Sad bin Muadh met him, he said to him, ‘O Sad bin Muadh! Where are you! Paradise! I am smelling its aroma coming from before (Mount) Uhud,’ and he went forth, fought and was killed. We found more than eighty stab wounds, sword blows or arrow holes on his body, which was mutilated so badly that none except his sister could recognize him, and she could only do so by his fingers or by a mole.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:411).

The Defeat that the Muslims Suffered During the Battle of Uhud

Allah said, ”(And remember) when you (Tusiduna) ran away dreadfully without casting even a side glance at anyone), and Allah made the disbelievers leave you after you went up the mount, escaping your enemy. Al-Hasan and Qat adah said that, Tusiduna, means, ‘go up the mountain’. (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:609) ”without even casting a side glance at anyone” meaning, you did not glance at anyone else due to shock, fear and fright. ”and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back”, for you left him behind you, while he was calling you to stop fleeing from the enemy and to return and fight.

As-Suddi said, “When the disbelievers attacked Muslim lines during the battle of Uhud and defeated them, some Muslims ran away to Al-Madinah, while some of them went up Mount Uhud, to a rock and stood on it. On that, the Messenger of Allah kept heralding, ‘Come to me, O servants of Allah! Come to me, O servants of Allah!’ Allah mentioned that the Muslims went up the Mount and that the Prophet called them to come back, and said, ”(And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back.” (At-Tabari 7:301)

The Ansar and Muhajirin Defended the Messenger

Al-Bukhari recorded that Qays bin Abi Hazim said, “I saw Talhah’s hand, it was paralyzed, because he shielded the Prophet with it.” meaning on the day of Uhud. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Uthman An-Nahdi said, “On that day (Uhud) during which the Prophet fought, only Talhah bin Ubaydullah and Sad remained with the Prophet.” (Al-Bukhari no. 4060)

Said bin Al-Musayyib said, “I heard Sad bin Abi Waqqas saying, ‘The Messenger of Allah gave me arrows from his quiver on the day of Uhud and said, ‘Shoot, may I sacrifice my father and mother for you.”’ Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith (no.4055). The Two Sahihs recorded that Sad bin Abi Waqqas said, “On the day of Uhud, I saw two men wearing white clothes, one to the right of the Prophet and one to his left, who were defending the Prophet fiercely. I have never seen these men before or after that day.” Meaning angels Jibril and Mika’il, peace be upon them. (Al-Bukhari no. 4054)

Abu Al-Aswad said that, Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Ubayy bin Khalaf of Bani Jumah swore in Makkah that he would kill the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. When the Messenger was told of his vow, he said, ‘Rather, I shall kill him, Allah willing.’ On the day of Uhud, Ubayy came while wearing iron shields and proclaiming, ‘May I not be saved, if Muhammad is saved.’ He then headed to the direction of the Messenger of Allah intending to kill him, but Musab bin Umayr, from Bani Abd Ad-Dar, intercepted him and shielded the Prophet with his body, and Musab bin Umayr was killed. The Messenger of Allah saw Ubayy’s neck exposed between the shields and helmet, stabbed him with his spear, and Ubayy fell from his horse to the ground. However, no blood spilled from his wound. His people came and carried him away while he was moaning like an ox. They said to him, ‘Why are you so anxious, it is only a flesh wound?’ Ubayy mentioned to them the Prophet’s vow, ‘Rather, I shall kill Ubayy’, then commented, ‘By He in Whose Hand is my soul! If what hit me hits the people of Dhul-Majaz (a popular pre-Islamic marketplace), they would all have perished.’ He then died and went to the Fire,

”So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire!” (67:11).”

This was collected by Musa bin Uqbah from Az-Zuhri from Said bin Al-Musayyib.(The narrations from ‘Urwah and Said are Mursal)

Allah said next, ”There did Allah give you one distress after another” (3:153), Abdur-Rahman bin Awf said, “The first distress was because of the defeat and the second when a rumor started that Muhammad was killed, which to them, was worse than defeat.” Mujahid and Qatadah said, “The first distress was when they heard that Muhammad was killed and the second when they suffered casualties and injury.” It has also been reported that Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anas said that it was the opposite [order]. As-Suddi said that the first distress was because of the victory and booty that they missed and the second because of the enemy rising above them (on the mount). Allah said, ”by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you”, for that you missed the booty and triumph over your enemy. ”nor for what struck you”, of injury and fatalities, as Ibn Abbas, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf, Al- Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi stated. Allah said next, ”And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do” all praise is due to Him, and thanks, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Most High, Most Honored.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 275 -300

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