Surah Ali-Imran Ayat 137-180

{137. Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced [by nations (believers and disbelievers) that have passed away] before you, so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied.

138. This is a plain statement for mankind, a guidance and instruction for the Muttaqin.

139. So do not become weak, nor be sad, and you will be triumphant if you are indeed believers.

140. If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. And so are the days, that We give to men by turns, that Allah may know (test) those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the wrongdoers.

141. And that Allah may test those who believe and destroy the disbelievers.

142. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who performed Jihad and knows (tests) those who are patient?

143. You did indeed wish for death before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes.}

The Wisdom Behind the Losses Muslims Suffered During Uhud

Allah states to His believing servants who suffered losses in the battle of Uhud, including seventy dead, ”Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced before you”, for the previous nations who followed their Prophets before you, they too suffered losses. However, the good end was theirs, and the ultimate defeat was for the disbelievers. This is why Allah said, ”so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied”. Allah said next, ‘‘This is a plain statement for mankind”, meaning, the Qur’an explains the true reality of things and narrates how the previous nations suffered by the hands of their enemies. ”And a guidance and instruction” for the Qur’an contains the news of the past, and, ”guidance” for your hearts, ”and instruction for the Muttaqin” to discourage committing the prohibited and forbidden matters. Allah comforts the believers by saying, ”nor be sad, and you will be triumphant if you are indeed believers”, for surely, the ultimate victory and triumph will be yours, Obelievers.

”If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others” (3:140).

Therefore, the Ayah says, if you suffered injuries and some of you were killed, then your enemiesalso suffered injuriesand fatalities. ”So do not become weak”, because of what you suffered, ”And so are the days, that We give to men by turns”, and at times — out of wisdom — We allow the enemy to overcome you, although the final good end will be yours. ”and that Allah may know (test) those who believe” meaning, “So that We find out who would be patient while fighting the enemies,” according to Ibn Abbas. ”and that He may take martyrs from among you” those who would be killed in Allah’s cause and gladly offer their lives seeking His pleasure.

”And Allah likes not the wrongdoers. And that Allah may test those who believe” (3:140,141), by forgiving them their sins if they have any. Otherwise, Allah will raise their grades according to the losses they suffered. Allah’s statement, ”and destroy the disbelievers”, for it is their conduct that if they gain the upper hand, they transgress and commit aggression. However, this conduct only leads to ultimate destruction, extermination, perishing and dying out.

Allah then said, ”Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who will perform Jihad and (also) knows (tests) those who are the patient?” (3:142).

The Ayah asks, do you think that you will enter Paradise without being tested with warfare and hardships? Allah said in Surat Al-Baqarah,

”Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken…” (2:214).

Allah said,

”Alif Lam Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (29:1,2)

This is why He said here,

”Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who will perform Jihad and (also) knows (tests) those who are the patient?” (3:142)

meaning, you will not earn Paradise until you are tested and thus Allah knows who among you are the ones who struggle and fight in His cause and are patient in the face of the enemy. Allah said,

”You did indeed wish for death (martyrdom) before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes’‘ (3:143).

The Ayah proclaims, O believers! Before today, you wished that you could meet the enemy and were eager to fight them. What you wished has occurred, so fight them and be patient.

In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”Do not wish to encounter the enemy, and ask Allah for your well-being. However, if you do encounter them, then observe patience and know that Paradise is under the shade of swords.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:181)

This is why Allah said here, ”Now you have seen it” death, you saw it when the swords appeared, the blades were sharpened, the spears crisscrossed and men stood in lines for battle.” This part of the Ayah contains a figure of speech that mentions imagining what can be felt but not seen.

{144. Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will reward the grateful.

145. And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term. And whoever desires a reward in the world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof. And We shall reward the grateful.

146. And many a Prophet fought and along with him many Ribbiyyun. But they never lost heart for that which befall them in Allah’s way, nor did nor they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves the patient.

147. And they said nothing but: “Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.”

148. So Allah gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves the good- doers.}

The Rumor that the Prophet was Killed at Uhud

When Muslims suffered defeat in battle at Uhud and some of them were killed, Shaytan shouted, “Muhammad has been killed.” Ibn Qami’ah went back to the idolators and claimed, “I have killed Muhammad.” Some Muslims believed this rumor and thought that the Messenger of Allah had been killed, claiming that this could happen, for Allah narrated that this occurred to many Prophets before. Therefore, the Muslims’ resolve was weakened and they did not actively participate in battle. This is why Allah sent down to His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, His statement, Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him.”  He is to deliver Allah’s Message and may be killed in the process, just as what happened to many Prophets before. Ibn Abi Najih said that his father said that a man from the Muhajirin passed by an Ansari man who was bleeding (during Uhud) and said to him, “O fellow! Did you know that Muhammad was killed?” The Ansari man said, “Even if Muhammad was killed, he has indeed conveyed the Message. Therefore, defend your religion.” The Ayah, ”Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him”, was revealed. This story was collected by Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi in Dala’il An-Nubuwwah. (Dala’il An-Nubuwwah 3:248. This is a Mursal Narration)

Allah said next, while chastising those who became weak, ”If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels”, become disbelievers, ”And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful”, those who obeyed Allah, defended His religion and followed His Messenger whether he was alive or dead. The Sahih, Musnad and Sunan collections gathered various chains of narration stating that Abu Bakr recited this Ayah when the Messenger of Allah died. Al-Bukhari recorded that A’ishah said that Abu Bakr came riding his horse from his dwelling in As-Sunh. He dismounted, entered the Masjid and did not speak to anyone until he came to her [in her room] and went directly to the Prophet, who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face, knelt down and kissed him, then started weeping and proclaimed, “My father and my mother be sacrificed for you! Allah will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death, which was written for you.”

Ibn Abbas narrated that Abu Bakr then came out, while Umar was addressing the people, and Abu Bakr told him to sit down but Umar refused, and the people attended to Abu Bakr and left Umar. Abu Bakr said, “To proceed; whoever among you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die. Allah said, ”Muhammad is no more than a Messenger and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and Allah will reward the grateful.”

The narrator added, “By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this verse before until Abu Bakr recited it, and then whoever heard it, started reciting it.” Said bin Al-Musayyib said that Umar said, “By Allah! When I heard Abu Bakr recite this Ayah, my feet could not hold me, and I fell to the ground.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:751)

Allah said, ”And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term.” (3:145) meaning, no one dies except by Allah’s decision, after he has finished the term that Allah has destined for him. This is why Allah said, “at an appointed term” which is similar to His statements,

“And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life, but it is in a Book” (35:11), and,

“He it is Who has created you from clay, and then has decreed a (stated) term (for you to die). And there is with Him another determined term (for you to be resurrected)” (6:2).

This Ayah (3:145) encourages cowards to participate in battle; for doing so, or avoiding battle neither decreases, nor increases the life term. Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that, Habib bin Suhban said that a Muslim man, Hujr bin Adi, said in a battle, “What prevents you from crossing this river (the Euphrates) to the enemy?

