Surah Muhammad Ayat 20-38 (end)

{20. Those who believe say: “Why is not a Surah sent down (for us)?” But now that a decisive Surah is sent down mentioning fighting, you can see those in whose hearts is disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with the look of one who is about to faint for fear of death. But it was better for them.

21.Obedience and good words. And when the matter is resolved, then if they had been true to Allah, it would have been better for them.

22. So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship?

23. Such are the ones whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.}

The Situation of the True Believer and the Sick-Hearted when the Command for Jihad was revealed

Allah mentions that the believers were hoping that Jihad would be legislated. But when Allah ordained it, many of the people turned back, as Allah says, “Have you not seen those who were told: “Restrain your hands (from fighting), establish the Salah, and give Zakah.” But then when fighting was ordained for them, you find a party of them fearing the people as they fear Allah or more. They said: “Our Lord! Why have You decreed fighting upon us? If only You have postponed us for a short period.” Say: “The enjoyment of this world is little. The Hereafter is far better for him who had Taqwa of (Allah), and you will not be dealt with unjustly, even as much as a thin thread (inside a date’s pit).” (4:77) Similarly, Allah says here, “Those who believe say: “Why is not a Surah sent down (for us)?” means, a Surah containing an order to fight. Then He says, “But now that a decisive Surah is sent down mentioning fighting, you can see those in whose hearts is disease looking at you with the look of one who is about to faint for fear of death.” meaning, due to their fear, terror, and cowardice concerning meeting the enemies. Allah then encourages them by saying, “But it was better for them, obedience and good words.” which means that it would have been better for them to listen and obey in that present situation. “When the matter (of fighting) is resolved.” which means when the situation becomes serious and the time of fighting truly arrives. “if they had been true to Allah,” meaning, by making their intentions sincerely for Him. “it would have been better for them” Allah then says, “So would you perhaps, if you turned away” meaning, from Jihad and you withdrew from it. “spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship” which means, would you then go back to your old practices of the time of ignorance: shedding blood and severing kinship ties Allah then says, “Such are the ones whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.” This involves a general prohibition of spreading corruption on earth, and a specific prohibition of severing the ties of kinship. In fact, Allah has commanded the people to establish righteousness on earth, as well as to join the ties of kinship by treating the relatives well in speech, actions, and spending wealth in charity. Many authentic and sound Hadiths have been reported through numerous routes of transmission from Allah’s Messenger in this regard. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

 “Allah created the creation, and when He finished from His creation the Rahm (womb) got up, and Allah said (to it). “Stop! What do you want? It said; “At this place I seek refuge with You from all those who sever me (i.e. sever the ties of Kinship.)” Allah said: “Would you be pleased that I will keep good relation with the one who will keep good relation with you, and I will sever the relation with the one who will sever the relation with you. It said: ‘Yes, ‘O my Lord.’ Allah said (to it), ‘That is for you.” And then Abu Huraira recited the Verse: “Would you then if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship.” (47.22) (Bukhari 7502)

Muslim also recorded it. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Bakrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“No sin deserves that Allah hasten its punishment in the worldly life, in addition to what He reserves in the Hereafter for those who commit it, more than injustice and severance of the ties of kinship.” (Ahmad 5:38)

This was also recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah. At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Sahih.” Imam Ahmad recorded from Thawban, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever likes for his life to be extended, and his provision increased, let him connect his ties of kinship.” (Ahmad 5:279)

Ahmad was alone in recording this narration, but it has a supporting narration in the Sahih.

Imam Ahmad recorded from Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“Verily, the womb is attached to the Throne. And connecting its ties does not mean dealing evenly (with the kinsfolk), but it rather means that if one’s kinsfolk sever the ties, he connects them.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:437)

This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari. Ahmad also recorded from Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“The womb will be placed on the Day of Resurrection, curved like a spinning wheel, speaking with an eloquent fluent tongue, calling to severing whoever had severed it, and joining whoever had joined it.” (Ahmad 2:189)

Imam Ahmad recorded from Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“The merciful ones will be granted mercy from the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those on earth – the One above the heavens will then have mercy on you. And Ar-Rahim (the womb) is from Ar-Rahman, so whoever joins it, it joins him; and whoever severs it, it severs him.” (Ahmad 2:160)

Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi both recorded this Hadith and it has been reported with continuous chains of transmission. At-Trimidhi said, “Hasan Sahih.” (Abu Dawud 5:231) There are numerous other Hadiths in this regard.

{24. Will they not then reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts?

25. Verily, those who have turned back as disbelievers after guidance had become clear to them – Shaytan has enticed them and filled them with false hopes.

26. That is because they said to those who hate what Allah has sent down: “We will obey you in part of the matter.” And Allah knows their secrets.

