Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 253 -286

{253. Those Messengers! We preferred some of them to others; to some of them Allah spoke (directly); others He raised to degrees (of honour); and to Isa, the son of Maryam, We gave clear proofs and evidences, and supported him with Ruh-il-Qudus [Jibril] . If Allah had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other, after clear Verses of Allah had come to them, but they differed – some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allah had willed, they would not have fought against one another, but Allah does what He wills.}

Allah Honored Some Prophets Above Others

Allah states that He has honored some Prophets to others. For instance, Allah said,

“And indeed, We have preferred some of the Prophets above others, and to Dawud We gave the Zabur (Psalms)” (17:55)

In the Ayah above, Allah said, “Those Messengers! We preferred some of them to others; to some of them Allah spoke (directly)” meaning, Musa and Muhammadpeace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and also Adam according to a Hadith recorded in Sahih Ibn Hibban from Abu Dharr. “Others He raised to degrees (of honor)” as is evident in the Hadith about the Isra’ journey, when the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saw the Prophets in the various heavens according to their rank with Allah.

If somebody asks about the collective meaning of this Ayah and the Hadith that the Two Sahihs collected from Abu Hurayrah which states, “Once, a Muslim man and a Jew had an argument and the Jew said, ‘No, by Him Who gave Musa superiority over all human beings!’ Hearing him, the Muslim man raised his hand and slapped the Jew on his face and said, ‘Over Muhammad too, O evil one!’ The Jew went to the Prophet and complained to him and the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Don’t give me superiority above the Prophets, for the people will become unconscious on the Day of Resurrection, and I will be the first to be resurrected to see Musa holding on to the pillar of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether the unconsciousness Musa suffered on the Day of the Trumpet sufficed for him, or if he got up before me. So, do not give me superiority above the Prophets.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:508, Muslim 4:1844)

In another narration, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said, “Do not give superiority to some Prophets above others”. (Fath Al-Bari 6:519, Muslim 4:1844)

The answer to this question is that this Hadith prohibits preferring some Prophets above others in cases of dispute and argument, such as the incident mentioned in the Hadith. The Hadith indicates that it is not up to creation to decide which Prophet is better, for this is Allah’s decision. The creation is only required to submit to, obey and believe in Allah’s decision.

Allah’s statement, “And We gave Isa, the son of Maryam, clear signs” refers to the proofs and unequivocal evidences that testify to the truth that Isa delivered to the Children of Israel, thus testifying that he was Allah’s servant and His Messenger to them. “And supported him with Ruh-il-Qudus” meaning Allah aided Isa with Jibil, peace be upon him. Allah then said, “If Allah had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other, after clear Verses of Allah had come to them, but they differed – some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allah had willed, they would not have fought against one another” meaning all this happened by Allah’s decree, and this is why He said next, “But Allah does what He wills”.

{254. O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers.}

Allah commands His servants to spend for His sake, in the path of righteousness, from what He has granted them, so that they acquire and keep the reward of this righteous deed with their Lord and King. Let them rush to perform this deed in this life, “before a Day comes” meaning, the Day of Resurrection, “when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession”. This Ayah indicates that on that Day, no one will be able to bargain on behalf of himself or ransom himself with any amount, even if it was the earth’s fill of gold; nor will his friendship or relation to anyone benefit him. Similarly, Allah said,

“Then, when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no kinship among them that Day, nor will they ask of one another.” (23:101)

“Nor intercession” meaning, they will not benefit by the intercession of anyone. Allah’s statement, “and it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers” indicates that no injustice is worse than meeting Allah on that Day while a disbeliever. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ata’ bin Dinar said, “All thanks are due to Allah Who said, “and it is the disbelievers who are the wrongdoers” but did not say, ‘And it is the wrongdoers who are the disbelievers.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:966)

{255. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.}

The Virtue of Ayat Al-Kursi

This is Ayat Al-Kursi and tremendous virtues have been associated with it, for the authentic Hadith describes it as the greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ubayy bin Kab said that the Prophet peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, asked him about the greatest Ayah in the Book of Allah, and Ubayy answered, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” When the Prophet repeated his question several times, Ubayy said, “Ayat Al-Kursi.” The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him commented,

“Congratulations for having knowledge, O Abu Al-Mundhir! By He in Whose Hand is my soul! This Ayah has a tongue and two lips with which she praises the King (Allah) next to the leg of the Throne.” (Ahmad 5:14)

This Hadith was also collected by Muslim, (1:556) but he did not include the part that starts with, “By He in Whose Hand…”

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Ayyub said that he had some dates and a Ghoul [a category of jinn] used to take some, and he complained to the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said to him, “When you see her, say, ‘In the Name of Allah, answer to the Messenger of Allah’.” Abu Ayyub said that when she came again, he said these words and he was able to grab her. She begged, “I will not come again,” so Abu Ayyub released her. Abu Ayyub went to the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and the Prophet asked him, “What did your prisoner do?” Abu Ayyub said, “I grabbed her and she said twice, ‘I will not come again,’ and I released her.” The Prophet said, “She will come back.” Abu Ayyub said, “So I grabbed her twice or three times, yet each time [I would release her when] she vowed not to come back. I would go to the Prophet who would ask me, ‘What is the news of your prisoner?’ I would say, ‘I grabbed her, then released her when she said that she would not return.’ The Prophet would say that she would return. Once, I grabbed her and she said, ‘Release me and I will teach you something to recite so that no harm touches you, that is, Ayat Al-Kursi.’ Abu Ayyub went to the Prophet and told him, and the Prophet said, “She is liar, but she told the truth.” (Ahmad 5:422)  In Arabic, ‘Ghoul’ refers to the Jinn when they appear at night.

Al-Bukhari recorded a similar story in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah, in the chapters on the virtues of the Qur’an and the description of Shaytan. In this narration, Abu Hurayrah said, “Allah’s Messenger assigned me to keep watch over the Sadaqah (charity) of Ramadan. A person snuck in and started taking handfuls of foodstuff. I caught him and said, ‘By Allah, I will take you to Allah’s Messenger.’ He said, ‘Release me, for I am meek and have many dependents and am in great need.’ I released him, and in the morning Allah’s Messenger asked me, ‘What did your prisoner do yesterday, O Abu Hurayrah?’ I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! He complained of being needy and of having many dependents, so I pitied him and let him go.’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Indeed, he told you a lie and will be coming again.’ I believed that he would show up again, for Allah’s Messenger had told me that he would return. So, I watched for him. When he (showed up and) started stealing handfuls of foodstuff, I caught hold of him again and said, ‘I will definitely take you to Allah’s Messenger.’ He said, ‘Leave me, for I am very needy and have many dependents. I promise I will not come back again.’ I pitied him and let him go. In the morning Allah’s Messenger asked me, ‘What did your prisoner do last night, O Abu Hurayrah!’ I replied, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! He complained of his great need and of too many dependents, so I took pity on him and set him free.’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Verily, he told you a lie; he will return.’ I waited for him attentively for the third time, and when he (came and) started stealing handfuls of the foodstuff, I caught hold of him and said, `I will surely take you to Allah’s Messenger as it is the third time you promised not to return, yet you returned.’ He said, ‘Let me teach you some words which Allah will give you benefit from.’ I asked, ‘What are they?’ He replied, ‘Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayat Al-Kursi- Allahu la ilaha illa Huwal-Hayyul- Qayyum, till you finish the whole verse. (If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you, and no Shaytan will come near you until morning.’ So, I released him. In the morning, Allah’s Messenger asked, ‘What did your prisoner do yesterday?’ I replied, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! He claimed that he would teach me some words by which Allah will grant me some benefit, so I let him go.’ Allah’s Messenger asked, ‘What are they?’ I replied, ‘He said to me: Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayat Al-Kursi from the beginning to the end, Allahu la ilaha illa Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyum. He further said to me: (If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you, and no Shaytan will come near you until morning.’ (One of the narrators) then commented that they (the Companions) were very keen to do good deeds. The Prophet said, ‘He spoke the truth, although he is a liar. Do you know whom you were talking to, these three nights, O Abu Hurayrah?’ Abu Hurayrah said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘It was Shaytan.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 8:672) An- Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith in Al-Yawm wa Al-Laylah. (Ad-Darimi no.532)

Allah’s Greatest Name is in Ayat Al-Kursi

Imam Ahmad recorded that Asma’ bint Yazid bin As-Sakan said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say about these two Ayat, “Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists” (2:255), and, “Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists” (3:1-2), ‘They contain Allah’s Greatest Name.'” (Ahmad 6:461)

Further, Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Abu Umamah reported that the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said,

“Allah’s Greatest Name, if He was supplicated with it, He answers the supplication, is in three Surahs – Al-Baqarah, Al Imran and Ta-Ha.” (At-Tabarani 8:282)

Hisham bin Ammar, the Khatib (orator) of Damascus (one of the narrators in the above narration), said, “As for Al-Baqarah, it is in,

“Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists” (2:255) in Al Imran, it is in,

 “Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists” (3:1-2), while in Ta-Ha, it is in,

“And (all) faces shall be humbled before (Allah), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists” (20:111).’

Ayat Al-Kursi has Ten Complete Arabic Sentences

1. Allah’s statement

“Allah! None has the right to be worshipped but He” mentions that Allah is the One and Only Lord of all creation.

2. Allah’s statement

“Al-Hayyul-Qayyum” testifies that Allah is the Ever Living, Who never dies, Who sustains everyone and everything. All creation stands in need of Allah and totally relies on Him, while He is the Most Rich, Who stands in need of nothing created. Similarly, Allah said,

“And among His signs is that the heaven and the earth stand by His command” (30:25).

3. Allah’s statement

“Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him” means, no shortcoming, unawareness or ignorance ever touches Allah. Rather, He is aware of, and controls what every soul earns, has perfect watch over everything, nothing escapes His knowledge, and no secret matter is secret to Him. Among His perfect attributes, is the fact that He is never effected by slumber or sleep. Therefore, Allah’s statement,

“Neither slumber overtakes Him” indicates that no unawareness due to slumber ever overtakes Allah. Allah said afterwards, “nor sleep”, which is stronger than slumber. It is recorded in the Sahih (Muslim 1:161) that Abu Musa said, “The Messenger of Allah delivered a speech regarding four words:

“Allah does not sleep, and it does not befit His majesty that He sleeps. He lowers the scales and raises them. The deeds of the day are resurrected in front of Him before the deeds of the night, and the deeds of the night before the deeds of the day. His Veil is light, or fire, and if He removes it, the rays from His Face would burn whatever His sight reaches of His creation.”

