Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 130-179

{130. And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) except him who fools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous

131. When his Lord said to him, “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).”

132. And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim (Abraham) upon his sons and by Ya`qub (Jacob) (saying), “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except as Muslims.”}

Only the Fools deviate from Ibrahim’s Religion

Allah refuted the disbelievers’ innovations of associating others with Allah in defiance of the religion of Ibrahim, the leader of the upright. Ibrahim always singled out Allah in worship, with sincerity, and he did not call upon others besides Allah. He did not commit Shirk, even for an instant. He disowned every other deity that was being worshipped instead of Allah and defied all his people in this regard. Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, said,

“O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners (in worship with Allah). Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism), and I am not of Al-Mushrikin.” (6:78-79).

Also, Allah said,

“And (remember) when Ibrahim said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship. “Except Him (i.e. I worship none but Allah alone) Who did create me; and verily, He will guide me” (43:26-27),

“And Ibrahim’s invoking (of Allah) for his father’s forgiveness was only because of a promise he (Ibrahim) had made to him (his father). But when it became clear to him (Ibrahim) that he (his father) was an enemy of Allah, he dissociated himself from him. Verily, Ibrahim was Awwah (one who invokes Allah with humility, glorifies Him and remembers Him much) and was forbearing” (9:114), and,

“Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah (a leader having all the good qualities, or a nation), obedient to Allah, Hanif (i.e. to worship none but Allah), and he was not one of those who were Al- Mushrikin. (He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) favors. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to a straight path. And We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he shall be of the righteous.” (16:120-122).

This is why Allah said here, “And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim”, meaning, abandons his path, way and method “except him who fools himself” meaning, who commits injustice against himself by deviating from the truth, to wickedness. Such a person will be defying the path of he who was chosen in this life to be a true Imam, from the time he was young, until Allah chose him to be His Khalil, and who shall be among the successful in the Last Life. Is there anything more insane than deviating from this path and following the path of misguidance and deviation instead Is there more injustice than this Allah said,

“Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed” (31:13).

Abu Al-Aliyah and Qatadah said, “This Ayah (2:130) was revealed about the Jews who invented a practice that did not come from Allah and that defied the religion of Ibrahim.” Allah’s statement,

”Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin. Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet (Muhammad ) and those who have believed (Muslims). And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers.” (3:67- 68), testifies to this fact.

Allah said next, ”When his Lord said to him, “Submit (i. e. be a Muslim)!” He said, “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” This Ayah indicates that Allah commanded Ibrahim to be sincere with Him and to abide and submit to Him; Ibrahim perfectly adhered to Allah’s command. Allah’s statement, ”And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim upon his sons and by Ya’qub” means, Ibrahim commanded his offspring to follow this religion, that is, Islam, for Allah. Or, the Ayah might be referring to Ibrahim’s words, ”I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists)”. This means that these Prophets loved these words so much that they preserved them until the time of death and advised their children to adhere to them after them. Similarly, Allah said,

”And he (Ibrahim) made it – i.e. La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone)- a Word lasting among his offspring, (true Monotheism)” (43:28).

It might be that Ibrahim advised his children, including Jacob, Isaac’s son, who were present. It appears, and Allah knows best, that Isaac was endowed with Jacob, during the lifetime of Ibrahim and Sarah, for the good news includes both of them in Allah’s statement,

”But We gave her (Sarah) glad tidings of Ishaq (Isaac), and after Ishaq, of Ya’qub (Jacob)” (11:71).

Also, if Jacob was not alive then, there would be no use here in mentioning him specifically among Isaac’s children. Also, Allah said in Surat Al-Ankabut,

”And We bestowed on him (Ibrahim), Ishaq and Ya’qub, and We ordained among his offspring prophethood and the Book.” (29:27), and,

”And We bestowed upon him Ishaq, and (a grandson) Ya’qub” (21:72),

thus, indicating that this occurred during Ibrahim’s lifetime. Also, Jacob built Bayt Al-Maqdis, as earlier books testified. The Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Dharr said, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Which Masjid was built first?’ He said, “Al-Masjid Al-Haram (Al-Ka` bah).” I said, ‘Then?’ He said, “Bayt Al- Maqdis.” I said, ‘How many years later?’ He said, “Forty years.” Further, the advice that Jacob gave to his children, which we will soon mention, testifies that Jacob was among those who received the advice mentioned in Ayat above (2:130-132).

Adhering to Tawhid until Death

Allah said, ”(Saying), “O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except as Muslims” meaning, perform righteous deeds during your lifetime and remain on this path, so that Allah will endow you with the favor of dying upon it. Usually, one dies upon the path that he lived on and is resurrected according to what he died on. Allah, the Most Generous, helps those who seek to do good deeds to remain on the righteous path.

This by no means contradicts the authentic Hadith that says,

”Man might perform the works of the people of Paradise until only a span of outstretched arms or a cubit separates him from it, then the Book (destiny) takes precedence, and he performs the works of the people of the Fire and thus enters it. Also, man might perform the works of the people of the Fire until only a span of outstretched arms or a cubit separates him from the Fire, but the Book takes precedence and he performs the works of the people of Paradise and thus enters it.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:105)

Allah said,

 ”As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him. And believes in Al- Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient. And belies Al-Husna (none has the right to be worshipped except Allah). We will make smooth for him the path for evil” (92:5-10)

{133. Or were you witnesses when death approached Ya`qub (Jacob) When he said unto his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We shall worship your AIlah (God – Allah) the Ilah of your fathers, Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), One Ilah, and to Him we submit (in Islam).”

134. That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.}

Ya’qub’s Will and Testament to His Children upon His Death

This Ayah contains Allah’s criticism of the Arab pagans among the offspring of Isma’il as well as the disbelievers among the Children of Israel Jacob the son of Isaac, the son of Ibrahim. When death came to Jacob, he advised his children to worship Allah alone without partners. He said to them, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We shall worship your Ilah (God – Allah) the Ilah of your fathers, Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq,”

Mentioning Isma’il here is a figure of speech, because Ismail is Jacob’s uncle. An-Nahas said that the Arabs call the uncle a father, as Al-Qurtubi mentioned. (Al-Qurtubi 2:138)

This Ayah is used as evidence that the grandfather is called a father and inherits, rather than the brothers (i.e. when his son dies), as Abu Bakr asserted, according to Al-Bukhari who narrated Abu Bakr’s statement from Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Az-Zubayr. Al-Bukhari then commented that there are no opposing opinions regarding this subject. (Fath Al-Bari 12:19) This is also the opinion of ‘A’ishah the Mother of the believers, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Tawus and ‘Ata’, Malik, Ash-Shaf’i and Ahmad said that the inheritance is divided between the grandfather and the brothers. It was reported that this was also the opinion of Umar, Uthman, ‘Ali, bin Mas’ud, Zayd bin Thabit and several scholars among the Salaf and later generations.

The statement, “One Ilah (God)” means, “We single Him out in divinity and do not associate anything or anyone with Him.” ”And to Him we submit”, in obedience meaning, obedient and submissiveness. Similarly, Allah said,

”While to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned” (3:83).

Indeed, Islam is the religion of all the Prophets, even if their respective laws differed. Allah said,

”And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad ) – but We revealed to him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana  none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)- , so worship Me (alone and none else)” (21:25).

There are many other Ayat – and Hadiths – on this subject. For instance, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”We, the Prophets, are brothers with different mothers, but the same religion.” (Ahmad 2:319)

Allah said, ”That was a nation who has passed away” meaning, existed before your time, ”They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.” This Ayah proclaims, Your relationship to the Prophets or righteous people among your ancestors will not benefit you, unless you perform good deeds that bring about you religious benefit. They have their deeds and you have yours, ”And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” This is why a Hadith proclaims,

”Whoever was slowed on account of his deeds will not get any faster on account of his family lineage.”  (Muslim 4:2074)

{135. And they say, “Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided.” Say (to them O Muhammad ), “Nay, (we follow) only the religion of Ibrahim, Hanif (Islamic Monotheism), and he was not of Al-Mushrikin (those who worshipped others along with Allah).} 

Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that ‘Abdullah bin Suriya Al-A’war said to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “The guidance is only what we (Jews) follow. Therefore, follow us, O Muhammad, and you will be rightly guided.” Also, the Christians said similarly, so Allah revealed, ”And they say, “Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided.” Allah’s statement, “Say (to them O Muhammad), “Nay, (we follow) only the religion of Ibrahim, Hanif” means, “We do not need the Judaism or Christianity that you call us to, rather, (we follow) only the religion of Ibrahim, Hanif” meaning, on the straight path, as Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurazi and ‘Isa bin Jariyah stated. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:397) Also, Abu Qilabah said, “The Hanif is what the Messengers, from beginning to end, believed in.”

 {136. Say (O Muslims): “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat (the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya’qub), and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and ‘Isa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam).”}

The Muslim believes in all that Allah  revealed and all the Prophets

Allah directed His believing servants to believe in what He sent down to them through His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and in what was revealed to the previous Prophets in general. Some Prophets Allah mentioned by name, while He did not mention the names of many others. Allah directed the believers to refrain from differentiating between the Prophets and to believe in them all. They should avoid imitating whomever Allah described as,

”And wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers” (4:150-151).

Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, “The People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and translate it into Arabic for the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Do not believe the People of the Book, nor reject what they say. Rather, say, `We believe in Allah and in what was sent down to us.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:20)

Also, Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Mostly, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to recite,

”We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us” (2: 136), and,

”We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah)” (3:52)

during the two (voluntary) Rak`at before Fajr.” (Muslim 1:501)

Abu Al-Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` and Qatadah said, “Al-Asbat are the twelve sons of Jacob, and each one of them had an Ummah of people from his descendants. This is why they were called Al- Asbat.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:399) Al-Khalil bin Ahmad and others said, “Al-Asbat among the Children of Israel are just like the tribes among the Children of Ismail.” This means that the Asbat are the various tribes of the Children of Israel, among whom Allah sent several Prophets. Moses said to the Children of Israel,

”Remember the favor of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings” (5:20).

Also, Allah said,

”And We divided them into twelve tribes” (7:160).

Al-Qurtubi said, “Sibt is the group of people or a tribe all belonging to the same ancestors.” (Al-Qurtubi 2:141) Qatadah said, “Allah commanded the believers to believe in Him and in all His Books and Messengers. ” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:400) Also, Sulayman bin Habib said, “We were commanded to believe in the (original) Torah and Injil, but not to implement them.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:400)

{137. So if they believe in the like of that which you believe then they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice for you against them. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.