27. Then how (will it be) when the angels will take their souls at death, striking their faces and their backs

28. That is because they followed that which angered Allah and hated what earns His pleasure, so He rendered their deeds worthless.}

The Command to reflect upon the Qur’an

Commanding the people to reflect and ponder upon the Qur’an, and prohibiting them from turning away from it, Allah says, “Will they not then reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts?” means, there indeed are locks upon some hearts, firmly closing them so that none of its meanings can reach them. Ibn Jarir recorded from Hisham bin Urwah, from his father, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah’s Messenger once recited this Ayah, “Will they not then reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts?” and a young man from Yemen said, “Indeed, there are locks upon them – until Allah opens them totally or slightly.” After that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, always liked that young man, and kept that to himself until he became in charge, upon which he utilized him (as a consultant). (At-Tabari 22:180)

Condemning Apostasy

Allah then says, “Verily, those who have turned back” meaning, they departed from the faith and returned to disbelief. “…after guidance had become clear to them – Shaytan has enticed them” meaning he adorned and beautified that (apostasy) for them. “and filled them with false hopes.” meaning, he tempted them, and deceived them. “That is because they said to those who hate what Allah sent down: “We will obey your in part of the matter.’‘ means, they plotted secretly with them and gave them evil advice — as is the common practice of the hypocrites who declare the opposite of what they conceal. Because of this, Allah says, “And Allah knows their secrets.” whatever they hide and conceal, Allah is well-acquainted with it and He knows it. This is similar to His saying, “…And Allah records all that they plot by night.” (4:81) Allah then says, “How (will it be) when the angels will take their souls at death, striking their faces and their backs?” That is, how their situation will be when the angels come to take their lives, and their souls cling to their bodies, causing the angels to extract them by force, harshness, and beating. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “If you could but see when the angels take away the lives of the disbelievers, striking their faces and their backs.” (8:50) And His saying, “If you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the agonies of death, while the angels extend their hands” (6:93). meaning, to beat them. “(saying): “Deliver your souls! This day you will be recompensed with the torment of degradation because of what you used to utter against Allah other than the truth, and because you used to arrogantly reject His signs.” (6:93) Because of the above, Allah says, “That is because they pursued what angered Allah and disliked what earns His pleasure, so He rendered their deeds worthless.”

{29. Or do those in whose hearts is a disease, think that Allah will not expose their ill-wills

30. Had We so willed, We could have shown them clearly to you, so that you would know them by their marks; but you will know them by the tone of their speech! And Allah knows (all) your deeds.

31. And We will surely, try you until We know those who strive among you and the patient, and We will put to a test all your affairs.}

Exposing the Hidden Secret of the Hypocrites

Allah says, “Or do those in whose hearts is disease think that Allah would never expose their ill-wills” meaning, do the hypocrites think that Allah will not expose their affair to His believing servant Yes indeed, He will expose their affair and manifest it so that those with insight will be able to understand it. In that regard, Allah revealed Surah Bara’ah (or At-Tawbah), in which He clarified the hypocrites’ scandals, and pinpointed their practices that are indicative of their hypocrisy. Because of that, this Surah (Surah Bara’ah) is also called “The Exposer”. Adghan is the plural of Dighn, which means what the souls harbor of envy and hatred toward Islam and its people who support it. Allah then says, “Had We so willed, We could have shown them clearly to you, so that you would know them by their marks.” Allah is telling His Messenger , “Had We willed, O Muhammad, We would have shown you the specific individuals who are hypocrites, so that you would plainly know them.” However, Allah did not do that in regard to all of the hypocrites. He conceals His creation, lets their affairs run according to apparent purity, and leaves the inner secrets to the One Who is well aware of them. Allah then adds, “But you will know them by the tone of their speech!” which means, ‘you will know them by their speech that reveals their intentions.’ A person declares his association through the context and meaning of his words – as the Commander of the faithful Uthman bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Never would one conceal a secret but Allah will expose it by the look on his face and the uncontrolled words of his tongue.” Allah then says, “And We will surely try you” meaning, ‘We will surely test you with commands and prohibitions.’ “until We know those who strive among you and the patient, and We will put to a test all your affairs.” There is absolutely no doubt that Allah’s knowledge precedes the occurrence of all events. In this Ayah, “until We know” means ‘until We know of its occurrence.’ This is why Ibn Abbas said in regard to this and similar texts, “Except so that We may know, means, so that We may see.”

{32. Verily, those who disbelieve, and hinder from the path of Allah, and oppose the Messenger, after the guidance has been clearly shown to them, they will not harm Allah in the least, but He will make their deeds fruitless,

33. O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and invalidate not your deeds.

34. Verily, those who disbelieved and obstructed others from the path of Allah and then died as disbelievers – never will Allah not forgive them.