4. Allah’s statement

“To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth” indicates that everyone is a servant for Allah, a part of His kingdom and under His power and authority. Similarly, Allah said,

“There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Gracious (Allah) as a servant. Verily, He knows each one of them, and has counted them a full counting. And everyone of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, or protector or defender)” (19:93-95).

5. Allah’s statement

“Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission?” is similar to His statements,

“And there are many angels in the heavens, whose intercession will avail nothing except after Allah has given leave for whom He wills and is pleased with” (53:26), and,

“They cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased” (21:28).

These Ayat assert Allah’s greatness, pride, and grace, and that no one dares to intercede with Him on behalf of anyone else, except by His permission. Indeed, the Hadith about the intercession, states that the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said,

“I will stand under the Throne and fall in prostration, and Allah will allow me to remain in that position as much as He wills. I will thereafter be told, “Raise your head, speak and you will be heard, intercede and your intercession will be accepted”. The Prophet then said, “He will allow me a proportion whom I will enter into Paradise.’‘ (Muslim 1:180)

6. Allah’s statement

“He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter” this refers to His perfect knowledge of all creation; its past, present and future. Similarly, Allah said that the angels proclaimed;

“And we (angels) descend not except by the command of your Lord (O Muhammad). To Him belongs what is before us and what is behind us, and what is between those two; and your Lord is never forgetful” (19:64).

7. Allah’s statement

“And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills”, asserts the fact that no one attains any part of Allah’s knowledge except what Allah conveys and allows. This part of the Ayah indicates that no one ever acquires knowledge of Allah and in His Attributes, except what He conveys to them. For instance, Allah said,

“But they will never compass anything of His knowledge” (20: 110).

8. Allah said

“His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth” Waki narrated in his Tafsir that Ibn Abbas said, “Kursi is the footstool, and no one is able to give due consideration to [Allah’s] Throne.” (At-Tabarani 12:39) Al-Hakim recorded this Hadith in his Mustadrak (Al-Hakim 2:282) from Ibn Abbas, who did not relate it to the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. Al-Hakim said, “It is Sahih according to the criteria of the Two Sahihs, and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.” In addition, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn Abbas said, “If the seven heavens and the seven earths were flattened and laid side by side, they would add up to the size of a ring in a desert, compared to the Kursi.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:981)

9. Allah said

“And He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them” meaning, it does not burden or cause Him fatigue to protect the heavens and earth and all that is in between them. Rather, this is an easy matter for Him. Further, Allah sustains everything, has perfect watch over everything, nothing ever escapes His knowledge and no matter is ever a secret to Him. All matters are insignificant, modest and humble before Him. He is the Most Rich, worthy of all praise. He does what He wills, and no one can ask Him about what He does, while they will be asked. He has supreme power over all things and perfect alertness concerning everything. He is the Most High, the Greatest, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, and no Lord other than Him.

10. Allah’s statement

“And He is the Most High, the Most Great” is similar to His statement,

“the Most Great, the Most High” (13:9).

These and similar Ayat and authentic Hadiths about Allah’s Attributes must be treated the way the Salaf (righteous ancestors) treated them by accepting their apparent meanings without equating them [with the attributes of the creation] or altering their apparent meanings.

{256. There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.}

No Compulsion in Religion

Allah said, “There is no compulsion in religion”, meaning, “Do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whoever Allah directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty. Whoever Allah blinds his heart and seals his hearing and sight, then he will not benefit from being forced to embrace Islam. ”

It was reported that the Ansar were the reason behind revealing this Ayah, although its indication is general in meaning. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas said [that before Islam], “When (an Ansar) woman would not bear children who would live, she would vow that if she gives birth to a child who remains alive, she would raise him as a Jew. When Banu An-Nadir (the Jewish tribe) were evacuated [from Al-Madinah], some of the children of the Ansar were being raised among them, and the Ansar said, ‘We will not abandon our children.’ Allah revealed, “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path.” (At-Tabari 5:407)

Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith. (Abu Dawud 3:132, An-Nasai in Al-Kubara 6:304) As for the Hadith that Imam Ahmad recorded, in which Anas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said to a man,

“Embrace Islam.” The man said, “I dislike it.” The Prophet said, “Even if you dislike it.” (Ahmad 3:181)

First, this is an authentic Hadith, with only three narrators between Imam Ahmad and the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. However, it is not relevant to the subject under discussion, for the Prophet did not force that man to become Muslim. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, merely invited this man to become Muslim, and he replied that he does not find himself eager to become Muslim. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him said to the man that even though he dislikes embracing Islam, he should still embrace it, ‘for Allah will grant you sincerity and true intent.’

Tawhid is the Most Trustworthy Handhold

Allah’s statement, “Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower” is in reference to, “Whoever shuns the rivals of Allah, the idols, and those that Shaytan calls to be worshipped besides Allah, whoever believes in Allah’s Oneness, worships Him alone and testifies that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, “then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold.”

Therefore, this person will have acquired firmness [in the religion] and proceeded on the correct way and the straight path. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Baghawi recorded that Umar said, “Jibt means magic, and Taghut means Shaytan. Verily, courage and cowardice are two instincts that appear in men, the courageous fights for those whom he does not know and the coward runs away from defending his own mother. Man’s honor resides with his religion and his status is based upon his character, even if he was Persian or Nabatian.” (At-Tabari 5:417) Umar’s statement that Taghut is Shaytan is very sound, for this meaning includes every type of evil that the ignorant people of Jahiliyyah (pre Islamic era of ignorace) fell into, such as worshipping idols, referring to them for judgement, and invoking them for victory.

Allah’s statement, “then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break” means, “He will have hold of the true religion with the strongest grasp.” Allah equated this adherence to the firm handhold that never breaks because it is built solid and because its handle is firmly connected. This is why Allah said here, “then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break”.

Mujahid said, “The most trustworthy handhold is Iman (faith).” As-Suddi said that it refers to Islam. Imam Ahmad recorded that Qaysbi Abbad said, “I was in the Masjid when a man whose face showed signs of humbleness came and prayed two Rakahs that were modest in length. The people said, ‘This is a man from among the people of Paradise.’ When he left, I followed him until he entered his house, and I entered it after him and spoke with him. When he felt at ease, I said to him, ‘When you entered the Masjid, the people said such and such things.’ He said, ‘All praise is due to Allah! No one should say what he has no knowledge of. I will tell you why they said that. I saw a vision during the time of the Messenger of Allah, and I narrated it to him. I saw that I was in a green garden, ‘ and he described the garden’s plants and spaciousness, ‘and there was an iron pole in the middle of the garden affixed in the earth and its tip reached the sky. On its tip, there was a handle, and I was told to ascend the pole. I said, ‘I cannot.’ Then a helper came and raised my robe from behind and said to me, ‘Ascend.’ I ascended until I grasped the handle and he said to me, ‘Hold on to the handle.’ I awoke from that dream with the handle in my hand. I went to the Messenger of Allah and told him about the vision and he said,

 “As for the garden, it represents Islam; as for the pole, it represents the pillar of Islam; and the handle represents the most trustworthy handhold. You shall remain Muslim until you die.”

This Companion was Abdullah bin Salam.” (Ahmad 5:452)

This Hadith was also collected in the Two Sahihs (Fath Al-Bari 7:161, Muslim 4:1930); and Al-Bukhari also recorded it with another chain of narration (Fath Al-Bari 2:418).

{257. Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Awliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut (false deities and false leaders), they bring them out from light into darknesses. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.}

Allah stated that whoever follows what pleases Him, He will guide him to the paths of peace, that is Islam, or Paradise. Verily, Allah delivers His believing servants from the darkness of disbelief, doubt and hesitation, to the light of the plain, clear, explained, easy and unequivocal truth. He also stated that Shaytan is the supporter of the disbelievers who beautifies the paths of ignorance and misguidance that they follow, thus causing them to deviate from the true path into disbelief and wickedness. “Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.”

This is why Allah mentioned the light in the singular while mentioned the darkness in the plural, because truth is one, while disbelief comes as several types, all of which are false. Similarly, Allah said,

“And verily, this is my straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may have Taqwa.” (6:153),

“And originated the darknesses and the light” (6:1), and,

“to the right and to the lefts” (16: 48).

There are many other Ayat on the subject that mention the truth in the singular and falsehood in the plural, because of falsehood’s many divisions and branches.

{258. Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Ibrahim said (to him): “My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death.” He said, “I give life and cause death.” Ibrahim said, “Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west.” So the disbeliever was utterly defeated. And Allah guides not the people, who are wrongdoers.}

The Debate Between Ibrahim Al-Khalil and King Nimrod

The king who disputed with Ibrahim was King Nimrod, son of Canaan, son of Kush, son of Sam, son of Noah, as Mujahid stated. It was also said that he was Nimrod, son of Falikh, son of Abir, son of Shalikh, son of Arfakhs hand, son of Sam, son of Noah. Mujahid said, “The kings who ruled the eastern and western parts of the world are four, two believers and two disbelievers. As for the two believing kings, they were Sulayman bin Dawud and Dhul-Qarnayn. As for the two disbelieving kings, they were Nimrod and Nebuchadnezzar.” (At-Tabari 5:433) Allah knows best.

Allah said, “at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord” meaning, about the existence of Allah. Nimrod denied the existence of a god other than himself, as he claimed, just as Firawn said later to his people,

“I know not that you have a god other than me” (28:38).

What made Nimrod commit this transgression, utter disbelief and arrant rebellion was his tyranny and the fact that he ruled for a long time. This is why the Ayah continued,“Because Allah had given him the kingdom.” It appears that Nimrod asked Ibrahim to produce proof that Allah exists. Ibrahim replied, “My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death” meaning, “The proof of Allah’s existence is the creations that exist after they were nothing and perish after they had existed. This only proves the existence of the Creator, Who does what He wills, for these things could not have occurred on their own without a Creator who created them, and He is the Lord that I call to for worship, Alone without a partner.”