”And no person can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at an appointed term” He then crossed the river riding his horse, and when he did, the Muslims followed him. When the enemy saw them, they started shouting, “Diwan (Persian; crazy),” and they ran away. (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:584)

Allah said next, ”And whoever desires a reward in the world, We shall give him of it; and whoever desires a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give him thereof.” Therefore, the Ayah proclaims, whoever works for the sake of this life, will only earn what Allah decides he will earn. However, he will not have a share in the Hereafter. Whoever works for the sake of the Hereafter, Allah will give him a share in the Hereafter, along with what He decides for him in this life. In similar statements, Allah said,

”Whosoever desires (by his deeds) the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world (by his deeds), We give him thereof (what is decreed for him), and he has no portion in the Hereafter.” (42:20), and,

”Whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell; he will burn therein disgraced and despised. And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it while he is a believer, then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated” (17:18-19).

In this Ayah (3:145), Allah said, ”And We shall reward the grateful” meaning, We shall award them with Our favor and mercy in this life and the Hereafter, according to the degree of their appreciation [of Allah] and their good deeds.

Allah then comforts the believers because of what they suffered in Uhud, And many a Prophet fought and along with him many Ribbiyyun.” It was said that this Ayah means that many Prophets and their companions were killed in earlier times, as is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir. It was also said that the Ayah means that many Prophets witnessed their companions’ death before their eyes. However, Ibn Ishaq mentioned another explanation in his Seerah, saying that this Ayah means, “Many a Prophet was killed, and he had many companions whose resolve did not weaken after their Prophet died, and they did not become feeble in the face of the enemy. What they suffered in Jihad in Allah’s cause and for the sake of their religion did not make them lose heart. This is patience, ”and Allah loves the patient.” As-Suhayli agreed with this explanation and defended it vigorously. This view is supported by Allah saying; ‘‘And along with him many Ribbiyyun”. In his book about the battles, Al-Amawi mentioned only this explanation for the Ayah. Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that, Ibn Mas’ud said that, ”many Ribbiyyun” means, thousands. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Said bin Jubayr, Ikrimah, Al- Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi and Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the word Ribbiyyun means, ‘large bands’. Abdur-Razzaq narrated that Mammar said that Al-Hasan said that, ”many Ribbiyyun” means, many scholars. He also said that it means patient and pious scholars. ”But they never lost heart for that which befell them in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves.”

Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anas said that, ”nor did they weaken”, means, after their Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was killed. ”nor degrade themselves”, by reverting from the true guidance and religion. Rather, they fought on the path that Allah’s Prophet fought on until they met Allah. Ibn Abbas said that, ”nor degrade themselves” means, nor became humiliated, while As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd said that it means, they did not give in to the enemy.

”And Allah loves the patient. And they said nothing but: “Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and our transgressions, establish our feet firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.” (3:146-147),

and this was the statement that they kept repeating. Therefore, ‘‘So Allah gave them the reward of this world” victory, triumph and the good end, ”and the excellent reward of the Hereafter” added to the gains in this life, ‘And Allah loves the good-doers”.

{149. O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back as losers.

150. Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers.

151. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrongdoers.

152. And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you were killing them (your enemy) with His permission; until Fashiltum and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed after He showed you what you love. Among you are some that desire this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you. But surely, He forgave you, and Allah is Most Gracious to the believers.

153. (And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you, nor for what struck you. And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do.}

The Prohibition of Obeying the Disbelievers; the Cause of Defeat at Uhud

Allah warns His believing servants against obeying the disbelievers and hypocrites, because such obedience leads to utter destruction in this life and the Hereafter. This is why Allah said,

”If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers” (3:149).

Allah also commands the believers to obey Him, take Him as their protector, seek His aid and trust in Him. Allah said, ”Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers”. Allah next conveys the good news that He will put fear of the Muslims, and feelings of subordination to the Muslims in the hearts of their disbelieving enemies, because of their Kufr and Shirk. And Allah has prepared torment and punishment for them in the Hereafter. Allah said, ”We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrongdoers”. In addition, the Two Sahihs recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”I was given five things that no other Prophet before me was given. I was aided with fear the distance of one month, the earth was made a Masjid and clean place for me, I was allowed war booty, I was given the Intercession, and Prophets used to be sent to their people, but I was sent to all mankind particularly.” (Fath Al-Bari 1:519)

Allah said, ”And Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you” (3:152), in the beginning of the day of Uhud, ”when you were killing them”, slaying your enemies, ”with His permission”, for He allowed you to do that against them, ”until when you Fashiltum.” Ibn Jurayj said that Ibn Abbas said that Fashiltum means, ‘lost courage’. ”and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed” such as the mistake made by the archers, ”after He showed you what you love”, that is, victory over the disbelievers, ”Among you are some that desire this world” referring to those who sought to collect the booty when they saw the enemy being defeated, ‘‘and some that desire the Hereafter. Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you.”

This Ayah means, Allah gave them the upper hand to try and test you, O believers, ”but surely, He forgave you”He forgave the error you committed, because, and Allah knows best, the idolators were many and well supplied, while Muslims had few men and few supplies.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “We met the idolators on that day (Uhud) and the Prophet appointed Abdullah bin Jubayr as the commander of the archers. He instructed them, ‘Retain your position, and if you see that we have defeated them, do not abandon your positions. If you see that they defeated us, do not rush to help us.’ The disbelievers gave flight when we met them, and we saw their women fleeing up the mountain while lifting up their clothes revealing their anklets and their legs. So, the companions (of Abdullah bin Jubayr) said, ‘The booty, the booty!’ Abdullah bin Jubayr said, ‘Allah’s Messenger commanded me not to allow you to abandon your position.’ They refused to listen, and when they left their position, Muslims were defeated and seventy of them were killed. Abu Sufyan shouted, ‘Is Muhammad present among these people?’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ Then he asked, ‘Is the son of Abu Quhafah (Abu Bakr) present among these people?’ The Prophet said, ‘Do not answer him.’ He asked again, ‘Is the son of Al-Khattab (Umar) present among these people? As for these (men), they have been killed, for had they been alive, they would have answered me.’ ‘Umar could not control himself and said (to Abu Sufyan), ‘You lie, O enemy of Allah! The cause of your misery is still present.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘O Hubal, be high!’ On that the Prophet said (to his Companions), ‘Answer him back.’ They said, ‘What shall we say?’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is Higher and more Sublime.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘We have the (idol) Al-Uzza, and you have no ‘Uzza.’ The Prophet said, ‘Answer him back.’ They asked, ‘What shall we say?’ He said, ‘Say, Allah is our protector and you have no protector.’ Abu Sufyan said, ‘Our victory today is vengeance for yours in the battle of Badr, and in war (the victory) is always undecided and is shared in turns by the belligerents. You will find some of your killed men mutilated, but I did not urge my men to do so, yet I do not feel sorry for their deed.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 7:405)

Muhammad bin Ishaq said that, Abdullah bin Az- Zubayr narrated that Az-Zubayr bin Al-Awwam said, “By Allah! I saw the female servants and female companions of Hind (Abu Sufyan’s wife) when they uncovered their legs and gave flight. At that time, there was no big or small effort separating us from capturing them. However, the archers went down the mount when the enemy gave flight from the battlefield, seeking to collect the booty. They uncovered our back lines to the horsemen of the disbelievers, who took the chance and attacked us from behind. Then a person shouted, ‘Muhammad has been killed.’ So we pulled back, and the disbelievers followed us, after we had killed those who carried their flag, and none of them dared to come close the flag, until then.”’ Muhammad bin Ishaq said next, “The flag of the disbelievers was left on the ground until Amrah bint Alqamah Al- Harithiyyah picked it up and gave it to the Quraysh who held it.”

