Surah Al-Ahzab Ayat 1-36

Surah Al-Ahzab

(The Confederates) 

Chapter 33

Which was revealed in Al-Madinah

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

 

{1. O Prophet! Have Taqwa of Allah, and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.

2. And follow that which is revealed to you from your Lord. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.

3. And put your trust in Allah, and sufficient is Allah as a Trustee.}

The Command to defy the Disbelievers and Hypocrites by following the Revelation of Allah and putting One’s Trust in Him

Here Allah points out something lower by referring to something higher. When He commands His servant and Messenger to do this, He is also commanding those who are lower than him, and the command is addressed to them more so. Talq bin Habib said: “Taqwa means obeying Allah in the light of the guidance of Allah and in hope of earning the reward of Allah, and refraining from disobeying Allah in the light of the guidance of Allah and fearing the punishment of Allah.” “and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites.” means, do not listen to what they say and do not consult them. “Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise” means, He is more deserving of your following His commandments and obeying Him, for He knows the consequences of all things and is Wise in all that He says and does. Allah says: “And follow that which is revealed to you from your Lord.” meaning, of the Qur’an and Sunnah. “Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” means, nothing at all is hidden from Him, and put your trust in Allah, i.e., in all your affairs and situations. “and sufficient is Allah as a Wakil.” means, sufficient is He as a Trustee for the one who puts his trust in Him and turns to Him.

{4. Allah has not made for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. That is but your saying with your mouths. But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the way.

5. Call them by their fathers, that is more just with Allah. But if you know not their father’s, your brothers in faith and Mawalikum (your freed servants). And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Abolition of Adoption

Before Allah discusses ideas and theoretical matters, He gives tangible examples: one man cannot have two hearts in his body, and a man’s wife does not become his mother if he says the words of Zihar to her: “You are to me like the back of my mother.” By the same token, an adopted child does not become the son of the man who adopts him and calls him his son. Allah says: “Allah has not made for any man two hearts inside his body. Neither has He made your wives whom you declare to be like your mothers’ backs, your real mothers…” This is like the Ayah: “They cannot be their mothers. None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth” (58:2). “nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons.” This was revealed concerning Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, the freed servant of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had adopted him before prophethood, and he was known as Zayd bin Muhammad. Allah wanted to put an end to this naming and attribution, as He said: “nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons.” This is similar to the Ayah later in this Surah: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything.” (33:40). And Allah says here: “That is but your saying with your mouths.” meaning, ‘your adoption of him is just words, and it does not mean that he is really your son,’ for he was created from the loins of another man, and a child cannot have two fathers just as a man cannot have two hearts in one body. “But Allah says the truth, and He guides to the way.” Sa`id bin Jubayr said: (But Allah says the truth,) means, justice. Qatadah said: (and He guides to the way) means, the straight path. Imam Ahmad said that Hasan told them that Zuhayr told them from Qabus, meaning Ibn Abi Zibyan, that his father told him: “I said to Ibn Abbas, ‘Do you know the Ayah, “Allah has not made for any man two hearts inside his body.” What does this mean’ He said that the Messenger of Allah stood up one day to pray, and he trembled. The hypocrites who were praying with him said, ‘Do you not see that he has two hearts, one heart with you and another with them’ Then Allah revealed the words: “Allah has not made for any man two hearts inside his body.” (Ahmad 1:267) This was also narrated by At-Tirmidhi, who said, “It is a Hasan Hadith”. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 9:58) It was also narrated by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim from the Hadith of Zuhayr. (Ahmad no.2410)

An Adopted Child should be named after His Real Father 

“Call them (adopted sons) by their fathers, that is more just with Allah.” This is a command which abrogates the state of affairs that existed at the beginning of Islam, when it was permitted to call adopted sons after the man who adopted them. Then Allah commanded that they should be given back the names of their real fathers, and states that this was more fair and just. Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated that Abdullah bin Umar said: “Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, the freed servant of the Messenger of Allah , was always called Zayd bin Muhammad, until (the words of the) Qur’an were revealed: “Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers, that is more just with Allah.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:377) This was also narrated by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. (Muslim 4:1884) They used to deal with them as sons in every respect, including being alone with them as Mahrams and so on. Hence Sahlah bint Suhayl, the wife of Abu Hudhayfah, may Allah be pleased with them both, said: “O Messenger of Allah! We used to call Salim our son, but Allah has revealed what He has revealed. He used to enter upon me, but I feel that Abu Hudhayfah does not like that. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Breastfeed him and he will become your Mahram.” (Muslim 2:1076)

Hence when this ruling was abrogated, Allah made it permissible for a man to marry the ex-wife of his adopted son, and the Messenger of Allah married Zaynab bint Jahsh, the divorced wife of Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him, Allah said:

“So that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them” (33:37).

And Allah says in Ayat At-Tahrim: “The wives of your sons from your own loins” (4:23). The wife of an adopted son is not included because he was not born from the man’s loins. A “foster” son through breastfeeding is the same as a son born from one’s own loins, from the point of view of Shariah, because the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said in the Two Sahihs:

“Suckling makes unlawful as lineage does.” (Al-Fath 8:392)

As for calling a person “son” as an expression of honor and endearment, this is not what is forbidden in this Ayah, as is indicated by the report recorded by Imam Ahmad and the Sunan compilers – apart from At-Tirmidhi – from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “We young boys of Banu Abd Al-Muttalib came to the Messenger of Allah at the Jamarat; he slapped us on the thigh and said,

“O my sons, do not stone the Jamarah until the sun has risen.” (Ahmad 1:234)

This was during the Farewell Pilgrimage in 10 AH.

“Call them by their fathers.” This is concerning Zayd bin Harithah, may Allah be pleased with him. He was killed in 8 AH at the battle of Mu’tah. In Sahih Muslim it is reported that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah said:

“O my son.” (Muslim 3:1693)

It was also reported by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi. (Abu Dawud 5:247) “But if you know not their father’s then they are your brothers in the religion and Mawalikum (your freed servants).” Here Allah commands that adopted sons should be given back their fathers’ names, if they are known; if they are not known, then they should be called brothers in faith or freed servants, to compensate for not knowing what their real lineage is.

When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, left Makkah after performing his Umrat Al-Qada’, [performed in the year following Hudaybiyah] the daughter of Hamzah, may Allah be pleased with her, started following him, calling, “O uncle, O uncle!” Ali took her and said to Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with her, “Take care of your uncle’s daughter,” so she picked her up. Ali, Zayd and Jafar – may Allah be pleased with them – disputed over of which of them was going to take care of her, and each of them gave his reasons. Ali said, “I have more right, because she is the daughter of my paternal uncle.” Zayd said, “She is the daughter of my brother.” Jafar bin Abi Talib said: “She is the daughter of my paternal uncle and I am married to her maternal aunt — meaning Asma bint Umays.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ruled that she should stay with her maternal aunt, and said:

“The maternal aunt has the same status as the mother.”

He said to Ali, may Allah be pleased with him,

“You belong to me and I belong to you.”

He said to Jafar, may Allah be pleased with him,

“You resemble me both in your looks and in your attitude.”

And he said to Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him,

“You are our brother and our freed servant.”