This is when Nimrod said, “Have you not looked?” meaning, “With your heart, O Muhammad!” “I give life and cause death.” Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ishaq and As-Suddi said that he meant, “Two men who deserved execution were to be brought before me, and I would command that one of them be killed, and he would be killed. I would command that the second man be pardoned, and he would be pardoned. This is how I bring life and death.” (At-Tabari 5:433) However, it appears that since Nimrod did not deny the existence of a Creator, his statement did not mean what Qatadah said it meant. This explanation does not provide an answer to what Ibrahim said. Nimrod arrogantly and defiantly claimed that he was the creator and pretended that it was he who brings life and death. Later on, Firawn imitated him and announced,

“I know not that you have a god other than me” (28: 38). This is why Ibrahim said to Nimrod, “Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west”. This Ayah means, “You claim that it is you who brings life and death. He who brings life and death controls the existence and creates whatever is in it, including controlling its planets and their movements. For instance, the sun rises everyday from the east. Therefore, if you were god, as you claimed, bringing life and death, then bring the sun from the west.” Since the king was aware of his weakness, inadequacy and that he was not able to reply to Ibrahim’s request, he was idle, silent and unable to comment. Therefore, the proof was established against him. Allah said, “And Allah guides not the people, who are wrongdoers” meaning, Allah deprives the unjust people of any valid proof or argument. Furthermore, their false proof and arguments are annulled by their Lord, and they have earned His anger and will suffer severe torment.

The meaning that we provided is better than the meaning that some philosophers offered, claiming that Ibrahim used the second argument because it was clearer than the first one. Rather, our explanation asserts that Ibrahim refuted both claims of Nimrod, all praise is due to Allah.

As-Suddi stated that the debate between Ibrahim and Nimrod occurred after Ibrahim was thrown in the fire, for Ibrahim did not meet the king before that day.

{259. Or like the one who passed by a town in ruin up to its roofs. He said: “How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: “How long did you remain (dead)?” He (the man) said: “(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day.” He said: “Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh.” When this was clearly shown to him, he said, “I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things.”}

The Story of Uzayr

Allah’s statement, “Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord?” means, “Have you seen anyone like the person who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord’?’ Then, Allah connected the Ayah, “Or like the one who passed by a town in ruin up to its roofs” to the Ayah above by using ‘or’. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ali bin Abi Talib said that the Ayah (2:259) meant Uzayr. (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1009) Ibn Jarir also reported it, and this explanation was also reported by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim from Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Sulayman bin Buraydah. (At-Tabari 5:439)

Mujahid bin Jabr said that the Ayah refers to a man from the Children of Israel, and the village was Jerusalem, after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it and killed its people. “in ruin” means, it became empty of people. Allah’s statement, “up to its roofs” indicates that the roofs and walls (of the village) fell to the ground. Uzayr stood contemplating about what had happened to that city, after a great civilization used to inhabit it. He said, “Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death?” because of the utter destruction he saw and the implausibility of its returning to what it used to be. Allah said, “So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again).” The city was rebuilt seventy years after the man (Uzayr) died, and its inhabitants increased and the Children of Israel moved back to it. When Allah resurrected Uzayr after he died, the first organ that He resurrected were his eyes, so that he could witness what Allah does with him, how He brings life back to his body. When his resurrection was complete, Allah said to him, meaning through the angel, “How long did you remain (dead)?” He (the man) said: “(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day.” The scholars said that since the man died in the early part of the day and Allah resurrected him in the latter part of the day, when he saw that the sun was still apparent, he thought that it was the sun of that very day. He said, “Or part of a day. ” He said: “Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change.” He had grapes, figs and juice, and he found them as he left them; neither did the juice spoil nor the figs become bitter nor the grapes rot. “And look at your donkey!”, “How Allah brings it back to life while you are watching.”

“And thus We have made of you a sign for the people” that Resurrection occurs. “Look at the bones, how We Nunshizuha” meaning, collect them and put them back together. In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim, recorded that Kharijah bin Zayd bin Thabit said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, read this Ayah, “how We Nunshizuha”. Al-Hakim said; “Its chain is Sahih and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.” (Al-Hakim 2:234) The Ayah was also read, “Nunshiruha” meaning, bring them back to life, as Mujahid stated. (At-Tabari 5:476)

“And clothe them with flesh.” As-Suddi said, ” Uzayr observed the bones of his donkey, which were scattered all around him to his right and left, and Allah sent a wind that collected the bones from all over the area. Allah then brought every bone to its place, until they formed a full donkey made of fleshless bones. Allah then covered these bones with flesh, nerves, veins and skin. Allah sent an angel who blew life in the donkeys’ nostrils, and the donkey started to bray by Allah’s leave.” (At-Tabari 5:468) All this occurred while Uzayr was watching, and this is when he proclaimed, “He said, “I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things,” meaning, “I know that, and I did witness it with my own eyes. Therefore, I am the most knowledgeable in this matter among the people of my time.”

{260. And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.” He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”}

The Khalil Supplicates to Allah to Show Him How He Resurrects the Dead

The scholars said that there are reasons behind this request by Ibrahim. For instance, when Ibrahim said to Nimrod, “My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death” he wanted to solidify his knowledge about resurrection by actually witnessing it with his eyes. Prophet Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.”

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

“We are more liable to be in doubt than Ibrahim when he said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” Allah said, “Don’t you believe?” Ibrahim said, “Yes (I believe), but (I ask) in order to be stronger in faith.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:49)

The Prophet’s statement in the Hadith means, “We are more liable to seek certainty.”

The Answer to Al-Khalil’s Request

Allah said “He said: “Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you.” Scholars of Tafsir disagreed over the type of birds mentioned here, although this matter in not relevant due to the fact that the Qur’an did not mention it. Allah’s statement, “cause them to incline towards you” means, cut them to pieces. This is the explanation of Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Said bin Jubayr, Abu Malik, Abu Al-Aswad Ad-Dili, Wahb bin Munabbih, Al- Hasan and As-Suddi. (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1039) Therefore, Ibrahim caught four birds, slaughtered them, removed the feathers, tore the birds to pieces and mixed the pieces together. He then placed parts of these mixed pieces on four or seven hills. Ibn Abbas said, “Ibrahim kept the heads of these birds in his hand. Next, Allah commanded Ibrahim to call the birds to him, and he did as Allah commanded him. Ibrahim witnessed the feathers, blood and flesh of these birds fly to each other, and the parts flew each to their bodies, until every bird came back to life and came walking at a fast pace towards Ibrahim, so that the example that Ibrahim was witnessing would become more impressive. Each bird came to collect its head from Ibrahim’s hand, and if he gave the bird another head the bird refused to accept it. When Ibrahim gave each bird its own head, the head was placed on its body by Allah’s leave and power. ” (Al-Qurtubi 3:300) This is why Allah said, “And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise” and no one can overwhelm or resist Him. Whatever Allah wills, occurs without hindrance, because He is the All-Mighty, Supreme above all things, and He is Wise in His statements, actions, legislation and decrees.

Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Mamar said that Ayyub said that Ibn Abbas commented on what Ibrahim said, “but to be stronger in Faith”, “To me, there is no Ayah in the Qur’an that brings more hope than this Ayah.” (At-Tabari 5:489) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir said that Abdullah bin Abbas met Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As and said to him, “Which Ayah in the Qur’an carries more hope for you?” Ibn Amr said,

“Say: “O Ibadi (My servants) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not.” (39:53).

Ibn Abbas said, “But I say that it is Allah’s statement, “And (remember) when Ibrahim said, “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.” He (Allah) said: “Do you not believe?” He (Ibrahim) said: “Yes (I believe)…”

Allah accepted Ibrahim’s affirmation when he merely said, ‘Yes.’ This Ayah refers to the doubts that attack the heart and the thoughts that Shaytan inspires.” Al-Hakim also recorded this in Al- Mustadrak and said; “Its chain is Sahih but they did not record it.”

{261. The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is that of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.}

Rewards of Spending in Allah’s Cause

This is a parable that Allah made of the multiplication of rewards for those who spend in His cause, seeking His pleasure. Allah multiplies the good deed ten to seven hundred times. Allah said, “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah…” Said bin Jubayr commented, “Meaning spending in Allah’s obedience.” Makhul said that the Ayah means, “Spending on Jihad, on horse stalls, weapons and so forth.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1047) The parable in the Ayah is more impressive on the heart than merely mentioning the number seven hundred. This Ayah indicates that Allah ‘grows’ the good deeds for its doers, just as He grows the plant for whoever sows it in fertile land. The Sunnah also mentions that the deeds are multiplied up to seven hundred folds. For instance, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Mas’ud said that a man once gave away a camel, with its bridle on, in the cause of Allah and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“On the Day of Resurrection, you will have seven hundred camels with their bridles.” (Ahmad 4:121)

Muslim and An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith, and Muslim’s narration reads, “A man brought a camel with its bridle on and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is in the sake of Allah.’ The Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Every good deed that the son of Adam performs will be multiplied ten folds, to seven hundred folds, to many other folds, to as much as Allah wills. Allah said, “Except the fast, for it is for Me and I will reward for it. One abandons his food and desire in My sake.” The fasting person has two times of happiness: when he breaks his fast and when he meets his Lord. Verily, the odor that comes from the mouth of whoever fasts is more pure to Allah than the scent of musk. Fasting is a shield (against sinning), fasting is a shield.” (Ahmad 2:443)

Allah’s statement, “Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills” is according to the person’s sincerity in his deeds. “And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower” meaning, His Favour is so wide that it encompasses much more than His creation, and He has full knowledge in whoever deserves it , or does not deserve it . All the praise and thanks are due to Allah.

{262. Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

263. Kind words and forgiving of faults are better than Sadaqah (charity) followed by injury. And Allah is Rich (free of all needs) and He is Most Forbearing.

264. O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.}

To Remind About Charity Given is Forbidden

Allah praises those who spend from their money in His cause, and then refrain from reminding those who received the charity of that fact, whether these hints take the form of words or actions.

Allah’s statement, “or with injury”, indicates that they do not cause harm to those whom they gave the charity to, for this harm will only annul the charity. Allah next promised them the best rewards for this good deed, “their reward is with their Lord”, indicating that Allah Himself will reward them for these righteous actions. Further, “On them shall be no fear” regarding the horrors of the Day of Resurrection, “nor shall they grieve” regarding the offspring that they leave behind and the adornment and delights of this world. They will not feel sorry for this, because they will acquire what is far better for them.