Allah said, ”Then He made you flee from them, that He might test you” (3:152).

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas bin Malik said, “My uncle Anas bin An-Nadr was absent from the battle of Badr. He said, ‘I was absent from the first battle the Prophet fought (against the pagans). (By Allah) if Allah gives me a chance to fight along with the Messenger of Allah, then Allah will see how (bravely) I will fight.’ On the day of Uhud when the Muslims turned their backs and fled, he said, ‘O Allah! I apologize to You for what these (meaning the Muslims) have done, and I denounce what these pagans have done.’ Then he advanced lifting his sword, and when Sad bin Muadh met him, he said to him, ‘O Sad bin Muadh! Where are you! Paradise! I am smelling its aroma coming from before (Mount) Uhud,’ and he went forth, fought and was killed. We found more than eighty stab wounds, sword blows or arrow holes on his body, which was mutilated so badly that none except his sister could recognize him, and she could only do so by his fingers or by a mole.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:411).

The Defeat that the Muslims Suffered During the Battle of Uhud

Allah said, ”(And remember) when you (Tusiduna) ran away dreadfully without casting even a side glance at anyone), and Allah made the disbelievers leave you after you went up the mount, escaping your enemy. Al-Hasan and Qat adah said that, Tusiduna, means, ‘go up the mountain’. (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:609) ”without even casting a side glance at anyone” meaning, you did not glance at anyone else due to shock, fear and fright. ”and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back”, for you left him behind you, while he was calling you to stop fleeing from the enemy and to return and fight.

As-Suddi said, “When the disbelievers attacked Muslim lines during the battle of Uhud and defeated them, some Muslims ran away to Al-Madinah, while some of them went up Mount Uhud, to a rock and stood on it. On that, the Messenger of Allah kept heralding, ‘Come to me, O servants of Allah! Come to me, O servants of Allah!’ Allah mentioned that the Muslims went up the Mount and that the Prophet called them to come back, and said, ”(And remember) when you ran away without even casting a side glance at anyone, and the Messenger was in your rear calling you back.” (At-Tabari 7:301)

The Ansar and Muhajirin Defended the Messenger

Al-Bukhari recorded that Qays bin Abi Hazim said, “I saw Talhah’s hand, it was paralyzed, because he shielded the Prophet with it.” meaning on the day of Uhud. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that Abu Uthman An-Nahdi said, “On that day (Uhud) during which the Prophet fought, only Talhah bin Ubaydullah and Sad remained with the Prophet.” (Al-Bukhari no. 4060)

Said bin Al-Musayyib said, “I heard Sad bin Abi Waqqas saying, ‘The Messenger of Allah gave me arrows from his quiver on the day of Uhud and said, ‘Shoot, may I sacrifice my father and mother for you.”’ Al-Bukhari also collected this Hadith (no.4055). The Two Sahihs recorded that Sad bin Abi Waqqas said, “On the day of Uhud, I saw two men wearing white clothes, one to the right of the Prophet and one to his left, who were defending the Prophet fiercely. I have never seen these men before or after that day.” Meaning angels Jibril and Mika’il, peace be upon them. (Al-Bukhari no. 4054)

Abu Al-Aswad said that, Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Ubayy bin Khalaf of Bani Jumah swore in Makkah that he would kill the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. When the Messenger was told of his vow, he said, ‘Rather, I shall kill him, Allah willing.’ On the day of Uhud, Ubayy came while wearing iron shields and proclaiming, ‘May I not be saved, if Muhammad is saved.’ He then headed to the direction of the Messenger of Allah intending to kill him, but Musab bin Umayr, from Bani Abd Ad-Dar, intercepted him and shielded the Prophet with his body, and Musab bin Umayr was killed. The Messenger of Allah saw Ubayy’s neck exposed between the shields and helmet, stabbed him with his spear, and Ubayy fell from his horse to the ground. However, no blood spilled from his wound. His people came and carried him away while he was moaning like an ox. They said to him, ‘Why are you so anxious, it is only a flesh wound?’ Ubayy mentioned to them the Prophet’s vow, ‘Rather, I shall kill Ubayy’, then commented, ‘By He in Whose Hand is my soul! If what hit me hits the people of Dhul-Majaz (a popular pre-Islamic marketplace), they would all have perished.’ He then died and went to the Fire,

”So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire!” (67:11).”

This was collected by Musa bin Uqbah from Az-Zuhri from Said bin Al-Musayyib.(The narrations from ‘Urwah and Said are Mursal)

Allah said next, ”There did Allah give you one distress after another” (3:153), Abdur-Rahman bin Awf said, “The first distress was because of the defeat and the second when a rumor started that Muhammad was killed, which to them, was worse than defeat.” Mujahid and Qatadah said, “The first distress was when they heard that Muhammad was killed and the second when they suffered casualties and injury.” It has also been reported that Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anas said that it was the opposite [order]. As-Suddi said that the first distress was because of the victory and booty that they missed and the second because of the enemy rising above them (on the mount). Allah said, ”by way of requital to teach you not to grieve for that which had escaped you”, for that you missed the booty and triumph over your enemy. ”nor for what struck you”, of injury and fatalities, as Ibn Abbas, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf, Al- Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi stated. Allah said next, ”And Allah is Well-Aware of all that you do” all praise is due to Him, and thanks, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, the Most High, Most Honored.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 275 -295

{154. Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair?” Say: “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,” but that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in the breasts

155. Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned. But Allah, indeed, has forgiven them. Surely, Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Forbearing.}

Slumber Overcame the Believers; the Fear that the Hypocrites Suffered

Allah reminds His servants of His favor when He sent down on them tranquillity and slumber that overcame them while they were carrying their weapons and feeling distress and grief. In this case, slumber is a favor and carries meanings of calmness and safety. For instance, Allah said in Surat Al-Anfal about the Battle of Badr,

 “(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from Him” (8:11).