This Hadith contains a number of rulings, the most important of which is that the Prophet ruled according to the truth, and that he sought to appease all the disputing parties. His saying to Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him,

“You are our brother and our freed servant.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:750)

is as Allah says in this Ayah: “your brothers in faith and your freed servants.” Then Allah says: “And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake,” meaning, if you call one of them after someone who is not in fact his father, by mistake, after trying your best to find out his parentage, then Allah will not attach any sin to this mistake. This is like the Ayah in which Allah commands His servants to say: “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error” (2:286). It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of islam be upon him said:

“Allah says, “Certainly I did (so).” (Muslim 1:116)

In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it was recorded that Amr bin Al-As, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah said:

“If the judge makes Ijtihad and reaches the right decision, he will have two rewards; if he makes Ijtihad and reaches the wrong decision, he will have one reward.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:330)

In another Hadith:

“Allah will forgive my Ummah for mistakes, forgetfulness and what they are forced to do.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 1:659)

And Allah says here: “And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” meaning, the sin is on the person who deliberately does something wrong, as Allah says elsewhere: “Allah will not call you to account for that which is unintentional in your oaths” (2:225). Imam Ahmad narrated from Ibn Abbas that Umar said: “Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed to him the Book. One of the things that was revealed in it was the Ayah of stoning, so the Messenger of Allah stoned [adulterers] and we stoned [them] after he died.” Then he said, “We also used to recite, ‘Do not attribute yourselves to anyone other than your fathers, for this is disbelief, to attribute yourselves to anyone other than your fathers.”’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Do not exaggerate in praising me as Isa bin Maryam was praised upon him be peace and blessings. I am just a servant of Allah. Say, “He is His servant and Messenger.”

Or Mamar may have said:

“As the Christians praised the son of Maryam.” (Ahmad 1:47)

This was also narrated in another Hadith:

“Three things that people do are parts of disbelief: slandering a person’s lineage, wailing over the dead and seeking rain by the stars.” (Muslim No. 934)

{6. The Prophet is closer to the believers than themselves, and his wives are their mothers. And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the decree of Allah than the believers and the Muhajirin, except that you do kindness to those brothers. This has been written in the Book.}

 

Loyalty to the Prophet; and his wives are Mothers of the Believers

Allah tells us how His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is merciful and sincere towards his Ummah, and how he is closer to them than they are to themselves. His judgement or ruling takes precedence over their own choices for themselves, as Allah says: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept with full submission.” (4:65) In the Sahih it says:

“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, none of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his own self, his wealth, his children and all the people.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:75)

It was also reported in the Sahih that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, you are dearer to me than everything except myself.” He said,

“No, O Umar, not until I am dearer to you than yourself.”

Umar said: “O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, now you are dearer to me than everything, even myself.” He said,

“Now, O Umar [you have got it right].” (Fath Al-Bari 11:532)

Allah says in this Ayah: “The Prophet is closer to the believers than themselves,” Concerning this Ayah, Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There is no believer except I am the closest of all people to him in this world and in the Hereafter. Recite, if you wish: “The Prophet is closer to the believers than themselves.” If any believer leaves behind any wealth, let his own relatives inherit it, but if he leaves behind any debt or orphans, bring them to me and I will take care of them.”

This was recorded only by Al-Bukhari, and he also recorded it in the Book of Loans. (Fath Al-Bari 8:376)

“and his wives are their mothers.” means, they are unlawful for marriage. In terms of honor, respect and veneration, it is not permissible for them to be alone with them, and the prohibition of marriage to them does not extend to their daughters and sisters, according to scholarly consensus. “And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the decree of Allah than the believers and the Muhajirin,” This is an abrogation of the rule that existed previously, whereby they could inherit from one another by virtue of the oath of brotherhood among them. Ibn Abbas and others said: “A Muhajir would inherit from an Ansari even though they were not related by blood, because of the brotherhood established between them by the Messenger of Allah.” (Al-Bukhari no 2292, 4580, 6747)

This was also stated by Said bin Jubayr and others among scholars of the earlier and later generations. “except that you do kindness to those brothers.” means, the idea of inheriting from one another has gone, but there remains the duty to offer support and kindness, to uphold ties of brotherhood and to offer good advice. “This has been written in the Book.” This ruling, which is that those who are blood relatives have closer personal ties to one another, is a ruling which Allah has decreed and which is written in the First Book which cannot be altered or changed. This is the view of Mujahid and others. (This is the case) even though Allah legislated something different at certain times, and there is wisdom behind this, for He knew that this would be abrogated and the original ruling that was instituted an eternity ago would prevail, and this is His universal and legislative decree. And Allah knows best.

{7. And when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa son of Maryam. We took from them a strong covenant.

8. That He may ask the truthful about their truth. And He has prepared for the disbelievers a painful torment.}

The Covenant of the Prophets

Allah tells us about the five Mighty Messengers with strong resolve and the other Prophets, how He took a covenant from them to establish the religion of Allah and convey His Message, and to cooperate and support one another, as Allah says: “And when Allah took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: “Take whatever I gave you from the Book and Hikmah, and afterwards there will come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you; you must, then, believe in him and help him.” Allah said: “Do you agree, and will you take up My covenant” They said: “We agree.” He said: “Then bear witness; and I am with you among the witnesses.” (3:81) This covenant was taken from them after their missions started. Elsewhere in the Qur’an, Allah mentions five by name, and these are the Mighty Messengers with strong resolve. They are also mentioned by name in this Ayah and in the Ayah: “He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Ibrahim, Musa and Isa saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it.” (42:13) This is the covenant which Allah took from them, as He says: “And when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa son of Maryam.” This Ayah begins with the last Prophet, as a token of respect, may the blessings of Allah be upon him, then the names of the other Prophets are given in order, may the blessings of Allah be upon them.

Ibn Abbas said: “The strong covenant is Al-Ahd (the covenant). (At-Tabari 20:213) “That He may ask the truthful about their truth.” Mujahid said: “This refers to, those who convey the Message from the Messengers.” (At-Tabari 20:214)  “And He has prepared for the disbelievers” i.e., among their nations, “a painful torment.” i.e., agonizing. We bear witness that the Messengers did indeed convey the Message of their Lord and advised their nations, and that they clearly showed them the truth in which there is no confusion, doubt or ambiguity, even though they were rejected by the ignorant, stubborn and rebellious wrongdoers. What the Messengers brought is the truth, and whoever opposes them is misguided. As the people of Paradise will say: “Indeed, the Messengers of our Lord did come with the truth.” (7:43)

{9. O you who believe! Remember Allah’s favor to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces that you saw not. And Allah is Ever All-Seer of what you do.

10. When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah.}

The Campaign of the Confederates (Al-Ahzab)

Allah tells us of the blessings and favors He bestowed upon His believing servants when He diverted their enemies and defeated them in the year when they gathered together and plotted. That was the year of Al-Khandaq, in Shawwal of the year 5 AH according to the well-known correct view. Musa bin Uqbah and others said that it was in the year 4 AH. The reason why the Confederates came was that a group of the leaders of the Jews of Banu Nadir, whom the Messenger of Allah had expelled from Al-Madinah to Khaybar, including Sallam bin Abu Al-Huqayq, Sallam bin Mishkam and Kinanah bin Ar-Rabi, went to Makkah where they met with the leaders of Quraysh and incited them to make war against the Prophet . They promised that they would give them help and support, and Quraysh agreed to that. Then they went to the Ghatafan tribe with the same call, and they responded too. The Quraysh came out with their company of men from various tribes and their followers, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb. The Ghatafan were led by Uyaynah bin Hisn bin Badr. In all they numbered nearly ten thousand. When the Messenger of Allah heard that they had set out, he commanded the Muslims to dig a ditch (Khandaq) around Al-Madinah from the east. This was on the advice of Salman Al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him. So the Muslims did this, working hard, and the Messenger of Allah worked with them, carrying earth away and digging, in the process of which there occurred many miracles and clear signs. The idolators came and made camp to the north of Al-Madinah, near Uhud, and some of them camped on the high ground overlooking Al-Madinah, as Allah says: “When they came upon you from above you and from below you,” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came out with the believers, who numbered nearly three thousand, or it was said that they numbered seven hundred. They had their backs towards (the mountain of) Sal and were facing the enemy, and the ditch, in which there was no water, was between the two groups, preventing the cavalry and infantry from reaching them. The women and children were in the strongholds of Al-Madinah. Banu Qurayzah, who were a group among the Jews, had a fortress in the south-east of Al-Madinah, and they had made a treaty with the Prophet and were under his protection. They numbered nearly eight hundred fighters. Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari went to them and kept trying to persuade them until they broke the treaty and went over to the side of the Confederates against the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The crisis deepened and things got worse, as Allah says: “There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.” (33: 11) They besieged the Prophet and his Companions for almost a month, but they did not reach them and there was no fighting between them, except for when Amr bin Abd Wadd Al-Amiri, who was one of the most famous and bravest horsemen of the Jahiliyyah, came with some other horsemen, and crossed the ditch to the Muslim side. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, called for the Muslim cavalry, and it was said that no one came forward. Then he called Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who came forward and they fought in single combat until Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, killed him, and this was a sign of imminent victory. Then Allah sent an intensely cold wind with strong gusts against the Confederates, and they were left with no tents or anything else; they could not light any fires or do anything, and so they departed, disappointed and defeated, as Allah says: “O you who believe! Remember Allah’s favor to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces” Mujahid said: “This was the easterly wind.” This view is supported by another Hadith:

“I was given victory by the easterly wind, and `Ad were destroyed by the westerly wind.” (Fath Al-Bari 2:604)

“and forces that you saw not.” This refers to the angels who shook them and cast fear and terror into their hearts. The chief of each tribe said, “O Banu so-and-so, to me!” So they gathered around him, and he said, “Let us save ourselves,” when Allah cast fear and terror into their hearts.

In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ibrahim At-Taymi said that his father said: “We were with Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, may Allah be pleased with him, and a man said to him: ‘If I had met the Messenger of Allah I would have fought alongside him and I would have striven my utmost.’ Hudhayfah said to him: ‘Would you really have done that? I was present with the Messenger of Allah during (the campaign) against the Confederates on a very cold and windy night, and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Is there any man who will bring me news of the people? He will be with me on the Day of Resurrection.”

None of us answered him, and he repeated it a second and a third time. Then he said:

“O Hudhayfah, get up and bring us news of the people.”

When he called me by name, I had no choice but to get up. He said,

“Bring us news of the people, but do not alarm them.”

So I went, walking as if I were walking among pigeons, until I came to them. I saw Abu Sufyan warming his back by the fire, and I put an arrow in my bow, wanting to shoot it at him, then I remembered what the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Do not alarm them.”

If I shot the arrow, I would have hit him. So I came back, again walking as if I were walking among pigeons, and I came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. After my returning I began to feel very cold. I told the Messenger of Allah and he gave me to wear a spare cloak of his which he used to pray in. I slept until morning came, and when morning came, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Get up, O sleepy one!” (Muslim 3:1414)

“When they came upon you from above you?” refers to the Confederates, “and from below you.” We have already noted the report from Abu Hudhayfah that these were Banu Qurayzah. “and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats,” means, from intense fear and terror. “and you were harboring doubts about Allah.” Ibn Jarir said: “Some of those who were with the Messenger of Allah , had doubts and thought that the outcome would be against the believers, and that Allah would allow that to happen.” Muhammad bin Ishaq said concerning the Ayah:  “when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah.” “The believers had all kinds of doubts, and hypocrisy emerged to such an extent that Muattib bin Qushayr, the brother of Banu Amr bin Awf said: Muhammad was promising us that we would win the treasure of Chosroes and Caesar, but one of us cannot even go and relieve himself.” (Ibn Hisham 1:522)

Al-Hasan said concerning the Ayah: “and you were harboring doubts about Allah.” “There were different kinds of thoughts; the hypocrites thought that Muhammad and his Companions would be eliminated, while the believers were certain that what Allah and His Messenger promised was true, and that He would cause the religion to prevail even if the idolators hated it.” (At-Tabari 20:221) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Said, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “On the day of Al-Khandaq, we said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is there anything we should say, for our hearts have reached our throats’ He said: “Yes, say: O Allah, cover our weak points and calm our fears.” Then [Allah] struck the faces of the enemy with the wind, and defeated them with the wind. This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal from Abu Amir Al-Aqadi.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 7 Pages 631-651

{11. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.

12. And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: “Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!”

13. And when a party of them said: “O people of Yathrib! There is no postition for you. Therefore go back!” And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet saying: “Truly, our homes lie open.” And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.}

How the Believers were tested, and the Position of the Hypocrites during the Battle of Al-Khandaq

Allah tells us what happened when the Confederates surrounded Al-Madinah and the Muslims were besieged and found themselves in straitened circumstances, with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, in their midst. They were tried and tested, and were shaken with a mighty shaking. At this time hypocrisy emerged, and those in whose hearts was a disease spoke about what they really felt. “And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: “Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!” Their hypocrisy became apparent, while the one in whose heart was doubt became weak, and he expressed the ideas that were in his heart because of the weakness of his faith and the difficulty of the situation. And other people said, as Allah tells us: “And when a party of them said: “O people of Yathrib…” meaning Al-Madinah, as it was reported in the Sahih:

“I was shown in a dream the place to which you will migrate, a land between two lava fields. At first I thought it was Hajar, but it turned out to be Yathrib.” (Fath Al-Bari 12:439)

According to another narration: “Al-Madinah.” It was said that the origin of its name Yathrib was that a man settled there from “the people of” Al-Amaliq whose name was Yathrib bin Ubayd bin Mahlayil bin Aws bin Amlaq bin Lawudh bin Iram bin Sam bin Nuh. This was the view of As-Suhayli. He said: “And it was narrated from some of them that he said, ‘It is given eleven names in the Tawrah: Al-Madinah, Tabah, Tayyibah, Al-Miskinah, Al-Jabirah, Al-Muhibbah, Al-Mahbubah, Al-Qasimah, Al-Majburah, Al-Adhra’ and Al-Marhumah.” “There is no position for you.” means, here, with the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, you cannot stand guard, “Therefore go back” means, to your houses and dwellings’. “And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet” Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him said, “These were Banu Harithah, who said, ‘We fear for our homes, that they may be robbed.”’ (At-Tabari 20:226) This was also stated by others. Ibn Ishaq mentioned that the one who said this was Aws bin Qayzi. (At-Tabari 20:225)

They were using as an excuse to go back to their houses the claim that they were lying open and had nothing to protect them from the enemy, so they were afraid for their homes. But Allah said: “And they lay not open.” meaning, it is not as they claim. “They but wished to flee.” means, they wanted to run away from the battlefield.

{14. And if the enemy had entered from all sides, and they had been exhorted to Al-Fitnah, they would surely have committed it and would have hesitated thereupon but little.

15. And indeed they had already made a covenant with Allah not to turn their backs, and a covenant with Allah must be answered for.

16. Say: “Flight will not avail you if you flee from death or killing and then you will enjoy no more than a little while!”

17. Say: “Who is he who can protect you from Allah if He intends to harm you, or intends mercy on you” And they will not find, besides Allah, for themselves any protector or any helper.}

Allah tells us about those who said: “Truly, our homes lie open.” And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.” If the enemy had entered upon them from every side of Al-Madinah and from every direction, then demanded that they become disbelievers, they would have promptly done so. They would not have adhered to their faith or remained steadfast in it if they were faced with the slightest fear. This is how it was interpreted by Qatadah, Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd and Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 20:227) This is a condemnation of them in the clearest terms. Then Allah reminds them of the promise they had made to Him before this fear struck them, that they would not turn their backs or flee from the battlefield. “and a covenant with Allah must be answered for.” means, Allah will inevitably ask them about that covenant. Then Allah tells them that fleeing from battle will not delay their appointed demise or make their lives any longer; on the contrary, it may be the cause of their being taken sooner, and in a sudden manner. Allah says: “and then you will enjoy no more than a little while!” meaning, ‘after you run away and flee from battle.’ “Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is better for him who have Taqwa” (4:77). Then Allah says: “Say: “Who is he who can protect you from Allah if He intends to harm you, or intends mercy on you” And they will not find, besides Allah, for themselves any protector or any helper.” meaning, they have no one else except Allah to respond to their cries.