Allah then said, “Kind words” meaning, compassionate words and a supplication for Muslims, “and forgiving” meaning, forgiving an injustice that took the form of actions or words, “are better than Sadaqah (charity) followed by injury.” “And Allah is Rich” not needing His creation, “Most Forbearing” forgives, releases and pardons them. There are several Hadiths that prohibit reminding people of acts of charity. For instance, Muslim recorded that Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Three persons whom Allah shall neither speak to on the Day of Resurrection nor look at nor purify, and they shall receive a painful torment: he who reminds (the people) of what he gives away, he who lengthens his clothes below the ankles and he who swears an oath while lying, to sell his merchandise.” (Muslim 1:102)

This is why Allah said, “O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury” stating that the charity will be rendered in vain if it is followed by harm or reminders. In this case, the reward of giving away charity is not sufficient enough to nullify the harm and reminders. Allah then said, “like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men” meaning, “Do not nullify your acts of charity by following them with reminders and harm, just like the charity of those who give it to show off to people.” The boasting person pretends to give away charity for Allah’s sake, but in reality seeks to gain people’s praise and the reputation of being kind or generous, or other material gains of this life. All the while, he does not think about Allah or gaining His pleasure and generous rewards, and this is why Allah said, “and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day”.

Allah next set the example of whoever gives charity to show off. Ad-Dahhak commented that the example fits one who follows his acts of charity with reminders or harm. (At-Tabari 5:527) Allah said, “His likeness is the likeness of Safwan” where Safwan, from is Safwanah, meaning ‘the smooth rocks,’ “on which is little dust; on it falls a Wabil” meaning, heavy rain, “which leaves it bare”. This Ayah means that heavy rain left the Safwan completely barren of dust. Such is the case with Allah’s action regarding the work of those who show off, as their deeds are bound to vanish and disappear, even though people think that these deeds are as plentiful as specks of dust. So Allah said, “They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.”

 {265. And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure while they in their own selves are sure and certain that Allah will reward them (for their spending in His cause), is that of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it. And Allah is All-Seer (knows well) of what you do.}

This is the example of the believers who give away charity seeking only Allah’s pleasure, “while they in their own selves are sure and certain” meaning, they are certain that Allah shall reward them for these righteous acts with the best rewards. Similarly, in a Hadith collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith and expectation…” meaning, believing that Allah

commanded the fast, all the while awaiting His reward for fasting it. (Fath Al-Bari 4:300)

Allah’s statement, “is that of a garden on a Rabwah” means, the example of a garden on ‘a height above the ground’, as the majority of scholars have stated. Ibn Abbas and Ad-Dahhak added that it also has flowing rivers. (At-Tabari 5:539)

Allah’s statement, “Wabil falls on it” means, heavy rain as we stated, So it produces its, “yield of harvest” meaning, fruits or produce, “doubles”, as compared to other gardens. “And if it does not receive Wabil, a Tall suffices it.” Ad-Dahhak said that the ‘Tall’ is light rain. (At-Tabari 5:539) The Ayah indicates that the garden on the Rabwah is always fertile, for if heavy rain does not fall on it, light rain will suffice for it. Such is the case regarding the believer’s good deeds, for they never become barren. Rather, Allah accepts the believer’s righteous deeds and increases them, each according to his deeds. This is why Allah said next, “And Allah is All-Seer of what you do” meaning, none of His servants’ deeds ever escapes His perfect watch.

{266. Would any of you wish to have a garden with date palms and vines, with rivers flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits for him therein, while he is striken with old age, and his children are weak (not able to look after themselves), then it is struck with a fiery whirlwind, so that it is burnt? Thus does Allah make clear His Ayat to you that you may give thought.}

The Example of Evil Deeds Nullifying Good Deeds

Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas and Ubayd bin Umayr said that Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, “According to your opinion, about whom was this Ayah revealed, “Would any of you wish to have a garden with date palms and vines…?”

They said, “Allah knows best.” Umar became angry and said, “Say we know or we do not know.” Ibn Abbas said, “O Leader of the Faithful! I have an opinion about it.” Umar said, “O my nephew! Say your opinion and do not belittle yourself.” Ibn Abbas said, “This is an example set for a deed.” Umar said, “What type of deed?” Ibn Abbas said, “For a wealthy man who works in Allah’s pleasure and then Allah sends Shaytan to him, and he works in disobedience, until he annuls his good works.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:49)

This Hadith suffices as an explanation for the Ayah, for it explains the example it sets by a person who does good first and then follows it with evil, may Allah save us from this end. So, this man annulled his previous good works with his latter evil works. When he desperately needed the deeds of the former type, there were none. This is why Allah said, “while he is striken with old age, and his children are weak (not able to look after themselves), then it is struck with a whirlwind” with heavy wind, “that is fiery, so that it is burnt” meaning, its fruits were burnt and its trees were destroyed. Therefore, what will his condition be like?

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Al-Awfi said that Ibn Abbas said, “Allah has set a good parable, and all His parables are good. He said, “Would any of you wish to have a garden with date palms and vines, with rivers flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits for him therein.”

But he lost all this in his old age, “while he is striken with old age” while his offspring and children are weak just before the end of his life. Then a lightning storm came and destroyed his garden. Then he did not have the strength to grow another garden, nor did his offspring offer enough help. This is the condition of the disbeliever on the Day of Resurrection when he returns to Allah, for he will not have any good deeds to provide an excuse – or refuge – for him, just as the man in the parable had no strength to replant the garden. The disbeliever will not find anything to resort to for help, just as the offspring of the man in the parable did not provide him with help. So he will be deprived of his reward when he most needs it, just as the man in the parable was deprived of Allah’s garden when he most needed it, when he became old and his offspring weak.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1074)

In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him used to say in his supplication,

“O Allah! Make Your biggest provision for me when I am old in age and at the time my life ends.” (Al-Hakim 1:542)

This is why Allah said, “Thus Allah makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give thought” meaning, comprehend and understand the parables and their intended implications. Similarly, Allah said,

“And these similitudes We put forward for mankind; but none will understand them except those who have knowledge (of Allah and His signs)” (29:43)

{267. O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein. And know that Allah is Rich (free of all needs), and worthy of all praise.

268. Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha’ (evil deeds) whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All- Knower.

269. He grants Hikmah to whom He wills, and he, to whom Hikmah is granted, is indeed granted abundant good. But none remember (will receive admonition) except men of understanding.}

The Encouragement to Spend Honest Money for Allah’s Sake

Allah commands His believing servants to spend in charity, as Ibn Abbas stated, from the pure, honest money that they earned and from the fruits and vegetables that He has grown for them in the land. Ibn Abbas said, “Allah commanded them to spend from the purest, finest and best types of their money and prohibited spending from evil and dishonest money, because Allah is pure and good and only accepts that which is pure and good.” This is why Allah said, “and do not aim at that which is bad” meaning, filthy “impure” money, “to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it” meaning, “If you were given this type, you would not take it, except if you tolerate the deficiency in it. Verily, Allah is far Richer than you, He is in no need of this money, so do not give, for His sake, what you would dislike for yourselves.” It was reported that, “and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it” means, “Do not spend from the dishonest, impure money instead of the honest, pure money.”

Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Bara’ bin Azib commented on Allah’s statement, “O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it” that it was revealed about the Ansar. When the season for harvesting date-trees would start, the Ansar would collect ripe-date branches from their gardens and hang them on a rope erected between two pillars in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The poor emigrant Companions would eat from these dates. However, some of them (Ansar) would also add lesser type of dates in between ripe-date branches, thinking they are allowed to do so. Allah revealed this Ayah about those who did this, “and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it.” (At-Tabari 5:559)

Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas commented on the Ayah, “you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein” means, “If you had a right on someone who would pay you less than what you gave them, you would not agree until you require more from them to make up the difference. This is why Allah said, “save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein” meaning, ‘How do you agree for Me what you do not agree for yourselves, while I have a right to the best and most precious of your possessions?” Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir recorded this Hadith and Ibn Jarir added, “And this is themeaningof Allah’sstatement,

“By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend of that which you love” (4:92)

Allah said next, “And know that Allah is Rich (free of all needs), and worthy of all praise” meaning, “Although Allah commanded you to give away the purest of your money in charity, He is far Richer from needing your charity, but the purpose is that the distance between the rich and the poor becomes less.” Similarly, Allah said,

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

Allah is Rich and free of needing anything from any of His creatures, while all of His creatures stand in need of Him. Allah’s bounty encompassing, and what He has never ends. Therefore, whoever gives away good and pure things in charity, let him know that Allah is the Most Rich, His favor is enormous and He is Most Generous, Most Compassionate; and He shall reward him for his charity and multiply it many times. So who would lend to He Who is neither poor nor unjust, Who is worthy of all praise in all His actions, statements, and decisions, of Whom there is neither a deity worthy of worship except Him, nor a Lord other than Him?

Shaytanic Doubts Concerning Spending in Charity

Allah said, “Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha’; whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abdullah bin Mas’ud said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Shaytan has an effect on the son of Adam, and the angel also has an effect. As for the effect of Shaytan, it is by his threatening with evil repercussions and rejecting the truth. As for the effect of the angel, it is by his promise of a good end and believing in the truth. Whoever finds the latter, let him know that it is coming from Allah and let him thank Allah for it. Whoever finds the former, let him seek refuge – with Allah – from Shaytan.” 

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then recited,

“Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha’; whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and bounty” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1090)

Allah said, “Shaytan threatens you with poverty”, so that you hold on to whatever you have and refrain from spending it in Allah’s pleasure. “And orders you to commit Fahsha'”, meaning, “Shaytan forbids you from spending in charity because of the false fear of becoming poor, and he encourages evil deeds, sins, indulging in what is prohibited, and immoral conduct.” Allah said, “Whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself” instead of the evil that Shaytan enjoins on you, “And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower” “And Bounty” as opposed to the poverty that Shaytan frightens you with, “And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”

The Meaning of Al-Hikmah

Allah said, “He grants Hikmah to whom He wills.”Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “That is knowledge of the Qur’an. For instance, the abrogating and the abrogated, what is plain and clear and what is not as plain and clear, what it allows, and what it does not allow, and its parables.” (At-Tabari 5:576) Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Masud said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying,

“There is no envy except in two instances: a person whom Allah has endowed with wealth and he spends it righteously, and a person whom Allah has given Hikmah and he judges by it and teaches it to others.” (Ahmad 1:432)

Allah’s statement, “But none remember (will receive admonition) except men of understanding” means, “Those who will benefit from the advice are those who have sound minds and good comprehension with which they understand the words (of advice and reminder) and their implications.”

