Surah An-Nur Ayat 1-64 (end)

Surah An-Nur

Chapter 24

Which was Revealed in Al-Madinah

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

{1. A Surah which We have sent down and which We have enjoined (Faradnaha), and in it We have revealed manifest Ayat, that you may remember. 

2. The Zaniyah and the Zani, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.}

The Importance of Surat An-Nur
“A Surah which We have sent down” Here Allah is pointing out the high esteem in which He holds this Surah, which is not to say that other Surahs are not important.“and which We have enjoined,” Mujahid and Qatadah said, “This means: We have explained what is lawful and unlawful, commands and prohibitions, and the prescribed punishments.” (At-Tabari 19:89) Al-Bukhari said, “Those who read it: Faradnaha, say that it means: “We have enjoined them upon you and those who come after you.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:301) “and in it We have revealed manifest Ayat,” means, clearly explained,“that you may remember.”
The Explanation of the Prescribed Punishment for Zina (Illicit Sex)

Then Allah says: “The Zaniyah and the Zani, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.” This honorable Ayah contains the ruling on the law of retaliation for the person who commits illegal sex, and details of the punishment. Such a person will either be unmarried, meaning that he has never been married, or he will be married, meaning that he has had intercourse within the bounds of a lawful marriage, and he is free, adult and of sound mind. As for the virgin who is unwedded, the prescribed punishment is one hundred stripes, as stated in this Ayah. In addition to this he is to be banished from his homeland for one year, as was recorded in the Two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah and Zayd bin Khalid Al-Juhani in the Hadith about the two bedouins who came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. One of them said, “O Messenger of Allah, this son of mine was employed by this man, and committed Zina with his wife. I paid a ransom with him on behalf of my son one hundred sheep and a slave-girl, but when I asked the people of knowledge, they said that my son should be given one hundred stripes and banished for a year, and that this man’s wife should be stoned to death.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, I will judge between you both according to the Book of Allah. Take back the slave-girl and sheep, and your son is to be given one hundred stripes and banished for one year. O Unays – he said to a man from the tribe of Aslam – go to this man’s wife, and if she confesses, then stone her to death.” 

Unays went to her and she confessed, so he stoned her to death. (Fath Al-Bari 5:355)

This indicates that if the person who is guilty of illegal sex is a virgin and unmarried, he should be banished in addition to being given one hundred stripes. But if married, meaning he has had intercourse within the bounds of lawful marriage, and he is free, adult and of sound mind, then he should be stoned to death.

Imam Malik recorded that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, stood up and praised and glorified Allah, then he said; “O people! Allah sent Muhammad with the truth, and revealed to him the Book. One of the things that was revealed to him was the Ayah of stoning to death, which we have recited and understood. The Messenger of Allah carried out the punishment of stoning and after him we did so, but I am afraid that as time goes by, some will say that they did not find the Ayah of stoning in the Book of Allah, and they will go astray because they abandoned one of the obligations revealed by Allah. Stoning is something that is prescribed in the Book of Allah for the person – man or woman – who commits illegal sex, if he or she is married, if decisive evidence is produced, or if pregnancy results from that, or if they confess to it.” (Muwatta 2:823) It was also recorded in the Two Sahihs in the lengthy Hadith of Malik, from which we have quoted briefly only the portion that is relevant to the current discussion. (Fath Al-Bari 13:148)

[For a more detailed discussion of the nuances of this sensitive topic and the complexities of its application please see this Explanation from Mufti Menk and how to avoid paths that lead to  Fornication and Adultery discussed by Norman Ali Khan]

Do not feel pity for Them when carrying out the Prescribed Punishment
“Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah,” Meaning, with a ruling prescribed by Allah. So the meaning of the Ayah is: “Do not feel too sorry for them where the laws of Allah are established.” This does not mean that we should not naturally feel pity when carrying out the punishment. What is prohibited here is the kind of pity that may make the judge ignore the punishment altogether. This is what is not permitted for the judge.
Mujahid said, “Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah,” “If the matter is taken to the ruling authority, the punishment has to be carried out and cannot be stopped.” This was also narrated from Said bin Jubayr and Ata’ bin Abi Rabah. (Al-Baghawi 3:321)  It was recorded in a Hadith:

“Compromise with the matter of prescribed punishment mutually sorting it out among yourselves, for once a matter where the prescribed punishment is required reaches me, I am obliged to carry it out.”  (Abu Dawud 4:540)

Allah’s saying: “if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.” means, then do that, carry out the punishments on those who commit illegal sex, and strike them hard without causing any wound, so that he and others like him will be deterred by the terror of that. In Al-Musnad, it was recorded that one of the Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, when I slaughter a sheep I feel pity for it.” He said,

“You be rewarded for that.” (Ahmad 5:34)

Carry out the Prescribed Punishment in Public
“And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.” This is more humiliating for the people who are guilty of illegal sex, if they are flogged in front of the people. This is because it is more effective as a deterrent and it conveys the sense of scandal and rebuke. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said,“And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.” “Publicly.”

{3. The Zani marries not but a Zaniyah or a Mushrikah; and the Zaniyah, none marries her except a Zani or a Mushrik. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.}

Here Allah tells us that the Zani (male who is guilty of illegal sex) does not have intercourse except with a Zaniyah (female who is guilty of illegal sex) or a Mushrikah (female idolator), meaning that no one would go along with him in this action except a sinful woman who is also guilty of Zina, or a Mushrikah who does not think it is unlawful. By the same token, “and the Zaniyah, none marries her except a Zani” a sinful man who is guilty of fornication, “or a Mushrik” (a man) who does not think it is unlawful. “Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.” meaning, indulging in this, or marrying prostitutes, or marrying chaste women to immoral men. Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan said: “Allah forbade the believers from marrying prostitutes.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:127) This Ayah is like the Ayah [about marrying slave-girls] “they should be chaste, not committing illegal sex, nor taking boyfriends.” (4:25) And His saying:“desiring chastity not committing illegal sexual intercourse, nor taking them as girlfriends” (5:5). Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah bin Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said that a man among the believers asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for permission (to marry) a woman known as Umm Mahzul, who used to commit adultery, and who had stated the condition that she should spend on him. So he asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, for permission, or he mentioned the matter to him. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, recited to him:

“The Zani marries not but a Zaniyah or a Mushrikah; and the Zaniyah, none marries her except Zani or a Mushrik. Such a thing is forbidden to the believers.” (24:3)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, “A Zani who has been flogged should not marry anyone except someone who is like him.” A similar report was recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan. (Abu Dawud 2:543)

{30. Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.}

The Command to lower the Gaze 

This is a command from Allah to His believing servants, to lower their gaze from looking at things that have been prohibited for them. They should look only at what is permissible for them to look at, and lower their gaze from forbidden things. If it so happens that a person’s gaze unintentionally falls upon something forbidden, he should quickly look away. Muslim recorded in his Sahih that Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I asked the Prophet about the sudden glance, and he commanded me to turn my gaze away.” (At-Tabari 19:153 19:153)

In the Sahih it is narrated that Abu Sa`id said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“Beware of sitting in the streets.” 

They said, “O Messenger of Allah, we have no alternative but to sit in the streets to converse with one another.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“If you insist, then give the street its rights.” 

They asked, “What are the rights of the street, O Messenger of Allah?” He said,

“Lower your gaze, return the greeting of Salam, enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:134)

Abu Al-Qasim Al-Baghawi recorded that Abu Umamah said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“Guarantee me six things and I will guarantee you Paradise: when any one of you speaks, he should not lie; if he is entrusted with something, he should not betray that trust; if he makes a promise, he should not break it; lower your gaze; restrain your hands; and protect your private parts.” (Tarikh Al-Khatib 7:392)

Since looking provokes the heart to evil, Allah commanded (the believers) to protect their private parts just as he commanded them to protect their gaze which can lead to that. So he said:

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts.”

Sometimes protecting the private parts may involve keeping them from committing Zina, as Allah says: “And those who guard their chastity” (23:5). Sometimes it may involve not looking at certain things, as in the Hadith in Musnad Ahmad and the Sunan:

“Guard your private parts except from your wife and those whom your right hands possess. “That is purer for them.” (Ahmad 5:3) 

means, it is purer for their hearts and better for their commitment to religion, as it was said: Whoever protects his gaze, Allah will illuminate his understanding, or his heart. “Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.” This is like the Ayah : “Allah knows the fraud of the eyes and all that the breasts conceal.” (40:19)

In the Sahih it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“The son of Adam has his share of Zina decreed for him, and he will commit that which has been decreed. The Zina of the eyes is looking; the Zina of the tongue is speaking; the Zina of the ears is listening; the Zina of the hands is striking; and the Zina of the feet is walking. The soul wishes and desires, and the private parts confirm or deny that.” 