138. Our Sibghah (religion) is the Sibghah of Allah (Islam) and which Sibghah can be better than Allah’s And we are His worshippers.}

Allah said, if they, the disbelievers among the People of the Book and other disbelievers, believe in all of Allah’s Books and Messengers and do not differentiate between any of them, ‘‘then they are rightly guided’‘ meaning, they would acquire the truth and be directed to it. “but if they turn away” from truth to falsehood after proof had been presented to them, “then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice you against them” meaning, Allah will aid the believers against them. “And He is the Hearer, the Knower”. Allah said, “The Sibghah of Allah”. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn ‘Abbas commented, “The religion of Allah.” This Tafsir was also reported of Mujahid, Abu Al-Aliyah, Ikrimah, Ibrahim, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Abdullah bin Kathir,           Atiyah Al-Awfi, Ar-Rabi bin Anas, As-Suddi and other scholars. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:403) The Ayah,

”Allah’s Fitrah (i.e. Allah’s Islamic Monotheism)” (30:30)

directs Muslims to, “Hold to it.”

{139. Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), “Dispute you with us about Allah while He is our Lord and your Lord? And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him (i.e. we worship Him alone and none else, and we obey His orders).”

140. Or say you that Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Ya’qub and Al-Asbat, were Jews or Christians Say, “Do you know better or does Allah And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Allah And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”

141. That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.}

Allah directed His Prophet to pre-empt the arguments with the idolators:

”Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), “Dispute you with us about Allah” meaning, “Do you dispute with us regarding the Oneness of Allah, obedience and submission to Him and in avoiding His prohibitions, ”while He is our Lord and your Lord?” meaning, He has full control over us and you, and deserves the worship alone without partners. ”And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds.” meaning, we disown you and what you worship, just as you disown us. Allah said in another Ayah,

”And if they belie you, say: “For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!” (10:41), and,

”So if they dispute with you (Muhammad ) say: “I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me” (3:20). Allah said about Ibrahim,

”His people disputed with him. He said: “Do you dispute with me concerning Allah” (6:80), and,

”Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah)” (2:258). He said in this honorable Ayah,

”And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him.” meaning, “We disown you just as you disown us,” ‘‘And we are sincere to Him”, in worship and submission.

Allah then criticized them in the claim that Ibrahim, the Prophets who came after him and the Asbat were following their religion, whether Judaism or Christianity. Allah said, ”Say, “Do you know better or does Allah?” meaning, Allah has the best knowledge and He stated that they were neither Jews, nor Christians. Similarly, Allah said in the Ayah,

”Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin” (3:67) and the following Ayat. Allah also said,

”And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Allah” (2:140)

Al- Hasan Al-Basri said, They used to recite the Book of Allah He sent to them that stated that the true religion is Islam and that Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is the Messenger of Allah. Their Book also stated that Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub and the tribes were neither Jews, nor Christians. They testified to these facts, yet hid them from the people. Allah’s statement, ”And Allah is not unaware of what you do”, is a threat and a warning that His knowledge encompasses every one’s deeds, and He shall award each accordingly. Allah then said, ‘‘That was a nation who has passed away” meaning, existed before you, ”They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn” meaning, they bear their deeds while you bear yours, ”And you will not be asked of what they used to do” meaning, the fact that you are their relatives will not suffice, unless you imitate their good deeds. Further, do not be deceived by the fact that you are their descendants, unless you imitate them in obeying Allah’s orders and following His Messengers who were sent as warners and bearers of good news. Indeed, whoever disbelieves in even one Prophet, will have disbelieved in all the Messengers, especially if one disbelieves in the master and Final Messenger from Allah, the Lord of the worlds, to all mankind and the Jinns. May Allah’s peace and blessings be on Muhammad and the rest of Allah’s Prophets.

{142. The fools (idolators, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say: “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah – prayer direction (towards Jerusalem)- to which they used to face in prayer.” Say (O Muhammad) “To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.”

143. Thus We have made you true Muslims real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways), a Wasat (just and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.}

Changing the Qiblah – Direction of the Prayer

Imam Al-Bukhari reported that Al-Bara’ bin ‘Azib narrated: “Allah’s Messenger offered his prayers facing Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) for sixteen or seventeen months, but he wished that he could pray facing the Ka`bah (at Makkah). The first prayer which he offered (facing the Ka’bah) was the Asr (Afternoon) prayer in the company of some people. Then one of those who had offered that prayer with him, went out and passed by some people in a mosque who were in the bowing position (in Ruku) during their prayers (facing Jerusalem). He addressed them saying, ‘By Allah, I bear witness that I have offered prayer with the Prophet facing Makkah (Ka’bah).’ Hearing that, those people immediately changed their direction towards the House (Ka’bah) while still as they were (i.e., in the same bowing position). Some Muslims who offered prayer towards the previous Qiblah (Jerusalem) before it was changed towards the House (the Ka’bah in Makkah) had died or had been martyred, and we did not know what to say about them (regarding their prayers towards Jerusalem). Allah then revealed:

”And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., the prayers of those Muslims were valid)” (2:143).

Al-Bukhari collected this narration, (Fath Al-Bari 8:20) while Muslim collected it using another chain of narrators (Muslim 1:375). Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Al-Bara’ narrated: Allah’s Messenger used to offer prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis (in Jerusalem), but would keep looking at the sky awaiting Allah’s command (to change the Qiblah). Then Allah revealed:

”Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah)” (2:144)

A man from among the Muslims then said, “We wish we could know about those among us who died before the Qiblah was changed (i.e., towards Makkah) and also about our own prayers, that we had performed towards Bayt Al-Maqdis.” Allah then revealed:

”And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.” (2:143)

The fools among the people, meaning the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), said, “What made them change the former Qiblah that they used to face?” Allah then revealed: ‘‘The fools (idolators, hypocrites, and Jews) among the people will say…” until the end of the Ayah.

Ali bin Abu Talhah related that Ibn Abbas said: When Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, migrated to Al- Madinah, Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). The Jews were delighted then. Allah’s Messenger faced Jerusalem for over ten months. However, he liked (to offer prayer in the direction of) Prophet Ibrahim’s Qiblah (the Ka`bah in Makkah) and used to supplicate to Allah and kept looking up to the sky (awaiting Allah’s command in this regard). Allah then revealed: ”turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction” meaning, its direction. The Jews did not like this change and said, “What made them change the Qiblah that they used to face (meaning Jerusalem)” Allah revealed: ”Say (O Muhammad ): “To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.”

There are several other Ahadith on this subject. In summary, Allah’s Messenger was commanded to face Bayt Al-Maqdis (during the prayer) and he used to offer prayer towards it in Makkah between the two corners (of Ka` bah), so that the Ka’bah would be between him and Bayt Al- Maqdis. When the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, migrated to Al-Madinah, this practice was no longer possible; then Allah commanded him to offer prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, as Ibn Abbas and the majority of the scholar shave stated.

Al-Bukhari reported in his Sahih that the news (of the change of Qiblah) was conveyed to some of the Ansar while they were performing the Asr (Afternoon) prayer towards Bayt Al-Maqdis, upon hearing that, they immediately changed their direction and faced the Ka` bah. (Al-Bukhari no.399)

It is reported in the Sahihayn (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) that Ibn Umar narrated: While the people were in Quba’ (Mosque) performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer, a man came and said, “A (part of the) Qur’an was revealed tonight to Allah’s Messenger and he was commanded to face the Ka’bah. Therefore, face the Ka’bah. They were facing Ash-Sham, so they turned towards the Ka’bah. (Fath Al-Bari 8:24 and Muslim 1:375)

These Hadiths prove that the Nasikh (a Text that abrogates a previous Text) only applies after one acquires knowledge of it, even if the Nasikh had already been revealed and announced. This is why the Companions mentioned above were not commanded to repeat the previous Asr, Maghrib and Isha’ prayers (although they had prayed them towards Jerusalem after Allah had changed the Qiblah). Allah knows best.

When the change of Qiblah (to Ka`bah in Makkah) occurred, those inflicted with hypocrisy and mistrust, and the disbelieving Jews, both were led astray from the right guidance and fell into confusion. They said: ‘What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah to which they used to face in prayer? They asked, “What is the matter with these people (Muslims) who one time face this direction (Jerusalem), and then face that direction (Makkah)?” Allah answered their questions when He stated: ”Say (O Muhammad) “To Allah belong both, east and the west.” meaning, the command, the decision and the authority are for Allah Alone. Hence:

”…so wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah (and He is High above, over His Throne).” (2:115),

and:

”It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is the one who believes in Allah.” (2:177)

This statement means, the best act is to adhere to Allah’s commands. Hence, wherever He commands us to face, we should face. Also, since obedience requires implementing Allah’s commands, if He commands us every day to face different places, we are His servants and under His disposal, and we face whatever He orders us to face. Certainly, Allah’s care and kindness towards His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and certainly, his Ummah (Muslim nation) is profoundly great. Allah has guided them to the Qiblah of (Prophet) Ibrahim — Allah’s Khalil (intimate friend). He has commanded them to face the Ka`bah, the most honorable house (of worship) on the face of the earth, which was built by Ibrahim Al-Khalil in the Name of Allah, the One without a partner. This is why Allah said afterwards: ”Say (O Muhammad ): “To Allah belong both, east and the west. He guides whom He wills to the straight way.”

Imam Ahmad reported that A’ishah (the Prophet’s wife) said that Allah’s Messenger said about the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians):

”They do not envy us for a matter more than they envy us for Jumu` ah (Friday) to which Allah has guided us and from which they were led astray; for the (true) Qiblah to which Allah has directed us and from which they were led astray; and for our saying ‘Amin’ behind the Imam (leader of the prayer).” (Ahmad 6:134)

{143. Thus We have made you true Muslims real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways), a Wasat (just and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided. And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e., your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.}

The Virtues of Muhammad’s Nation

Allah said: “Thus We have made you – true Muslims- , a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you.” Allah stated that He has changed our Qiblah to the Qiblah of Ibrahim and chose it for us so that He makes us the best nation ever. Hence, we will be the witnesses over the nations on the Day of Resurrection, for all of them will then agree concerning our virtue. The word Wasat in theAyah means the best and the most honored. Therefore, saying that (the Prophet’s tribe) Quraysh is in the Wasat regarding Arab tribes and their areas, means the best. Similarly, saying that Allah’s Messenger was in the Wasat of his people, means he was from the best subtribe. Also, ‘Asr, the prayer that is described as ‘Wusta’ (a variation of the word Wasat), means the best prayer, as the authentic collections of Ahadith reported. Since Allah made this Ummah (Muslim nation) the Wasat, He has endowed her with the most complete legislation, the best Manhaj (way, method, etc.,) and the clearest Madhhab (methodology, mannerism, etc).  Allah said:

“He has chosen you (to convey His Message of Islamic Monotheism to mankind), and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship: it is the religion of your father Ibrahim. It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this (the Qur’an), that the Messenger (Muhammad ) may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind!” (22:78)

Moreover, Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Sa’id narrated: Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Nuh will be called on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked,’Have you conveyed (the Message)?’ He will say, ‘Yes.’ His people will be summoned and asked, ‘Has Nuh conveyed (the Message) to you? ‘ They will say, ‘No warner came to us and no one (Prophet) was sent to us.’ Nuh will be asked, ‘Who testifies for you?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his Ummah.'”

