Surah Ali-Imran Part 13 Ayat 196-200

{196. Let not the free disposal (and affluence) of the disbelievers throughout the land deceive you.

197. A brief enjoyment; then their ultimate abode is Hell; and worst indeed is that place for rest.

198. But, for those who have Taqwa of their Lord, are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); therein are they to dwell, an entertainment from Allah; and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar (the most righteous)}

Warning Against Being Deceived by This Life; the Rewards of the Righteous Believers

Allah said, do not look at the disbelievers, who are enjoying various delights and joys. Soon, they will loose all this and be tied to their evil works, for verily, we are only giving them time, which deceives them, when all they have is, “A brief enjoyment; then their ultimate abode is Hell; and worst indeed is that place for rest.” This Ayah is similar to several other Ayat, such as,

“None disputes in the Ayat of Allah but those who disbelieve. So, let not their ability of going about here and there through the land deceive you!” (40:4)

“Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah, will never be successful. (A brief) enjoyment in this world! And then unto Us will be their return, then We shall make them taste the severest torment because they used to disbelieve.” (10:69,70)

“We let them enjoy for a little while, then in the end We shall oblige them to (enter) a great torment.” (31:24)

“So, give a respite to the disbelievers; deal gently with them for a while.” (86:17) and,

“Is he whom We have promised an excellent promise (Paradise) which he will find true — like him whom We have made to enjoy the luxuries of the life of (this) world, then on the Day of Resurrection, he will be among those brought up (to be punished in the Hell-fire)?” (28:61).

After Allah mentioned the condition of the disbelievers in this life and their destination to the Fire, He said, “But, for those who have Taqwa of their Lord, are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); therein are they to dwell, an entertainment from Allah” (3:198), for certainly, “and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar” Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ used to say, “Death is better for every believer. Death is better for every disbeliever, and those who do not believe me should read Allah’s statements, “and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar”, and, “And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgraceful torment.” (3:178). (At-Tabari 7:496)

 

{199. And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is swift in account.

200. O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu, and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful.}

The Condition of Some of the People of the Scriptures and their Rewards

Allah states that some of the People of the Book truly believe in Him and in what was sent down to Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, along with believing in the previously revealed Books, and they are obedient to Him and humble themselves before Allah. “They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price” (3:199), for they do not hide what they know of the glad tidings about the description of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his Prophethood, and the description of his Ummah. Indeed, these are the best people among the People of the Book, whether they were Jews or Christians. Allah said in Surat Al-Qasas,

“Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it (the Qur’an). And when it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we were Muslims. These will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient” (28:52-54).

Allah said, “Those to whom We gave the Book, recite it (follow it) as it should be recited (i.e. followed), they are the ones who believe therein.” (2:121)

“And of the people of Musa there is a community who lead with truth and establish justice therewith.” (7:159)

“Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer.” (3:113) and,

“Say: “Believe in it (the Qur’an) or do not believe (in it). Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration.” And they say: “Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfillled.” And they fall down on their faces weeping and it increases their humility.”(17:107- 109)

These qualities exist in some of the Jews, but only a few of them. For instance, less than ten Jewish rabbis embraced the Islamic faith, such as Abdullah bin Salam. Many among the Christians, on the other hand, embraced the Islamic faith. Allah said,

 “Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: “We are Christians.” (5:82), until,

“So because of what they said, Allah rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever” (5:85). In this Ayah,

Allah said, “for them is a reward with their Lord” (3:199).

When Jafar bin Abi Talib recited Surah Maryam [chapter 19] to An-Najashi, King of Ethiopia, in the presence of Christian priests and patriarchs, he and they cried until their beards became wet from crying. (Ibn Hisham 1:357) The Two Sahihs record that when An-Najashi died, the Prophet conveyed the news to his Companions and said, ‘A brother of yours from Ethiopia has passed, come to offer the funeral prayer.’ (Fath Al-Bari 7:230) He went out with the Companions to the Musalla lined them up in rows, and after that led the prayer. Ibn Abi Najih narrated that Mujahid said that, “And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture” refers to those among them who embraced Islam. (At-Tabari 7:499) Abbad bin Mansur said that he asked Al-Hasan Al-Basri about Allah’s statement, “And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture, those who believe in Allah.”

Al-Hasan said, “They are the People of the Book, before Muhammad was sent, who believed in Muhammad and recognized Islam. Allah gave them a double reward, for the faith that they had before Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and for believing in Muhammad (after he was sent as Prophet).” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded both of these statements. The Two Sahihs record that Abu Musa said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Three persons will acquire a double reward.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:169)

He mentioned among them,

“A person from among the People of the Book who believed in his Prophet and in me.” 

Allah’s statement, “They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price”, means, they do not hide the knowledge that they have, as the cursed ones among them have done. Rather, they share the knowledge without a price, and this is why Allah said, “for them is a reward with their Lord. surely, Allah is Swift in account.” Mujahid commented on the verse, “(Surely, Allah is) swift in account”, “He is swift in reckoning,” as Ibn Abi Hatim and others have recorded from him.

The Command for Patience and Ribat

Allah said, “O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu” (3:200).

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “The believers are commanded to be patient in the religion that Allah chose for them, Islam. They are not allowed to abandon it in times of comfort or hardship, ease or calamity, until they die as Muslims. They are also commanded to endure against their enemies, those who hid the truth about their religion.” Similar explanation given by several other scholars among the Salaf.