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said that, Abu Talhah said, “I was among those who were overcome by slumber during the battle of Uhud. My sword fell from my hand several times and I would pick it up, then it would fall and I would pick it up again.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:22) Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith in the stories of the battles without a chain of narration, and in the book of Tafsir with a chain of narrators. (Fath Al-Bari 8:76) At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Al-Hakim recorded from Anas that Abu Talhah said, “On the day of Uhud, I raised my head and looked around and found that everyone’s head was nodding from slumber.” This is the wording of At-Tirmidhi, who said, “Hasan Sahih”. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:358) An- Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith from Anas who said that Abu Talhah said, “I was among those who were overcome by slumber.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:349)

The second group mentioned in the Ayah were the hypocrites who only thought about themselves, for they are the most cowardly people and those least likely to support the truth, “and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance” (3:154), for they are liars and people who have doubt s and evil t hought s about Allah, t he Exalt ed and Most Honored. Allah said, “Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you”, the people of faith, certainty, firmness and reliance (on Allah) who are certain that Allah shall give victory to His Messenger and fulfill his objective. “While another party was thinking about themselves”, and they were not overcome by slumber because of their worry, fright and fear, “and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance”. Similarly, Allah said in another statement,

“Nay, but you thought that the Messenger and the believers would never return to their families” (48:12).

This group thought that the idolators achieved ultimate victory, when their forces took the upper hand in battle, and that Islam and its people would perish. This is typical of people of doubt and hesitation, in the event of a hardship, they fall into such evil thoughts. Allah then described them that, “they said” in this situation, “Have we any part in the affair?” Allah replied, “Say: “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you” Allah exposed their secrets, that is, “saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here” although they tried to conceal this thought from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Ibn Ishaq recorded that Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr said that Az-Zubayr said, “I was with the Messenger of Allah when fear intensified and Allah sent sleep to us (during the battle of Uhud). At that time, every man among us (except the hypocrites) was nodding off. By Allah! As if in a dream, I heard the words of Muattib bin Qushayr, ‘If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.’ I memorized these words of his, which Allah mentioned later on, “saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.” Ibn Abi Hat im collected this Hadith. Allah the Exalted said, “Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death,” meaning, this is Allah’s appointed destiny and a decision that will certainly come to pass, and there is no escaping it. Allah’s statement, “that Allah might test what is in your breasts; and to purify that which was in your hearts,” means, so that He tests you with whatever befell you, to distinguish good from evil and the deeds and statements of the believers from those of the hypocrites, “and Allah is All-Knower of what is in the breasts”, and what the hearts conceal.

Some of the Believers Give Flight on the Day of Uhud

Allah then said, “Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned” (3:155), because of some of their previous errors. Indeed, some of the Salaf said, “The reward of the good deed includes being directed to another good deed that follows it, while the retribution of sin includes committing another sin that follows it.” Allah then said, “but Allah, indeed, has forgiven them”, their giving flight, “surely, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing”

He forgives sins, pardons and exonerates His creatures. Imam Ahmad recorded that Shaqiq said, ” Abdur-Rahman bin Awf met Al-Walid bin Uqbah, who said to him, ‘Why did you desert Uthman, the Leader of the Faithful?’ Abdur-Rahman said, ‘Tell him that I did not run away during Uhud, remain behind during Badr, nor abandon the Sunnah of Umar.’ Al-Walid told Uthman what Abdur-Rahman said. Uthman replied, ‘As for his statement, ‘I did not run away during Uhud,’ how can he blame me for an error that Allah has already forgiven. Allah said, “Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned. But Allah, indeed, has forgiven them”.

As for his statement that I remained behind from participating in Badr, I was nursing Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, until she passed away. The Messenger of Allah gave me a share in the booty of Badr, and whoever gets a share in the booty from the Messenger of Allah will have participated in battle. As for his statement that I abandoned the Sunnah of Umar, neither I nor he are able to endure it. Go and convey this answer to him.” (Ahmad 1:68)

{156. O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: “If they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,” so that Allah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts. It is Allah that gives life and causes death. And Allah is All-Seer of what you do.

157. And if you are killed or die in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all that they amass.

158. And whether you die or are killed, verily, unto Allah you shall be gathered.}

Prohibiting the Ideas of the Disbelievers about Death and Predestination

Allah forbids His believing servants from the disbelievers’ false creed, seen in their statement about those who died in battle and during travel; “Had they abandoned these trips, they would not have met their demise.” Allah said, “O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren”, about their dead brethren, “when they travel through the earth” for the purpose of trading and otherwise, “or go out to fight”, participating in battles, “If they had stayed with us,” in our area, “they would not have died or been killed,” they would not have died while traveling or been killed in battle. Allah’s statement, ”so that Allah may make it a cause of regret in their hearts” means, Allah creates this evil thought in their hearts so that their sadness and the grief they feel for their loss would increase. Allah refuted them by saying, ”It is Allah that gives life and causes death.” for the creation is under Allah’s power, and the decision is His Alone. No one lives or dies except by Allah’s leave, and no one’s life is increased or decreased except by His decree.

 “And Allah is All-Seer of what you do” for His knowledge and vision encompasses all His creation and none of their affairs ever escapes Him. Allah’s statement, ”And if you are killed or die in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all that they amass.” (3:157), indicating that death and martyrdom in Allah’s cause are a means of earning Allah’s mercy, forgiveness and pleasure. This, indeed, is better than remaining in this life with its short lived delights. Furthermore, whoever dies or is killed will return to Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored, and He will reward him if he has done good deeds, or will punish him for his evil deeds. Allah said, ”And whether you die or are killed, verily, unto Allah you shall be gathered.” (3:158).

{159. And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pardon them, and ask forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).

160. If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.

161. It is not for any Prophet to illegally take a part of the booty, and whosoever deceives his companions over the booty, he shall bring forth on the Day of Resurrection that which he took. Then every person shall be paid in full what he has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.

162. Is then one who follows (seeks) the pleasure of Allah like the one who draws on himself the wrath of Allah His abode is Hell, and worse indeed is that destination!

163. They are in varying grades with Allah, and Allah is All-Seer of what they do.

164. Indeed, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses (the Qur’an), and purifying them, and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur’an) and Al-Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah], while before that they had been in manifest error.}

Among the Qualities of Our Prophet Muhammad are Mercy and Kindness

Allah addresses His Messenger and reminds him and the believers of the favor that He has made his heart and words soft for his Ummah, those who follow his command and refrain from what he prohibits.

 ”And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently” (3:159) meaning, who would have made you this kind, if it was not Allah’s mercy for you and them. Qatadah said that, ‘‘And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently” means, “With Allah’s mercy you became this kind.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that this, indeed, is the description of the behavior that Allah sent Muhammad with. This Ayah is similar to Allah’s statement,

”Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah); for the believers (he is) full of pity, kind, and merciful” (9:128)

Allah said next, ”And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you” The severe person is he who utters harsh words, and, ”harsh-hearted” is the person whose heart is hard. Had this been the Prophet’s behavior, “They would have scattered from around you. However, Allah gathered them and made you kind and soft with them, so that their hearts congregate around you.” Abdullah bin Amr said that he read the description of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in previous Books, “He is not severe, harsh, obscene in the marketplace or dealing evil for evil. Rather, he forgives and pardons.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:449)

The Order for Consultation and to Abide by it

Allah said, “So pardon them, and ask (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to ask his Companions for advice about various matters, to comfort their hearts, and so they actively implement the decision they reach. For instance, before the Battle of Badr, the Prophet asked his Companions for if Muslims should intercept the caravan (led by Abu Sufyan). They said, “O Messenger of Allah! If you wish to cross the sea, we would follow you in it, and if you march forth to Barkul-Ghimad we would march with you. We would never say what the Children of Israel said to Musa, ‘So go, you and your Lord, and fight you two, we are sitting right here.’ Rather, we say march forth and we shall march forth with you; and before you, and to your right and left shall we fight.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, also asked them for their opinion about where they should set up camp at Badr. Al-Mundhir bin Amr suggested to camp close to the enemy, for he wished to acquire martyrdom.