{270. And whatever you spend for spendings (e.g., in Sadaqah) or whatever vow you make, be sure Allah knows it all. And for the wrongdoers there are no helpers.

271. If you disclose your Sadaqat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will expiate you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.}

Allah states that He has perfect knowledge of the good deeds performed by all of His creation, such as charity and various vows, and He rewards tremendously for these deeds, provided they are performed seeking His Face and His promise. Allah also warns those who do not work in his obedience, but instead disobey His command, reject His revelation and worship others besides Him: “And for the wrongdoers there are no helpers” meaning, who will save them from Allah’s anger and torment on the Day of Resurrection.

The Virtue of Disclosing or Concealing Charity

Allah said: “If you disclose your Sadaqat, it is well” meaning, “It is well if you make known the charity that you give away.” Allah’s statement, “But if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you” this indicates that concealing charity is better than disclosing it, because it protects one from showing off and boasting. However, if there is an apparent wisdom behind disclosing the charity, such as the people imitating this righteous act, then disclosing it becomes better than concealing it. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“He who utters aloud Qur’anic recitation is just like he who discloses charity acts. He who conceals Qur’anic recitation is just like he who conceals charity act.” (Abu Dawud 2:83)

The Ayah indicates that it is better that acts of charity be concealed, as reiterated by the Hadith that the Two Sahihs recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

“Allah will give shade to seven on the Day when there will be no shade but His. (They are:) a just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake who meet and part in Allah’s cause only, a man whose heart is attached to the Masjids from the time he departs the Masjid until he returns to it, a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says, ‘I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds’, and a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:344, Muslim 2:715)

Allah’s statement, “(Allah) will expiate you some of your sins” means, in return for giving away charity, especially if it was concealed. Therefore, you will gain goodness by your rank being raised, and your sins being forgiven.

Allah’s statement, “And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do” means, “No good deed that you perform escapes His knowledge, and He shall reward for it.”

{272. Not upon you (Muhammad ) is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves, when you spend not except seeking Allah’s Face. And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.

273. (Charity is) for Fuqara’ (the poor), who in Allah’s cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land (for trade or work). The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty. You may know them by their mark, they do not beg of people at all. And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well.

274. Those who spend their wealth (in Allah’s cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.}

Giving Charity to Polytheists

Abu Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa’i recorded that Ibn Abbas said that they, “Disliked giving charity to their polytheist relatives, but were later on allowed to give it to them when they inquired about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed, “Not upon you (Muhammad) is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves, when you spend not except seeking Allah’s Face. And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:305)

Allah’s statement, “Whosoever does righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) his ownself.” There are many other similar Ayat in the Qur’an. Allah said next, “When you spend not except seeking Allah’s Face” Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented, “Whenever the believer spends, including what he spends on himself, he seeks Allah’s Face with it.” Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the Ayah means, “You give away charity for the sake of Allah. Therefore, you will not be asked about the deeds [or wickedness] of those who receive it.” This is a sound meaning indicating that when one spends in charity for Allah’s sake, then his reward will be with Allah. He will not be asked if the charity unintentionally reached righteous, evil, deserving or undeserving persons, for he will be rewarded for his good intention. The proof to this statement is the Ayah, “And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.”

The Two Sahihs recorded a Hadith by Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“A man said, “Tonight, I shall give charity.” He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. The next morning the people said that alms were given to an adulteress. The man said, “O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave my alms) to an adulteress. Tonight, I shall give alms again.” He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. The next morning (the people) said, “Last night, a wealthy person was given alms.” He said, “O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave alms) to a wealthy man. Tonight, I shall again give charity.” So he went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. The next morning (the people) said, “Last night, a thief was given alms.” He said, “O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I have given alms) to an adulteress, a wealthy man and a thief.” Then, someone came to him and said, “The alms that you gave away were accepted. As for the adulteress, the alms might make her abstain from adultery. As for the wealthy man, it might make him take a lesson and spend his wealth that Allah has given him. As for the thief, it might make him abstain from stealing.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:340, Muslim 2:709)

Who Deserves Charity

Allah said “(Charity is) for the poor, who in Allah’s cause are restricted (from travel)” meaning, the migrants who migrated to Allah and His Messenger, resided in Al-Madinah and did not have resources that sufficiently provided them with their needs, “And cannot Darban (move about) in the land” meaning, “They cannot travel in the land to seek means of livelihood.” Allah said in other instances [using a variation of the word Darban]

“And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten the Salah (the prayer)” (4:101), and,

“He knows that there will be some among you sick, others traveling through the land, seeking of Allah’s bounty, yet others fighting in Allah’s cause” (73:20).

Allah then said, “The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty” meaning, those who do not know their situation think that they are well-off, because they are modest in their clothes and speech. There is a Hadith with this meaning that the Two Sahihs recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“The Miskin (needy) is not he who wanders about and whose need is sufficed by a date or two, a bite or two or a meal or two. Rather, the Miskin is he who neither has enough resources to sustain him, all the while people are unaware of his need so they do not give to him, nor does he ask people for anything.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:399)

Imam Ahmad also recorded this Hadith from Ibn Mas’ud. Allah’s statement, “You may know them by their mark” means, “Those who have good minds discover their situation,” just as Allah said in other instances,

“The mark of them (i.e. of their faith) is on their faces” (48:29), and,

“But surely, you will know them by the tone of their speech!” (47:30).

Allah’s statement, “they do not beg of people at all” means, they do not beg and, thus, do not require people to provide them with more than what they actually need. Indeed, those who ask people for help, while having what suffices for their needs, have begged.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Said said, “My mother sent me to the Messenger of Allah to ask him for help, but when I came by him I sat down. The Prophet faced me and said to me,

“Whoever felt satisfied, then Allah will enrich him. Whoever is modest, Allah will make him decent. Whoever is content, then Allah will suffice for him. Whoever asks people, while having a small amout, he will have begged the people.”

Abu Said said, “I said to myself, ‘I have a camel, Al-Yaqutah, and indeed, it is worth more than a small amount.’ And I went back without asking the Prophet for anything.” (Ahmad 3:9)

Allah’s statement, “And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well” indicates that no charity escapes Him, and He will reward it fully and perfectly on the Day of Resurrection, when it is most desperately needed.

Praise for those who Spend in Charity

Allah said, “Those who spend their wealth (in Allah’s cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” This Ayah praises those who spend in charity for Allah’s sake, seeking His pleasure, day and night, publicly and in secret, including what one spends on his family. The Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said to Sad bin Abi Waqqas:

 “You will not spend charity with which you seek Allah’s Face, but you will ascend a higher degree and status because of it, including what you put in your wife’s mouth.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:196, Muslim 4:1250)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Masud said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“When the Muslim spends on his family while awaiting the reward for it from Allah, it will be written as charity for him.” (Ahmad 4:122)

Allah said, “shall have their reward with their Lord”, on the Day of Resurrection, as reward for what they spent in acts of obedience. We previously explained the Ayah, “there shall be no fear on them nor shall they grieve.”

{275. Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba,” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba. So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns (to Riba), such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will Abide therein.}

The Punishment for Dealing with Riba (Interest and Usury)

After Allah mentioned the righteous believers who give charity, pay Zakah and spend on their relatives and families at various times and conditions, He then mentioned those who deal in usury and illegally acquire people’s money, using various evil methods and wicked ways. Allah describes the condition of these people when they are resurrected from their graves and brought back to life on the Day of Resurrection: “Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity.”

This Ayah means, on the Day of Resurrection, these people will get up from their graves just as the person afflicted by insanity or possesed by a demon would. Ibn Abbas said, “On the Day of Resurrection, those who consume Riba will be resurrected while insane and suffering from seizures.” (At-Tabari 6:9) Ibn Abi Hatim also recorded this and then commented, “This Tafsir was reported from Awf bin Malik, Said bin Jubayr, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi bin Anas, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan.”  (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1130, 1131) Al-Bukhari recorded that Samurah bin Jundub said in the long Hadith about the dream that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had,

“We reached a river -the narrator said, “I thought he said that the river was as red as blood”- and found that a man was swimming in the river, and on its bank there was another man standing with a large collection of stones next to him. The man in the river would swim, then come to the man who had collected the stones and open his mouth, and the other man would throw a stone in his mouth.” 

The explanation of this dream was that the person in the river was one who consumed Riba. (Fath Al-Bari 3:295)

Allah’s statement, “That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba,” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba” indicates that the disbelievers claimed that Riba was allowed due to the fact that they rejected Allah’s commandments, not that they equated Riba with regular trade. The disbelievers did not recognize that Allah allowed trade in the Qur’an, for if they did, they would have said, “Riba is trade.” Rather, they said, “Trading is only like Riba” meaning, they are similar, so why did Allah allow this, but did not allow that, they asked in defiance of Allah’s commandments.

Allah’s statement, “Whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba” might be a continuation of the answer to the disbelievers’ claim, who uttered it, although they knew that Allah decided that ruling on trade is different from that of Riba. Indeed, Allah is the Most Knowledgeable, Most Wise, Whose decision is never resisted. Allah is never asked about what He does, while they will be asked. He is knowledgeable of the true reality of all things and the benefits they carry. He knows what benefits His servants, so He allows it for them, and what harms them, so He forbids them from it. He is more merciful with them than the mother with her own infant.