{18. Allah already knows those among you who keep back (men) from fighting (in Allah’s cause), and those who say to their brethren, “Come here towards us,” while they come not to the battle except a little,

19. Being miserly towards you. Then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like one over whom hovers death; but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues, miserly towards good. Such have not believed. Therefore, Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah.}

Allah tells us that His knowledge encompasses those who sought to tell others not to go out and who said to their brethren, meaning their companions, friend and acquaintances. “Come here towards us,” meaning, come to where we are in the shade and enjoying fruits. But in spite of that, “they come not to the battle except a little, being miserly towards you.” i.e., ‘they are mean and have no love or mercy towards you.’ As-Suddi said: “Being miserly towards you.” means, with the booty. “Then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like one over whom hovers death” means, because of the intensity of their fear and terror; this is how afraid these cowards are of fighting. “but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues” means, when security is restored, they will speak eloquently and nicely, claiming that they were the bravest and most chivalrous of men, but they are lying. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “they will smite you” means, “they will start to talk about you.” (At-Tabari 20:232) Qatadah said: “But when it comes to the booty, the most miserly of people and the worst to have to share the booty with are those who say, ‘Give us, give us, we were there with you,’ but during battle they were the most cowardly and the most likely to fail to support the truth.” (At-Tabari 20:232) They are miserly towards good, meaning that there is no goodness in them, for they have combined cowardice with lies and little good. Allah says: “Such have not believed. Therefore Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah.”

{20. They think that the Confederates have not yet withdrawn; and if the Confederates should come, they would wish they were in the deserts among the bedouins, seeking news about you; and if they were to be among you, they would not fight but little.}

This is another aspect of their abhorrent attribute of cowardice and fear: “They think that the Confederates have not yet withdrawn” and that they are still close by and will return. “and if the Confederates should come, they would wish they were in the deserts among the bedouins, seeking news about you” means, ‘if the Confederates should come back, they hope that they will not be present with you in Al-Madinah, but that they will be in the desert, asking about news of you and what happened to you with your enemy.’ “and if they were to be among you, they would not fight but little.” means, ‘if they are among you, they will not fight alongside you very much,’ because they are so cowardly and weak, and have so little faith, but Allah knows best about them.

{21. Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.

22. And when the believers saw the Confederates, they said: “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us; and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.” And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness.}

The Command to follow the Messenger

This Ayah is an important principle, to follow the Messenger of Allah in all his words, and deeds, etc. Hence Allah commanded the people to take the Prophet as an example on the day of Al-Ahzab, with regard to patience, guarding, striving and waiting for Allah to provide the way out; may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him forever, until the Day of Judgement. Allah says to those who were anxious and impatient and were shaken by feelings of panic on the day of Al-Ahzab: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow” meaning, ‘why do you not take him as an example and follow his lead’ Allah says: “for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.”

The Attitude of the Believers towards the Confederates

Then Allah tells us about His believing servants who believed Allah’s promise to them and how He will make the consequences good for them in this world and in the Hereafter. He says: “And when the believers saw the Confederates, they said: “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us; and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.” Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and Qatadah said: “They mean what 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 that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said,”When (will come) the help of Allah” Yes! Certainly, the help of Allah is near!” (2:214) (At-Tabari 20:236) meaning, ‘this is the trial and test that Allah and His Messenger promised us would be followed by the help and victory of Allah that is near.’ Allah says: “and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.” “And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness.” This indicates that faith can increase and strengthen in accordance with people’s circumstances, as the majority of scholars stated: faith can increase and decrease. We have stated this at the beginning of our commentary on Al-Bukhari, praise be to Allah. “And it only added” means, at that time of stress and difficulty “to their faith” in Allah, “and to their submissiveness.” means their submission to His commands and their obedience to His Messenger .

{23. Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah; and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.

24.That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth, and punish the hypocrites, if He wills, or accept their repentance by turning to them. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Praise for the Believers’ Attitude, and leaving the ultimate Fate of the Hypocrites to Allah

When Allah mentions how the hypocrites broke their promise to Him that they would not turn their backs, He describes the believers as firmly adhering to their covenant and their promise: “[they] have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah” Some of them said: “Met their appointed time (i.e., death).” Al-Bukhari said, “Their covenant, and refers back to the beginning of the Ayah.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:377)  “and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.” means, they have never changed or broken their covenant with Allah.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Zayd bin Thabit said: “When we wrote down the Mushaf, an Ayah from Surat Al-Ahzab was missing, which I used to hear the Messenger of Allah reciting. I did not find it with anyone except Khuzaymah bin Thabit Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him, whose testimony the Messenger of Allah counted as equal to that of two other men. (The Ayah in question was) “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah” (Fath Al-Bari 8:377) This was recorded by Al-Bukhari but not by Muslim, It was also recorded by Ahmad in his Musnad, and by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i in the chapters on Tafsir in their Sunans. At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih”. (Ahmad 5:188)

Al-Bukhari also recorded that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “We think that this Ayah was revealed concerning Anas bin An-Nadr, may Allah be pleased with him: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:377)  This was reported only by Al-Bukhari, but there are corroborating reports with other chains of narration. Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said: “My paternal uncle Anas bin Al-Nadr, may Allah be pleased with him, after whom I was named, was not present with this Messenger of Allah at Badr, and this distressed him. He said: ‘The first battle at which the Messenger of Allah was present, and I was absent; if Allah shows me another battle with the Messenger of Allah, Allah will see what I will do!’ He did not want to say more than that. He was present with the Messenger of Allah at Uhud, where he met Sad bin Muadh, may Allah be pleased with him. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said to him, ‘O Abu Amr! Where are you going’ He replied, ‘I long for the fragrance of Paradise and I have found it near the mountain of Uhud.’ He fought them until he was killed, may Allah be pleased with him. Eighty-odd stab wounds and spear wounds were found on his body, and his sister, my paternal aunt Ar-Rabayyi bint Al-Nadr said, ‘I only recognized my brother by his fingertips.’ Then this Ayah was revealed: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah; and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.” They used to think that it had been revealed concerning him and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them.” (Ahmad 3:194) This was also recorded by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i. (Muslim 3:1512)

Ibn Jarir narrated that Musa bin Talhah said: “Muawiyah bin Abi Sufyan, may Allah be pleased with him, stood up and said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“Talhah is one of those who have fulfilled their Nahbah.” (At-Tirmidhi no. 3432)

Mujahid said concerning the Ayah: “of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah” “Their covenant, “and some of them are still waiting” they are waiting for battle so that they can do well. ” (At-Tabari 20:238)  Al-Hasan said: “of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah” “They died true to their covenant and loyal, and some are still waiting to die in a similar manner, and some of them have never changed in the least.” (At-Tabari 20:239) This was also the view of Qatadah and Ibn Zayd. Some of them said that the word Nahbah means a vow. “but they have never changed in the least.” means, they never changed their covenant or were disloyal or committed treachery, but they persisted in what they had promised and did not break their vow, unlike the hypocrites who said: “Truly, our homes lie open.” And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.” (33:13) “And indeed they had already made a covenant with Allah not to turn their backs” (33:15) “That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth, and punish the hypocrites, if He wills, or accept their repentance by turning to them.” Allah tests His servants with fear and shaking so as to tell the evil from the good, as each will be known by his deeds. Although Allah knows what the outcome will be before anything happens, still He does not punish anyone on the basis of His knowledge until they actually do what He knows they will do. As Allah says: “And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard and patient, and We shall test your facts.” (47:31). This refers to knowing something after it happens, even though Allah knows it before it comes to pass. Allah says: “Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen” (3:179). Allah says here: “That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth,” meaning, for their patience in adhering to the covenant they had made with Allah and keeping their promise. “and punish the hypocrites,” who are the ones who broke the covenant and went against the commands of Allah, for which they deserve to be punished, but they are subject to His will in this world. If He wills, He will leave them as they are until they meet Him [in the Hereafter], when He will punish them, or if He wills, He will guide them to give up their hypocrisy and to believe and do righteous deeds after they had been wrongdoers and sinners. Since His mercy and kindness towards His creation prevail over His wrath, He says: “Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