As for Murabatah, it is to endure in acts of worship and perseverence. It also means to await prayer after prayer, as Ibn Abbas, Sahl bin Hanif and Muhammad bin Kab Al-Qurazi stated. Ibn Abi Hatim collected a Hadith that was also collected by Muslim and An-Nasa’i from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Should I tell you about actions with which Allah forgives sins and raises the grade? Performing perfect ablution in unfavorable conditions, the many steps one takes to the Masajid, and awaiting prayer after the prayer, for this is the Ribat, this is the Ribat, this is the Ribat.” (Muslim 1:219)

They also say that the Murabatah in the above Ayah refers to battles against the enemy, and manning Muslim outposts to protect them from enemy incursions inside Muslim territory. There are several Hadiths that encourage Murabatah and mention its rewards. Al-Bukhari recorded that Sahl bin Sad As-Saidi said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“A Day of Ribat in the cause of Allah is better than this life and all that is in it.” (Al-Bukhari no. 2892) Muslim recorded that Salman Al-Farisi said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Ribat for a day and a night is better than fasting the days of a month and its Qiyam (voluntary prayer at night). If one dies in Ribat, his regular righteous deeds that he used to perform will keep being added to his account, and he will receive his provision, and will be saved from the trials of the grave.” (Muslim no. 1913)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Fadalah bin Ubayd said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saying,

“Every dead person will have his record of deeds sealed, except for whoever dies while in Ribat in the cause of Allah, for his work will keep increasing until the Day of Resurrection, and he will be safe from the trial of the grave.” (Ahmad 6:20)

This is the same narration collected by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi, who said, “Hasan Sahih”. Ibn Hibban also collected this Hadith in his Sahih. At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ibn Abbas said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saying,

“Two eyes shall not be touched by the Fire: an eye that cried for fear from Allah and an eye that spent the night guarding in Allah’s cause.” (At-Tirmidhi no.1639)

Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Let the servant of the Dinar, the servant of the Dirham and the servant of the Khamisah (of clothes) perish, as he is pleased if these things are given to him, and if not, he is displeased. Let such a person perish and be humiliated, and if he is pierced with a thorn, let him not find anyone to take it out for him. Paradise is for him who holds the reins of his horse, striving in Allah’s cause, with his hair unkempt and feet covered with dust: if he is appointed to the vanguard, he is perfectly satisfied with his post of guarding, and if he is appointed in the rearguard, he accepts his post with satisfaction; if he asks for permission he is not permitted, and if he intercedes, his intercession is not accepted.” (Al-Bukhari no.2886)

Ibn Jarir recorded that Zayd bin Aslam said, “Abu Ubaydah wrote to Umar bin Al-Khattab and mentioned to him that the Romans were mobilizing their forces. Umar wrote back, ‘Allah will soon turn whatever hardship a believing servant suffers, to ease, and no hardship shall ever overcome two types of ease. Allah says in His Book,

“O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu, and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful” (3:200) (At-Tabari 7:503)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Asakir mentioned in the biography of Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, that Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abi Sakinah said, “While in the area of Tarsus, Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak dictated this poem to me when I was greeting him goodbye. He sent the poem with me to Al-Fudayl bin Iyad in the year one hundred and seventy, ‘O he who worships in the vicinity of the Two Holy Masjids! If you but see us, you will realize that you are only jesting in worship. He who brings wetness to his cheek with his tears, should know that our necks are being wet by our blood. He who tires his horses without purpose, know that our horses are getting tired in battle. Scent of perfume is yours, while our scent is the glimmer of spears and the stench of dust [in battle]. We were narrated about in the speech of our Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, an authentic statement that never lies. That the dust that erupts by Allah’s horses and which fills the nostrils of a man shall never be combined with the smoke of a raging Fire. This, the Book of Allah speaks among us that the martyr is not dead, and the truth in Allah’s Book cannot be denied.’ I met Al-Fudayl Ibn Iyad in the Sacred Masjid and gave him the letter. When he read it, his eyes became tearful and he said, Abu Abdur-Rahman (Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak) has said the truth and offered sincere advice to me.’ He then asked me, ‘Do you write the Hadith?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Write this Hadith as reward for delivering the letter of Abu Abdur-Rahman to me. He then dictated, ‘Mansur bin Al-Mutamir narrated to us that Abu Salih narrated from Abu Hurayrah that a man asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Teach me a good deed that will earn me the reward of the Mujahidin in Allah’s cause.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Are you able to pray continuously and fast without breaking the fast?” The man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I cannot bear it.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “By He in Whose Hand is my soul! Even if you were able to do it, you will not achieve the grade of the Mujahidin in Allah’s cause. Did you not know that the horse of the Mujahid earns rewards for him as long as it lives?” (Ahmad 5:236)

Allah said next, “and have Taqwa of Allah”, concerning all your affairs and situations. For instance, the Prophet said to Muadh when he sent him toYemen,

 “Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you may be, follow the evil deed with a good deed and it will erase it, and deal with people in a good manner.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 6:123)

Allah said next, “so that you may be successful”, in this life and the Hereafter. Ibn Jarir recorded that Muhammad bin Kab Al-Qurazi said that, Allah’s statement, “and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful” means, “Fear Me concerning what is between you and Me, so that you may acquire success when you meet Me tomorrow.” (At-Tabari 7:510)

The Tafsir of Surah Ali-Imran ends here, all praise is due to Allah, and we ask Him that we die while on the path of the Qur’an and Sunnah, Amin.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 355-365

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