Concerning the Battle of Uhud, the Messenger asked the Companions if they should fortify themselves in Al-Madinah or go out to meet the enemy, and the majority of them requested that they go out to meet the enemy, and he did. He also took their advice on the day of Khandaq (the Trench) about conducting a peace treaty with some of the tribes of Al-Ahzab (the Confederates), in return for giving them one-third of the fruits of Al-Madinah. However, Sad bin Ubadah and Sad bin Muadh rejected this offer and the Prophet went ahead with their advice. The Prophet also asked them if they should attack the idolators on the Day of Hudaybiyyah, and Abu Bakr disagreed, saying, “We did not come here to fight anyone. Rather, we came to perform Umrah.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, agreed.

On the day of Ifk, (i.e. the false accusation), the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to them, “O Muslims! Give me your advice about some men who falsely accused my wife (A’ishah). By Allah! I never knew of any evil to come from my wife. And they accused whom They accused he from whom I only knew righteous conduct, by Allah!” The Prophet asked Ali and Usamah about divorcing A’ishah. In summary, the Prophet used to take his Companions’ advice for battles and other important events.

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

”The one whom advice is sought from is to be entrusted”

This was recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa’i who graded it Hasan. (Abu Dawud 5:345)

Trust in Allah After Taking the Decision

Allah’s statement, ”Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah” means, if you conduct the required consultation and you then make a decision, trust in Allah over your decision, ”certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)”. Allah’s statement, ”If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust”, is similar to His statement that we mentioned earlier, ”And there is no victory except from Allah the Almighty, the All-Wise” (3:126). Allah next commands the believers to trust in Him, ”And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust”.

Treachery with the Spoils of War was not a Trait of the Prophet

Allah said, ”It is not for any Prophet to illegally take a part of the booty” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and Al-Hasan said that the Ayah means, “It is not for a Prophet to breach the trust.” Ibn Jarir recorded that, Ibn Abbas said that, this Ayah, ‘‘It is not for any Prophet to illegally take a part of the booty” was revealed in connection with a red robe that was missing from the spoils of war of Badr. Some people said that the Messenger of Allah might have taken it. When this rumor circulated, Allah sent down, ”It is not for any Prophet to illegally take a part of the booty, and whosoever is deceitful with the booty, he shall bring forth on the Day of Resurrection that which he took.” This was also recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi, who said “Hasan Gharib”. (Abu Dawud 4:280) This Ayah exonerates the Messenger of Allah of all types of deceit and treachery, be it returning what was entrusted with him, dividing the spoils of war, etc.

Allah then said, ”and whosoever is deceitful with the booty, he shall bring forth on the Day of Resurrection that which he took. Then every person shall be paid in full what he has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.” This Ayah contains a stern warning and threat against Ghulul [stealing from the booty], and there are also Hadiths, that prohibit such practice. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Malik Al- Ashjai said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 ”The worst Ghulul (i.e. stealing) with Allah is a yard of land, that is, when you find two neighbours in a land or home and one of them illegally acquires a yard of his neighbor’s land. When he does, he will be tied with it from the seven earths until the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad 4:140)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Humayd As-Saidi said, “The Prophet appointed a man from the tribe of Al-Azd, called Ibn Al-Lutbiyyah, to collect the Zakah. When he returned he said, ‘This (portion) is for you and this has been given to me as a gift.’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, stood on the Minbar and said,

”What is the matter with a man whom we appoint to collect Zakah, when he returns he said, ‘This is for you and this has been given to me as a gift.’ Why hadn’t he stayed in his father’s or mother’s house to see whether he would be given presents or not? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, whoever takes anything from the resources of the Zakah (unlawfully), he will carry it on his neck on the Day of Resurrection; if it be a camel, it will be grunting; if a cow, it will be mooing; and if a sheep, it will be bleating. The Prophet then raised his hands till we saw the whiteness of his armpits, and he said thrice, ‘O Allah! Haven’t I conveyed Your Message.” 

Hisham bin Urwah added t hat Abu Humayd said, “I have seen him with my eyes and heard him with my ears, and ask Zayd bin Thabit.” This is recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Al-Bukhari no. 2597 and Muslim no. 1832)

In the book of Ahkam of his Sunan, Abu Isa At -Tirmidhi recorded that Muadh bin Jabal said, “The Messenger of Allah sent me to Yemen, but when I started on the journey, he sent for me to come back and said,

”Do you know why I summoned you back? Do not take anything without my permission, for if you do, it will be Ghulul and whosoever deceives his companions over the booty, he shall bring forth on the Day of Resurrection that which he took. This is why I summoned you, so now go and fulfill your mission.” At-Tirmidhi said, “This Hadith is Hasan Gharib.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 4:564)

In addition, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Prophet got up among us and mentioned Ghulul and emphasized its magnitude. He then said,

 ”I will not like to see anyone among you on the Day of Resurrection, carrying a grunting camel over his neck. Such a man will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede on my behalf,’ and I will say, ‘I can’t intercede for you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’ I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying a neighing horse over his neck. Such a man will be saying, ‘ O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede on my behalf,’ and I will reply, ‘I can’t intercede for you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’ I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying clothes that will be fluttering, and the man will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede (with Allah) for me, ‘ and I will say, ‘I can’t help you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’ I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying gold and silver on his neck. This person will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede (with Allah) for me.’ And I will say, ‘I can’t help you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’)” (Ahmad 2:426)

This Hadith was recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 6:214, Muslim 3:1416)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “During the day (battle) of Khaybar, several Companions of the Messenger of Allah came to him and said, ‘So-and-so died as a martyr, so-and-so died as a martyr.’ When they mentioned a certain man that died as a martyr, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, ”No. I have seen him in the Fire because of a robe that he stole (from the booty)” The Messenger of Allah then said,”O Ibn Al-Khattab! Go and announce to the people that only the faithful shall enter Paradise.” So I went out and proclaimed that none except the faithful shall enter Paradise.” This was recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidhi, who said “Hasan Sahih”. (Ahmad 1:30, Muslim no.114 At Tirmidhi no. 1574)

The Honest and Dishonest are Not Similar

Allah said, ”Is then one who follows (seeks) the pleasure of Allah like the one who draws on himself the wrath of Allah His abode is Hell, and worse indeed is that destination!” (3:162), This refers to those seeking what pleases Allah by obeying His legislation, thus earning His pleasure and tremendous rewards, while being saved from His severe torment. This type of person is not similar to one who earns Allah’s anger, has no means of escaping it and who will reside in Jahannam on the Day of Resurrection, and what an evil destination it is.