{25. And Allah drove back those who disbelieved in their rage: they gained no advantage. Allah sufficed for the believers in the fighting. And Allah is Ever All-Strong, All-Mighty.}

Allah drove back the Confederates disappointed and lost

Allah tells us how he drove the Confederates away from Al-Madinah by sending against them a wind and troops of angels. If Allah had not made his Messenger a Mercy to the Worlds, this wind would have been more severe than the barren wind which He sent against Ad, but Allah says: “And Allah would not punish them while you are amongst them” (8:33). So, Allah sent them a wind which dispersed them after they had gathered on the basis of their whims. They were a mixture of tribes and parties with a variety of opinions, so it was befitting that a wind should be sent against them that would scatter them and break up their gathering, driving them back disappointed and lost in their hatred and enmity. They did not achieve any worldly good such as the victory and booty that they had hoped for, nor did they achieve any good in the Hereafter, because of their sin of declaring enmity against the Messenger and seeking to kill him and destroy his army. Whoever wants and seriously intends to do a thing is the same as one who actually does it. “Allah sufficed for the believers in the fighting.” means, they did not have to fight them in order to expel them from their land, but Allah Alone sufficed them and helped His servant and granted victory to His troops. Hence the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, used to say,

“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, Alone, He was true to His promise, and He helped His servant, and He gave might to His soldiers and defeated the Confederates alone and there is nothing after Him.”

This was reported from a Hadith of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him. (Fath Al-Bari 7:469) In the Two Sahihs it was recorded that Abdullah bin Abi Awfa, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah invoked Allah against the Confederates and said:

“O Allah, Who revealed the Book and is swift in bringing to account, defeat the Confederates, O Allah defeat them and shake them.”  (Fath Al-Bari 7:469)

“Allah sufficed for the believers in the fighting.” This Ayah indicates that there would be a cessation of war between them and Quraysh; after this, the idolators did not attack the Muslims, on the contrary, the Muslims attacked them in their own land. Imam Ahmad recorded that Sulayman bin Surad, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “On the day of Al-Ahzab, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Now we will attack them and they will not attack us.” (Ahmad 4:162)

This was also recorded by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih. (Fath Al-Bari 7:467)

“And Allah is Ever All-Strong, All-Mighty.” means, by His power and might He drove them back disappointed and lost, and they did not achieve anything, and Allah granted victory to Islam and its followers, and fulfilled His promise and helped His servant and Messenger; to Him be blessings and praise.

{26. And those of the People of the Scripture who backed them, Allah brought them down from their forts and cast terror into their hearts; a group you killed, and a group you made captives.

27. And He caused you to inherit their lands, and their houses, and their riches, and a land which you had not trodden. And Allah is able to do all things.}

The Campaign against Banu Qurayzah

We have already noted that when the Confederates came and camped outside Al-Madinah, Banu Qurayzah broke the covenant that existed between them and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This happened by the agency of Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari, may Allah curse him, who entered their stronghold and would not leave their leader, Kab bin Asad, alone until he agreed to break the covenant. Among the things that he said to him was, “Woe to you! This is the opportunity for glory. The Quraysh and their company of men from various tribes, and the Ghatafan and their followers, have come to you, and they will stay here until they eliminate Muhammad and his companions.” Kab said to him, “No, by Allah, this is the opportunity for humiliation. Woe to you, O Huyay, you are a bad omen. Leave us alone.” But Huyay kept trying to persuade him until he agreed to his request. He laid down the condition that if the Confederates went away without doing anything, he [Huyay] would join them in their stronghold and would share their fate. When Banu Qurayzah broke their covenant and news of this reached the Messenger of Allah, he and the Muslims were very distressed by that. When Allah helped him by suppressing his enemy and driving them back disappointed and lost, having gained nothing, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, returned to Al-Madinah in triumph and the people put down their weapons.

While the Messenger of Allah was washing off the dust of battle in the house of Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, Jibril, upon him be peace, came to him wearing a turban of brocade, riding on a mule on which was a cloth of silk brocade. He said, “Have you put down your weapons, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “But the angels have not put down their weapons. I have just now come back from pursuing the people.” Then he said: “Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, commands you to get up and go to Banu Qurayzah.” According to another report, “What a fighter you are! Have you put down your weapons?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “But we have not put down our weapons yet, get up and go to these people.” He said: “Where?” He said, “Banu Qurayzah, for Allah has commanded me to shake them.” So the Messenger of Allah got up immediately, and commanded the people to march towards Banu Qurayzah, who were a few miles from Al-Madinah. (See Bukhari no.4117) This was after Salat Ad-Dhuhr. He said,

“No one among you should pray Asr except at Banu Qurayzah.” (Bukhari 4119)

So, the people set out, and the time for the prayer came while they were still on the road. Some of them prayed on the road, saying, “The Messenger of Allah only wanted to make us march quickly.” Others said, “We will not pray it until we reach Banu Qurayzah.” Neither of the two groups were rebuked for what they did. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, followed them. He left Ibn Umm Maktum, may Allah be pleased with him, in charge of Al-Madinah, and he had given the flag to Ali bin Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him. Then the Messenger of Allah went to them (Banu Qurayzah) laying seige to them for twenty-five days.

When this had gone on for too long, they agreed to accept the judgement of Sad bin Muadh, the leader of Aws because they had been their allies during the Jahiliyyah, so they thought that he would treat them kindly as Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul had done for his allies of Banu Qaynuqa when he had asked the Messenger of Allah to set them free. So, these people thought that Sad would do the same for them as Ibn Ubayy had done for those people. They did not know that Sad had been struck by an arrow in his medial arm vein during the campaign of Al-Khandaq. The Messenger of Allah had had his vein cauterized and had brought him to stay in a tent in the Masjid so that he could keep a close eye on him. One of the things that Sad, may Allah be pleased with him, said in his supplication was, “O Allah, if there is still anything that has to do with the war against Quraysh, then keep me alive for it, and if You decree that the war between us and them is over, then let the bleeding be renewed, but do not let me die until I get my satisfaction with regard to Banu Qurayzah.” Allah answered his prayer and decreed that they would agree to be referred to him for judgement, and this was their own free choice. When this happened, the Messenger of Allah called him to come from Al-Madinah to pass judgement on them. When he arrived, riding on a donkey that had been specially equipped for him to ride, some of the Aws began to urge him not to be too harsh, saying, “O Sad, they are your clients so be kind to them, trying to soften his heart.” But he kept quiet and did not answer them. When they persisted in their request, he said, “Now it is time for Sad to make sure that no rebuke or censure will divert him from the path of Allah.” Then they knew that he would not let them live.

When he reached the tent where the Messenger of Allah was, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Stand up for your leader.”

So the Muslims stood up for him, and welcomed him with honor and respect as befitted his status and so that his judgement would have more impact. When he sat down, the Messenger of Allah said:

“These people” and he pointed to them “have agreed to accept your judgement, so pass judgement on them as you wish.”

Sad, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “My judgement will be carried out.” The Messenger of Allah said: “Yes.” He said, “And it will be carried out on those who are in this tent” He said, “Yes.” He said, “And on those who are on this side” — and he pointed towards the side where the Messenger of Allah was, but he did not look directly at the Messenger of Allah out of respect for him. The Messenger of Allah said to him: “Yes.”