Thereafter, Allah said, “So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba, shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge)” meaning, those who have knowledge that Allah made usury unlawful, and refrain from indulging in it as soon as they acquire this knowledge, then Allah will forgive their previous dealings in Riba, “Allah has forgiven what is past” On the day Makkah was conquered the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said

“All cases of Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period of ignorance) is annulled and under my feet, and the first Riba I annul is the Riba of Al-‘Abbas (the Prophet’s uncle)” (Abu Dawud 3:628)

We should mention that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did not require the return of the interest that they gained on their Riba during the time of Jahiliyyah. Rather, he pardoned the cases of Riba that occured in the past, just as Allah said, “shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge)” Sa’id bin Jubayr and As-Suddi said that, “shall not be punished for the past” refers to the Riba one consumed before it was prohibited. Allah then said, “Allah has forgiven what is past.” On the day Makkah was conquered the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “But whoever returns” meaning, deals in Riba after gaining knowledge that Allah prohibited it, then that warrants punishment, and in this case, the proof will have been established against such person. This is why Allah said, “such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will abide therein forever” Abu Dawud recorded that Jabir said, “When “Those who eat Riba will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like a person beaten by Shaytan leading him to insanity” was revealed, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever does not refrain from Mukhabarah, then let him receive a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger” (Abu Dawud 3:695)

Al-Hakim also recorded this in his Mustadrak (Al-Hakim 2:285), and he said, “It is Sahih according to the criteria of Muslim, and he did not record it.” Mukhabarah (sharecropping), farming land in return for some of its produce, was prohibited. Muzabanah, trading fresh dates still on trees with dried dates already on the ground, was prohibited. Muhaqalah, which refers to trading produce not yet harvested, with crops already harvested, was also prohibited. These were prohibited to eradicate the possibility that Riba might be involved, for the quality and equity of such items are only known after they become dry.

The subject of Riba is a difficult subject for many scholars. We should mention that the Leader of the Faithful, Umar bin Al-Khattab, said, “I wished that the Messenger of Allah had made three matters clearer for us, so that we could refer to his decision: the grandfather (regarding inheriting from his grandchildren), the Kalalah (those who leave neither descendants nor ascendants as heirs) and some types of Riba.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:48, Muslim 4:2322) Umar was refering to the types of transactions where it is not clear whether they involve Riba or not. The Shari’ah supports the rule that for any matter that is unlawful, then the means to it are also unlafwful, because whatever results in the unlawful is unlawful, in the same way that whenever an obligation will not be complete except with something, then that something is itself an obligation.

The Two Sahihs recorded that An-Nu’man bin Bashir said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him say,

“Both lawful and unlawful things are evident, but in between them there are matters that are not clear. So whoever saves himself from these unclear matters, he saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these unclear matters, he will have fallen into the prohibitions, just like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near a private pasture, at any moment he is liable to enter it.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:153, Muslim 3:1219)

The Sunan records that Al-Hasan bin Ali said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say,

“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” (Tuhfat Al-Awadhi 7:221, An-Nasai 8:328)

Ahmad recorded that Said bin Al-Musayyib said that Umar said, “The Ayah about Riba was one of the last Ayat to be revealed, and the Messenger of Allah died before he explained it to us. So leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” (Ahmad 1:36)

Ibn Majah recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Riba is seventy types, the least of which is equal to one having sexual intercourse with his mother.” (Ibn Majah 2:764)

Continuing on the subject of prohibiting the means that lead to the unlawful, there is a Hadith that Ahmad recorded in which A’ishah said, “When the Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah about Riba were revealed, the Messenger of Allah went out to the Masjid and recited them and also prohibited trading in alcohol.” (Ahmad 6:46) The Six collections recorded this Hadith, with the exception of At-Tirmidhi. The Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“May Allah curse the Jews! Allah forbade them to eat animal fat, but they melted it and sold it, eating its price.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:572, Muslim 1207)

Ali and Ibn Masud narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“May Allah curse whoever consumes Riba, whoever pays Riba, the two who are witnesses to it, and the scribe who records it.” (Muslim 3:1219)

They say they only have witnesses and a scribe to write the Riba contract when they want it to appear to be a legitimate agreement, but it is still invalid because the ruling is applied to the agreement itself, not the form that it appears in. Verily, deeds are judged by their intentions.

{276. Allah will destroy Riba and will give increase for Sadaqat. And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.

277. Truly, those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the Salah and give Zakah, they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.}

Allah Does Not Bless Riba

Allah states that He destroys Riba, either by removing this money from those who eat it, or by depriving them of the blessing, and thus the benefit of their money. Because of their Riba, Allah will torment them in this life and punish them for it on the Day of Resurrection. Allah said,

“Say: “Not equal are Al-Khabith (evil things) and At-Tayyib (good things), even though the abundance of Al-Khabith may please you” (5:100)

“And put the wicked (disbelievers and doers of evil deeds) one over another, heap them together and cast them into Hell” (8:37), and,

“And that which you give in gift (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other people’s property, has no increase with Allah” (30:39).

Ibn Jarir said that Allah’s statement, “Allah will destroy Riba” is similar to the statement reported of Abdullah bin Mas’ud, “Riba will end up with less, even if it was substantial.” Imam Ahmad recorded a similar statement in Al-Musnad. (Ahmad 1:395)

Allah Increases Charity, Just as One Raises His Animal

Allah’s statement, “And will give increase for Sadaqat” means, Allah makes charity grow, or He increases it. Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever gives in charity what equals a date from honest resources, and Allah only accepts that which is good and pure, then Allah accepts it with His right (Hand) and raises it for its giver, just as one of you raises his animal, until it becomes as big as a mountain.” (Fath Al-Bari 3:326, 13:426)

This was recorded in the book of Zakah. (Muslim 2:702)

Allah Does not Like the Disbelieving Sinners

Allah’s statement, “And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners” indicates that Allah does not like he who has a disbelieving heart, who is a sinner in tongue and action. There is a connection between the beginning of the Ayah on Riba and what Allah ended it with. Those who consume Riba are not satisfied with the permissible and pure resources that Allah provided them. Instead, they try to illegally acquire people’s money by relying on evil methods. This demonstrates their lack of appreciation for the bounty that Allah provides.

Praising Those Who Thank Allah

Allah praised those who believe in His Lordship, obey His commands, thank Him and appreciate Him. They are those who are kind to His creation, establish prayer and give charity due on their money. Allah informed them of the honor that He has prepared for them and that they will be safe from the repercussions of the Day of Resurrection. Allah said, “Truly, those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the Salah and give Zakah, they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

{278. O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah and give up what remains from Riba, if you are (really) believers.

279. And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent,you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.

280. And if the debtor is having a hard time, then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay; but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.

281. And have Taqwa the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.}

The Necessity of Taqwa and Avoiding Riba

Allah commands His believing servants to fear Him and warns them against what would bring them closer to His anger and drive them away from His pleasure. Allah said, “O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah” meaning, fear Him and remember that He is watching all that you do. “And give up what remains of Riba” meaning, abandon the Riba that people still owe you upon hearing this warning, “if you indeed have been believers” believing in the trade that He allowed you and the prohibition of Riba.  This Ayah serves as a stern threat to those who continue to deal in Riba after Allah revealed this warning.

Riba Constitutes War Against Allah and His Messenger

Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn Abbas said that, “then take a notice of war” means, “Be sure of a war from Allah and His Messenger.” (At-Tabari 6:26) He also said, “On the Day of Resurrection, those who eat Riba will be told, ‘take up arms for war.”’ He then recited,

“And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.” (At-Tabari 6:25)

Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn Abbas said about, “And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger” “Whoever kept dealing with Riba and did not refrain from it, then the Muslim Leader should require him to repent. If he still did not refrain from Riba, the Muslim Leader should cut off his head.” (At-Tabari 6:25)

Allah then said, “But if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly” by taking the Riba, “And you shall not be dealt with unjustly” meaning, your original capital will not diminish. Rather, you will receive only what you lent without increase or decrease. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Amr bin Al-Ahwas said, “The Messenger of Allah gave a speech during the Farewell Hajj saying;

“Verily, every case of Riba from the Jahiliyyah is completely annulled. You will only take back your capital, without increase or decrease. The first Riba that I annul is the Riba of Al-Abbas bin Abdul-Muttalib, all of it is annulled.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1147)

Being Kind to Debtors Who Face Financial Difficulties

Allah said: “And if the debtor is having a hard time, then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay; but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know”. Allah commands creditors to be patient with debtors who are having a hard time financially, “And if the debtor is having a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay”.

During the time of Jahiliyyah, when the debt came to term, the creditor would say to the debtor, “Either pay now or interest will be added to the debt.” Allah encouraged creditors to give debtors respite regarding their debts and promised all that is good, and a great reward from Him for this righteous deed, “But if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know” meaning, if you forfeit your debts and cancel them completely.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Sulayman bin Buraydah said that his father said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say,

“Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will gain charity of equal proportions for each day he gives.” I also heard the Prophet say,

 “Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will earn charity multiplied two times for each day he gives.” I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I heard you say, ‘Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will gain charity of equal proportions for each day he gives.’ I also heard you say, ‘Whoever gives time to a debtor facing hard times, will earn charity multiplied by two times for each day he gives.’ He said,

“He will earn charity of equal proportions for each day (he gives time) before the term of the debt comes to an end, and when the term comes to an end, he will again acquire charity multiplied by two times for each day if he gives more time.” (Ahmad 5:360)

Ahmad recorded that Muhammad bin Ka’b Al-Qurazi said that Abu Qatadah had a debt on a man, who used to hide from Abu Qatadah when he looked for him to pay what he owed him. One day, Abu Qatadah came looking for the debtor and a young boy came out, and he asked him about the debtor and found out that he was in the house eating. Abu Qatadah said in a loud voice, “O Fellow! Come out, for I was told that you are in the house.” The man came out and Abu Qatadah asked him, “Why are you hiding from me?” The man said, “I am having a hard time financially, and I do not have any money.” Abu Qatadah said, “By Allah, are you truly facing a hard time?” He said, “Yes.” Abu Qatadah cried and said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say,

“Whoever gives time to his debtor, or forgives the debt, will be in the shade of the Throne (of Allah) on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad 5:308)

Muslim also recorded this Hadith in his Sahih. (4:2084)

Al-Hafiz Abu Ya’la Al-Mawsili recorded that Hudhayfah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“On the Day of Resurrection, one of Allah’s servants will be summoned before Him and He will ask him, “What deeds did you perform for Me in your life?” He will say, “O Lord! In my life, I have not performed a deed for Your sake that equals an atom,” three times. The third time, the servant will add, “O Lord! You granted me wealth and I used to be a merchant. I used to be lenient, giving easy terms to those well-off and giving time to the debtors who faced hard times.” Allah will say, “I Am the Most Worthy of giving easy terms. Therefore, enter Paradise.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:570)

Allah further advised His servants, by reminding them that this life will soon end and all the wealth in it will vanish. He also reminded them that the Hereafter will surely come, when the Return to Him will occur, and that He will hold His creation accountable for what they did, rewarding them or punishing them accordingly. Allah also warned them against His torment, “And have Taqwa for the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.”