There are many similar statements in the Qur’an, such as,

 ”Shall he then who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad ) from your Lord is the truth be like him who is blind” (13:19), and,

”Is he whom We have promised an excellent promise (Paradise) which he will find true, like him whom We have made to enjoy the luxuries of the life of (this) world?” (28:61).

Allah then said, ”They are in varying grades with Allah,” (3:163) meaning, the people of righteousness and the people of evil are in grades, as Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Muhammad bin Ishaq said. Abu Ubaydah and Al-Kisa’i said that this Ayah refers to degrees, meaning there are various degrees and dwellings in Paradise, as well as, various degrees and dwellings in the Fire. In another Ayah, Allah said, ”and Allah is All-Seer of what they do”, and He will compensate or punish them, and will never rid them of a good deed, or increase their evil deeds. Rather, each will be treated according to his deeds.

The Magnificent Blessing in the Advent of Our Prophet Muhammad

Allah the Most High said: ”Indeed Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves” Meaning, from their own kind, so that it is possible for them to speak with him, ask him questions, associate with him, and benefit from him. Just as Allah said: ”And among His signs is that he created for them mates, that they may find rest in” Meaning; of their own kind. And Allah said;

”Say: “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God” (18:110).

”And We never sent before you any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets” (25:20).

 ”And We sent not before you any but men unto whom We revealed, from among the people of townships ” (12:109), and,

 ”O you assembly of Jinn and mankind! “Did not there come to you Messengers from among you…” (6:130).

Allah’s favor is perfected when His Messenger to the people is from their own kind, so that they are able to talk to him and inquire about the meanings of Allah’s Word. This is why Allah said, ”reciting unto them His verses” (3:164), the Qur’an, ”and purifying them”, commanding them to do righteous works and forbidding them from committing evil. This is how their hearts will be purified and cleansed of the sin and evil that used to fill them when they were disbelievers and ignorant ”and instructing them (in) the Book and the Hikmah” the Qur’an and the Sunnah, ‘‘while before that they had been”, before sending this Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ”in manifest error” indulging in plain and unequivocal error and ignorance that are clear to everyone.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 295-313

 

{165. (What is the matter with you?) When a single disaster smites you, although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, you say: “From where does this come to us?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” And Allah has power over all things.

166. And what you suffered on the day the two armies met, was by the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers

167. And that He might test the hypocrites, it was said to them: “Come, fight in the way of Allah or defend yourselves.” They said: “Had we known that fighting will take place, we would certainly have followed you.” They were that day, nearer to disbelief than to faith, saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts. And Allah has full knowledge of what they conceal.

168. (They are) the ones who said about their killed brethren while they themselves sat (at home): “If only they had listened to us, they would not have been killed.” Say: “Avert death from your own selves, if you speak the truth.”}

 

The Reason and Wisdom Behind the Defeat at Uhud

Allah said, When a single disaster smites you”, in reference to when the Muslims suffered seventy fatalities during the battle of Uhud, ”although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great” during Badr, when the Muslims killed seventy Mushriks and captured seventy others, ”you say: “From where does this come to us?” why did this defeat happen to us ”Say, “It is from yourselves.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “When Uhud occurred, a year after Badr, Muslims were punished for taking ransom from the disbelievers at Badr [in return for releasing the Mushriks whom they captured in that battle]. Thus, they suffered the loss of seventy fatalities and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah gave flight and abandoned him. The Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, suffered a broken tooth, the helmet was smashed on his head and blood flowed onto his face. Allah then revealed, ”When a single disaster smites you, although you smote (your enemies) with one twice as great, you say: “From where does this come to us?” Say, “It is from yourselves”, because you took the ransom.” Furthermore, Muhammad bin Ishaq, Ibn Jurayj, Ar-Rabi bin Anas and As-Suddi said that the Ayah, ”Say, “It is from yourselves.” means, because you, the archers, disobeyed the Messenger’s command to not abandon your positions. ”And Allah has power over all things.” and He does what He wills and decides what He wills, and there is none who can resist His decision.

Allah then said, ”And what you suffered on the day the two armies met, was by the leave of Allah”, for when you ran away from your enemy, who killed many of you and injured many others, all this occurred by Allah’s will and decree out of His perfect wisdom, ”in order that He might test the believers” who were patient, firm and were not shaken,

”And that He might test the hypocrites, it was said to them: “Come, fight in the way of Allah or defend yourselves.” They said: “Had we known that fighting will take place, we would certainly have followed you.” (3:167),

This refers to the Companions of Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul who went back (to Al-Madinah) with him before the battle. Some believers followed them and encouraged them to come back and fight, saying, ”or defend”, so that the number of Muslims          increases,   as  Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Said bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak, Abu Salih, Al-Hasan and As-Suddi stated. Al-Hasan bin Salih said that this part of the Ayah means, help by supplicating for us, while others said it means, man the posts. However, they refused, saying, “Had we known that fighting will take place, we would certainly have followed you.” meaning, according to Mujahid, if we knew that you would fight today, we would join you, but we think you will not fight. Allah said, ”They were that day, nearer to disbelief than to faith” This Ayah indicates that a person passes through various stages, sometimes being closer to Kufr and sometimes closer to faith, as evident by, ”They were that day, nearer to disbelief than to faith” Allah then said, ”saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts” for they utter what they do not truly believe in, such as, “Had we known that fighting will take place, we would certainly have followed you.” 

They knew that there was an army of idolators that came from a far land raging against the Muslims, to avenge their noble men whom the Muslims killed in Badr. These idolators came in larger numbers than the Muslims, so it was clear that a battle will certainly occur. Allah said; ”And Allah has full knowledge of what they conceal.” ”(They are) the ones who said about their killed brethren while they themselves sat (at home): “If only they had listened to us, they would not have been killed.” had they listened to our advice and not gone out, they would not have met their demise. Allah said, ”Say: “Avert death from your own selves, if you speak the truth.” meaning, if staying at home saves one from being killed or from death, then you should not die. However death will come to you even if you were hiding in fortified castles. Therefore, fend death off of yourselves, if you are right.

Mujahid said that Jabir bin Abdullah said, “This Ayah [3:168] was revealed about Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul (the chief hypocrite).” (At-Tabari 7:383)

{169. Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision

170. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve

171. They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers

172. Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Messenger after being wounded; for those of them who did good deeds and feared Allah, there is a great reward.

173. Those to whom the people said, “Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in faith, and they said: “Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.”