35. So do not lose heart and beg for peace while you are superior. Allah is with you and He will never deprive you of (the reward of) your deeds.}

Nullifying the Disbelievers’ Deeds and the Command to chase Them

Allah then informs about those who disbelieve, obstruct others from the path of Allah, oppose the Messenger and contend with him, and revert from the faith after guidance has become clear to them. He indicates that those people can never harm Allah in the least, and rather they only harm themselves and become losers on the Day of Resurrection. He will nullify their deeds. Allah will not reward them even the weight of a mosquito (i.e., the smallest thing) for any good that they did before their apostasy, but would instead totally invalidate and destroy it. Their apostasy wipes away their good deeds entirely, just as the good deeds would normally wipe away the evil deeds. Imam Ahmad Ibn Nasr Al-Marwazi reported in Kitab As-Salah (The Book of Prayer) that Abu Al-Aliyah said, “The Prophet’s Companions used to think that no sin would harm a person who says ‘La ilaha illallah,’ just as no good deed would benefit a person who joins partners with Allah. So Allah revealed, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.” This made them fear that some sins could nullify their deeds.” (As-Salah by Al-Marwazi 2:645)

It has also been reported from Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “We, the Companions of Allah’s Messenger , used to think that good deeds would all be accepted, until Allah revealed, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.” So we asked each other: ‘What is it that can nullify our deeds?’ So we said, ‘The major sins, great offenses that require admission into the Fire and immoral sins.’ But then Allah revealed, “Verily, Allah does not forgive joining partners with Him in worship, but He forgives except that to whom He wills.” (4:48) After this was revealed, we ceased saying that. We thereafter continued to fear for those who committed great sins and immoral sins and to have hope for those who did not.” (As-Salah by Al-Marwazi 2:646)

Then, Allah commands His believing servants to obey Him and His Messenger , which would result in their happiness in this worldly life and the Hereafter. He also prohibits them from apostasy, because that would result in the nullification of their deeds. Thus He says, “and do not invalidate your deeds.” meaning, by apostasy. Thus, Allah says after this, “Verily, those who disbelieved and obstructed others from the path of Allah and then died as disbelievers — never will Allah forgive them.” This is similar to His saying, “Verily, Allah does not forgive joining partners with Him in worship, but He forgives except that to whom He wills.” (4:48) Allah then addresses His believing servants by saying, “So do not lose heart” meaning, do not be weak concerning the enemies. “and beg for peace” meaning, compromise, peace, and ending the fighting between you and the disbelievers while you are in a position of power, both in great numbers and preparations. Thus, Allah says, “So do not lose heart and beg for peace while you are superior.” meaning, in the condition of your superiority over your enemy. If, on the other hand, the disbelievers are considered more powerful and numerous than the Muslims, then the Imam (general commander) may decide to hold a treaty if he judges that it entails a benefit for the Muslims. This is like what Allah’s Messenger did when the disbelievers obstructed him from entering Makkah and offered him treaty in which all fighting would stop between them for ten years. Consequently, he agreed to that. Allah then says: “And Allah is with you” This contains the good news of victory and triumph over the enemies. “and He will never deprive you of (the reward of) your deeds.” meaning, Allah will never invalidate your deeds, nullify them, or deprive you of them, but rather He will give you your rewards complete, without any reduction.” And Allah knows best.

{36. This worldly life is only amusement and diversion. And if you believe and have Taqwa of Allah, He will grant you your rewards, and will not ask from you (to sacrifice all of) your possessions.

37. If He would demand of you all of it and urge you, you would withhold. And He will expose your (secret) ill-wills.

38. Here you are now invited to spend in Allah’s cause; but among you are those who withhold (stingily). And whoever acts stingily is but stingy toward himself. For Allah is indeed free of needs, while you are the needy. And if you turn away, He will replace you with other people; then they will not be like you.}

Showing the Triviality of the Worldly Life and encouraging Spending

Expressing the insignificance and worthlessness of the worldly life, Allah says, “This worldly life is only amusement and diversion.” which means that such is its outcome, except for that which is done for the sake of Allah. Because of this, Allah says, “And if you believe and have Taqwa of Allah, He will grant you your rewards, and will not ask from you (to sacrifice all of) your possessions.” meaning, He is in no need of you, and asks you for nothing. He only ordained giving charity from your wealth so that you would help your needy brothers. The benefit of that would then come back to you, as well as the rewards. Allah then says, “If He would demand of you all of it and urge you, you would withhold.” meaning, if He pressures you much, you would become stingy. “And He will expose your (secret) ill-wills.” Qatadah said, “Allah knows that extracting wealth (i.e., money from people) brings about ill-wills.” (Abdur Razaq 3:224) Indeed, Qatadah has said the truth, because money is dear to the people, and they do not spend it except in things that are dearer to them than it. Allah then says, “Here you are now invited to spend in Allah’s cause; but among you are those who withhold (stingily).” meaning, they refuse to spend. Allah continues, “And whoever acts stingily is but stingy toward himself.” meaning, he only reduces his own rewards, and the bad outcome of that will come back to him. “For Allah is indeed Al-Ghani” Allah is in need of nothing else, whereas everything is ever in need of Him. Thus, Allah says, “while you are the needy.” meaning, specifically of Him. The description of Allah as Al-Ghani (in no need) is a necessary description of Allah; on the other hand, the description of the creation as Faqr (needy) is a necessary description for them that they cannot avoid. Allah then says, “And if you turn away,” which means, if you turn away from obeying Him and adhering to His Laws. “He will replace you with other people; then they will not be like you.” meaning, rather, they will be people who will listen to Him and obey His commands.

This concludes the Tafsir of Surah Muhammad.

And Allah is worthy of all praise and gratitude.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 9 Pages 106-121

 

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