This is why Allah said: “Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.”

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said; “The Wasat means the ‘Adl (just). You will be summoned to testify that Nuh has conveyed (his Message), and I will attest to your testimony.” (Ahmad 3:32)

Imam Ahmad also reported that Abu Sa`id Khudri narrated, Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The Prophet would come on the Day of Resurrection with two or more people (his only following!), and his people would also be summoned and asked, ‘Has he (their Prophet) conveyed (the Message) to you?’ They would say, ‘No.’ He would be asked, ‘Have you conveyed (the Message) to your people?’ He would say, ‘Yes.’ He would be asked, ‘Who testifies for you?’ He would say, ‘Muhammad and his Ummah.’ Muhammad and his Ummah would then be summoned and asked, ‘Has he conveyed (the Message) to his people?’ They would say, ‘Yes.’ They would be asked, ‘Who told you that?’ They would say, ‘Our Prophet (Muhammad) came to us and told us that the Messengers have conveyed (their Messages).”

Hence Allah’s statement: “Thus We have made you a Wasat nation.” He said, “(meaning) the ‘Adl,’ (he then continued reciting the Ayah): “Thus We have made you, a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad ) be a witness over you.)” (Ahmad 3:58)

Furthermore, Imam Ahmad reported that Abul-Aswad narrated: I came to Al-Madinah and found that an epidemic had broken out that caused many fatalities. I sat next to ‘Umar bin Al- Khattab once when a funeral procession started and the people praised the dead person. ‘Umar said, “Wajabat (it will be recorded as such), Wajabat!” Then another funeral was brought forth and the people criticized the dead person. Again, ‘Umar said, “Wajabat.” Abul- Aswad asked, “What is Wajabat, O Leader of the faithful?” He said, “I said just like Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had said:

“Any Muslim for whom four testify that he was righteous, then Allah will enter him into Paradise.’ We said, ` What about three?’ He said, ‘And three.’ We said, ‘And two?’ He said, ‘And two.’ We did not ask him about (the testimony) of one (believing) person.)” (Ahmad 1:21)

The Wisdom behind changing the Qiblah

Allah then said: “And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e., disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult) except for those whom Allah guided.”

Allah states thus: We have legislated for you, O Muhammad, facing Bayt Al-Maqdis at first and then changed it to the Ka`bah so as to find who will follow and obey you and thus face whatever you face. “…from those who would turn on their heels” meaning, reverts from his religion. Allah then said: “Indeed it was great (heavy, difficult)”

The Ayah indicates that changing the Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis to the Ka` bah is heavy on the heart, except for whomever Allah has rightly guided their hearts, who believe in the truth of the Messenger with certainty and that whatever he was sent with is the truth without doubt. It is they who believe that Allah does what He wills, decides what He wills, commands His servants with what He wills, abrogates any of His commands that He wills, and that He has the perfect wisdom and the unequivocal proof in all this. (The attitude of the believers in this respect is) unlike those who have a disease in their hearts, to whom whenever a matter occurs, it causes doubts, just as this same matter adds faith and certainty to the believers. Similarly, Allah said:

“And whenever there comes down a Surah (chapter from the Qur’an), some of them (hypocrites) say: “Which of you has had his faith increased by it?” As for those who believe, it has increased their faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease (of doubt, disbelief and hypocrisy), it will add doubt and disbelief to their doubt and disbelief; and they die while they are disbelievers.” (9:124, 125)

and:

“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe, and it increases the wrongdoers in nothing but loss.” (17:82)

Certainly, those who remained faithful to the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, obeyed him and faced whatever Allah commanded them, without doubt or hesitation, were the leaders of the Companions. Some scholars stated that the Early Migrants (who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and Ansar (the residents of Al-Madinah who gave aid and refuge to both the Prophet and the Migrants) were those who offered prayers towards the two Qiblah (Bayt Al- Maqdis and then the Ka` bah). Al-Bukhari reported in the explanation of the Ayah (2:143) that Ibn `Umar narrated: While the people were performing the Fajr (Dawn) prayer in the Quba’ Mosque, a man came and said, “Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet and he was ordered to face the Ka` bah. Therefore, face the Ka` bah.” They then faced the Ka` bah. (Fath Al-Bari 8:22) Muslim also recorded it. (Muslim 1:375)

At-Tirmidhi added that they were performing Ruku` (bowing down in prayer), and then changed the direction (of the Qiblah) to the Ka`bah while still bowing down. Muslim reported this last narration from Anas. These Hadiths all indicate the perfect obedience the Companions had for Allah and His Messenger and their compliance with Allah’s commandments, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Allah said: “And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost.” meaning, the reward of your prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis before would not be lost with Allah. It is reported in Sahih that Abu Ishaq As-Sabi`y related that Bara’ narrated: “The people asked about the matter of those who offered prayers towards Bayt Al-Maqdis and died (before the Qiblah was changed to Ka’bah). Allah revealed: “And Allah would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost” It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi from Ibn ‘Abbas, and At-Tirmidhi graded it Sahih. (Fath Al-Bari 8:20) Ibn Ishaq reported that Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: “And Allah would never make your faith to be lost” entails: Your (prayer towards) the first Qiblah and your believing your Prophet and obeying him by facing the second Qiblah; He will grant you the rewards for all these acts. Indeed, “Truly, Allah is full of kindness, the Most Merciful towards mankind.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:99)

Furthermore, it is reported in the Sahih that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saw a woman among the captives who was separated from her child. Whenever she found a boy (infant) among the captives, she would hold him close to her chest, as she was looking for her boy. When she found her child, she embraced him and gave him her breast to nurse. Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Do you think that this woman would willingly throw her son in the fire?” They said, “No, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “By Allah! Allah is more merciful with His servants than this woman with her son.”

{144. Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka` bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.}

The First Abrogation in the Qur’an was about the Qiblah

Ali bin Abu Talhah related that Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: The first abrogated part in the Qur’an was about the Qiblah. When Allah’s Messenger migrated to Al-Madinah, the majority of its people were Jews, and Allah commanded him to face Bayt Al-Maqdis. The Jews were delighted then. Allah’s Messenger faced it for ten and some months, but he liked to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim (Ka`bah in Makkah). He used to supplicate to Allah and look up to the sky (awaiting Allah’s command). Allah then revealed: “turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.” The Jews did not like this ruling and said: “What has turned them (Muslims) from their Qiblah (prayer direction) to which they used to face in prayer?” Say (O Muhammad), “To Allah belong both, east and the west.” (2:142)

Allah said:

 “..so wherever you turn (yourselves or your faces) there is the Face of Allah” (2:115), and:

“And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad ) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e., disobey the Messenger)” (2:143)

Is the Qiblah the Ka’bah itself or its General Direction?

Al-Hakim related that ‘Ali bin Abu Talib said: “…so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah)” means its direction.” (Al-Mustadarak 2:269) Al-Hakim then commented that the chain of this narration is authentic and that they (i.e., Al- Bukhari and Muslim) did not include it in their collections. This ruling concerning the Qiblah is also the opinion of Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:107-109) Allah’s Statement: “And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction” is a command from Allah to face the Ka’bah from wherever one is on the earth: the east, west, north or south. The exception is of the voluntary prayer (Nafl) while one is traveling, for one is allowed to offer it in any direction his body is facing, while his heart is intending the Ka`bah. Also, when the battle is raging, one is allowed to offer prayer, however he is able. Also, included are those who are not sure of the direction and offer prayer in the wrong direction, thinking that it is the direction of the Qiblah, because Allah does not burden a soul beyond what it can bear.

The Jews had Knowledge that the (Muslim) Qiblah would later be changed

Allah stated that: “Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka`bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord.” This Ayah means: The Jews, who did not like that you change your Qiblah from Bayt Al-Maqdis, already knew that Allah will command you (O Muhammad) to face the Ka` bah. The Jews read in their Books their Prophets’ description of Allah’s Messenger and his Ummah, and that Allah has endowed and honored him with the complete and honorable legislation. Yet, the People of the Book deny these facts because of their envy, disbelief and rebellion. This is why Allah threatened them when He said: “And Allah is not unaware of what they do.”

{145. And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah. And they will not follow each other’s Qiblah. Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.}

The Stubbornness and Disbelief of the Jews

Allah describes the Jews’ disbelief, stubbornness and defiance of what they know of the truth of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that if the Prophet brought forward every proof to the truth of what he was sent with, they will never obey him or abandon following their desires. In another instance, Allah said:

“Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.” (10:96, 97)

This is why Allah said here: “And even if you were to bring to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction)”.

Allah’s statement: “…nor are you going to follow their Qiblah”, indicates the vigor with which Allah’s Messenger implements what Allah commanded him. Allah’s statement also indicates that as much as the Jews adhere to their opinions and desires, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, adheres by Allah’s commands, obeying Him and following what pleases Him, and that he would never adhere to their desires in any case. Hence, praying towards Bayt Al-Maqdis was not because it was the Qiblah of the Jews, but because Allah had commanded it. Allah then warns those who knowingly defy the truth, because the proof against those who know is stronger than against other people. This is why Allah said to His Messenger and his Ummah: “Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the wrongdoers.”

{146. Those to whom We gave the Scripture (Jews and Christians) recognise him (Muhammad or the Ka’bah at Makkah) as they recognize their sons. But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it – (i.e., the qualities of Muhammad which are written in the Tawrah and the Injil)

147. This is the truth from your Lord. So be you not one of those who doubt}

The Jews know that the Prophet is True, but they hide the Truth

Allah states that the scholars of the People of the Scripture know the truth of what Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was sent with, just as one of them knows his own child, which is a parable that the Arabs use to describe what is very apparent. Similarly, in a Hadith, Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to a man who had a youngster with him:

“Is this your son?” He said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah! I testify to this fact.” Allah’s Messenger said: “Well, you would not transgress against him nor would he transgress against you.” (Ahmad 4:163)

According to Al-Qurtubi, it was narrated that ‘Umar said to ‘Abdullah bin Salam (an Israelite scholar who became a Muslim), “Do you recognize Muhammad as you recognize your own son’?’ He replied, “Yes, and even more. The Honest One descended from heaven on the Honest One on the earth with his (i.e., Muhammad’s) description and I recognized him, although I do not know anything about his mother’s story.” (Al-Qurtubi 2:163)

Allah states next that although they had knowledge and certainty in the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, they still: “conceal the truth”

The Ayah indicates that they hide the truth from the people, about the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that they find in their Books, “while they know it.” Allah then strengthens the resolve of His Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the believers and affirms that what the Prophet came with is the truth without doubt, saying: “(This is) the truth from your Lord. So be you no tone of those who doubt.”