It was recorded by Al-Bukhari without a complete chain. Muslim recorded a similar report with a different chain of narration. (Muslim 4:2047)

Many of the Salaf said, “They used to forbid men from staring at beardless handsome boys. ”

{31. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over their Juyub and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their women, or their right hand possessions, or the Tabi`in among men who do not have desire, or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.}

The Rulings of Hijab

This is a command from Allah to the believing women, and jealousy on His part over the wives of His believing servants. It is also to distinguish the believing women from the women of the Jahiliyyah and the deeds of the pagan women. The reason for the revelation of this Ayah was mentioned by Muqatil bin Hayyan, when he said: “We heard – and Allah knows best – that Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari narrated that Asma’ bint Murshidah was in a house of hers in Bani Harithah, and the women started coming in to her without lower garments so that the anklets on their feet could be seen, along with their chests and forelocks. Asma’ said: `How ugly this is!’ Then Allah revealed: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze…” [This is a Mural narration – narrated from a Taabi’ not a Sahaabi] And Allah says:“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze” meaning, from that which Allah has forbidden them to look at, apart from their husbands.

[Some] scholars said that it is permissible for women to look at non-Mahram men without desire, as it was recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah was watching the Ethiopians playing with spears in the Masjid on the day of `Id, and `A’ishah the Mother of the believers was watching them from behind him and he was concealing her from them, until she got bored and went away. (Al-Buhkari 454)  “and protect their private parts”. Sa`id bin Jubayr said: “From immoral actions.” Abu Al-`Aliyah said: “Every Ayah of the Qur’an in which protecting the private parts is mentioned means protecting them from Zina, except for this Ayah – “and protect their private parts”, which means protecting them from being seen by anybody.” (At-Tabari 19:154) “and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent,” means, they should not show anything of their adornment to non-Mahram men except for whatever it is impossible to hide. Ibn Mas`ud said: “Such as clothes and outer garments,”

Meaning what the Arab women used to wear of the veil which covered their clothes and whatever showed from underneath the outer garment. There is no blame on her for this, because this is something that she cannot conceal. Similar to that is what appears of her lower garment and what she cannot conceal. Al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin, Abu Al-Jawza’, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i and others also had the same view as Ibn Mas`ud. (At-Tabari 19:156)

“and to draw their veils all over their Juyub” means that they should wear the outer garment in such a way as to cover their chests and ribs, so that they will be different from the women of the Jahiliyyah, who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests completely uncovered, and with their necks, forelocks, hair and earrings uncovered. So Allah commanded the believing women to cover themselves, as He says: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known, so as not to be annoyed” (33:59)

And in this noble Ayah He said:“and to draw their (Khumur) veils all over their Juyub” Khumur (veils) is the plural of Khimar, which means something that covers, and is what is used to cover the head. This is what is known among the people as a veil. Sa`id bin Jubayr said:“and to draw” means to pull it around and tie it securely.”their veils all over their Juyub” means, over their necks and chests so that nothing can be seen of them. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:182)

Al-Bukhari recorded that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “May Allah have mercy on the women of the early emigrants. When Allah revealed the Ayah:“and to draw their veils all over their Juyub”, they tore their aprons and Akhtamar themselves with them.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:347)

He also narrated from Safiyyah bint Shaybah that `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, used to say: “When this Ayah: “and to draw their veils all over their Juyub” was revealed, they took their Izars (waistsheets) and tore them at the edges, and Akhtamar themselves with them.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:347)  “and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons,” All of these are a woman’s close relatives whom she can never marry (Mahram) and it is permissible for her to show her adornments to them, but without making a wanton display of herself. Ibn Al-Mundhir recorded that `Ikrimah commented on this Ayah, “and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers…”, “The paternal uncle and maternal uncle are not mentioned here, because they may describe a woman to their sons, so a woman should not remove her Khimar in front of her paternal or maternal uncle.”(At-Tabari 19:160) With regard to the husband, all of this is for his sake, so she should try her best when adorning herself for him, unlike the way she should appear in front of others.

“or their women,” this means that she may also wear her adornment in front of other Muslim women, but not in front of the women of Ahl Adh-Dhimmah (Jewish and Christian women), lest they describe her to their husbands. This is prohibited for all women, but more so in the case of the women of Ahl Adh-Dhimmah, because there is nothing to prevent them from doing that, but Muslim women know that it is unlawful and so, would be deterred from doing it. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“No woman should describe another woman to her husband so that it is as if he is looking at her.”

It was recorded in the Two Sahihs from Ibn Mas`ud. (Fath Al-Bari 9:250)

“or their right hand possessions.” Ibn Jarir said, “This means from among the women of the idolators. It is permissible for a Muslim woman to reveal her adornment before such a woman, even if she is an idolatress, because she is her slave-girl.” (At-Tabari 19:160) This was also the view of Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:183)

Allah says;“Tabi`in among men who do not have desire,” such as hired servants and followers who are not at the same level as the woman and are feeble-minded and have no interest in or desire for women. Ibn `Abbas said, “This is the kind of person who has no desire.” (At-Tabari 19:161)

`Ikrimah said, “This is the hermaphrodite, who does not experience erections.” This was also the view of others among the Salaf. It was narrated in the Sahih from `A’ishah that a hermaphrodite, used to enter upon the family of the Messenger of Allah and they used to consider him as one of those who do not have desire, but then the Messenger of Allah came in when he was describing a woman with four rolls of fat in front and eight behind. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Lo! I think this person knows what is they are; he should never enter upon you.” 

He expelled him, and he stayed in Al-Bayda’ and only came on Fridays to get food. (Muslim 4:1715) “or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women.” Because they are so young they do not understand anything about women or their `Awrah or their soft speech or their enticing ways of walking and moving. If a child is small and does not understand that, there is nothing wrong with him entering upon women, but if he is an adolescent or approaching adolescence, so that he knows and understands these things, and can make a distinction between who is beautiful and who is not, then he should not enter upon women. It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“Avoid entering upon women.” 

It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what do you think about the male in-laws?” He said:

“The male in-law is death.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:242)

The Etiquette of Women walking in the Street

Allah’s saying: “And let them not stamp their feet…” During Jahiliyyah, when women walked in the street wearing anklets and no one could hear them, they would stamp their feet so that men could hear their anklets ringing. Allah forbade the believing women to do this. By the same token, if there is any other kind of adornment that is hidden, women are forbidden to make any movements that would reveal what is hidden, because Allah says: “And let them not stamp their feet…” to the end of it. From that, women are also prohibited from wearing scent and perfume when they are going outside the home, lest men should smell their perfume. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“Every eye commits fornication and adultery, and when a woman puts on perfume and passes through a gathering, she is such and such” – meaning an adulteress.

He said, “And there is a similar report from Abu Hurayrah, and this is Hasan Sahih.” (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi 8:70) It was also recorded by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i. (Abu Dawud 4:400)

By the same token, women are also forbidden to walk in the middle of the street, because of what this involves of wanton display.

Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Usayd Al-Ansari said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as he was coming out of the Masjid and men and women were mixing in the street, telling the women: 

“Keep back, for you have no right to walk in the middle of the street. You should keep to the sides of the road.”

The women used to cling to the walls so much that their clothes would catch on the walls. (Abu Dawud 5:422) [This is a weak narration, but there are other narrations to support the meaning of the Hadith which would classify as hasan.] “And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” means, practice what you are commanded in these beautiful manners and praiseworthy characteristics, and give up the evil ways of the people of Jahiliyyah, for the greatest success is to be found in doing what Allah and His Messenger command and avoiding what He forbids. And Allah is the source of strength.

{32. And marry those among you who are single (Al-Ayama) and the pious of your servants and maidservants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty. And Allah is All-Sufficent, All-Knowing. 

33. And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His bounty. And such of your servants as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them. And give them something (yourselves) out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you. And force not your slave-girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them, then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 

34. And indeed We have sent down for you Ayat that make things plain, and the example of those who passed away before you, and an admonition for those who have Taqwa.}

The Command to Marry

These clear Ayat include a group of unambiguous rulings and firm commands. “And marry those among you who are single (Al-Ayama)….” This is a command to marry. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him marry, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts. Whoever cannot do that, then let him fast, for it is a protection for him.” 

This was recorded in the Two Sahihs from the Hadith of Ibn Mas`ud. (Fath Al-Bari 9:14) In the Sunan, it was recorded from more than one person that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

 “Marry and have children, for I will be proud of you before the nations on the Day of Resurrection.” 

The word Al-Ayama, the plural form of Ayyim, is used to describe a woman who has no husband and a man who has no wife, regardless of whether they have been married and then separated, or have never been married at all. Al-Jawhari reported this from the scholars of the (Arabic) language, and the word is applied to men and women alike. “If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.” Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn Abbas: “Allah encouraged them to get married, commanded both free men and servants to get married, and He promised to enrich them.” (At-Tabari 19:166) “If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.” It was recorded that Ibn Mas`ud said: “Seek the richness through marriage, for Allah says:“If they be poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty.”” This was recorded by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 19:166) Al-Baghawi also recorded something similar from `Umar. (Al-Baghawi 3:342)

It was reported from Al-Layth from Muhammad bin `Ajlan from Sa`id Al-Maqburi from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There are three whom it is a right upon Allah to help: one who gets married seeking chastity; a slave who makes a contract with his master with the aim of buying his freedom; and one who fights for the sake of Allah.” 