174. So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them; and they followed the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Owner of great bounty

175. It is only Shaytan that suggests to you the fear of his friends; so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are indeed believers.}

 

Virtues of the Martyrs

Allah states that even though the martyrs were killed in this life, their souls are alive and receiving provisions in the Dwelling of Everlasting Life. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Masruq said, “We asked Abdullah about this Ayah, ”Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.”

He said, ‘We asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the same question and he said,

”Their souls are inside green birds that have lamps, which are hanging below the Throne (of Allah), and they wander about in Paradise wherever they wish. Then they return to those lamps. Allah looks at them and says, ‘Do you wish for anything?’ They say, ‘What more could we wish for, while we go wherever we wish in Paradise?’ Allah asked them this question thrice, and when they realize that He will keep asking them until they give an answer, they say, ‘O Lord! We wish that our souls be returned to our bodies so that we are killed in Your cause again.’ Allah knew that they did not have any other wish, so they were left.” (Muslim 3:1502)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”No soul that has a good standing with Allah and dies would wish to go back to the life of this world, except for the martyr. He would like to be returned to this life so that he could be martyred again, for he tastes the honor achieved from martyrdom.” (Muslim no. 1877)

In addition, Imam Ahmad recorded that, Ibn Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

”When your brothers were killed in Uhud, Allah placed their souls inside green birds that tend to the rivers of Paradise and eat from its fruits. They then return to golden lamps hanging in the shade of the Throne. When they tasted the delight of their food, drink and dwelling, they said, ‘We wish that our brothers knew what Allah gave us so that they will not abandon Jihad or warfare.’ Allah said, ‘I will convey the news for you.” Allah revealed these and the following Ayat, ”Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.” (Ahmad 1:265)

Qatadah, Ar-Rabi and Ad-Dahhak said that these Ayat were revealed about the martyrs of Uhud.

Abu Bakr Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said, “The Messenger of Allah looked at me one day and said, ‘O Jabir! Why do I see you sad?’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! My father was martyred and left behind debts and children.’ He said,

 ”Should I tell you that Allah never spoke to anyone except from behind a veil. However, He spoke to your father directly. He said, ‘Ask Me and I will give you.’ He said, ‘I ask that I am returned to life so that I am killed in Your cause again.’ The Lord, Exalted He be, said, ‘I have spoken the word that they shall not be returned back to it (this life). ‘ He said, ‘O Lord! Then convey the news to those I left behind.’ Allah revealed, ”Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah…” (Al-Bayhaqi 3:299)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 ”The martyrs convene at the shore of a river close to the door of Paradise, in a green tent, where their provisions are brought to them from Paradise day and night.”

Ahmad and Ibn Jarir collected this Hadith, which has a good chain of narration. It appears that the martyrs are of different types, some of them wander in Paradise, and some remain close to this river by the door of Paradise. It is also possible that the river is where all the souls of the martyrs convene and where they are provided with their provision day and night, and Allah knows best. Imam Ahmad narrated a Hadith that contains good news for every believer that his soul will be wandering in Paradise, as well, eating from its fruits, enjoying its delights and happiness and tasting the honor that Allah has prepared in it for him. This Hadith has a unique, authentic chain of narration that includes three of the Four Imams. Imam Ahmad narrated this Hadith from Muhammad bin Idris Ash-Shafi who narrated it from Malik bin Anas Al-Asbuhi, from Az-Zuhri, from Abdur-Rahman bin Kab bin Malik that his father said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

 ”The soul of the believer becomes a bird that feeds on the trees of Paradise, until Allah sends him back to his body when He resurrects him.” (Ahmad 3:455)

This Hadith states that the souls of the believers are in the shape of a bird in Paradise. As for the souls of martyrs, they are inside green birds, like the stars to the rest of the believing souls. We ask Allah the Most Generous that He makes us firm on the faith.

Allah’s statement, ”They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them” indicates that the martyrs who were killed in Allah’s cause are alive with Allah, delighted because of the bounty and happiness they are enjoying. They are also awaiting their brethren, who will die in Allah’s cause after them, for they will be meeting them soon. These martyrs do not have fear about the future or sorrow for what they left behind. We ask Allah to grant us Paradise. The Two Sahihs record from Anas, the story of the seventy Ansar Companions who were murdered at Bir Maunah in one night. In this Hadith, Anas reported that the Prophet used to supplicate to Allah in Qunut in prayer against those who killed them. Anas said, “A part of the Qur’an was revealed about them, but was later abrogated, ‘Convey to our people that we met Allah and He was pleased with us and made us pleased.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 7:445, Muslim 1:468)

Allah said next, ”They rejoice in a grace and a bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers” (3:171). Muhammad bin Ishaq commented, “They were delighted and pleased because of Allah’s promise that was fulfilled for them, and for the tremendous rewards they earned.” Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “This Ayah encompasses all the believers, martyrs and otherwise. Rarely does Allah mention a bounty and a reward that He granted to the Prophets, without following that with what He has granted the believers after them.”

The Battle of Hamra’ Al-Asad

Allah said, “Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Messenger after being wounded” (3:172). This occurred on the day of Hamra’ Al-Asad. After the idolators defeated the Muslims (at Uhud), they started on their way back home, but soon they were concerned because they did not finish off the Muslims in Al-Madinah, so they set out to make that battle the final one. When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah, got news of this, he commanded the Muslims to march to meet the disbelievers, to bring fear to their hearts and to demonstrate that the Muslims still had strength to fight. The Prophet only allowed those who were present during Uhud to accompany him, except for Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari, as we will mention. The Muslims mobilized, even though they were still suffering from their injuries, in obedience to Allah and His Messenger.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ikrimah said, “When the idolators returned [towards Makkah] after Uhud, they said, ‘You neither killed Muhammad nor collected female captives. Woe to you for what you did. Let us go back.’ When the Messenger of Allah heard this news, he mobilized the Muslim forces, and they marched until they reached Hamra Al-Asad. The idolators said, ‘Rather, we will meet next year’, and the Messenger of Allah went back [to Al- Madinah], and this was considered a Ghazwah (battle). Allah sent down, ”Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Messenger after being wounded; for those of them who did good deeds and feared Allah, there is a great reward.” (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra no.11083)

Al-Bukhari recorded that A’ishah said to Urwah about the Ayah;”Those who answered (the Call of) Allah and the Messenger” “My nephew! Your fathers Az-Zubayr and Abu Bakr were among them. After the Prophet suffered the calamity at Uhud and the idolators went back, he feared that the idolators might try to come back and he said, ‘Who would follow them?’ Seventy men, including Az-Zubayr and Abu Bakr, volunteered.” (Al-Bukhari no.4077)

As for Allah’s statement, ‘‘Those unto whom the people said, “Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in faith” (3:173), it means, those who threatened the people, saying that the disbelievers have amassed against them, in order to instill fear in them, but this did not worry them, rather, they trusted in Allah and sought His help, ”and they said: “Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.” Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “Allah Alone is Sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us.” “Ibrahim said it when he was thrown in fire. Muhammad said it when the people said, ‘Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.’ But it only increased them in faith, and they said, ‘Allah is Sufficient for us and He is the Best Disposer of affairs for us.”’ Abu Bakr Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Anas bin Malik said that the Prophet was told on the day of Uhud, “Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.” Thereafter, Allah sent down this Ayah (3:173).