{148. For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers). So hasten towards all that is good. Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you together (on the Day of Resurrection). Truly, Allah is able to do all things.}

Every Nation has a Qiblah

Al-‘Awfi reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers)” “This talks about followers of the various religions. Hence, every nation and tribe has its own Qiblah that they choose, while Allah’s appointed Qiblah is what the believers face.” (At-Tabari 3:193) Abul-‘Aliyah said, “The Jew has a direction to which he faces (in the prayer). The Christian has a direction to which he faces. Allah has guided you, O (Muslim) Ummah, to a Qiblah which is the true Qiblah.” This statement was also related to Mujahid, ` Ata’ Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi, and others. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:121-122)

This last Ayah is similar to what Allah said:

”To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah.” (5:48)

In the Ayah (2:148), Allah said:

”Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you together (on the Day of Resurrection). Truly, Allah is able to do all things.” meaning: He is able to gather you from the earth even if your bodies and flesh disintegrated and scattered.

{149. And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al- Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), that is indeed the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.)

150. And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), and wheresoever you are, turn your faces towards it (when you pray) so that men may have no argument against you except those of them that are wrongdoers, so fear them not, but fear Me! – And so that I may complete My blessings on you and that you may be guided.}

Why was changing the Qiblah mentioned thrice?

This is a third command from Allah to face Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) from every part of the world (during prayer). It was said that Allah mentioned this ruling again here because it is connected to whatever is before and whatever is after it. Hence, Allah first said:

“Verily, We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you” (2:144), until:

“Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e., Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka`bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.” (2:144)

Allah mentioned in these Ayat His fulfillment of the Prophet’s wish and ordered him to face the Qiblah that he liked and is pleased with. In the second command, Allah said: ”And from wheresoever you start forth (for prayers), turn your face in the direction of Al-Masid Al-Haram that is indeed the truth from your Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.” Therefore, Allah states here that changing the Qiblah is also the truth from Him, thus upgrading the subject more than in the first Ayah, in which Allah agreed to what His Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had wished for. Thus Allah states that this is also the truth from Him that He likes and is pleased with. In the third command, Allah refutes the Jewish assertion that the Prophet faced their Qiblah, as they knew in their Books that the Prophet will later on be commanded to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim, the Ka’bah. The Arab disbelievers had no more argument concerning the Prophet’s Qiblah after Allah commanded the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to face the Qiblah of Ibrahim, which is more respected and honored, rather than the Qiblah of the Jews. The Arabs used to honor the Ka` bah and liked the fact that the Messenger was commanded to face it.

The Wisdom behind abrogating the Previous Qiblah

Allah said: “…so that men may have no argument against you” Therefore, the People of the Book knew from the description of the Muslim Ummah that they would be ordered to face the Ka’bah. If the Muslims did not fit this description, the Jews would have used this fact against the Muslims. If the Muslims had remained on the Qiblah of Bayt Al-Maqdis, which was also the Qiblah of the Jews, this fact could have been used as the basis of argument by the Jews against other people.

Allah’s Statement: ”…except those of them that are wrongdoers” indicates the Mushrikin (polytheists) of Quraysh. The reasoning of these unjust persons was the unsound statement: “This man (Muhammad) claims that he follows the religion of Ibrahim! Hence, if his facing Bayt Al-Maqdis was a part of the religion of Ibrahim, why did he change it?” The answer to this question is that Allah has chosen His Prophet to face Bayt Al-Maqdis first for certain wisdom, and he obeyed Allah regarding this command. Then, Allah changed the Qiblah to the Qiblah of Ibrahim, which is the Ka`bah, and he also obeyed Allah in this command. He, obeys Allah in all cases and never engages in the defiance of Allah even for an instant, and his Ummah imitates him in this.

Allah said:” ..so fear them not, but fear Me!” meaning: ‘Do not fear the doubts that the unjust, stubborn persons raise and fear Me Alone.’ Indeed, Allah Alone deserves to be feared.

Allah said: ”…so that men may have no argument against you”, meaning: I will perfect My bounty on you by legislating for you to face the Ka`bah, so that the (Islamic) Shari`ah (law) is complete in every respect. Allah said: ”…that you may be guided”, meaning:’To be directed and guided to what the nations have been led astray from, We have guided you to it and preferred you with it.’ This is why this Ummah is the best and most honored nation ever. ”…so that I may complete My blessings on you.” This Ayah relates to Allah’s statement :

{151. Similarly (to complete My blessings on you), We have sent among you a Messenger (Muhammad ) of your own, reciting to you Our verses (the Qur’an) and purifying you, and teaching you the Book (the Qur’an) and the Hikmah (i. e., Sunnah, Islamic laws and Fiqh – jurisprudence), and teaching you that which you did not know.

152. Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.}

Muhammad’s Prophecy is a Great Bounty from Allah

Allah reminds His believing servants with what He has endowed them with by sending Muhammad as a Messenger to them, reciting to them Allah’s clear Ayat and purifying and cleansing them from the worst types of behavior, the ills of the souls and the acts of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era). The Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also takes them away from the darkness (of disbelief) to the light (of faith) and teaches them the Book, the Qur’an, and the Hikmah (i.e., the wisdom), which is his Sunnah. He also teaches them what they knew not. During the time of Jahiliyyah, they used to utter foolish statements. Later on, and with the blessing of the Prophet’s Message and the goodness of his prophecy, they were elevated to the status of the Awliya’ (loyal friends of Allah) and the rank of the scholars. Hence, they acquired the deepest knowledge among the people, the most pious hearts, and the most truthful tongues. Allah said:

”Indeed, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad ) from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses (the Qur’an), and purifying them (from sins).” (3:164)

Allah also criticized those who did not give this bounty its due consideration, when He said:

”Have you not seen those who have changed the favors of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad ) and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction?” (14:28)

Ibn ‘Abbas commented, “Allah’s favor means Muhammad.” Therefore, Allah has commanded the believers to affirm this favor and to appreciate it by thanking and remembering Him: ”Therefore, remember Me. I will remember you, and be grateful to Me, and never be ungrateful to Me.”

Mujahid said that Allah’s statement: ”Similarly (to complete My favor on you), We have sent among you a Messenger (Muhammad ) of your own.” means: Therefore, remember Me in gratitude to My favor. (At-Tabari 3:210) Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented about Allah’s statement: ”Therefore remember Me. I will remember you”, “Remember Me regarding what I have commanded you and I will remember you regarding what I have compelled Myself to do for your benefit (i.e., His rewards and forgiveness).” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:141)

An authentic Hadith states:

”Allah the Exalted said, ‘Whoever mentions Me to himself, then I will mention him to Myself; and whoever mentions Me in a gathering, I will mention him in a better gathering.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:395)

Imam Ahmad reported that Anas narrated that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”Allah the Exalted said, ‘O son of Adam! If you mention Me to yourself, I will mention you to Myself. If you mention Me in a gathering, I will mention you in a gathering of the angels (or said in a better gathering). If you draw closer to Me by a hand span, I will draw closer to you by forearm’s length. If you draw closer to Me by a forearm’s length, I will draw closer to you by an arm’s length. And if you come to Me walking, I will come to you running.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:521)

Allah said: ”…and be grateful to Me (for My countless favors on you’) and never be ungrateful to Me.”

In this Ayah, Allah commands that He be thanked and appreciated, and promises even more rewards for thanking Him. Allah said in another Ayah:

”And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e., disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe.” (14:7)

Abu Raja’ Al-`Utaridi said: ‘Imran bin Husayn came by us once wearing a nice silken garment that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, “Allah’s Messenger said:

”Those whom Allah has favored with a bounty, then Allah likes to see the effect of His bounty on His creation”, or he said, “on His servant’‘ – according to Ruh (one of the narrators of the Hadith). (Ahmad 4:438)

{153. O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient).

154. And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.}

The Virtue of Patience and Prayer

After Allah commanded that He be appreciated, He ordained patience and prayer. It is a fact that the servant is either enjoying a bounty that he should be thankful for, or suffering a calamity that he should meet with patience. A Hadith states:

“Amazing is the believer, for whatever Allah decrees for him, it is better for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with a hardship, he is patient with it and this is better for him.” (Muslim 4:2292)

Allah has stated that the best tools to help ease the effects of the afflictions are patience and prayer. Earlier we mentioned Allah’s statement:

“And seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer) and truly, it is ext remely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi` in – i.e., the true believers in Allah” (2:45)

There are several types of Sabr – patience: one for avoiding the prohibitions and sins, one for acts of worship and obedience. The second type carries more rewards than the first type. There is a third type of patience required in the face of the afflictions and hardships, which is mandatory, like repentance.

‘Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “Sabr has two parts: patience for the sake of Allah concerning what He is pleased with (i.e., acts of worship and obedience), even if it is hard on the heart and the body, and patience when avoiding what He dislikes, even if it is desired. Those who acquire these qualities will be among the patient persons whom Allah shall greet (when they meet Him in the Hereafter; refer to Surat Al-Ahzab 33:44), Allah willing.”

The Life enjoyed by Martyrs

Allah’s statement: “And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah,’They are dead.’ Nay, they are living,” indicates that the martyrs are alive and receiving their sustenance.

Muslim reported in his Sahih:

“The souls of the martyrs are inside green birds and move about in Paradise wherever they wish. Then, they take refuge in lamps that are hanging under the Throne (of Allah). Your Lord looked at them and asked them, ‘What do you wish for?’ They said, ‘What more could we wish for while You have favored us with what You have not favored any other of your creation?’ He repeated the question again. When they realize that they will be asked (until they answer), they said, ‘We wish that You send us back to the earthly life, so that we fight in Your cause until we are killed in Your cause again,’ (because of what they enjoy of the rewards of martyrdom). The Lord then said, ‘I have written that they will not be returned to it (earthly life) again.” (Muslim 3:1502)

Imam Ahmad reported that ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Ka’b bin Malik narrated from his father that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“The believer’s soul is a bird that feeds on the trees of Paradise until Allah sends it back to its body when the person is resurrected.” (Ahmad 3:455)

This Hadith includes all the believers in its general meaning. Thus, the fact that the Qur’an mentions the martyrs in particular in the above Ayah serves to honor, glorify and favor them (although the other believers share the rewards they enjoy).

{155. And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).

156. Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”

157. They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.}

The Believer is Patient with the Affliction and thus gains a Reward

Allah informs us that He tests and tries His servants, just as He said in another Ayah:

“And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and As- Sabirin (the patient), and We shall test your facts (i.e., the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).” (47:31)

Hence, He tests them with the bounty sometimes and sometimes with the afflictions of fear and hunger. Allah said in another Ayah:

 “So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear.” (16:112)

The frightened and the hungry persons show the effects of the affliction outwardly and this is why Allah has used here the word ‘Libas’ (cover or clothes) of fear and hunger. In the Ayat above, Allah used the words: “with something of fear, hunger” meaning, a little of each. Then (Allah said), “loss of wealth” meaning, some of the wealth will be destroyed, “lives” meaning, losing friends, relatives and loved ones to death, “and fruits” meaning, the gardens and the farms will not produce the usual or expected amounts. This is why Allah said next “but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).” He then explained whom He meant by ”the patient” whom He praised: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return” meaning, those who recite this statement to comfort themselves in the face of their loss, know that they belong to Allah and that He does what He wills with His servants. They also know that nothing and no deed, even if it was the weight of an atom, will be lost with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. These facts thus compel them to admit that they are Allah’s servants and that their return will be to Him in the Hereafter.