So Sad, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “My judgement is that their fighters should be killed and their children and wealth should be seized.” The Messenger of Allah said:

“You have judged according to the ruling of Allah from above the seven heavens.”

According to another report: “You have judged according to the ruling of the Sovereign.” (Similar was recorded in Bukhari 4122)

Then the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized. (At-Tabari 20:247)

All of this is stated both briefly and in detail, with evidence and Hadiths, in the book of Sirah which we have written, praise and blessings be to Allah. Allah said: “And those who backed them, Allah brought them down” means, those who helped and supported them in their war against the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. “of the People of the Scripture” means, Banu Qurayzah, who were Jews from one of the tribes of Israel. Their forefathers had settled in the Hijaz long ago, seeking to follow the Unlettered Prophet of whom they read in the Tawrah and Injil. “then when there came to them that which they had recognized, they disbelieved in it” (2:89). May the curse of Allah be upon them. “from their forts” means, from their strongholds. This was the view of Mujahid, Ikrimah, Ata’, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others of the Salaf. (At-Tabari 20:249) “and cast terror into their hearts” means fear, because they had supported the idolators in their war against the Messenger of Allah and the one who knows is not like the one who does not know. They had terrified the Muslims and intended to kill them so as to gain earthly power, but their plans backfired; the idolators ran away and the believers were victorious while the disbelievers were losers; where they had aimed for glory, they were humiliated. They wanted to eradicate the Muslims but they were themselves eradicated. In addition to all this, they are doomed in the Hereafter, so by all acounts they are counted as losers. Allah says: “a group you killed, and a group you made captives.” Those who were killed were their warriors, and the prisoners were their children and women.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Atiyah Al-Qurazi said, “I was shown to the Prophet on the day of Qurayzah, because they were not sure about me. The Prophet told them to look at me to see whether I had grown any body hair yet. They looked and saw that I had not grown any body hair, so they let me go and I was put with the other prisoners.” (Ahmad 4:383) This was also recorded by the Sunan compilers, and At-Tirmidhi said it is Hasan Sahih.” (Abu Dawud 4:561) An-Nasa’i also recorded something similar from Atiyah. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5:185) “And He caused you to inherit their lands, and their houses, and their riches” means, ‘He gave these things to you after you killed them.’ “and a land which you had not trodden.” It was said that this was Khaybar, or that it was the lands of the Persians and Romans. Ibn Jarir said, “It could be that all of these are referred to “And Allah is able to do all things.” (At-Tabari 20:250)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 7 Pages 651-673 

{28. O Prophet! Say to your wives: “If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will make a provision for you and set you free in a handsome manner.”

29. “But if you desire Allah and His Messenger, and the Home of the Hereafter, then verily, Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you an enormous reward.”}

Giving the Wives of the Prophet the Choice

Here Allah commands His Messenger to give his wives the choice of separating from him so that they may go to someone else with whom they can find what they want of the life of this world and its attractions, or of patiently bearing the straitened circumstances with the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, for which they will have a great reward with Allah. They chose Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, may Allah be pleased with them. Then Allah gave them the best both of this world and of the Hereafter. Al-Bukhari narrated from A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet that the Messenger of Allah came to her when Allah commanded him to give his wives the choice. She said, “The Messenger of Allah started with me, and said,

“I am going to tell you about something and you do not have to hasten to respond until you consult your parents.”

He knew that my parents would never tell me to leave him. Then he said: “Allah says: “O Prophet! Say to your wives…” and he recited the two Ayat. I said to him, “Concerning what do I need to consult my parents? I choose Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:379) He also narrated it without a chain of narrators, and added, “She said, then all the wives of the Prophet did the same as I.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:380) Imam Ahmad recorded that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Messenger of Allah gave us the choice, and we chose him, so giving us that choice was not regarded as divorce.” (Ahmad 6:45) It was recorded by (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) from the Hadith of Al-Amash. (Fath Al-Bari 9:280) Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, came to ask permission to see the Messenger of Allah and the people were sitting at his door, and the Prophet was sitting, but he did not give him permission. Then Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, came and asked permission to see him, but he did not give him permission. Then he gave Abu Bakr and Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, permission, and they entered. The Prophet was sitting with his wives around him, and he was silent. Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, ‘I will tell the Prophet something to make him smile.’ Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, if only you had seen the daughter of Zayd – the wife of Umar – asking me to spend on her just now; I broke her neck!’ [Figuratively] The Messenger of Allah smiled so broadly that his molars could be seen, and he said, “They are around me asking me to spend on them.” Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, got up to deal with A’ishah; and Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, got up to deal with Hafsah, and both of them were saying, ‘You are asking the Prophet for that which he does not have!’ But the Messenger of Allah stopped them, and they (his wives) said, ‘By Allah, after this we will not ask the Messenger of Allah for anything that he does not have.’ Then Allah revealed the Ayah telling him to give them the choice, and he started with A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her. He said,

“I am going to tell you something, and I would like you not to hasten to respond until you consult your parents.”

She said, ‘What is it?’ He recited to her: “O Prophet! Say to your wives…” A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, ‘Do I need to consult my parents concerning you? I choose Allah and His Messenger, but I ask you not to tell of my choice to your other wives.’ He said:

“Allah did not send me to be harsh, but He sent me to teach in a gentle and easy manner. If any of them asks me what your decision was, I will tell her.” (Ahmad 3:328) 

This was also recorded by Muslim, but not Al-Bukhari; An-Nasa’i also recorded it. (Muslim 2:1104)

Ikrimah said: “At that time he was married to nine women, five of them were from Quraysh – A’ishah, Hafsah. Umm Habibah, Sawdah and Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with them. And he was also married to Safiyyah bint Huyay An-Nadariyyah, Maymunah bint Al-Harith Al-Hilaliyyah, Zaynab bint Jahsh Al-Asadiyyah and Juwayriyyah bint Al-Harith Al-Mustalaqiyyah, may Allah be pleased with all of them. (At-Tabarai 20:252)

{30. O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits an open Fahishah, the torment for her will be doubled, and that is ever easy for Allah.

31. And whosoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Messenger, and does righteous good deeds, We shall give her, her reward twice over, and We have prepared for her a noble provision.}

The Wives of the Prophet are not like Other Women

This Ayah is addressed to the wives of the Prophet who chose Allah and His Messenger and the Home of the Hereafter, and remained married to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Thus it was befitting that there should be rulings which applied only to them, and not to other women, in the event that any of them should commit open Fahishah. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “This means Nushuz (rebellion) and a bad attitude.” (Al-Baghawi 3:527) Whatever the case, this is a conditional phrase and it does not imply that what is referred to would actually happen. This is like the Ayat: “And indeed it has been revealed to you, as it was to those before you: “If you join others in worship with Allah, surely your deeds will be in vain.” (39:65) “But if they had joined in worship others with Allah, all that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them.” (6:88) “Say: “If the Most Gracious had a son, then I am the first of (Allah’s) worshippers.” (43:81) “Had Allah willed to take a son, He could have chosen whom He willed out of those whom He created. But glory be to Him! He is Allah, the One, the Irresistible.” (39:4). Because their status is so high, it is appropriate to state that the sin, if they were to commit it, would be so much worse, so as to protect them and their Hijab. Allah says: “Whoever of you commits an open Fahishah, the torment for her will be doubled,” Malik narrated from Zayd bin Aslam: “the torment for her will be doubled,” “In this world and the next.” Something similar was narrated from Ibn Abi Najih, from Mujahid. “and that is ever easy for Allah.” it is very easy indeed. Then Allah mentions His justice and His bounty, in the Ayah: “And whosoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Messenger,” i.e., obeys Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “We shall give her, her reward twice over, and We have prepared for her a noble provision.” i.e., in Paradise, for they will be in the dwellings of the Messenger of Allah in the highest reaches of Illiyin, above the dwellings of all the people, in Al-Wasilah which is the closest of the dwellings of Paradise to the Throne.