This is why Allah said, ”So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them” for when they relied on Allah, Allah took care of their worries, He confounded the plots of their enemies, and the Muslims returned to their land, ”with grace and bounty from Allah. No harm touched them” safe from the wicked plots of their enemies, ”and they followed the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is the Owner of great bounty” Al-Bayhaqi recorded that Ibn Abbas said about Allah’s statement, ‘‘So they returned with grace and bounty from Allah” “The ‘Grace’ was that they were saved. The ‘Bounty’ was that a caravan passed by, and those days were [Hajj] season days. Thus the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, bought and sold and made a profit, which he divided between his Companions.” (Dala’il An-Nubuwwah 3:318)

Allah then said, ”It is only Shaytan that suggests to you the fear of his friends” (3:175) meaning, Shaytan threatens you with his friends and tries to pretend they are powerful and fearsome. Allah said next, ”so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are indeed believers” meaning, “If Shaytan brings these thoughts to you, then depend on Me and seek refuge with Me. Indeed, I shall suffice you and make you prevail over them.” Similarly, Allah said,

”Is not Allah Sufficient for His servant Yet they try to frighten you with those besides Him!” (39: 36), until, ”Say: “Sufficient for me is Allah; in Him those who trust must put their trust.” (39:38).

Allah said,

 ”So fight you against the friends of Shaytan; ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytan.” (4:76) and

”They are the party of Shaytan. Verily, it is the party of Shaytan that will be the losers!’‘ (58:19),

”Allah has decreed: “Verily, it is I and My Messengers who shall be the victorious.” Verily, Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty.” (58:21) and

 ”Verily, Allah will help those who help His (cause)” (22:40) and

 ”O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you” (47:7), and,

 ”Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe, in this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth. The Day when their excuses will be of no profit to wrongdoers. Theirs will be the curse, and theirs will be the evil abode.” (40:51,52)

 

{176. And let not those grieve you who rush with haste to disbelieve; verily, not the least harm will they do to Allah. It is Allah’s will to give them no portion in the Hereafter. For them there is a great torment.

177. Verily, those who purchase disbelief at the price of faith, not the least harm will they do to Allah. For them, there is a painful torment.

178. And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgraceful torment.

179. Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen, but Allah chooses of His Messengers whom He wills. So believe in Allah and His Messengers. And if you believe and have Taqwa of Allah, then for you there is a great reward.

180. And let not those who are stingy with that which Allah has bestowed on them of His bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; the things that they were stingy with shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection. And Allah’s is the inheritance of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is Well-Acquainted with all that you do.}

 

Comforting the Messenger of Allah

Allah said to His Prophet, ”And let not those grieve you who rush with haste to disbelieve” (3:176). Because the Prophet was eager for people’s benefit, he would become sad when the disbelievers would resort to defiance, rebellion and stubbornness. Allah said, ‘Do not be saddened by this behaviour,’ ”verily, not the least harm will they do to Allah. It is Allah’s will to give them no portion in the Hereafter” for He decided with His power and wisdom that they shall not acquire any share in the Hereafter, ”For them there is a great torment” Allah said about the disbelievers, ”Verily, those who purchase disbelief at the price of faith” by exchanging disbelief for faith, ”not the least harm will they do to Allah” Rather, they will only harm themselves, ”For them, there is a painful torment” Allah said next, ”And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgraceful torment” (3:178).

This statement is similar to Allah’s other statements,

”Do they think that because We have given them abundant wealth and children, [that] We hasten unto them with good things. Nay, but they perceive not.” (23:55,56) and

”Then leave Me Alone with such as belie this Qur’an. We shall punish them gradually from directions they perceive not.” (68:44), and,

 ”And let not their wealth or their children amaze you. Allah’s plan is to punish them with these things in this world, and that their souls shall depart (die) while they are disbelievers.” (9:85).

Allah then said, ”Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good.” (3:179), meaning, He allows a calamity to happen, and during this calamity His friend becomes known and His enemy exposed, the patient believer recognized and the sinful hypocrite revealed. This Ayah refers to Uhud, since Allah tested the believers in that battle, thus making known the faith, endurance, patience, firmness and obedience to Allah and His Messenger that the believers had. Allah exposed the hypocrites in their defiance, reverting from Jihad, and the treachery they committed against Allah and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is why Allah said, ”Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good.” Mujahid commented, “He distinguished between them during the day of Uhud.” Qatadah said, “He distinguished between them in Jihad and Hijrah.” Allah said next, ”Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen” meaning, you do not have access to Allah’s knowledge of His creation so that you can distinguish between the believer and the hypocrite, except by the signs of each type that Allah uncovers. Allah’s statement, ”but Allah chooses of His Messengers whom He wills.” is similar to another Ayah, ”(He Alone is) the All-Knower of the Unseen, and He reveals to none His Unseen. Except to a Messenger (from mankind) whom He has chosen, and then He makes a band of watching guards (angels) to march before him and behind him.” (72:26,27). Allah then said, ”So believe in Allah and His Messengers.” Obey Allah and His Messenger and adhere to the law that he legislated for you, ”and if you believe and fear Allah, then for you there is a great reward.”

The Censure of Selfishness, and Warning Against it

Allah said, ”And let not those who are stingy with that which Allah has bestowed on them of His bounty (wealth) think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them.” (3:180)

Therefore, the Ayah says that the miser should not think that collecting money will benefit him. Rather, it will harm him in his religion and worldly affairs. Allah mentions the money that the miser collected on the Day of Resurrection, ”the things that they stingy with shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection.”

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

 ”Whoever Allah makes wealthy and he does not pay the Zakah due on his wealth, then (on the Day of Resurrection) his wealth will be made in the likeness of a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two black spots over the eyes. The snake will encircle his neck and bite his cheeks and proclaim, ‘I am your wealth, I am your treasure.” 

The Prophet then recited the Ayah,

”And let not those who are stingy with that which Allah has bestowed on them of His bounty think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them”, until the end. Al-Bukhari, but not Muslim, collected this Hadith using this chain of narration, Ibn Hibban also collected it in his Sahih. (Fath Al-Bari 8:78; Ibn Hibban 5:107)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon, said,

 ”Every person who does not pay the Zakah due on his wealth, will have his money made into the shape of a bald-headed, poisonous male snake who will follow him. The person will run away from the snake, who will follow him and proclaim, ‘I am your treasure.”

Abdullah then recited the Ayah in Allah’s Book that testifies to this fact, ”the things that they were stingy with shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad 1:377)

Allah’s statement, ”And to Allah belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the Earth”, means, ”and spend of that whereof He has made you trustees” (57: 7). Therefore, since all affairs are under Allah’s control, then spend from your money so it will benefit you on the Day of Return, ”and Allah is Well-Acquainted with all that you do” with your intentions and what your hearts conceal.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 314-333

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