This is why Allah said: “They are those on whom are the Salawat (i. e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy” meaning, Allah’s praise and mercy will be with them. Sa’id bin Jubayr added, “Meaning, safety from the torment.” “and it is they who are the guided ones.” ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab commented: “What righteous things, and what a great heights. “They are those on whom are the Salawat from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy” are the two righteous things. “and it is they who are the guided ones” are the heights.” The heights means more rewards, and these people will be awarded their rewards and more.

The Virtue of asserting that We all belong to Allah, during Afflictions

There are several Ahadith that mention the rewards of admitting that the return is to Allah by saying: “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” when afflictions strike. For instance, Imam Ahmad reported that Umm Salamah narrated: Once, Abu Salamah came back after he was with Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and said: I heard Allah’s Messenger recite a statement that made me delighted. He said:

“No Muslim is struck with an affliction and then says Istirja when the affliction strikes, and then says: ‘O Allah! Reward me for my loss and give me what is better than it,’ but Allah will do just that.” Umm Salamah said: So I memorized these words. When Abu Salamah died I said Istirja and said: “O Allah! Compensate me for my loss and give me what is better than it.” I then thought about it and said, “Who is better than Abu Salamah?” When my ‘Iddah (the period of time before the widow or divorced woman can remarry) finished, Allah’s Messenger asked for permission to see me while I was dyeing a skin that I had. I washed my hands, gave him permission to enter and handed him a pillow, and he sat on it. He then asked me for marriage and when he finished his speech, I said, “O Messenger of Allah! It is not because I do not want you, but I am very jealous and I fear that you might experience some wrong mannerism from me for which Allah would punish me. I am old and have children.” He said: “As for the jealousy that you mentioned, Allah the Exalted will remove it from you. As for your being old as you mentioned, I have suffered what you have suffered. And for your having children, they are my children too.” She said, “I have surrendered to Allah’s Messenger.” Allah’s Messenger married her and Umm Salamah said later, “Allah compensated me with who is better than Abu Salamah: Allah’s Messenger .” (Ahmad 4:27) Muslim reported a shorter version of this Hadith.

{158. Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House to perform Tawaf between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower}

The Meaning of ‘it is not a sin’ in the Ayah

Imam Ahmad reported that ‘Urwah said that he asked ‘A’ishah about what Allah stated: ”Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah (two mountains in Makkah) are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House (the Ka`bah at Makkah) to perform the going (Tawaf) between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah)” “By Allah! It is not a sin if someone did not perform Tawaf around them.” ‘A’ishah said, “Worst is that which you said, O my nephew! If this is the meaning of it, it should have read, ‘It is not as in if one did not perform Tawaf around them.’ Rather, the Ayah was revealed regarding the Ansar, who before Islam, used to assume Ihlal (or Ihram for Hajj) in the area of Mushallal for their idol Manat that they used to worship. Those who assumed Ihlal for Manat, used to hesitate to perform Tawaf (going) between Mounts As-Safa and Al-Marwah. So they (during the Islamic era) asked Allah’s Messenger about it, saying, ‘O Messenger of Allah! During the time of Jahiliyyah, we used to hesitate to perform Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah.’ Allah then revealed: ”Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or ` Umrah of the House to perform the going (Tawaf) between them.” ‘A’ishah then said, “Allah’s Messenger has made it the Sunnah to perform Tawaf between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah), and thus, no one should abandon performing Tawaf between them.” This Hadith is reported in the Sahihayn.

In another narration, Imam Az-Zuhri reported that Urwah said: Later on I (Urwah) told Abu Bakr bin Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Harith bin Hisham (of A’ishah’s statement) and he said, “I have not heard of such information. However, I heard learned men saying that all the people, except those whom A’ishah mentioned, said, ‘Our Tawaf between these two hills is a practice of Jahiliyyah. ‘ Some others among the Ansar said, ‘We were commanded to perform Tawaf of the Ka’bah, but not between As-Safa and Al-Marwah.’ So Allah revealed: ”Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah.” Abu Bakr bin ‘Abdur-Rahman then said, “It seems that this verse was revealed concerning the two groups.” Al-Bukhari collected a similar narration by Anas.

Ash-Sha`bi said, “Isaf (an idol) was on As-Safa while Na’ilah (an idol) was on Al-Marwah, and they used to touch (or kiss) them. After Islam came, they were hesitant about performing Tawaf between them. Thereafter, the Ayah (2:158 above) was revealed.”

The Wisdom behind legislating Sa’i between As-Safa and Al-Marwah

Muslim recorded a long Hadith in his Sahih from Jabir, in which Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, finished the Tawaf around the House, and then went back to the Rukn (pillar, i.e., the Black Stone) and kissed it. He then went out from the door near As-Safa while reciting: ”Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then said, ”I start with what Allah has commanded me to start with – meaning start the Sa’i (i.e., fast walking) from the As-Safa”. In another narration of An-Nasa’i, the Prophet said, (Start with what Allah has started with (i.e., As-Safa).

Imam Ahmad reported that Habibah bint Abu Tajrah said, “I saw Allah’s Messenger performing Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah, while the people were in front of him and he was behind them walking in Sa’i. I saw his garment twisted around his knees because of the fast walking in Sa’i (he was performing) and he was reciting: “Perform Sa’i, for Allah has prescribed Sa’i on you.” This Hadith was used as a proof for the fact that Sa’i is a Rukn of Hajj. It was also said that Sa’i is Wajib, and not a Rukn of Hajj and that if one does not perform it by mistake or by intention, he could expiate the shortcoming with Damm. Allah has stated that Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah is among the symbols of Allah, meaning, among the acts that Allah legislated during the Hajj for Prophet Ibrahim.

Earlier we mentioned the Hadith by Ibn ‘Abbas that the origin of Tawaf comes from the Tawaf of Hajar (Prophet Ibrahim’s wife), between As-Safa and Al-Marwah seeking water for her son (Ismail) Ibrahim had left them in Makkah, where there was no habitation for her. When Hajar feared that her son would die, she stood up and begged Allah for His help and kept going back and forth in that blessed area between As-Safa and Al-Marwah. She was humble, fearful, frightened and meek before Allah. Allah answered her prayers, relieved her of her loneliness, ended her dilemma and made the well of Zamzam bring forth its water for her, which is: ”A tasty (or nutritional) food and a remedy for the illness.” Therefore, whoever performs Sa’i between As-Safa and Al-Marwah should remember his meekness, humbleness and need for Allah to guide his heart, lead his affairs to success and forgive his sins. He should also want Allah to eliminate his shortcomings and errors and to guide him to the straight path. He should ask Allah to keep him firm on this path until he meets death, and to change his situation from that of sin and errors to that of perfection and being forgiven, – the same providence which was provided to Hajar.

Allah then states: ”And whoever does good voluntarily.” It was said that the Ayah describes performing Tawaf more than seven times, it was also said that it refers to voluntary `Umrah or Hajj. It was also said that it means volunteering to do good works in general, as Ar-Razi has stated. The third opinion was attributed to Al-Hasan Al- Basri. Allah knows best.

Allah states: ”…then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower” meaning, Allah’s reward is immense for the little deed, and He knows about the sufficiency of the reward. Hence, He will not award insufficient rewards to anyone. Indeed:

“Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom, but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward.” (4:40)

 {159. Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the People in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allah and cursed by the cursers.

160. Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.

161. Verily, those who disbelieve, and die while they are disbelievers, it is they on whom is the curse of Allah and of the angels and of mankind, combined.

162. They will abide therein (under the curse in Hell), their punishment will neither be lightened nor will they be reprieved}

The Eternal Curse for Those Who hide Religious Commandments

These Ayat sternly warn against those who hide the clear signs that the Messengers were sent with which guide to the correct path and beneficial guidance for the hearts, after Allah has made such aspects clear for His servants through the Books that He revealed to His Messengers. Abu Al-‘Aliyah said that these Ayat, “were revealed about the People of the Scripture who hid the description of Muhammad.” Allah then states that everything curses such people for this evil act. Certainly, just as everything asks for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the sea and the bird in the air, then those who hide knowledge are cursed by Allah and by the cursers. A Hadith in the Musnad, narrated through several chains of narrators, that strengthens the overall judgment of the Hadith, states that Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”Whoever was asked about knowledge that one has, but he hid it, then a bridle made of fire will be tied around his mouth on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad 2:495)

It is also recorded by Al-Bukhari that Abu Hurayrah said, “If it was not for an Ayah in Allah’s Book, I would not have narrated a Hadith for anyone: ‘‘Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down” (Fath Al-Bari 1:258)

Mujahid said, “When the earth is struck by drought, the animals say, ‘This is because of the sinners among the Children of Adam. May Allah curse the sinners among the Children of Adam.”’

Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas and Qatadah said that ”and cursed by the cursers” means that the angels and the believers will curse them. Moreover, a Hadith states that everything, including the fish in the sea, asks for forgiveness for the scholars. The Ayah (2:159 above) states that those who hide the knowledge will be cursed, ”in this life and” on the Day of Resurrection, by Allah, the angels, all humanity, and those who curse ”including the animals” each in its own distinct way. Allah knows best.

From this punishment, Allah excluded all who repent to Him: ”Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed).” This Ayah refers to those who regret what they have been doing and correct their behavior and, thus, explain to the people what they have been hiding. ”These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” This Ayah also indicates that those who used to call to innovation, or even disbelief, and repent to Allah, then Allah will forgive them. Allah afterwards states that those who disbelieve in Him and remain in this state until they die, then: ”it is they on whom is the curse of Allah and of the angels and of mankind, combined. They will abide therein (under the curse in Hell).” Therefore, they will suffer the eternal curse until the Day of Resurrection and after that in the fire of Jahannam, where, ”their punishment will neither be lightened” Hence, the torment will not be decreased for them, ”nor will they be reprieved”.

The torment will not be changed or tempered for even an hour. Rather, it is continuous and eternal. We seek refuge with Allah from this evil end.

Cursing the Disbelievers is allowed

There is no disagreement that it is lawful to curse the disbelievers. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab and the Imams after him used to curse the disbelievers in their Qunut (a type of supplication) during the prayer and otherwise. As for cursing a specific disbeliever, some scholars stated that it is not allowed to curse him, because we do not know how Allah will make his end. Others said that it is allowed to curse individual disbelievers. For proof, they mention the story about the man who was brought to be punished repeatedly for drinking (alcohol), a man said, “May Allah curse him! He is being brought repeatedly (to be flogged for drinking).” Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”Do not curse him, for he loves Allah and His Messenger.” (Abdur-Razzaq 7:381 and Al-Bukhari 6780)

This Hadith indicates that it is allowed to curse those who do not love Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Allah knows best.