{32. O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep you have Taqwa, then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner.

33. And stay in your houses, and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance, and perform the Salah, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove the Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.

34. And remember, that which is recited in your houses of the Ayat of Allah and Al-Hikmah. Verily, Allah is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.}

 

Enjoining certain Manners so that the Mothers of the Believers may be an Example; and the Prohibition of Tabarruj

These are the good manners which Allah enjoined upon the wives of the Prophet so that they would be an example for the women of the Ummah to follow. Allah said, addressing the wives of the Prophet that they should fear Allah as He commanded them, and that no other woman is like them or can be their equal in virtue and status. Then Allah says: “then be not soft in speech,” As-Suddi and others said, this means, do not be gentle in speech when addressing men. Allah says: “lest he in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire,” means, something unclean. “but speak in an honorable manner.” Ibn Zayd said: “Decent and honorable talk that is known to be good.” (At-Tabarani 20:258) This means that she should address non-Mahram men in a manner in which there is no softness, i.e., a woman should not address a non-Mahram man in the same way that she addresses her husband. “And stay in your houses,” means, stay in your houses and do not come out except for a purpose. One of the purposes mentioned in Shariah is prayer in the Masjid, so long as the conditions are fulfilled, as the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from the Masjids of Allah, but have them go out without wearing fragrance.” (Abu Dawud 1:381)

According to another report: “even though their houses are better for them.” (Abu Dawud 1:382) “and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance” Mujahid said: “Women used to go out walking in front of men, and this was the Tabarruj of Jahiliyyah.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:602) Qatadah said: “and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Taburruj of the times of ignorance” “When they go out of their homes walking in a shameless and flirtatious manner, and Allah, may He be exalted, forbade that.” Muqatil bin Hayyan said: “and do not Tabarruj yourselves like the Tabarruj of the times of ignorance,” “Tabarruj is when a woman puts a Khimar on her head but does not tie it properly.” (Ad-Dur Al-Manthur 6:602) So her necklaces, earrings and neck, and all of that can be seen. This is Tabarruj, and Allah addresses all the women of the believers with regard to Tabarruj. “and perform the Salah, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger.” Allah first forbids them from evil, then He enjoins them to do good by establishing regular prayer, which means worshipping Allah alone with no partner or associate, and paying Zakah, which means doing good to other people. “and obey Allah and His Messenger.” This is an instance of something specific being followed by something general.

The Wives of the Prophet are Members of His Household (Ahl Al-Bayt)

“Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.” This is a clear statement that the wives of the Prophet are included among the members of his family (Ahl Al-Bayt) here, because they are the reason why this Ayah was revealed, and the scholars are unanimously agreed that they were the reason for revelation in this case, whether this was the only reason for revelation or there was also another reason, which is the correct view. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ikrimah used to call out in the marketplace: “Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.” “This was revealed solely concerning the wives of the Prophet.” (At-Tabari 20:267) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said concerning the Ayah: “Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family” “It was revealed solely concerning the wives of the Prophet .” Ikrimah said: “Whoever disagrees with me that it was revealed solely concerning the wives of the Prophet, I am prepared to meet with him and pray and invoke the curse of Allah upon those who are lying.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 5:376) So they alone were the reason for revelation, but others may be included by way of generalization.

Ibn Jarir narrated that Safiyyah bint Shaybah said: “A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, ‘The Prophet went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of black camel’s hair. Al-Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, came and he wrapped him in the cloak with him. Then Al-Husayn, may Allah be pleased with him, came and he wrapped him in the cloak with him. Then Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with her, came and he wrapped her in the cloak with him. Then Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, came and he wrapped him in the cloak with him, then he said:

“Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.”

This was recorded by Muslim. (Muslim 2081)

 

The Command to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah

The one who ponders the meaning of the Qur’an will have no doubt that the wives of the Prophet are included among those who are referred to in the Ayah: “Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.” The context clearly refers to them. Allah then says: “And remember, that which is recited in your houses of the Ayat of Allah and Al-Hikmah.” meaning, ‘act in accordance with that of the Qur’an and Sunnah which Allah revealed to His Messenger in your houses.’ This was the view of Qatadah and others. (At-Tabari 20:268) ‘And remember this blessing with which you alone of all the people have been favored, that the revelation comes down in your houses and not those of other people.’ A’ishah As-Siddiqah bint As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with them, was foremost among them with in this blessing and was the most fortunate, and the most favored with this mercy. For the revelation did not come to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, in the bed of any of his wives except hers, as he stated. Some of the scholars, may Allah have mercy on them, said: “This was because he did not marry any other virgin besides her, and no man slept with her in her bed before him, may Allah be pleased with her.” So it was befitting that she should be singled out for this blessing and high status. But if his wives are members of his household, then this title is even more fitting for his own relatives.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Jamilah said: “Al-Hasan bin Ali, may Allah be pleased with them both, was appointed as Khalifah when Ali was killed.” He said: “While he was praying, a man leapt on him and stabbed him with a dagger.” Husayn claimed that he heard that the one who stabbed him was a man from Banu Asad, and Al-Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, was prostrating at the time. He said, “They claimed that he received the wound in his hip. He was ill as a result for many months, then he recovered. He ascended the Minbar and said: ‘O people of Iraq! Have Taqwa of Allah concerning us, for we are your leaders and your guests, and we are members of the family (Ahl Al-Bayt) concerning whom Allah said: “Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs from you, O members of the family, and to purify you with a thorough purification.” He kept saying this until there was no one left in the Masjid who was not weeping and sobbing.” “Verily, Allah is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.” means, ‘by His kindness towards you, you have reached this status, and by His knowledge of you and that you are qualified for that status, He has given this to you and singled you out for it.’ Ibn Jarir, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “And remember how Allah blessed you by causing the Ayat of Allah and Al-Hikmah to be recited in your houses, so give thanks to Allah for that and praise Him. “Verily, Allah is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.” means, ‘He is kind towards you, for He has caused the Ayat of Allah and Al-Hikmah to be recited in your houses,’ and Al-Hikmah means the Sunnah. And He is Well-Acquainted with you means, ‘He chose you as wives for His Messenger.’ (At-Tabari 20:268) Qatadah said: “And remember, that which is recited in your houses of the Ayat of Allah and Al-Hikmah.” “He is reminding them of His favor.” This was narrated by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 20:268) Atiyah Al-Awfi commented on the Ayah: when and where to reveal Al-Hikmah.” This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim, then he said: “This was also narrated from Ar-Rabi bin Anas from Qatadah. ”

{35. Verily, the Muslims: men and women, the believers: men and women, the Qanit: men and the women, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the Khashi: men and the women, the men and the women who give Sadaqat, the men and the women who fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.}

 

The Reason for Revelation

Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet said, “I said to the Prophet, ‘Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Qur’an as men are?’ Then one day without my realizing it, he was calling from the Minbar and I was combing my hair, so I tied my hair back then I went out to my chamber in my house, and I started listening out, and he was saying from the Minbar:

“O people! Verily Allah says: “Verily, the Muslims: men and women, the believers: men and women…”

to the end of the Ayah.” (Ahmad 6:305) This was also recorded by An-Nasa’i and Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 20:270)

“Verily, the Muslims: men and women, the believers: men and women…” indicates that Iman is something other than Islam, and that it is more specific, because Allah says: “The bedouins say: “We believe.” Say: “You believe not but you only say, ‘We have surrendered (in Islam),’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts.” (49:14). In the Two Sahihs, it says:

“The adulterer does not commit adultery at the time when he is a believer.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:33)