This was recorded by Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah. (Ahmad 2:251)

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, performed the marriage of a man who owned nothing but his waist wrap, and could not even buy a ring made of iron, but he still married him to that woman, making the Mahr his promise to teach her whatever he knew of the Qur’an. And it is known from the generosity and kindness of Allah that He provided him with whatever was sufficient for her and for him.

The Command to keep Oneself Chaste if One is not able to get married

Allah’s saying:“And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until Allah enriches them of His bounty.” This is a command from Allah to those who do not have the means to get married: they are to keep themselves chaste and avoid unlawful things, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  said:

“O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, let him marry, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts. Whoever cannot do that, then let him fast, for it is a protection for him.” (Fath Al-Bari 9:14)

This Ayah is general in meaning, and the Ayah in Surat An-Nisa’ is more specific, where Allah says:“And whoever of you have not the means wherewith to wed free believing women” until His statement; “but it is better for you that you practise self-restraint” (4:25) meaning, it is better for you to be patient and refrain from marrying slave-girl, because any child that is born will also be a slave.“and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (4:25).“And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste,” `Ikrimah said, “This refers to a man who sees a woman and it is as if he feels desire; if he has a wife then let him go to her and fulfill his desire with her, and if he does not have a wife, then let him ponder the kingdom of heaven and earth until Allah grants him means of livelihood.”

The Command to grant Slaves a Contract of Emancipation 
“And such of your servants as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them.” This is a command from Allah to slave-owners: if their servants ask them for a contract of emancipation, they should write it for them, provided that the servant has some skill and means of earning so that he can pay his master the money that is stipulated in the contract.
Al-Bukhari said: “Rawh narrated from Ibn Jurayj: `I said to `Ata’, “If I know that my servant has money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation” He said, “I do not think it can be anything but obligatory.” `Amr bin Dinar said: “I said to `Ata’, `Are you narrating this from anybody’ He said, `No,’ then he told me that Musa bin Anas told him that Sirin, who had a lot of money, asked Anas for a contract of emancipation and he refused. So he went to `Umar (bin Al-Khattab), may Allah be pleased with him, and he said, `Write it for him.’ He refused, so `Umar hit him with his whip and recited, “give them such writing, if you find that there is good and honesty in them.”
Then he wrote the contract.” This was mentioned by Al-Bukhari with a disconnected chain of narration. (Fath Al-Bari 5:219) It was also narrated by Abdur-Razzaq who said Ibn Jurayj told them: I said to `Ata’, “If I know that my servant has some money, is it obligatory for me to write him a contract of emancipation” He said, `I do not think it can be anything but obligatory.”’ (Abdur-Razzaq 8:371) It was also said by `Amr bin Dinar who said, “I said to `Ata’, `Are you narrating this from anybody’ He said, `No.”’ Ibn Jarir recorded that Sirin wanted Anas bin Malik to write a contract of emancipation and he delayed, then `Umar said to him, “You should certainly write him a contract of emancipation.” Its chain of narrators is Sahih. (At-Tabari 19:167)
Allah’s saying:“if you find that there is good and honesty in them.” Some of them said (this means) trustworthiness. Some said: “Honesty,” and others said: “A skill and ability to earn.” “And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.” This is the share of the wealth of Zakah that Allah stated to be their right. This is the opinion of Al-Hasan, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and his father and Muqatil bin Hayyan. It was also the opinion favored by Ibn Jarir. (At-Tabari 19:173)  “And give them something out of the wealth of Allah which He has bestowed upon you.” Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, “This is urging the people, their masters and others.” This was also the view of Buraydah bin Al-Husayb Al-Aslami and Qatadah. Ibn Abbas said: “Allah commanded the believers to help in freeing slaves.”
The Prohibition of forcing One’s Slave-Girls to commit Zina

Allah’s saying: “And force not your slave-girls to prostitution…” Among the people of the Jahiliyyah, there were some who, if he had a slave-girl, he would send her out to commit Zina and would charge money for that, which he would take from her every time. When Islam came, Allah forbade the believers to do that. The reason why this Ayah was revealed, according to the reports of a number of earlier and later scholars of Tafsir, had to do with `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. He had slave-girls whom he used to force into prostitution so that he could take their earnings and because he wanted them to have children which would enhance his status, or so he claimed.

Reports narrated on this Topic

In his Musnad, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Ahmad bin `Amr bin `Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Bazzar, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Az-Zuhri said, “`Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul had a slave-girl whose name was Mu`adhah, whom he forced into prostitution. When Islam came, the Ayah “And force not your slave-girls to prostitution…” was revealed.” (Kashf Al-Astar 3:61)

Al-A`mash narrated from Abu Sufyan that Jabir said concerning this Ayah, “This was revealed about a slave-girl belonging to `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul whose name was Musaykah. He used to force her to commit immoral actions, but there was nothing wrong with her and she refused. Then Allah revealed this Ayah: “And force not your slave-girls to prostitution,” until His saying; “But if anyone compels them, then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (At-Tabari 19:174) An-Nasa’i also recorded something similar. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:419)

Muqatil bin Hayyan said, “I heard – and Allah knows best – that this Ayah was revealed about two men who used to force two slave-girls of theirs (into prostitution). One of them was called Musaykah who belonged to [the Ansari], and Umaymah the mother of Musaykah belonged to `Abdullah bin Ubayy. Mu`adhah and Arwa were in the same situation. Then Musaykah and her mother came to the Prophet and told him about that. Then Allah revealed:“And force not your slave-girls to prostitution”, meaning Zina. (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:193) “if they desire chastity,” means, if they want to be chaste, which is the case with the majority of slave-girls.“in order that you may make a gain in the goods of this worldly life.” meaning, from the money they earn and their children. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,  forbade the money earned by the cupper, the prostitute and the fortune-teller. (Muslim 3:1198) According to another report:

“The earnings of a prostitute are evil, the earnings of a cupper are evil, and the price of a dog is evil.” (Muslim 3:1198)

“But if anyone compels them, then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” meaning, towards them, as has already been stated in the Hadith narrated from Jabir. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:419)  Ibn Abi Talhah narrated that Ibn `Abbas said, “If you do that, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, and their sin will be on the one who forced them to do that.” (At-Tabari 19:175)  This was also the view of Mujahid, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani, Al-A`mash and Qatadah. (At-Tabari 19:175)

After explaining these rulings in detail, Allah says:“And indeed We have sent down for you Ayat that make things plain,” meaning, in the Qur’an there are Ayat which are clear and explain matters in detail.“and the example of those who passed away before you,” means, reports about the nations of the past and what happened to them when they went against the commandments of Allah, as Allah says:“And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.” (43:56) We made them a lesson, i.e., a rebuke for committing sin and forbidden deeds.“for those who have Taqwa.” meaning, for those who remember and fear Allah.

{35. Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as a niche and within it a lamp: the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a star Durriyyun, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow forth, though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.}

The Parable of the Light of Allah

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said:“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” means, the Guide of the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth. (At-Tabari 19:177) Ibn Jurayj said: “Mujahid and Ibn `Abbas said concerning the Ayah:“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” He is controlling their affairs and their stars and sun and moon.” (At-Tabari 19:177) As-Suddi said concerning the Ayah:“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” by His Light the heavens and earth are illuminated.

In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “When the Messenger of Allah got up to pray at night, he would say:

“O Allah, to You be praise, You are the Sustainer of heaven and earth and whoever is in them. To You be praise, You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and whoever is in them.” (Fath Al-Bari 5:3)

It was narrated that Ibn Mas`ud said, “There is no night or day with your Lord; the Light of the Throne comes from the Light of His Face.”