{163. And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God – Allah), La ilaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.}

In this Ayah, Allah mentions that He is the only deity, and that He has no partners or equals. He is Allah, the One and Only, the Sustainer, and there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. He is the Most Gracious – Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful – Ar-Rahim. We explained the meanings of these two Names in the beginning of Surah Al-Fatihah. Shahr bin Hawshab reported that Asma’ bint Yazid bin As-Sakan narrated that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:

 ”Allah’s Greatest Name is contained in these two Ayat’: ”And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God – Allah), La ilaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” and ‘‘Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al- Haiyul-Qaiyum (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists) (3:1-2)” (Abu Dawud 2:168)

Then Allah mentions some of the proof that He is alone as the deity, that He is the One who created the heavens and the earth and all of the various creatures between them, all of which testify to His Oneness. Allah said:

{164. Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.}

The Proofs for Tawhid

Allah said: ”Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth…” Therefore, the sky, with its height, intricate design, vastness, the heavenly objects in orbit, and this earth, with its density, its lowlands, mountains, seas, deserts, valleys, and other structures, and beneficial things that it has. Allah continues: ”…and in the alternation of night and day.”

This (the night) comes and then goes followed by the other (the day) which does not delay for evenaninstant, just as Allah said:

”It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.” (36:40)

Sometimes, the day grows shorter and the night longer, and sometimes vice versa, one takes from the length of the other. Similarly Allah said:

”Allah merges the night into the day, and He merges the day into the night” (57:6) meaning, He extends the length of one from the other and vice versa.

Allah then continues: ”..and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind” Shaping the sea in this manner, so that it is able to carry ships from one shore to another, so people benefit from what the other region has, and export what they have to them and vice versa.

Allah then continues: ‘‘…and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death”, which is similar to Allah’s statement:

”And a sign for them is the dead land. We give it life, and We bring forth from it grains, so that they eat thereof.” (36:33), until “which they know not.” (36:36)

Allah continues: ”and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein” meaning, in various shapes, colors, uses and sizes, whether small or large. Allah knows all that, sustains it, and nothing is concealed from Him. Similarly, Allah said:

”And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus or grave). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).” (11:6)

”…and in the veering of winds…” Sometimes, the wind brings mercy and sometimes torment. Sometimes it brings the good news of the clouds that follow it, sometimes it leads the clouds, herding them, scattering them or directing them. Sometimes, the wind comes from the north (the northern wind), and sometimes from the south, sometimes from the east, and striking the front of the Ka`bah, sometimes from the west, striking its back. There are many books about the wind rain, stars and the regulations related to them, but here is not the place to elaborate on that, and Allah knows best.

Allah continues: ”…and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth,” The clouds run between the sky and the earth to wherever Allah wills of lands and areas. Allah said next: ”…are indeed Ayat for people of understanding,” meaning, all these things are clear signs that testify to Allah’s Oneness. Similarly, Allah said:

”Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted are You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.” (3:190, 191)

{165. And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is severe in punishment.

166. When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them.

167. And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us. ” Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.}

 

The Condition of the Polytheists in this Life and the Hereafter

In these Ayat, Allah mentions the condition of the polytheists in this life and their destination in the Hereafter. They appointed equals and rivals with Allah, worshipping them along with Allah and loving them, just as they love Allah. However, Allah is the only deity worthy of worship, Who has neither rival nor opponent nor partner. It is reported in the Sahihayn that ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud said: I said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the greatest sin?” He said:

”To appoint a rival to Allah while He Alone has created you.” (Muslim 1:90)

Allah said: ”But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)” Because these believers love Allah, know His greatness, revere Him, believe in His Oneness, then they do not associate anything or anyone with Him in the worship. Rather, they worship Him Alone, depend on Him and they seek help from Him for each and every need.

Then, Allah warns those who commit Shirk, If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah.” if these people knew what they will face and the terrible punishment they are to suffer because of their disbelief and Shirk (polytheism), then they would shun the deviation that they live by.

Allah mentions their false beliefs in their idols, and that those they followed will declare their innocence of them. Allah said: ”When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them).” the angels, whom they used to claim that they worshipped, declare their innocence of them in the Hereafter, saying:

”We declare our innocence (from them) before You. It was not us they worshipped.” (28:63), and

“Glorified be You! You are our Wali (Lord) instead of them. Nay, but they used to worship the Jinn; most of them were believers in them.” (34:4)

The Jinn will also disown the disbelievers who worshipped them, and they will reject that worship. Allah said:

”And who is more astray than one who calls on (invokes) besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them And when mankind are gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worshipping.” (46:5-6) Allah said:

”And they have taken (for worship) alihah (gods) besides Allah, that they might give them honor, power and glory (and also protect them from Allah’ punishment). Nay, but they (the so- called gods) will deny their worship of them, and become opponents to them (on the Day of Resurrection).” (19:81-82)

Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, said to his people:

”You have taken (for worship) idols instead of Allah. The love between you is only in the life of this world, but on the Day of Resurrection, you shall disown each other, and curse each other, and your abode will be the Fire, and you shall have no helper.” (29:25) Allah said:

”But if you could see when the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) will be made to stand before their Lord, how they will cast the (blaming) word one to another! Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: “Had it not been for you, we should certainly have been believers!” And those who were arrogant will say to those who were deemed weak: “Did we keep you back from guidance after it had come to you Nay, but you were Mujrimin (polytheists, sinners, disbelievers, criminals).” Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!” And each of them (parties) will conceal their own regrets (for disobeying Allah during this worldly life), when they behold the torment. And We shall put iron collars round the necks of those who disbelieved. Are they requited aught except what they used to do” (34:31-33)

Allah said:

”And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: “Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, and you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers).” (14:22)

Allah then said: ”…and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them.” meaning, when they see Allah’s torment, their power and means of salvation are all cut off, and they will have no way of making amends, nor will they find a way of escape from the Fire. ‘Ata’ reported that Ibn’Abbas said about: ”then all their relations will be cut off from them.” meaning the friendship.” Mujahid reported a similar statement in another narration by Ibn Abu Najih. (At-Tabari 3:290)

Allah said: ”And those who followed will say: “If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us.” This Ayah means: ‘If we only had a chance to go back to the life so that we could disown them (their idols, leaders, etc.) shun their worship, ignore them and worship Allah Alone instead.’ But they utter a lie in this regard, because if they were given the chance to go back, they would only return to what they were prohibited from doing, just as Allah said. This is why Allah said: ”Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them” meaning, their works will vanish and disappear. Similarly, Allah said:

”And We shall turn to whatever deeds they (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust.” (25:23)

Allah also said ”The parable of those who disbelieved in their Lord is that their works are as ashes, on which the wind blows furiously on a stormy day” (14:18), and:

”As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water” (24:39)

This is why Allah said – at the end of the Ayah 2:167 above ”And they will never get out of the Fire.”

{168. O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth, and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily, he is to you an open enemy.

169. He (Satan) commands you only what is evil and Fahsha’ (sinful), and that you should say about Allah what you know not.}

The Order to eat the Lawful Things, and the Prohibition of following the Footsteps of Shaytan

After Allah stated that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him and that He Alone created the creation, He stated that He is the Sustainer for all His creation, and He mentioned a favor that He granted them; He has allowed them to eat any of the pure lawful things on the earth that do not cause harm to the body or the mind. He also forbade them from following the footsteps of Shaytan, meaning his ways and methods with which he misguides his followers, like prohibiting the Bahirah (a she-camel whose milk was spared for the idols and nobody was allowed to milk it), or Sa’ibah (a she-camel let loose for free pasture for the idols and nothing was allowed to be carried on it), or a Wasilah (a she-camel set free for idols because it has given birth to a she-camel at its first delivery and then again gives birth to a she-camel at its second delivery), and all of the other things that Shaytan made attractive to them during the time of Jahiliyyah. Muslim recorded `Iyad bin Himar saying that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that Allah the Exalted says, ”Every type of wealth I have endowed My servants is allowed for them…” (until), ”I have created My servants Hunafa’ (pure or upright), but the devils came to them and led them astray from their (true) religion and prohibited them from what I allowed for them. ” (Muslim 4:2197)

Allah said: ”…he is to you an open enemy.” warning against Satan. Allah said in another instance:

”Surely, Shaytan is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing Fire.” (35:6), and:

”Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimin (polytheists, and wrongdoers, etc)” (18:50)

Qatadah and As-Suddi commented on what Allah said: ”…and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan): Every act of disobedience to Allah is among the footsteps of Satan.”

‘Abd bin Humayd reported that Ibn’ Abbas said: “Any vow or oath that one makes while angry, is among the footsteps of Shaytan and its expiation is that of the vow.” Allah’s statement: ”He (Satan) commands you only what is evil and Fahsha (sinful), and that you should say about Allah what you know not.” The verse means: Your enemy, Satan, commands you to commit evil acts and what is worse than that, such as adultery and so forth. He commands you to commit what is even worse, that is, saying about Allah without knowledge.’ So this includes every innovator and disbeliever.

{170. When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that!) even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided

171. And the example of those who disbelieve is as that of him who shouts to those (flock of sheep) that hear nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand.}

The Polytheist imitates Other Polytheists

Allah states that if the disbelievers and polytheists are called to follow what Allah has revealed to His Messenger and abandon the practices of misguidance and ignorance that they indulge in, they will say, “Rather. We shall follow what we found our fathers following,” meaning, worshipping the idols and the false deities. Allah criticized their reasoning: ”(Would they do that!) even though their fathers”, meaning, those whom they follow and whose practices they imitate, and ”…did not understand anything nor were they guided” meaning, they had no sound understanding or guidance. Ibn Ishaq reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that this was revealed about a group of Jews whom Allah’s Messenger called to Islam, but they refused, saying, “Rather, we shall follow what we found our forefathers following.” So Allah revealed this Ayah (2:170) above.” (At-Tabari 3:305)

The Disbeliever is just like an Animal

Allah then made a parable of the disbelievers, just as He said in another Ayah:

”For those who believe not in the Hereafter is an evil description.” (16:60)

Similarly, Allah said here (2:171 above) ”And the example of those who disbelieve…” meaning, in their injustice, misguidance and ignorance, they are just like wandering animals, not understanding what they are told; if the shepherd heralds them or calls them to what benefits them, they would not understand what is actually being said to them, for they only hear unintelligible sounds. ”They are deaf, dumb, and blind” means, they are deaf, as they do not hear the truth; mute, as they do not utter it; and blind, as they do not see or recognize its path and way. ”So they do not understand” means, they do not comprehend or understand anything.