It was reported that this was the last Ayah revealed from the Glorious Qur’an. An-Nasa’i recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “The last Ayah to be revealed from the Qur’an was, “And have Taqwa for the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:307)

{282. O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write, as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must have Taqwa of Allah, his Lord, and diminish not anything of what he owes. But if the debtor is of poor understanding, or weak, or is unable to dictate for himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her. And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called (for evidence). You should not become weary to write it (your contract), whether it be small or big, for its fixed term, that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves, save when it is a present trade which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, then there is no sin on you if you do not write it down. But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract. Let neither scribe nor witness suffer any harm, but if you do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So have Taqwa of Allah; and Allah teaches you. And Allah is the All-Knower of everything.}

 

The Necessity of Writing Transactions That Take Effect Later on

This Ayah is the longest in the Glorious Qur’an. Imam Abu Jafar bin Jarir recorded that Said bin Al-Musayyib said that he was told that the Ayah most recently revealed from above the Throne – the last Ayah to be revealed in the Qur’an – was the Ayah about debts.

Allah’s statement, “O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down” directs Allah’s believing servants to record their business transactions when their term is delayed, to preserve the terms and timing of these transactions, and the memory of witnesses, as mentioned at the end of the Ayah, “that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves”.

The Two Sahihs recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “Allah’s Messenger came to Al-Madinah, while the people were in the habit of paying in advance for fruits to be delivered within one or two years. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever pays money in advance (for dates to be delivered later) should pay it for known specified measure and weight (of the dates) for a specified date.” (Fath Al-Bari 4:105, Muslim 3:1226)

Allah’s statement, “write it down” is a command from Him to record such transactions to endorse and preserve their terms. Ibn Jurayj said, “Whoever borrowed should write the terms, and whoever bought should have witnesses.” Abu Said, Ash-Shabi, Ar-Rabi bin Anas, Al-Hasan, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said that recording such transactions was necessary before, but was then abrogated by Allah’s statement, “Then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully)”.

Allah’s statement, “Let a scribe write it down in justice between you” and in truth. Therefore, the scribe is not allowed to cheat any party of the contract and is to only record what the parties of the contract agreed to, without addition or deletion. Allah’s statement, “Let not the scribe refuse to write, as Allah has taught him, so let him write” means, “Those who know how to write should not refrain from writing transaction contracts when asked to do so.” Further, let writing such contracts be a type of charity from the scribe for those who are not lettered, just as Allah taught him what he knew not. Therefore, let him write, just as the Hadith stated,

“It is a type of charity to help a worker and to do something for a feeble person.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:176)

In another Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said,

“Whoever kept knowledge to himself will be restrained by a bridle made of fire on the Day of Resurrection.” (At-Tabarani 5:11)

Mujahid and Ata’ said that if asked to do so, “The scribe is required to record.”

Allah’s statement, “Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must have Taqwa of Allah, his Lord” indicates that the debtor should dictate to the scribe what he owes, so let him fear Allah, “And diminish not anything of what he owes,” meaning, not hide any portion of what he owes. “But if the debtor is of poor understanding” and is not allowed to decide on such matters, because he used to waste money, for instance, “Or weak”, such as being too young or insane, “Or is unable to dictate for himself” because of a disease, or ignorance about such matters, “then let his guardian dictate in justice.”

Witnesses Should Attend the Dictation of Contracts

Allah said, “And get two witnesses out of your own men” requiring witnesses to attend the dictation of contracts to further preserve the contents, “And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women” this requirement is only for contracts that directly or indirectly involve money. Allah requires that two women take the place of one man as witness, because of the woman’s shortcomings, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, described. Muslim recorded in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“O women! Give away charity and ask for forgiveness, for I saw that you comprise the majority of the people of the Fire.” 

One eloquent woman said, “O Messenger of Allah! Why do we comprise the majority of the people of the Fire?” He said,

“You curse a lot and you do not appreciate your mate. I have never seen those who have shortcoming in mind and religion controlling those who have sound minds, other than you.”

She said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is this shortcoming in mind and religion?” He said,

“As for the shortcoming in her mind, the testimony of two women equals the testimony of one man, and this is the shortcoming in the mind. As for the shortcoming in the religion, woman remains for nights at a time when she does not pray and breaks the fast in Ramadan.” (Muslim 1:87)

Allah’s statement, “such as you agree for witnesses” requires competency in the witnesses. Further, Allah’s statement, “so that if one of them errs” refers to the two women witnesses; whenever one of them forgets a part of the testimony, “the other can remind her” meaning, the other woman’s testimony mends the shortcoming of forgetfulness in the first woman.

Allah’s statement, “And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called” means, when people are called to be witnesses, they should agree, as Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anas stated. Similarly, Allah said, “Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write.” 

Some say that this Ayah indicates that agreeing to become a witness is Fard Kifayah “required on at least a part of the Muslim Ummah”. However, the majority of the scholars say that the Ayah, “And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called” is referring to testifying to what the witnesses actually witnessed, thus befitting their description of being ‘witnesses’. Therefore, when the witness is called to testify to what he witnessed, he is required to give testimony, unless this obligation was already fulfilled, in which case such testimony becomes Fard Kifayah. Mujahid and Abu Mijlaz said, “If you are called to be a witness, then you have the choice to agree. If you witnessed and were called to testify, then come forward.” It was reported that Ibn Abbas and Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that the obligation includes both cases, agreeing to be a witness and testifying to what one witnessed.

Allah’s statement, “You should not become weary to write it (your contract), whether it be small or large, for its fixed term” perfects this direction from Allah by commanding that the debt be written, whether the amount is large or small. Allah said, “You should not become weary” meaning, do not be discouraged against writing transactions and their terms, whether the amount involved is large or small. Allah’s statement, “that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves” means, writing transactions that will be fulfillled at a later date is more just with Allah meaning better and more convenient in order to preserve the terms of the contract. Therefore, recording such agreements helps the witnesses, when they see their handwriting – or signatures – later on and thus remember what they witnessed, for it is possible that the witnesses might forget what they witnessed.

“And more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves” meaning, this helps repel any doubt. Since if you need to refer to the contract that you wrote and the doubt will end. Allah’s statement, “save when it is a present trade which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, then there is no sin on you if you do not write it down” indicates that if the transaction will be fulfilled immediately, then there is no harm if it is not recorded. As for requiring witnesses to be present in trading transactions, Allah said, “But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract” However, this command was abrogated by, “Then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully)” 

Or, it could be that having witnesses in such cases is only recommended and not obligatory, as evident from the Hadith that Khuzaymah bin Thabit Al-Ansari narrated which Imam Ahmad collected. Umarah bin Khuzaymah Al-Ansari said that his uncle, who was among the Prophet’s Companions, told him that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was making a deal for a horse with a bedouin man. The Prophet asked the bedouin to follow him so that he could pay him the price of the horse. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, went ahead of the bedouin. The bedouin met several men who tried to buy his horse, not knowing if the Prophet was actually determined to buy it. Some people offered more money for the horse than the Prophet had. The bedouin man said to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “If you want to buy this horse, then buy it or I will sell it to someone else.” When he heard the bedouin man’s words, the Prophet stood up and said, “Have I not bought that horse from you?” The bedouin said, “By Allah! I have not sold it to you.” The Prophet said, “Rather, I did buy it from you.” The people gathered around the Prophet and the Bedouin while they were disputing, and the bedouin said, “Bring forth a witness who testifies that I sold you the horse.” Meanwhile, the Muslims who came said to the bedouin, “Woe to you! The Prophet only says the truth.” When Khuzaymah bin Thabit came and heard the dispute between the Prophet and the bedouin who was saying, “Bring forth a witness who testifies that I sold you the horse, ” Khuzaymah said, “I bear witness that you sold him the horse.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to Khuzaymah, “What is the basis of your testimony” Khuzaymah said, “That I entrusted you, O Messenger of Allah!” Therefore, the Messenger made Khuzaymah’s testimony equal to the testimony of two men. (Ahmad 5:215)

Allah’s statement, “Let neither scribe nor witness suffer (or cause) any harm” also indicates that the scribe and the witness must not cause any harm, such as, when the scribe writes other than what he is being dictated, or the witness testifies to other than what he heard or conceals his testimony. This is the explanation of Al-Hasan and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 6:85, 86)

Allah’s statement, “But if you do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you” means, “If you defy what you were commanded and commit what you were prohibited, then it is because of the sin that resides and remains with you; sin that you never release or rid yourselves from.”

Allah’s statement, “So have Taqwa of Allah” means, fear Him, remember His watch over you, implement His command and avoid what He prohibited, “And Allah teaches you.” Similarly, Allah said,

“O you who believe! If you have Taqwa of Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong)” (8:29), and,

“O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah, and believe in His Messenger, He will give you a double portion of His mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight)” (57:28).

Allah said: “And Allah is the All-Knower of everything” stating that Allah has perfect knowledge in all matters and in their benefits or repercussions, and nothing escapes His perfect watch, for His knowledge encompasses everything in existence.