“The parable of His Light” There are two views concerning the meaning of the pronoun “His”. The first is that it refers to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, meaning that the parable of His guidance in the heart of the believer is “as a niche” This was the view of Ibn Abbas. (At-Tabari 19:179) The second view is that the pronoun refers to the believer, which is indicated by the context of the words and implies that the parable of the light in the heart of the believer is as a niche. So the heart of the believer and what he is naturally inclined to of guidance and what he learns of the Qur’an which is in accordance with his natural inclinations are, as Allah says:“Can they who rely on a clear proof from their Lord, and whom a witness from Him recites it (can they be equal with the disbelievers)” (11:17). The heart of the believer in its purity and clarity is likened to a lamp in transparent and jewel-like glass, and the Qur’an and Shari`ah by which it is guided are likened to good, pure, shining oil in which there is no impurity or deviation.“as (if there were) a niche” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ka`b and others said, “This refers to the position of the wick in the lamp.” (At-Tabari 19:180) This is well-known, and hence Allah then says:“and within it a lamp.” This is the flame that burns brightly. Or it was said that the niche is a niche in the house. This is the parable given by Allah of obedience towards Him. Allah calls obedience to Him as light, then He calls it by other numerous names as well. Ubayy bin Ka`b said, “The lamp is the light, and this refers to the Qur’an and the faith that is in his heart.” As-Suddi said, “It is the lamp.”“the lamp is in a glass,” means, this light is shining in a clear glass. Ubayy bin Ka`b and others said, “This is the likeness of the heart of the believer.” (At-Tabari 19:178) “the glass as it were a star Durriyyun,” Some authorities recite the word Durriyyun with a Dammah on the Dal and without a Hamzah, which means pearls, i.e., as if it were a star made of pearls (Durr). Others recite it as Dirri’un or Durri’un, with a Kasrah on the Dal, or Dammah on the Dal, and with a Hamzah at the end, which means reflection (Dir’), because if something is shone on the star it becomes brighter than at any other time. The Arabs call the stars they do not know Darari. Ubayy bin Ka`b said: a shining star. Qatadah said: “Huge, bright and clear.”“lit from a blessed tree,” means, it is derived from olive oil, from a blessed tree.“an olive,” This refers to the blessed tree mentioned previously.“neither of the east nor of the west,” means, it is not in the eastern part of the land so that it does not get any sun in the first part of the day, nor is it in the western part of the land so that it is shaded from the sun before sunset, but it is in a central position where it gets sun from the beginning of the day until the end, so its oil is good and pure and shining.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas commented on:“an olive, neither of the east nor of the west,” “This is a tree in the desert which is not shaded by any other tree or mountain or cave, nothing covers it, and this is best for its oil.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 8:2600) Mujahid commented on: “neither of the east nor of the west,” saying; “It is not in the east where it will get no sun when the sun sets, nor is it in the west where it will get no sun when the sun rises, but it is in a position where it will get sun both at sunrise and sunset.” (At-Tabari 19:186) Sa`id bin Jubayr commented:“an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself)” “This is the best kind of oil. When the sun rises it reaches the tree from the east and when it sets it reaches it from the west, so the sun reaches it morning and evening, so it is not counted as being in the east or in the west.” “whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it.” Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said (this means) because the oil itself is shining.(At-Tabari 19:183) “Light upon Light!” Al-Awfi narrated from Ibn Abbas that this meant the faith and deeds of a person. (At-Tabari 19:182) As-Suddi said:“Light upon Light!” “Light of the fire and the light of the oil: when they are combined they give light, and neither of them can give light without the other. Similarly the light of the Qur’an and the light of faith give light when they are combined, and neither can do so without the other.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:202) “Allah guides to His Light whom He wills.” means, Allah shows the way to the ones whom He chooses, as it says in the Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad from `Abdullah bin `Amr, who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

“Allah created His creation in darkness, then on the same day He sent His Light upon them. Whoever was touched by His Light on that day will be guided and whoever was missed will be led astray. Hence I say: the pens have dried in accordance with the knowledge of Allah, may He be glorified.” (Ahmad 2:176)

“And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.” Having mentioned this parable of the Light of His guidance in the heart of the believer, Allah ends this Ayah with the words:“And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.” meaning, He knows best who deserves to be guided and who deserves to be led astray.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, “The Messenger of Allah said:

“Hearts are of four kinds: the heart that is clear like a shining lamp; the heart that is covered and tied up; the heart that is upside-down; and the heart that is clad in armor. As for the clear heart, it is the heart of the believer in which is a lamp filled with light; as for the covered heart, this is the heart of the disbeliever; as for the upside-down heart, this is the heart of the hypocrite, who recognizes then denies; as for the armor-clad heart, this is the heart in which there is both faith and hypocrisy. The parable of the faith in it is that of legume, a sprout that is irrigated with good water, and the likeness of the hypocrisy in it is that of sores that are fed by blood and pus. Whichever of the two prevails is the characteristic that will dominate.” (Ahmad 3:17) 

Its chain of narrators is good (Jayyid) although they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (vol 7) Abridged Pages 64-89

{53. They swear by Allah their strongest oaths that if only you would order them, they would leave. Say: “Swear you not; obedience is known. Verily, Allah knows well what you do.” 

54. Say: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey (the Message) in a clear way.}

Allah says about the hypocrites who had promised the Messenger and sworn that if he were to command them to go out for battle, they would go: “Say: “Swear you not…”  meaning, do not swear this oath.“obedience is known.” It was said that the meaning is, your obedience is known, i.e., it is known that your obedience is merely verbal and is not accompanied by action. Every time you swear an oath you lie. This is like the Ayah: “They swear to you that you may be pleased with them…” (9:96) And Allah says: “They have made their oaths a screen (for their evil actions).” (58:16) It is part of their nature to tell lies, even in the issues they choose, as Allah says: “Have you not observed the hypocrites who say to their friends among the people of the Scripture who disbelieve: “If you are expelled, we indeed will go out with you, and we shall never obey any one against you; and if you are attacked, we shall indeed help you.” But Allah is Witness that they verily are liars. Surely, if they are expelled, never will they go out with them; and if they are attacked, they will never help them. And if they do help them, they will turn their backs, and they will not be victorious.” (59:11-12) Then Allah says: “Say: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger…” meaning, follow the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, peace and blessing of Allah be upon them. “but if you turn away,” if you ignore what he has brought to you, “he is only responsible for the duty placed on him”, conveying the Message and fulfilling the trust. “and you for that placed on you.” accepting that, and venerating it and doing as it commanded. “If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance.” because he calls to the straight path,“The path of Allah to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth…” (42:53) “The Messenger’s duty is only to convey in a clear way.” This is like the Ayat: “your duty is only to convey and on Us is the reckoning.” (13:40) “So remind them – you are only one who reminds. You are not a dictator over them.” (88:21-22)

{55. Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practise their religion which He has chosen for them. And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear if they worship Me and do not associate anything with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the rebellious.}

Allah’s Promise to the Believers that He would grant them Succession

This is a promise from Allah to His Messenger that He would cause his Ummah to become successors on earth, i.e., they would become the leaders and rulers of mankind, through whom He would reform the world and to whom people would submit, so that they would have in exchange a safe security after their fear. This is what Allah did indeed do, may He be glorified and exalted, and to Him be praise and blessings. For He did not cause His Messenger to die until He had given him victory over Makkah, Khaybar, Bahrayn, all of the Arabian Peninsula and Yemen; and he took Jizyah from the Zoroastrians of Hajar and from some of the border lands of Syria; and he exchanged gifts with Heraclius the ruler of Byzantium, the ruler of Egypt and Alexandria, the Muqawqis, the kings of Oman and An-Najashi of Abyssinia, who had become king after Ashamah, may Allah have mercy on him and grant him honor.

Then when the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, died, his successor (Khalifah) Abu Bakr As-Siddiq took over the reins of power and united the Ummah, preventing its disintegration. He took control of the entire Arabian Peninsula, and he sent the Islamic armies to the land of Persia, under the leadership of Khalid bin Al-Walid, may Allah be pleased with him, who conquered a part of it and killed some of its people. He sent another army under the leadership of Abu Ubaydah, may Allah be pleased with him, and the other commanders who came after him in the lands of Syria. He sent a third army under the leadership of Amr bin Al-As, may Allah be pleased with him, to Egypt. Allah enabled the army sent to Syria to conquer Busra and Damascus and their provinces the land of Hawran and its environs. Then Allah chose for Abu Bakr to honor him with Him and he died.

The people of Islam were blessed that As-Siddiq was inspired to appoint Umar Al-Faruq as his successor, so he took the reins of power after him and did a perfect job. After the Prophets, the world never saw anyone like Umar in excellence of conduct and perfect justice. During his time, the rest of Syria and Egypt, and most of Persia, was conquered. Kisra was defeated and utterly humiliated, and he retreated to the furthest point of his kingdom. Mighty Caesar was brought low, his rule over Syria was overthrown, and he retreated to Constantinople. Their wealth was spent for the sake of Allah, as the Messenger of Allah had foretold and promised. May Allah’s perfect peace and purest blessing be upon him.