For it snatches away his Iman, although that does not mean he is a disbeliever, according to the consensus of the Muslims. This indicates that Iman is more specific than Islam, as we have stated at the beginning of our commentary on Al-Bukhari. “the Qanit: men and the women,” Al-Qunut means obedience during quite time. “Is one who is (Qanit,) prostrating himself or standing in the middle of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord…” (39:9) “To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are Uqnuti (Qanitun) to Him.” (30:26) “O Maryam! “Uqnuti to your Lord and prostrate, and bow with Ar-Raki`in (those who bow).” (3:43) “And stand before Allah Qanitin” (2: 238). So, beyond Islam there is a higher level to be reached, which is Iman, and Qunut stems from them both. “the men and women who are truthful,” This refers to their speech, for truthfulness is a praiseworthy attribute. Some of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were never known to have lied even once, neither during Jahiliyyah nor in Islam. Truthfulness is a sign of faith, just as lying is a sign of hypocrisy. Whoever is truthful will be saved:

“You have to be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. And beware of lying, for lying leads to immorality and immorality leads to Hell. A man will keep telling the truth and striving to do so until he will be recorded with Allah as a truthful. And a man will keep telling lies and will persist in doing so until he will be recorded with Allah as a liar.” (Muslim 4:2013)

And there are many Hadiths on this topic. “the men and the women who are patient,” This is the attribute of those who are steadfast, which is patience in the face of adversity and knowing that what is decreed will inevitably come to pass. So, they face it with patience and steadfastness. Patience is the most difficult when disaster first strikes, then after that it becomes easier, and this is true steadfastness. “the Khashi: men and the women,” Khushu means serenity and tranquillity, deliberation and dignity and humility. What motivates a person to be like this is the fear of Allah and the awareness that He is constantly watching, as mentioned in the Hadith:

“Worship Allah as if you can see Him, for if you cannot see Him, He can see you.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:140)

“the men and the women who give Sadaqat,” As-Sadaqah (charity) means doing good to people who are in need or who are weak and have no means of earning a living and none to financially support them. They give them from the excess of their wealth in obedience to Allah and as a good deed to His creation. It was recorded in the Two Sahihs:

“There are seven whom Allah will shade with His Shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His Shade – and among them he mentioned – …a man who gave in charity and concealed it to the extent that his left hand did not know what his right hand was giving.” (Fath Al-Bari 2:168)

According to another Hadith:

“Sadaqah extinguishes bad deeds just as water extinguishes fire.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 3:237)

There are many Hadiths which encourage charitable giving; this topic is discussed in detail elsewhere. “the men and the women who fast” According to a Hadith narrated by Ibn Majah:

“Fasting is the Zakah of the body.” (Ibn Majah 1:555)

In other words, it purifies it and cleanses it of things that are bad in both physical and Shari terms. Said bin Jubayr said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and three days of each month, is included in the Ayah, “the men and the women who fast” Fasting is also one of the greatest means of overcoming one’s desires, as the Messenger of Allah said:

“O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, for it is most effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the chastity. And whoever cannot get married, then let him fast, for it will be a protection for him.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:14)

It is quite apt that next should be mentioned: “the men and the women who guard their chastity” i.e., they protect their private parts from forbidden and sinful things, except for that which is permitted. Allah says: “And those who guard their chastity. Except from their wives or the whom their right hands possess – for they are not blameworthy. But whosoever seeks beyond that, then it is those who are trespassers.” (70:29-31) “and the men and the women who remember Allah much” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Said Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“If a man wakes his wife at night and they pray two Rakahs, they will recorded that night as being among the men and the women who remember Allah much.”

This was recorded by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah from the Hadith of Abu Said and Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with them both, from the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. (Abu Dawud 2:74)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah was walking along a road in Makkah, and he came to (the mountain of) Jumdan, and said,

“This is Jumdan, go ahead, for the Mufarridun have gone ahead.”

They said, ‘Who are the Mufarridun?’ He said,

“The men and the women who remember Allah much”

Then he said,

“O Allah, forgive those who shaved their hair.”

They said, ‘And those who shortened.’ He said,

“O Allah, forgive those who shaved their hair.”

They said, ‘And those who shortened.’ He said,

“And those who shortened.”

This was recorded by Imam Ahmad with this chain of narration. (Ahmad 2:411) It was also recorded by Muslim, except for the last part of it. (Muslim 2:946) “Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.” Here Allah tells us that for all of those mentioned in this Ayah, He has prepared for them forgiveness of their sins and a great reward, meaning, Paradise.

{36. It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.}

The Reason for Revelation

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Barzah Al-Aslami said: “Julaybib was a man who used to enter upon women and joke with them. I said to my wife, ‘Do not let Julaybib enter upon you, for if he enters upon you I shall do such and such.’ If any of the Ansar had a single female relative, they would not arrange a marriage for her until they found out whether the Prophet wanted to marry her or not. The Prophet said to one of the Ansar:

“Give me your daughter for marriage.”

He said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah, it would be an honor and a blessing.’ He said,

“I do not want her for myself.”

He said, ‘Then for whom, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said,

“For Julaybib.”

He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, let me consult her mother.’ So he went to the girl’s mother and said, ‘The Messenger of Allah is proposing marriage for your daughter.’ She said, ‘Yes, it would be a pleasure.’ He said, ‘He is not proposing to marry her himself, he is proposing on behalf of Julaybib.’ She said, ‘What! Julaybib No, by Allah, we will not marry her to him.’ When he wanted to get up and go to the Messenger of Allah to tell him what the girl’s mother had said, the girl asked, ‘Who is asking for my hand?’ So her mother told her, and she said, ‘Are you refusing to follow the command of the Messenger of Allah Follow his command, for I will not come to any harm.’ So her father went to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘Deal with her as you wish.’ So he married her to Julaybib. Then the Messenger of Allah went out on one of his military campaigns, and after Allah had granted him victory, he said to his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them,

“See whether there is anybody missing.”

They said, ‘We have lost so-and-so, and so-and-so.’ He said,

“See if there is anybody missing.”

They said, ‘No one.’ He said:

“But I see that Julaybib is missing.” He said:

“Go and look for him among the dead.”

So they looked for him, and found him beside seven of the enemy whom he had killed before he was himself killed. They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, here he is, beside seven of the enemy whom he had killed before he was himself killed.’ The Messenger of Allah came and stood beside him and said,

“He killed seven before he was himself killed. He belongs to me and I belong to him.”

He said this two or three times, then the Messenger of Allah carried him in his arms and held him while his grave was dug, then he placed him in his grave. It was not mentioned that he washed him, may Allah be pleased with him.”

Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “There was no widow among the Ansar who was more sought after for marriage than that girl.” Ishaq bin Abdullah bin Abi Talhah asked Thabit, “Do you know how the Messenger of Allah prayed for that girl?” He told him: “He said,

“O Allah, pour blessings upon her and do not make her life hard.”

And this is how it was; there was no widow among the Ansar who was more sought after for marriage than her.” This is how it was recorded by Imam Ahmad, in full. (Ahmad 4:422) Muslim and An-Nasa’i recorded the story of his death in Al-Fada’il. (Muslim 2482)  Al-Hafiz Abu Umar bin Abd Al-Barr mentioned in Al-Istiab that when the girl said in her seclusion, ‘Are you refusing to follow the command of the Messenger of Allah?’ – This Ayah was revealed: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.” (Al-Istiab 1:259)

It was narrated that Tawus asked Ibn Abbas about praying two Rakahs after Asr and he told him not to do that. Ibn Abbas recited: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.” (Abdur-Razzaq 2:433) This Ayah is general in meaning and applies to all matters, i.e., if Allah and His Messenger decreed a matter, no one has the right to go against that, and no one has any choice or room for personal opinion in this case. Allah says: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (4:65) Hence the issue of going against it is addressed in such strong terms, as Allah says: “And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” This is like the Ayah: And let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment, beware, lest some Fitnah should befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them” (24:63).

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 7 Pages 672-695

 

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