 

{283. And if you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then let there be a pledge taken (mortgaging), then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust, and let him have Taqwa of Allah, his Lord. And conceal not the evidence, for he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful. And Allah is All-Knower of what you do.}

 

What is the ‘Mortgaging’ Mentioned in the Ayah

Allah said, “And if you are on a journey” meaning, traveling and some of you borrowed some money to be paid at a later date, “and cannot find a scribe” who would record the debt for you. Ibn Abbas said, “And even if they find a scribe, but did not find paper, ink or pen.” Then, “let there be a pledge taken (mortgaging)” given to the creditor in lieu of writing the transaction. The Two Sahihs recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, died while his shield was mortgaged with a Jew in return for thirty Wasq (approximately 180 kg) of barley, which the Prophet bought on credit as provisions for his household. In another narration, the Hadith stated that this Jew was among the Jews of Al-Madinah. (Fath Al-Bari 4:345, Muslim 3:1226)

Allah said, “then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully)”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded, with a sound chain of narration, that Abu Said Al-Khudri said, “This Ayah abrogated what came before it (i.e. that which required recording the transaction and having witnesses present).” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1202) Ash-Shabi said, “If you trust each other, then there is no harm if you do not write the loan or have witnesses present.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1203) Allah’s statement, “And let him have Taqwa of Allah” means, the debtor. Imam Ahmad and the Sunan recorded that Qatadah said that Al-Hasan said that Samurah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“The hand (of the debtor) will carry the burden of what it took until it gives it back”. (Ahmad 5:13)

Allah’s statement, “And conceal not the evidence” means, do not hide it or refuse to announce it. Ibn Abbas and other scholars said, “False testimony is one of the worst of the major sins, and such is the case with hiding the true testimony. This is why Allah said, “For he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful”. As-Suddi commented, “Meaning he is a sinner in his heart.” (At-Tabari 6:100)

This is similar to Allah’s statement,

“We shall not hide testimony of Allah, for then indeed we should be of the sinful” (5:106).

Allah said,

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do” (4:135)

and in this Ayah (2:283) He said, “And conceal not the evidence, for he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful. And Allah is All- Knower of what you do.”

 

{284. To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is able to do all things.}

 

Would the Servants be Accountable for What They Conceal in Their Hearts

Allah states that His is the Kingship of the heavens and earth and of what and whoever is on or between them, that He has perfect watch over them. No apparent matter or secret that the heart conceals is ever a secret to Him, however minor it is. Allah also states that He will hold His servants accountable for what they do and what they conceal in their hearts. In similar statements, Allah said,

“Say (O Muhammad ): “Whether you hide what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it, and He knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. And Allah is able to do all things” (3:29), and,

“He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden.” There are many other Ayat on this subject. In this Ayah (2:284), Allah states that He has knowledge of what the hearts conceal, and consequently, He will hold the creation accountable for whatever is in their hearts. This is why when this Ayah was revealed, it was hard on the Companions, since out of their strong faith and conviction, they were afraid that such reckoning would diminish their good deeds.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “When “To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is able to do all things” was revealed to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, it was very hard for the Companions of the Messenger. The Companions came to the Messenger and fell to their knees saying, ‘O Messenger of Allah! We were asked to perform what we can bear of deeds: the prayer, the fast, Jihad and charity. However, this Ayah was revealed to you, and we cannot bear it.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Do you want to repeat what the People of the Two Scriptures before you said, that is, ‘We hear and we disobey?’ Rather, say, ‘We hear and we obey, and we seek Your forgiveness, O our Lord, and the Return is to You.”

When the people accepted this statement and their tongues recited it, Allah sent down afterwards,

“The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) “We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers – and they say, “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).”

When they did that, Allah abrogated the Ayah (2:284) and sent down the Ayah,

“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error.” until the end.” (Ahmad 2:412)

Muslim recorded it with the wording; “When they did that, Allah abrogated it (2:284) and sent down, “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error”

Allah said, ‘I shall (accept your supplication),’

“Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians.”

Allah said, ‘I shall (accept your supplication),’

“Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.”

Allah said, ‘I shall (accept your supplication),’

“Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.”

Allah said, ‘I shall.”’ (Muslim 1:115)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Mujahid said, “I saw Ibn Abbas and said to him,’O Abu Abbas! I was with Ibn Umar, and he read this Ayah and cried.’ He asked, ‘Which Ayah?’ I said,

‘And whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it.’

Ibn Abbas said, ‘When this Ayah was revealed, it was very hard on the Companions of the Messenger of Allah and worried them tremendously. They said: O Messenger of Allah! We know that we would be punished according to our statements and our actions, but as for what occurs in our hearts, we do not control what is in them.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Say, ‘We hear and we obey.'” They said, ‘We hear and we obey.’ Thereafter, this Ayah abrogated the previous Ayah,

“The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah”, until,

“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned.”

Therefore, they were pardoned what happens in their hearts, and were held accountable only for their actions.”’ (Ahmad 1:332)

The Group recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Allah has pardoned my Ummah for what they say to themselves, as long as they do not utter it or act on it.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:300, Muslim 1:117, Abu Dawud 2:657)

The Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Allah said (to His angels), “If My servant intends to commit an evil deed, do not record it as such for him, and if he commits it, write it for him as one evil deed. If he intends to perform a good deed, but did not perform it, then write it for him as one good deed, and if he performs it, write it for him as ten good deeds.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:473, Muslim 1:117)

 

{285. The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) “We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers – and they say, “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).”

286. Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. “Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Patron, Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.”}

 

The Hadiths on the Virtue of These Two Ayat, May Allah Benefit Us by Them

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Masud said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever recites the last two Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice for him.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:672)

The rest of the six also recorded similar wording for this Hadith. The Two Sahihs recorded this Hadith using various chains of narration, and Imam Ahmad also recorded it.

Muslim recorded that Abdullah said, “When the Messenger of Allah went on the Isra journey, he ascended to the Sidrat Al-Muntaha in the sixth heaven, where whatever ascends from the earth ends at, and whatever descends from above it ends at.

“When that covered the lote tree which did cover it!” (53:16) meaning, a mat made of gold.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was then given three things: the five prayers, the last Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah and forgiveness for whoever did not associate anything or anyone with Allah from his Ummah. ” (Muslim 1:157)

Earlier we mentioned the Hadith regarding the virtues of Surat Al-Fatihah from Ibn Abbas which stated, “While the Messenger of Allah was with Jibil, he heard a noise from above. Jibil lifted his sight to the sky and said, ‘ This is a door that was opened just now in heaven, and it was never opened before.’ An angel came down through the door to the Prophet and said, ‘Receive the good news of two lights that you have been given and which no Prophet before you was given: the Opener of the Book (Al-Fatihah) and the last Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah. You will not read a letter of them, but you will be granted its benefit.”’ This Hadith was collected by Muslim and An-Nasa’i, (Muslim 1:554, An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 5:12) and this is the wording collected by An-Nasa’i.

The Tafsir of the Last Two Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah

Allah said, “Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) “We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers.” Therefore, each of the believers believes that Allah is the One and Only and the Sustainer, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him and there is no Lord except Him. The believers also believe in all Allah’s Prophets and Messengers, in the Books that were revealed from heaven to the Messengers and Prophets, who are indeed the servants of Allah. Further, the believers do not differentiate between any of the Prophets, such as, believing in some of them and rejecting others. Rather, all of Allah’s Prophets and Messengers are, to the believers, truthful, righteous, and they were each guided to the path of righteousness, even when some of them bring what abrogates the Law of some others by Allah’s leave. Later on, the Law of Muhammad, the Final Prophet and Messenger from Allah, abrogated all the laws of the Prophets before him. So the Last Hour will commence while Muhammad’s Law remains the only valid Law, and all the while a group of his Ummah will always be on the path of truth, apparent and dominant. Allah’s statement, “And they say, “We hear, and we obey” means, we heard Your statement, O our Lord, comprehended and implemented it, and adhered to its implications. “(We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord” contains a plea and supplication for Allah’s forgiveness, mercy and kindness.

Allah’s statement, “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” means, Allah does not ask a soul what is beyond its ability. This only demonstrates Allah’s kindness, compassion and generosity towards His creation. This Ayah is the Ayah that abrogated the Ayah that worried the Companions, that is, Allah’s statement, “And whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it.” This indicates that although Allah will question His servants and judge them, He will only punish for what one is able to protect himself from. As for what one cannot protect himself from, such as what one says to himself – or passing thoughts – they will not be punished for that. We should state here that to dislike the evil thoughts that cross one’s mind is a part of faith. Allah said next, “He gets reward for that which he has earned” of good, “And he is punished for that which he has earned” of evil, that is, concerning the acts that one is responsible for.

Allah then said, [mentioning what the believers said] while directing His servants to supplicate to Him, all the while promising them that He will answer their supplication: “Our Lord! Push us not if we forget or fall into error,” meaning, “If we forgot an obligation or fell into a prohibition, or made an error while ignorant of its ruling.” We mentioned the Hadith by Abu Hurayrah, that Muslim collected, wherein Allah said, “I shall (accept your supplication).” There is also the Hadith by Ibn Abbas that Allah said, “I did (accept your supplication).” (Muslim 1:116)

“Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians)” means, “Even if we were able to perform them, do not require us to perform the difficult deeds as You required the previous nations before us, such as the burdens that were placed on them. You sent Your Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the Prophet of mercy, to abrogate these burdens through the Law that You revealed to him, the Hanifi (Islamic Monotheism), easy religion.” Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that Allah said, “I shall (accept your supplication).” (Muslim 1:115) Ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that Allah said, “I did (accept your supplication).” (Muslim 1:116) There is the Hadith recorded through various chains of narration that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 “I was sent with the easy Hanifiyyah way.” (Ahmad 5:266)

“Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear” of obligations, hardships and afflictions, do not make us bear what we cannot bear of this. “Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.”

We mentioned that Allah said, “I shall (accept your supplication)” (Ibn Abi Hatim 3:1235) in one narration, and, “I did (accept your supplication),” in another narration.

“Pardon us” meaning, between us and You regarding what You know of our shortcomings and errors. “And grant us forgiveness” concerning what is between us and Your servants. So do not expose our errors and evil deeds to them. “Have mercy on us” in what will come thereafter. Therefore, do not allow us to fall into another error. They say that those who commit error need three things: Allah’s forgiveness for what is between Him and them, that He conceals these errors from His other servants, and thus does not expose them before the servants, and that He grants them immunity from further error.” We mentioned before that Allah answered these pleas, “I shall,” in one narration and, “I did,” in another narration.

“You are our Mawla” meaning, You are our supporter and helper, our trust is in You, You are sought for each and every type of help and our total reliance is on You. There is no power or strength except from You. “And give us victory over the disbelieving people” those who rejected Your religion, denied Your Oneness, refused the Message of Your Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, worshipped other than You and associated others in Your worship. Give us victory and make us prevail above them in this and the Hereafter. Allah said, “I shall,” in one narration, and, “I did,” in the Hadith that Muslim collected from Ibn Abbas.

Further, Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Ishaq said that whenever Muadh would finish reciting this Surah, “And give us victory over the disbelieving people”, he would say “Amin.” (At-Tabari 6:146)

 

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