During the rule of Uthman, the Islamic domains spread to the furthest points of the earth, east and west. The lands of the west were conquered as far as Cyprus and Andalusia, Kairouan [Current day Tunisia] and Sebta which adjoins the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the east, the conquests extended as far as China. Kisra was killed, his kingdom was utterly destroyed and the cities of Iraq, Khurasan and Al-Ahwaz were conquered. The Muslims killed a great number of Turks and Allah humiliated their great king Khaqan. Taxes were collected from the east and the west, and brought to the Commander of the faithful Uthman bin Affan, may Allah be pleased with him. This was a blessing brought by his recitation and study of the Qur’an, and his bringing the Ummah together to preserve and protect it. In the Sahih it was recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah showed me the earth and I looked at the east and the west. The dominion of my Ummah will reach everywhere I was shown.” (Muslim 4:2215)

And now we are enjoying that which Allah and His Messenger promised us, for Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth. We ask Allah to give us faith in Him and His Messenger, and to help us to give thanks to Him in a manner that will earn us His pleasure. “Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practise their religion which He has chosen for them. And He will surely, give them in exchange a safe security after their fear…” Ar-Rabi bin Anas narrated that Abu Al-Aliyah said, “The Prophet and his Companions were in Makkah for nearly ten years, calling people in secret to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate. They were in a state of fear and were not instructed to fight until after they were commanded to migrate to Al-Madinah. When they came to Al-Madinah, then Allah instructed them to fight. In Al-Madinah they were afraid and they carried their weapons morning and evening. This is how they remained for as long as Allah willed…” Then Allah revealed this Ayah. (At-Tabari 19:209)

He caused His Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to prevail over the Arabian Peninsula, and then they felt safe and put down their weapons. Then Allah took His Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and they remained safe throughout the time of Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman, until what happened happened, and fear again prevailed over them, so they instituted a police force and guards. They changed, so their situation changed. One of the Salaf said, “The Khilafah of Abu Bakr and Umar was true and adhered to the Book of Allah. Then he recited this Ayah.”

Al-Bara’ bin Azib said, “This Ayah was revealed when we were in a state of extreme fear.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 6:215) This Ayah is like the Ayah: “And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land” Until His statement:“so that you might be grateful” (8:26). “as He granted succession to those before them,” This is like the Ayah where Allah tells us that Musa said to his people: “It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors on the earth…” (7:129) And Allah says: “And We wished to do a favor to those who were weak in the land,” until the two Ayat there after. (28: 5-6) “and that He will grant them the authority to practise their religion which He has chosen for them…” As the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to Adiyy bin Hatim when he came to him in a delegation:

“Do you know Al-Hirah?”

He said, “I do not know it, but I have heard of it.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, Allah will make this matter [i.e., Islam] prevail until a woman riding a camel will come from Al-Hirah [modern Iraq] and perform Tawaf around the House without needing the protection of anybody, and the treasures of Kisra the son of Hurmuz will be opened.” 

He asked, “Kisra the son of Hurmuz?” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Yes, Kisra the son of Hurmuz, and wealth will be given until there will be no one who will accept it.” 

Adiyy bin Hatim said: “Now it is happening that a woman riding a camel comes from Al-Hirah and performs Tawaf around the House without needing the protection of anybody, and I was among those who opened the treasure of Kisra the son of Hurmuz. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, the third thing will also come to pass, because the Messenger of Allah said it.” (Ahmad 4:257)

“if they worship Me and do not associate anything with Me.” Imam Ahmad recorded from Anas that Mu`adh bin Jabal told him, “While I was riding behind the Prophet on a donkey, with nothing between me and him but the back of his saddle, he said,

“O Mu`adh bin Jabal.”

I said, `Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah.’ Then a while passed, then he, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“O Mu`adh bin Jabal.”

I said, `Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah.’ Then a while passed, then he said,

“O Mu`adh bin Jabal.”

I said, `Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah.’ He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Do you know the rights that Allah has over His servants?”

I said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,

“The rights that Allah has over His servants are that they should worship Him and not associate anything with Him.”

Then a while passed, then he said,

“O Mu`adh bin Jabal.”

I said, `Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said,

“Do you know the rights that people have over Allah if they do that?”

I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“The rights that people have over Allah is that He will not punish them.” (Ahmad 5:242)

This was also recorded in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 10:412)

“But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the rebellious.” means, ‘whoever then stops obeying Me after that, has stopped obeying the command of his Lord, and that is a great sin.’ The Companions – may Allah be pleased with them – were the most committed of people after the Prophet to the commands of Allah and the most obedient to Allah. Their victories were in accordance with their level of commitment. They caused the Word of Allah to prevail in the east and the west, and Allah supported them so much that they governed all the people and all the lands. When the people subsequently fell short in their commitment to some of the commandments, their strength and victory fell short accordingly, but it is confirmed through more than one route in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“There will remain a group of my Ummah adhering to the truth, and those who forsake them or oppose them will not harm them until the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim 3:1523)

According to another report:

“.. until the command of Allah comes to pass and they are like that.” (Muslim 1:137)

According to another report:

“… until they fight the Dajjal.” (Ahmad 437)

According to another report:

“… until `Isa bin Maryam comes down and they are prevailing.” (Fath Al-Bari 13:306)

All of these reports are Sahih, and there is no contradiction between them.

{56. And perform the Salah, and give the Zakah and obey the Messenger that you may receive mercy. 

57. Consider not that the disbelievers can escape in the land. Their abode shall be the Fire – and worst indeed is that destination.}

The Command to pray, give the Zakah and obey the Messenger; the inability of the Disbelievers to escape, and the ultimate Destiny

Allah commands His believing servants to establish prayer, which means worshipping Allah Alone with no partner or associate; to pay the Zakah, which is an act of kindness towards His poor and weak creatures; and by doing so to obey the Messenger of Allah , i.e., to do as he commands them and to avoid what he forbids them, so that Allah will have mercy on them for that. No doubt, whoever does that, Allah will have mercy on him, as Allah says in another Ayah: “Allah will have His mercy on them” (9:71) “Consider not” means, ‘do not think, O Muhammad,’ that: “the disbelievers” meaning, those who opposed and denied you, “can escape in the land.” means, that they can flee from Allah. No, Allah is able to deal with them and He will punish them most severely for that. Allah says: “Their abode” meaning, in the Hereafter, “shall be the Fire – and worst indeed is that destination.”  means, how terrible the consequences will be for the disbelievers, how evil a place to stay in and how awful a place to rest!

{58. O you who believe! Let your slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission on three occasions: before the Fajr prayer, and while you put off your clothes during the afternoon, and after the `Isha’ prayer. (These) three (times) are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the Ayat to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 

59. And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them (also) ask for permission, as those senior to them (in age) ask permission. Thus Allah makes clear His Ayat for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 

60. And the Qawa`id among women who do not hope for marriage, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain is better for them. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.}

The Times when Servants and Young Children should seek Permission to enter

These Ayat include a discussion of how people who are closely related should seek permission to enter upon one another. What was mentioned earlier in the Surah had to do with how unrelated people should seek permission to enter upon one another. Allah commanded the believers to ensure that their servants and their children who have not yet reached puberty should seek permission at three times: the first is before the Fajr prayer, because people are asleep in their beds at that time. “and while you put off your clothes during the afternoon,” means, at the time of rest, because a man may be in a state of undress with his wife at that time. “and after the Isha’ prayer.” because this is the time for sleep. Servants and children are commanded not to enter upon household members at these times, because it is feared that a man may be in an intimate situation with his wife and so on. Allah says: “(These) three (times) are of privacy for you; other than these times there is no sin on you or on them” If they enter at a time other than these, there is no sin on you if you let them enter, and no sin on them if they see something at a time other than these times. They have been given permission to enter suddenly, because they are those who go around in the house, i.e., to serve you etc., and as such they may be forgiven for things that others will not be forgiven. Although this Ayah is quite clear and has not been abrogated, people hardly follow it, and Abdullah bin Abbas denounced the people for that.

Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn Abbas said: “Most of the people do not follow it, the Ayah that speaks about asking permission, but I tell my servant woman to seek permission to enter.” Abu Dawud said: Ata’ also narrated that Ibn Abbas commanded this. (Abu Dawud 5:377) Ath-Thawri narrated that Musa bin Abi A’ishah said, “I asked Ash-Shabi about the Ayah: “Let your slaves and slave-girls ask your permission.” He said, ‘It has not been abrogated.’ I said: `But the people do not do that.’ He said, `May Allah help them.”’ (At-Tabari 19:213) Then Allah says:“And when the children among you come to puberty, then let them (also) ask for permission, as those senior to them (in age)” meaning: when the children who used to seek permission at the three times of privacy reach puberty, then they have to seek permission at all times, i.e., with regard to those who are non-relatives, and at times when a man may be in a state of intimacy with his wife, even if it is not one of the three times stated above.