{172. O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship

173. He has forbidden you only the Maitah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than Allah. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

The Command to eat Pure Things and the Explanation of the Prohibited Things

Allah commands His believing servants to eat from the pure things that He has created for them and to thank Him for it, if they are truly His servants. Eating from pure sources is a cause for the acceptance of supplications and acts of worship, just as eating from impure sources prevents the acceptance of supplications and acts of worship, as mentioned in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad, that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”O people! Allah is Tayyib (Pure and Good) and only accepts that which is Tayyib. Allah has indeed commanded the believers with what He has commanded the Messengers, for He said: (O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am well-acquainted with what you do) (23:51), and: (O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with) He then mentioned a man, (who is engaged in a long journey, whose hair is untidy and who is covered in dust, he raises his hands to the sky, and says, `O Lord! O Lord!’ Yet, his food is from the unlawful, his drink is from the unlawful, his clothes are from the unlawful, and he was nourished by the unlawful, so how can it (his supplication) be accepted’.’ (Ahmad 3:328)

After Allah mentioned how He has blessed His creatures by providing them with provisions, and after commanding them to eat from the pure things that He has provided them, He then stated that He has not prohibited anything for them, except dead animals. Dead animals are those that die before being slaughtered; whether they die by strangling, a violent blow, a headlong fall, the goring of horns or by being partly eaten by a wild animal. Dead animals of the sea are excluded from this ruling, as is explained later, Allah willing, as Allah said:

”Lawful to you is (the pursuit of) watergame and its use for food” (5:96),

and because of the Hadith about the whale recorded in the Sahih. (Fath Al-Bari 6:152) The Musnad, Al-Muwatta’ and the Sunan recorded the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saying about the sea: ”Its water is pure and its dead are permissible.” (Ahmad 5:365)

Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Ad-Daraqutni reported that Ibn `Umar said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”We have been allowed two dead things and two bloody things: fish and locusts; and liver and spleen.” (Ahmad 2:97)

We will mention this subject again in Surat Al-Ma’idah (chapter 5 in the Qur’an), In sha’ Allah (if Allah wills).

Issue: According to Ash-Shafi`i and other scholars, milk and eggs that are inside dead unslaughtered animals are not pure, because they are part of the dead animal. In one narration from him, Malik said that they are pure themselves, but become impure because of their location. Similarly, there is a difference of opinion over the cheeses (made with the milk) of dead animals. The popular view of the scholars is that it is impure, although they mentioned the fact that the Companions ate from the cheeses made by the Magians (fire worshippers). Hence, Al-Qurtubi commented: “Since only a small part of the dead animal is mixed with it, then it is permissible, because a minute amount of impurity does not matter if it is mixed with a large amount of liquid.” Ibn Majah reported that Salman said that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was asked about butter, cheese and fur. He said:

”The allowed is what Allah has allowed in His Book and the prohibited is what Allah has prohibited in His Book. What He has not mentioned is a part of what He has pardoned.” (Ibn Majah 2:1117)

Allah has prohibited eating the meat of swine, whether slaughtered or not, and this includes its fat, either because it is implied, or because the term Lahm includes that, or by analogy. Similarly prohibited are offerings to other than Allah, that is what was slaughtered in a name other than His, be it for monuments, idols, divination, or the other practices of the time of Jahiliyyah. Al-Qurtubi mentioned that ‘A’ishah was asked about what non-Muslims slaughter for their feasts and then offer some of it as gifts for Muslims. She said, “Do not eat from what has been slaughtered for that day, (or feast) but eat from their vegetables.” (Al-Qurtubi 2:224)

The Prohibited is Allowed in Cases of Emergency

Then Allah permitted eating these things when needed for survival or when there are no permissible types of food available. Allah said: ”But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits”, meaning, without transgression or overstepping the limits, ”…then there is no sin on him.” meaning, if one eats such items, for, ”Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Mujahid said, “If one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing the set limits. For example, if he didn’t, then he would have to resort to highway robbery, rising against the rulers, or some other kinds of disobedience to Allah, then the permission applies to him. If one does so transgressing the limits, or continually, or out of disobedience to Allah, then the permission does not apply to him even if he is in dire need.” The same was reported from Sa`id bin Jubayr. Sa’id and Muqatil bin Hayyan are reported to have said that without willful disobedience means, “Without believing that it is permissible.” It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas commented on the Ayah: ”…without willful disobedience nor transgressing” saying, “Without willful disobedience means eating the dead animal and not continuing to do so. Qatadah said: ”without willful disobedience” “Without transgressing by eating from the dead animals, that is when the lawful is available.”

Issue: When one in dire straits finds both – dead animals, and foods belong to other people which he could get without risking the loss of his hands or causing harm, then it is not allowed for him to eat the dead animals. Ibn Majah reported that ‘Abbad bin Shurahbil Al-Ghubari said, “One year we suffered from famine. I came to Al-Madinah and entered a garden. I took some grain that I cleaned, and ate, then I left some of it in my garment. The owner of the garden came, roughed me up and took possession of my garment. I then went to Allah’s Messenger and told him what had happened. He said to the man:

”You have not fed him when he was hungry – or he said starving – nor have you taught him if he was ignorant.”

The Prophet commanded him to return ‘Abbad’s garment to him, and to offer him a Wasq (around 180 kilograms) – or a half Wasq – of food. (Ibn Majah 2:770)

This has a sufficiently strong chain of narrators and there are many other witnessing narrations to support it, such as the Hadith that ‘Amr bin Shu’ayb narrated from his father that his grandfather said: Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, was asked about the hanging clusters of dates. He said:

”There is no harm for whoever takes some of it in his mouth for a necessity without putting it in his garment.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 4:510)

Muqatil bin Hayyan commented on: ”…then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” “For what is eaten out of necessity.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:240) Sa’id bin Jubayr said, “Allah is pardoning for what has been eaten of the unlawful, and Merciful’ in that He allowed the prohibited during times of necessity.” Masruq said, “Whoever is in dire need, but does not eat or drink until he dies, he will enter the Fire.” This indicates that eating dead animals for those who are in need of it for survival is not only permissible but required.

{174. Verily, those who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book, and purchase a small gain therewith (of worldly things), they eat into their bellies nothing but fire. Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor purify them, and theirs will be a painful torment.

175. Those are they who have purchased error at the price of guidance, and torment at the price of forgiveness. So how bold they are (for evil deeds which will push them) to the Fire.

176. That is because Allah has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) in truth. And verily, those who disputed as regards the Book are far away in opposition}

Criticizing the Jews for concealing what Allah revealed

Allah said: ”Verily, those who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book.” Meaning the Jews who concealed their Book’s descriptions of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, all of which testify to his truth as a Messenger and a Prophet. They concealed this information so that they would not lose authority and the position that they had with the Arabs, where they would bring them gifts, and honor them. The cursed Jews feared that if they announced what they know about Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then the people would abandon them and follow him. So they hid the truth so that they may retain the little that they were getting, and they sold their souls for this little profit. They preferred the little that they gained over guidance and following the truth, believing in the Messenger and having faith in what Allah was sent him with. Therefore, they have profited failure and loss in this life and the Hereafter.

As for this world, Allah made the truth about His Messenger known anyway, by the clear signs and the unequivocal proofs. Thereafter, those whom the Jews feared would follow the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him believed in him and followed him anyway, and so they became his supporters against them. Thus, the Jews earned anger on top of the wrath that they already had earned before, and Allah criticized them again many times in His Book. For instance, Allah said in this Ayah (2:174 above): ”Verily, those who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book, and purchase a small gain therewith (of worldly things)” meaning, the joys and delights of this earthly life. Allah said: ”…they eat into their bellies nothing but fire” meaning, whatever they eat in return for hiding the truth, will turn into a raging fire in their stomachs on the Day of Resurrection.

Similarly, Allah said:

”Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!” (4:10)

Also, reported in an authentic Hadith is that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon, said: ‘Those who eat or drink in golden or silver plates are filling their stomachs with the fire of Jahannam (Hell).” (Al-Bukhari no.5634)

Allah said: ”Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor purify them, and theirs will be a painful torment.” This is because Allah is furious with them for concealing the truth. They thus deserve Allah’s anger, so Allah will not look at them or purify them, meaning that He will not praise them but will cause them to taste a severe torment. Then, Allah said about them: ”Those are they who have purchased error for guidance” Hence, they opposed the guidance, that is, not announcing the Prophet’s description they find in their Books, the news about his prophecy and the good news of his coming which the previous Prophets proclaimed, as well as following and believing in him. Instead, they preferred misguidance by denying him, rejecting him and concealing his descriptions that were mentioned in their Books. Allah said: ”…and torment at the price of forgiveness” meaning, they preferred torment over forgiveness due to the sins they have committed. Allah then said: ”So how bold they are (for evil deeds which will push them) to the Fire.” 

Allah states that they will suffer such severe, painful torment that those who see them will be amazed at how they could bear the tremendous punishment, torture and pain that they will suffer. We seek refuge with Allah from this evil end. Allah’s Statement: ”That is because Allah has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) in truth’‘ means, they deserve this painful torment because Allah has revealed Books to His Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Prophets before him, and these revelations bring about truth and expose falsehood. Yet, they took Allah’s signs for mockery. Their Books ordered them to announce the truth and to spread the knowledge, but instead, they defied the knowledge and rejected it. This Final Messenger – Muhammad – called them to Allah, commanded them to work righteousness and forbade them from committing evil. Yet, they rejected, denied and defied him and hid the truth that they knew about him. They, thus, mocked the Ayat that Allah revealed to His Messengers, and this is why they deserved the torment and the punishment. This is why Allah said here (2:176): ”That is because Allah has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) in truth. And verily, those who disputed about the Book are far away in opposition.”

{177. It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west; but Birr is the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to Al-Masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and to set servants free, performs As-Salah (Iqamat-As-Salah), and gives the Zakah, and who fulfill their covenant when they make it, and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles). Such are the people of the truth and they are Al-Muttaqun (the pious).}

 

Al-Birr (Piety, Righteousness)

This Ayah contains many great wisdoms, encompassing rulings and correct beliefs.

As for the explanation of this Ayah, Allah first commanded the believers to face Bayt Al-Maqdis, and then to face the Ka`bah during the prayer. This change was difficult for some of the People of the Book, and even for some Muslims. Then Allah sent revelation which clarified the wisdom behind this command, that is, obedience to Allah, adhering to His commands, facing wherever He commands facing, and implementing whatever He legislates, that is the objective. This is Birr, Taqwa and complete faith. Facing the east or the west does not necessitate righteousness or obedience, unless it is legislated by Allah. This is why Allah said: ”It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Birr is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day”

Similarly, Allah said about the sacrifices:

”It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is the piety from you that reaches Him.” (22:37)

Abu Al-‘Aliyah said, “The Jews used to face the west for their Qiblah, while the Christians used to face the east for their Qiblah. So Allah said: ”It is not Birr that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers)” (2: 177) meaning, “this is faith, and its essence requires implementation.” Similar was reported from Al- Hasan and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Ath-Thawri recited: ”but Birr is the one who believes in Allah” and said that what follows are the types of Birr. He has said the truth. Certainly, those who acquire the qualities mentioned in the Ayah will have indeed embraced all aspects of Islam and implemented all types of righteousness; believing in Allah, that He is the only God worthy of worship, and believing in the angels the emissaries between Allah and His Messengers.