There is no Sin on Elderly Women if They do not wear a Cloak
“And the Qawa`id among women.” Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muqatil bin Hayyan, Ad-Dahhak and Qatadah said that these are the women who no longer think that they can bear children,“who do not hope for marriage,” meaning, they no longer have any desire for marriage,“it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment.” meaning, they do not have to cover themselves in the same way that other women have to.
Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn Abbas said that the Ayah:“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze” (24:31) was abrogated and an exception was made in the case of: “the past childbearing among women who do not hope for marriage.” (Abu Dawud 4:361) “it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing” Ibn Mas`ud said about (outer) clothing,, “The Jilbab or Rida’.(At-Tabari 19:217) ” A similar view was also narrated from Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Ash-Shatha’, Ibrahim An-Nakhai, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Az-Zuhri, Al-`Awza`i and others. (At-Tabari 19:217)  “in such a way as not to show their adornment.” Sa`id bin Jubayr said, “They should not make a wanton display of themselves by removing their outer garment so that their adornment may be seen.” “But to refrain is better for them.” means, not removing their outer garment, even though that is permissible for them, is better for them. “And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.”

{4. And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever. They indeed are the rebellious. 

5. Except those who repent thereafter and do righteous deeds; (for such) verily, Allah is Of the Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

The Prescribed Punishment for slandering Chaste Women

This Ayah states the prescribed punishment for making false accusations against chaste women, i.e., those who are free, adult and chaste. If the person who is falsely accused is a man, the same punishment of flogging also applies. If the accuser produces evidence that what he is saying is true, then the punishment does not apply. Allah said:“and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever. They indeed are the rebellious.” If the accuser cannot prove that what he is saying is true, then three rulings apply to him: (firstly) that he should be flogged with eighty stripes, (secondly) that his testimony should be rejected forever, and (thirdly) that he should be labelled as a rebellious who is not of good character, whether in the sight of Allah or of mankind.

Explaining the Repentance of the One Who makes a False Accusation

Then Allah says:“Except those who repent thereafter and do righteous deeds; (for such) verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” This exception refers to the second and third rulings mentioned above. The flogging has been carried out regardless of whether he repents or persists, and after that there is no further punishment, as is agreed among the scholars. If he repents, then his testimony may be accepted, and he is no longer to be regarded as a rebellious. This was the view of Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib – the leader of the Tabi`in [the generation after the Companions] – and also a group among the Salaf. (At-Tabari 19:105)

Ash-Sha`bi and Ad-Dahhak said, “His testimony cannot be accepted even if he does repent, unless he himself admits that he said something false, in which case his testimony may be accepted.” (At-Tabari 19:103,108) And Allah knows best.

{6. And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies by Allah that he is one of those who speak the truth. 

7. And the fifth (testimony); invoking of the curse of Allah on him if he be of those who tell a lie. 

8. But she shall avert the punishment from her, if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he is telling a lie. 

9. And the fifth; should be that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth. 

10. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you! And that Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, the All-Wise.}

Details of Al-Lian

This Ayah offers a way out for husbands. If a husband has accused his wife but cannot come up with proof, he can swear the Li`an (the oath of condemnation) as Allah commanded. This means that he brings her before the Imam and states what he is accusing her of. The ruler then asks him to swear four times by Allah in front of four witnesses “that he is one of those who speak the truth” in his accusation of her adultery.“And the fifth; the invoking of the curse of Allah on him if he be of those who tell a lie.” If he says that, then she is divorced from him by the very act of this Li`an; she is forever forbidden for him and he must give her Mahr to her. The punishment for Zina should be carried out on her, and nothing can prevent the punishment except if she also swears the oath of condemnation (Li`an) and swears by Allah four times that he is one of those who lied, i.e., in what he is accusing her of; “And the fifth; should be that the crath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth.” Allah says:“But she shall avert the punishment” meaning, the prescribed punishment.“if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he is telling a lie. And the fifth; should be that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth.” The wrath of Allah is mentioned specially in the case of the woman, because usually a man would not go to the extent of exposing his wife and accusing her of Zina unless he is telling the truth and has good reason to do this, and she knows that what he is accusing her of is true. So in her case the fifth testimony calls for the wrath of Allah to be upon her, for the one upon whom is the wrath of Allah, is the one who knows the truth yet deviates from it. Then Allah mentions His grace and kindness to His creation in that He has prescribed for them a way out of their difficulties. Allah says: “And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you!” meaning, many of your affairs would have been too difficult for you, “And that Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance” means, from His servants, even if that comes after they have sworn a confirmed oath.“the All-Wise.” in what He prescribes and commands and forbids. There are Hadiths which explain how we are to put this Ayah into effect, why it was revealed and concerning whom among the Companions it was revealed.

The Reason why the Ayah of Lian was revealed

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas said: “When the Ayah “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever” (24:4) was revealed, Sa`d bin `Ubadah, may Allah be pleased with him, – the leader of the Ansar – said, `Is this how it was revealed, O Messenger of Allah’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: 

“O Ansar, did you hear what your leader said?”

They said, `O Messenger of Allah, do not blame him, for he is a jealous man. By Allah, he never married a woman who was not a virgin, and he never divorced a woman but none of us would dare to marry her because he is so jealous.’ Sa`d said, ‘By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, I know that it (the Ayah) is true and is from Allah, but I am surprised. If I found some wicked man lying down with my wife, should I not disturb him until I have brought four witnesses? By Allah, he would have finished what he was doing before I could bring them!’ A little while later, Hilal bin Umayyah – one of the three whose repentance had been accepted – came back from his lands at night and found a man with his wife. He saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears, but he did not disturb him until the morning. In the morning he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I came to my wife at night and found a man with her, and I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.’ The Messenger of Allah did not like what he had said and got very upset. The Ansar gathered around him and said, `We were being tested by what Sa`d bin Ubadah said, and now the Messenger of Allah will punish Hilal bin Umayyah and declare his testimony before people to be unacceptable.’ Hilal said: ‘By Allah, I hope that Allah will make for me a way out from this problem.’ Hilal said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I see how upset you are by what I have said, but Allah knows that I am telling the truth.’ By Allah, the Messenger of Allah wanted to have him flogged, but then Allah sent revelation to His Messenger. When the revelation came upon him, they knew about it from the change in his face, so they would leave him alone until the revelation was finished. Allah revealed the Ayah: “And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies by Allah…” Then the revelation was finished and the Messenger of Allah said,

“Rejoice, O Hilal, for Allah has made a way out for you.” 

Hilal said, `I had been hoping for this from my Lord, may He be glorified.’ The Messenger of Allah said:

“Send for her.” 

So they sent for her and she came. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah to them both, and reminded them that the punishment of the Hereafter is more severe than the punishment in this world. Hilal said, `By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, I have spoken the truth about her.’ She said, `He is lying.’ The Messenger of Allah said,

“Make them both swear the Li`an.” 

So Hilal was told, `Testify.’ So he testified four times by Allah that he was one of those who speak the truth. When he came to the fifth testimony, he was told, `O Hilal, have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.’ He said, `By Allah, Allah will not punish me for it, just as He has not caused me to be flogged for it.’ So he testified for the fifth time that the curse of Allah would be upon him if he was telling a lie. Then it was said to his wife, `Testify four times by Allah that he is telling a lie.’ And when his wife reached the fifth testimony, she was told, `Have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.’ She hesitated for a while, and was about to admit her guilt, then she said: `By Allah, I will not expose my people to shame, and she swore the fifth oath that the wrath of Allah would be upon her if he was telling the truth.’

Then the Messenger of Allah separated them, and decreed that her child should not be attributed to any father, nor should the child be accused, and whoever accused her or her child, they would be subject to punishment. He also decreed that [Hilal] was not obliged to house her or feed her, because they had not been separated by divorce, nor had he died and left her a widow. He said,

“If she gives birth to a red-haired child (with skinny thighs) and thin legs, then he is Hilal’s child, but if she gives birth to a curly-haired child with thick legs and plump buttocks, then this is what she is accused of.” 

She subsequently gave birth to a child who was curly-haired with thick legs and plump buttocks, and the Messenger of Allah said,

“Were it not for the oath that she swore, I would deal with her.”

Ikrimah said, “The child grew up to become the governor of Egypt, and he was given his mother’s name and was not attributed to any father.” Abu Dawud recorded a similar but briefer report. (Abu Dawud 2:588)

This Hadith has corroborating reports in the books of Sahih and elsewhere, with many chains of narration, including the report narrated by Al-Bukhari from Ibn Abbas, that Hilal bin Umayyah accused his wife before the Prophet with Sharik bin Sahma’. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Evidence or the punishment on your back.” 

He said, “O Messenger of Allah, if any one of us saw a man with his wife, how could he go and get evidence” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, again said,

“Evidence otherwise the punishment on your back.” 

Hilal said, “By the One Who sent you with the truth! I am telling the truth and Allah will reveal something that will protect my back from the punishment. ” Then Jibril came down and brought the revelation, “And for those who accuse their wives,” Then he recited until he reached: “that he is one of those who speak the truth” (24:6). When the revelation had finished, the Prophet sent for them both. Hilal came and gave his testimony, and the Prophet said,

“Allah knows that one of you is lying. Will one of you repent” 

Then she stood up and gave her testimony, and when she reached the fifth oath, they stopped her and said, “If you swear the fifth oath and you are lying, the curse of Allah will be inevitable.” Ibn `Abbas said, “She hesitated and kept quiet until we thought that she had changed her mind, then she said, `I will not dishonor my people today’, and she went ahead. Then the Messenger of Allah said,

“Wait until she gives birth, and if she gives birth to a child whose eyes look as if they are ringed with kohl and who has plump buttocks and thick legs, then he is the child of Sharik bin Sahma’.”

She gave birth to a child who matched this description, and the Prophet said,

“Were it not for the Book of Allah, I would deal with her.” 

This version was recorded only by Al-Bukhari, (Fath Al-Bari 8:303) but the event has been narrated with additional chains of narration from Ibn Abbas and others. (Tuhfat Al-Ashraf 5:170) Imam Ahmad recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said: During the governorship of Ibn Az-Zubayr I was asked about the couple who engage in Li`an, and whether they should be separated, and I did not know the answer. I got up and went to the house of Ibn `Umar, and said, “O Abu Abdur-Rahman, should the couple who engage in Li`an be separated” He said, “Subhan Allah, the first one to ask about this was so-and-so the son of so-and-so. He said, `O Messenger of Allah, what do you think of a man who sees his wife committing an immoral sin If he speaks he will be speaking about something very serious, and if he keeps quiet he will be keeping quiet about something very serious.’ [The Prophet] kept quiet and did not answer him. Later on, he came to him and said, `What I asked you about is something with which I myself being tested with.’

Then Allah revealed the Ayat,“And for those who accuse their wives” until he reached: “That the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth.” He started to advise the man and remind him about Allah, and told him that the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter. The man said: `By the One Who sent you with the truth, I was not telling you a lie.’ Then the Prophet turned to the woman and advised the woman and reminded her about Allah, and told her that the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter. The woman said, `By the One Who sent you with the truth, he is lying.’ So [the Prophet] started with the man, who swore four times by Allah that he was one of those who speak the truth, and swore the fifth oath that the curse of Allah would be upon him if he were lying. Then he turned to the woman, who swore four times by Allah that he was lying, and swore the fifth oath that the wrath of Allah would be upon her if he was telling the truth. Then he separated them.” (Ahmad 2:19) It was also recorded by An-Nasa’i in his Tafsir, (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:414) and by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 9:367)

{11. Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment.}

Al-Ifk (the Slander)

The next ten Ayat were all revealed concerning `A’ishah, the mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her, when the people of slander and falsehood among the hypocrites made their accusations against her and spread lies about her. Allah became jealous on her behalf and on behalf of His Prophet , and revealed her innocence to protect the honor of the Messenger of Allah . He said:

“Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.”

meaning they were not one or two, but a group. Foremost among this group was Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, the leader of the hypocrites, who fabricated the lie and whispered it to others, until some of the Muslims started to believe it, and others thought it might be possible and began to talk about it. This is how matters remained for almost a month, until Qur’an was revealed. This is reported in Sahih Hadiths. Imam Ahmad recorded that Az-Zuhri said: Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr, Alqamah bin Waqqas and `Ubaydullah bin `Abdullah bin `Utbah bin Mas`ud told me about the story of A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet , when the people of the slander said what they said about her, and Allah declared her innocence. Each of them told something about the story, and some of them knew more details than others or had memorized more than others. I learned the story from each of them, who had heard it from A’ishah herself, and what one told me confirmed what the others said. They mentioned that A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “When the Messenger of Allah wanted to go on a journey, he would cast lots among his wives, and the one whose lot was drawn would go with him.” A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “So he drew lots among us with regard to a campaign he was going out on, and mine was drawn, so I went out with the Messenger of Allah. This was after the commandment of Hijab had been revealed, so I traveled in my howdah [box with protective curtain] and stayed in it when we camped. We traveled until the Messenger of Allah completed his campaign, then we returned. As we were approaching Al-Madinah, we paused for a while, then they announced that the journey was to be resumed. When I heard this, I walked quickly away from the army to answer the call of nature, then I came back to my howdah. Then I put my hand to my chest and noticed that a necklace of mine that was made of onyx and cornelian had broken, so I went back and looked for it, and was delayed because of that. In the meantime, the people who used to lift my howdah onto my camel came along and put it on the camel, thinking that I was inside. In those times women were more slender and not so heavy, they only ate mouthfuls of food. So the people did not think anything of the howdah being so light when they lifted it up, as I was a young woman. They set off, and I found my necklace after the army had moved on. Then I came back to the place where we had stopped, and I saw no one to call or answer. So I went to the place where I had been, thinking that the people would miss me and come back for me. While I was sitting there, I fell asleep.

Safwan bin Al-Mu`attal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani had rested during the night behind the army. Then he set out just before daybreak and reached the place where I was in the morning, where he saw the outline of a person sleeping. He came to me and recognized me when he saw me, as he had seen me before Hijab was made obligatory for me. When he saw me and said `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,’ I woke up, and covered my face with my Jilbab (outer garment). By Allah, he did not speak a word to me and I did not hear him say anything except `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,’ until he brought his camel and made it kneel so that I could ride upon it, then he set out leading the camel until we caught up with the army at Zuhr time.

There are people who are doomed because of what happened to me, and the one who had the greater share therein was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. When we came back to Al-Madinah, I was ill for a month, and the people were talking about what the people of the slander were saying, and I knew nothing about it. What upset me when I was ill was that I did not see the kindness I used to see on the part of the Messenger of Allah. When I was ill; he would just come in and say,

“How is that (lady)?”

That is what upset me. I did not feel that there was anything wrong until I went out after I felt better, and Umm Mistah went out with me, walking towards Al-Manasi`, which is where we used to go to relieve ourselves, and we would not go out for that purpose except at night. This was before we had lavatories close to our houses; our habit was similar to that of the early Arabs in that we went out into the deserts to relieve ourselves, because we considered it troublesome and harmful to have lavatories in our houses. So I went out with Umm Mistah, who was the daughter of Abu Ruhm bin Al-Muttalib bin Abd Manaf, and her mother was the daughter of Sakhr bin Amir, the paternal aunt of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Her son was Mistah bin Uthathah bin Abbad bin Al-Muttalib. When we finished what we had to do, the daughter of Abu Ruhm Umm Mistah and I came back towards my house. Umm Mistah stumbled over her apron and said, `May Mistah be ruined!’ I said to her, ‘What a bad thing you have said! Are you abusing a man who was present at Badr?’ She said, ‘Good grief, have you not heard what he said?’ I said, ‘What did he say?’ So she told me what the people of the slander were saying, which made me even more ill.

When I returned home, the Messenger of Allah came in to me and greeted me, then he said,

“How is that (lady)?”

I said to him, `Will you give me permission to go to my parents?’ At that time I wanted to confirm the news by hearing it from them. The Messenger of Allah gave me permission, so I went to my parents and asked my mother, `O my mother, what are the people talking about’ My mother said, ‘Calm down, for by Allah, there is no beautiful woman who is loved by her husband and has co-wives but those co-wives would find fault with her.’ I said, `Subhan Allah! Are the people really talking about that?’ I wept throughout the whole night until morning. My tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all, and morning came while I was still weeping. Because the revelation had ceased, the Messenger of Allah called `Ali bin Abi Talib and Usamah bin Zayd, and consulted with them about divorcing his wife. As for Usamah bin Zayd, he told the Messenger of Allah about what he knew of his wife’s innocence and his fondness for her. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, she is your wife, and we do not know anything about her but good.’ But `Ali bin Abi Talib said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Allah has not imposed restrictions on you, and there are plenty of other women besides her. If you ask her servant girl, she will tell you the truth.’ So the Messenger of Allah called Barirah and said,

“O Barirah, have you ever seen anything that might make you suspicious about A’ishah?”

Barirah said to him, `By the One Who sent you with the truth, I have never seen anything for which I could blame her, apart from the fact that she is a young girl who sometimes falls asleep and leaves her family’s dough unprotected so that the domestic goats come and eat it.’

So then the Messenger of Allah got up and (addressed the people) and asked who could sort out Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul for him. While he was standing on the Minbar, the Messenger of Allah said,

“O Muslims, who will help me against a man who has hurt me by slandering my family? By Allah, I know nothing about my family but good, and the people are blaming a man of whom I know nothing except good, and he has never entered upon my family except with me.”

Sa`d bin Mu`adh Al-Ansari stood up and said, `O Messenger of Allah, by Allah I will deal with him for you. If he is from (the tribe of) Al-Aws, then I will cut off his head, and if he is from our brothers of (the tribe of) Al-Khazraj, tell us what to do and we will do it.’ Then Sa`d bin `Ubadah stood up. He was the leader of Al-Khazraj, and he was a righteous man, but he was overwhelmed with tribal chauvinism. He said to Sa`d bin Mu`adh, `By Allah, you will not kill him and you will never be able to kill him.’ Then Usayd bin Hudayr, who was the cousin of Sa`d bin Mu`adh, stood up and said to Sa`d bin `Ubadah, `You are lying! By Allah, we will kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on behalf of the hypocrites!’