The ‘Books’ are the Divinely revealed Books from Allah to the Prophets, which were finalized by the most honorable Book (the Qur’an). The Qur’an supercedes all previous Books, it mentions all types of righteousness, and the way to happiness in this life and the Hereafter. The Qur’an abrogates all previous Books and testfies to all of Allah’s Prophets, from the first Prophet to the Final Prophet, Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all.

Allah’s statement: ”…and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it” refers to those who give money away while desiring it and loving it. It is recorded in the Sahihayn that Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”The best charity is when you give it away while still healthy and thrifty, hoping to get rich and fearing poverty.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:334 and Muslim 2:716)

Allah said:

”And they give food, inspite of their love for it, to the Miskin (the poor), the orphan, and the captive (saying): “We feed you seeking Allah’s Face only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you.” (76:8-9)

and:

”By no means shall you attain Birr unless you spend of that which you love.” (3:92) Allah’s statement :

”…and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that” (59:9)

refers to a higher category and status, as the people mentioned here give away what they need, while those mentioned in the previous Ayat give away what they covet (but not necessarily need).

Allah’s statement: ”the kinsfolk” refers to man’s relatives, who have more rights than anyone else to one’s charity, as the Hadith supports:

”Sadaqah (i. e., charity) given to the poor is a charity, while the Sadaqah given to the relatives is both Sadaqah and Silah (nurturing relations), for they are the most deserving of you and your kindness and charity.” (Ahmad 4:214)

Allah has commanded kindness to the relatives in many places in the Qur’an. ”to the orphans” The orphans are children who have none to look after them, having lost their fathers while they are still young, weak and unable to find their own sustenance since they have not reached the age of work and adolescence. ‘Abdur-Razzaq reported that ‘Ali said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ”and to Al-Masakin” The Miskin is the person who does not have enough food, clothing, or he has no dwelling. So the Miskin should be granted the provisions to sustain him enough so that he can acquire his needs. In the Sahihayn it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”The Miskin is not the person who roams around, and whose need is met by one or two dates or one or two bites. Rather, the Miskin is he who does not have what is sufficient, and to whom the people do not pay attention and, thus, do not give him from the charity.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:399 and Muslim 2:719)

“and to the wayfarer” is the needy traveler who runs out of money and should, thus, be granted whatever amount that helps him to go back to his land. Such is the case with whoever intends to go on a permissible journey, he is given what he needs for his journey and back. The guests are included in this category. ‘Ali bin Abu Talhah reported that Ibn  Abbas said, “Ibn As-Sabil (wayfarer) is the guest who is hosted by Muslims.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:259) Furthermore, Mujahid, Sa` id bin Jubayr, Abu Ja` far Al-Baqir, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Az-Zuhri, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Muqatil bin Hayyan said similarly. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:260)

”and to those who ask” refers to those who beg people and are thus given a part of the Zakah and general charity. ”and to set servants free” These are the servants who seek to free themselves, but cannot find enough money to buy their freedom. We will mention several of these categories and types under the Tafsir of the Ayah on Sadaqah in Surah Taubah (chapter 9 in the Qur’an), In sha’ Allah.

Allah’s statement: ”performs As-Salah (Iqamat-As-Salah)’‘ means those who pray on time and give the prayer its due right; the bowing, prostration, and the necessary attention and humbleness required by Allah. Allah’s statement: ”and gives the Zakah” means the required charity (Zakah) due on one’s money, as Sa’id bin Jubayr and Muqatil bin Hayyan have stated.

Allah’s statement: ”and who fulfill their covenant when they make it” is similar to:

”Those who fulfill the covenant of Allah and break not the Mithaq (bond, treaty, covenant)” ( 13: 20)

The opposite of this characteristic is hypocrisy. As found in a Hadith:

”The signs of a hypocrite are three: if he speaks, he lies; if he promises, he breaks his promise; and if he is entrusted, he breaches the trust.” (Muslim 1:78)

In another version: ”If he speaks, he lies; if he vows, he breaks his vow; and if he disputes, he is lewd.” (ibid)

Allah’s statement: ”..and who are patient in extreme poverty and ailment (disease) and at the time of fighting (during the battles)” means, during the time of meekness and ailment. ”…and at the time of fighting (during the battles)” means on the battlefield while facing the enemy.

And calling them the patient here, is a form of praise, because of the importance of patience in these circumstances, and the suffering and difficulties that accompany them. And Allah knows best, it is He Whom help is sought from, and upon Him we rely.

Allah’s statement: ”Such are the people of the truth” means, whoever acquires these qualities, these are truthful in their faith. This is because they have achieved faith in the heart and realised it in deed and upon the tongue. So they are the truthful, ”and they are Al-Muttaqun (the pious)” because they avoided the prohibitions and performed the acts of obedience.

 

{178. O you who believe! Al-Qisas (the Law of equality) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money), then it should be sought in a good manner, and paid to him respectfully. This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. So after this, whoever transgresses the limits (i.e. kills the killer after taking the blood money), he shall have a painful torment.

179. And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisas (the Law of equality in punishment), O men of understanding, that you may acquire Taqwa.}

 

The Command and the Wisdom behind the Law of Equality

Allah states: O believers! The Law of equality has been ordained on you (for cases of murder), the free for the free, the slave for the slave and the female for the female. Therefore, do not transgress the set limits, as others before you transgressed them, and thus changed what Allah has ordained for them. The reason behind this statement is that (the Jewish tribe of) Banu An- Nadir invaded Qurayzah (another Jewish tribe) during the time of Jahiliyyah (before Islam) and defeated them. Hence, (they made it a law that) when a person from Nadir kills a person from Quraizah, he is not killed in retaliation, but only pays a hundred Wasq of dates. However, when a person from Quraizah kills a Nadir man, he would be killed for him. If Nadir wanted (to forfeit the execution of the murderer and instead require him) to pay a ransom, the Quraizah man pays two hundred Wasq of dates  [double the amount Nadir pays in Diyah (blood money)]. So Allah commanded that justice be observed regarding the penal code, and that the path of the misguided and mischievous persons be avoided, who in disbelief and transgression, defy and alter what Allah has commanded them. Allah said: ”Al-Qisas (the Law of equality in punishment) is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.” Allah’s statement: ”the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female” was abrogated by the statement life for life (5:45). However, the majority of scholars agree that the Muslim is not killed for a disbeliever whom he kills. Al- Bukhari reported that `Ali narrated that Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

”The Muslim is not killed for the disbeliever (whom he kills).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari no.111)

No opinion that opposes this ruling could stand correct, nor is there an authentic Hadith to contradict it. However, Abu Hanifah thought that the Muslim could be killed for a disbeliever, following the general meaning of the Ayah (5:45) in Surah Al-Ma’idah (chapter 5 in the Qur’an).

The Four Imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad) and the majority of scholars stated that the group is killed for one person whom they murder. ‘Umar said, about a boy who was killed by seven men, “If all the residents of San’a’ (capital of Yemen today) collaborated on killing him, I would kill them all.” No opposing opinion was known by the Companions during that time which constitutes a near Ijma` (consensus). There is an opinion attributed to Imam Ahmad that a group of people is not killed for one person whom they kill, and that only one person is killed for one person. Ibn Al-Mundhir also attributed this opinion to Mu’adh, Ibn Az- Zubayr, ‘Abdul-Malik bin Marwan, Az-Zuhri, Ibn Sirin and Habib bin Abu Thabit. Allah’s statement: ”But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money), then it should be sought in a good manner, and paid to him respectfully.” refers to accepting blood money (by the relatives of the victim in return for pardoning the killer) in cases of intentional murder. This opinion is attributed to Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Abu Sha’tha’, Mujahid, Sa’id bin Jubayr, ‘Ata’ Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn’Abbas said: ”But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money)” means the killer is pardoned by his brother (i.e., the relative of the victim) and accepting the Diyah after capital punishment becomes due (against the killer), this is the ‘Afw (pardon mentioned in the Ayah).” Allah’s statement: ”…then it should be sought in a good manner” means, when the relative agrees to take the blood money, he should collect his rightful dues with kindness: ”and paid to him respectfully” means, the killer should accept the terms of settlement without causing further harm or resisting the payment.

Allah’s statement: ”This is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord” means the legislation that allows you to accept the blood money for intentional murder is an alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. It lightens what was required from those who were before you, either applying capital punishment or forgiving. Sa` id bin Mansur reported that Ibn ` Abbas said, “The Children of Israel were required to apply the Law of equality in murder cases and were not allowed to offer pardons (in return for blood money). Allah said to this Ummah (the Muslim nation): ”The Law of equality in punishment is prescribed for you in case of murder: the free for the free, the servant for the servant, and the female for the female. But if the killer is forgiven by the brother (or the relatives) of the killed (against blood money).” 

Hence, ‘pardoning’ or ‘forgiving’ means accepting blood money in intentional murder cases.” (Sunan Sa’id bin Mansur 2:652) Ibn Hibban also recorded this in his Sahih. (Ibn Hibban 7:601) Qatadah said: ”This is an alleviation from your Lord” Allah had mercy on this Ummah by giving them the Diyah which was not allowed for any nation before it. The People of the Torah (Jews) were allowed to either apply the penal code (for murder, i.e., execution) or to pardon the killer, but they were not allowed to take blood money. The People of the Injil (the Gospel – the Christians) were required to pardon (the killer, but no Diyah was legislated). This Ummah (Muslims) is allowed to apply the penal code (execution) or to pardon and accept the blood money.” Similar was reported from Sa` id bin Jubayr, Muqatil bin Hayyan and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. (Ibn Abi Hatim 1:274-275)

Allah’s statement: ‘‘So after this whoever transgresses the limits, he shall have a painful torment” means, those who kill in retaliation after taking the Diyah or accepting it, they will suffer a painful and severe torment from Allah. The same was reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ata’ `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan.

The Benefits and Wisdom of the Law of Equality

Allah’s statement: ”And there is life for you in Al-Qisas” legislating the Law of equality, i.e. killing the murderer, carries great benefits for you. This way, the sanctity of life will be preserved because the killer will refrain from killing, as he will be certain that if he kills, he would be killed. Hence life will be preserved. In previous Books, there is a statement that killing stops further killing! This meaning came in much clearer and eloquent terms in the Qur’an: ‘‘And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisas (the Law of equality in punishment)”

Abu Al-`Aliyah said, “Allah made the Law of equality a ‘life’. Hence, how many a man who thought about killing, but this Law prevented him from killing for fear that he will be killed in turn.”  Allah’s statement: ”O men of understanding, that you may acquire Taqwa” means, ‘O you who have sound minds, comprehension and understanding! Perhaps by this you will be compelled to refrain from transgressing the prohibitions of Allah and what He considers sinful. ‘ Taqwa (mentioned in the Ayah) is a word that means doing all acts of obedience and refraining from all prohibitions.

 

 

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