Then the two groups, Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj, started to get angry and were about to come to blows, with the Messenger of Allah standing there on the Minbar, trying to calm them down until they became quiet, then the Messenger of Allah also fell silent. On that day I kept on weeping so much, my tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all. My parents thought that my liver would burst from all that weeping. While they were sitting with me and I was weeping, a woman of the Ansar asked for permission to see me. I let her in, and she sat and wept with me. While we were in that state, the Messenger of Allah came in, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since the rumors began, and a month had passed by without any revelation coming to him concerning my case. The Messenger of Allah recited the Tashahhud when he sat down, then he said,

“Thereafter, O `A’ishah, I have been told such and such a thing about you, and if you are innocent, then Allah will reveal your innocence, but if you have committed a sin, then seek Allah’s forgiveness and turn in repentance to Him, for when a servant confesses his sin and repents to Allah, He accepts his repentance.” 

When the Messenger of Allah finished what he had to say, my tears stopped completely and I not longer felt even one drop. Then I said to my father, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.’ He said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.’ So I said to my mother, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.’ She said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.’ So even though I was just a young girl who had not memorized much of the Qur’an, I said: ‘By Allah, I know that you have heard so much of this story that it has become planted in your minds and you believe it. So now if I tell you that I am innocent – and Allah knows that I am innocent – you will not believe me; but if I admit something to you – and Allah knows that I am innocent – you will believe me. By Allah, I cannot find any example to give you except for that which the Prophet Yusuf’s father said,“So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe” (12:18). Then I turned my face away and lay down on my bed. By Allah, at that point I knew I was innocent and that Allah would prove my innocence because I was innocent, but by Allah, I did not think that Allah would reveal Qur’an that would be forever recited concerning my situation, because I thought of myself as too insignificant for Allah to reveal anything concerning me. But I hoped that the Messenger of Allah would see a dream in which Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah did not move from where he was sitting and no one left the house before Allah sent down revelation to His Prophet, and he was overtaken by the state that always overtook him when the revelation came upon him, until drops of sweat like pearls would run down him, even on a winter’s day; this was because of the heaviness of the words which were being revealed to him. When that state passed – and the Messenger of Allah was smiling – the first thing he said was,“Be glad O `A’ishah, Allah has declared your innocence.” My mother said to me, ‘Get up and go to him.’ I said, `By Allah, I will not go to him and I will not give praise to anyone except Allah, may He be glorified, for He is the One Who has proven my innocence.’ So Allah revealed: “Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.”, until the ten Ayat. Allah revealed these Ayat concerning my innocence. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who used to spend on Mistah bin Uthathah because he was a close relative and because he was poor, said, `By Allah, I will never spend anything on him again after what he has said about `A’ishah. ‘ Then Allah revealed, “And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen.” until His saying:“Do you not love that Allah should forgive you And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (24:22). So Abu Bakr said, ‘By Allah, certainly I love that Allah should forgive me.’ So he resumed spending on Mistah as he had spent on him before, and he said, `By Allah, I shall never stop spending on him.’

The Messenger of Allah asked Zaynab bint Jahsh about my situation, and said,

“O Zaynab, what do you know and what have you seen?”

She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, may Allah protect my hearing and my sight. By Allah, I know nothing but good.’ She is the one who used to compete with me among the wives of the Prophet , but Allah protected her (from telling lies) because of her piety. But her sister Hamnah bint Jahsh kept on fighting on her behalf, so she was doomed along with those who were doomed.” Ibn Shihab said, “This is as much as we know about this group of people.” (Ahmad 1:194) It was also by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahihs from the Hadith of Az-Zuhri, (Fath Al-Bari 8:306) and by Ibn Ishaq also from Az-Zuhri. (Ibn Hisham 3:309) He also said: “Yahya bin Abbad bin Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr told me from his father, from A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and Abdullah bin Abi Bakr bin Muhammad bin Amr bin Hazm Al-Ansari told me from Amrah, from A’ishah, (a report) similar to that quoted above. And Allah knows best.

Allah’s saying: “Verily, those who brought forth the slander” means, the lies, falsehood and fabrications.“are a group” means, a gang among you. “Consider it not a bad thing for you.” O family of Abu Bakr,”Nay, it is good for you.” means, in this world and the Hereafter, honorable mention in this world and raised status in the Hereafter. Allah demonstrated the esteem with which He regarded the family of Abu Bakr when He defended `A’ishah the Mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her, by revealing her innocence in the Qur’an, “Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it…” (41:42). Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, entered upon her when she was dying, he said to her, “Rejoice, for you are the wife of the Messenger of Allah and he used to love you; he did not marry any virgin other than you, and your innocence was revealed from heaven.”(Fath Al-Bari 8:340)  “Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin” means, each of those who spoke about this matter and accused the Mother of the believers `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, of any immoral action, will have a great share of punishment.“and as for him among them who had the greater share therein” It was said that this referred to the one who initiated the rumors, or that it was the one who collected rumors and spread them among the people. “his will be a great torment.” means, for that. He was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, may Allah disfigure him and curse him.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 7 Pages 17-41

 

{12. Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it, think good of their own people and say: “This is an obvious lie” 

13. Why did they not produce four witnesses against him? Since they have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah, they are the liars.}

Disciplining the Believers for spreading the Slander

Here Allah disciplines the believers with regard to the matter of A’ishah, because some of them spread this evil talk and the slander that had been mentioned. So Allah says:“Why then, when you heard it,” meaning, the talk which accused the Mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her, “the believers, men and women, think good of their own people” means, why did they not compare what was said to themselves – if it was not befitting for them then it was even less appropriate for the Mother of the believers, and she was more likely to be innocent. Or it was said that this was revealed about Abu Ayyub Khalid bin Zayd Al-Ansari and his wife, may Allah be pleased with them. Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar narrated, “The wife of Abu Ayyub Khalid bin Zayd Al-Ansari, Umm Ayyub, said to him, O Abu Ayyub, have you heard what the people are saying about A’ishah’ He said, `Yes, and it is all lies. Would you do that, O Umm Ayyub’ She said, `No, by Allah, I would not do that.’ He said, ‘And by Allah, A’ishah is better than you.’ When the Qur’an was revealed, Allah mentioned those who spoke about the evil deed among the people of the slander,“Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.” (24:1) This refers to Hassan and his companions who said what they said. Then Allah said,“Why then, did not the believers, men, when you heard it, think…” means, as Abu Ayyub and his wife did.” (At-Tabari 19:129) Allah’s saying:“the believers, men think…” meaning, ‘why did they not think good, because the Mother of the believers is his wife and is closer to him.’ This is concerned with innermost feelings;“and say” means, with their tongues, verbally, “This (charge) is an obvious lie” means, a clear untruth told about the Mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her. What happened should not have been the cause of suspicion. The fact that the Mother of the believers came openly, riding on the camel of Safwan bin Al-Mu`attal at midday, with the entire army watching and the Messenger of Allah among them, should have made it clear that there was no cause for suspicion. If there had been anything suspicious about the matter, they would not have come openly in this manner in front of so many witnesses; they would have come secretly. On this basis, what the people of the slander said accusing the Mother of the believers was an utter lie, false speech and evil foolish talk, by which people who indulged in it lost out. Allah said:“Why did they not produce four witnesses against him?” meaning, to prove that what they were saying was true.“Since they have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars.” Allah has ruled that they are indeed wicked liars.

{14. Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter, a great torment would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken. 

15. When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.}

The Grace of Allah towards the People of the Slander by giving Them the Opportunity to repent

Allah says,“Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter,” This is addressed to those who were indulging in discussing the matter of A’ishah, informing them that Allah has accepted their repentance in this world, and forgiven them because of their faith in the Hereafter. “would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken.” with regard to the slander.“a great torment” This refers to those who had faith in Allah because of their repentance, such as Mistah, Hassan and Hamnah bint Jahsh the sister of Zaynab bint Jahsh. As for the hypocrites who indulged in the slander, such as `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul and his like, they are not the ones who are referred to in this Ayah , because they did not have sufficient faith and righteous deeds to balance or cancel out what they had done. By the same token, the threats that were narrated for a specific deed are bound to be carried out, if there is no repentance or sufficient righteous deeds to balance or outweigh it. Then Allah says: “When you were propagating it with your tongues,” Mujahid and Sa`id bin Jubayr said, “Some of you were relating it to others,” (At-Tabari 19:132) where one says, ‘I heard this from so-and-so, and so-and-so said such and such, and some of them mentioned such and such.’

Others recited the Ayah “When you were inventing a lie with your tongues…” In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded that A’ishah recited it like that. (Fath Al-Bari 8:340) According to her, the meaning refers to lies which a person persists in telling. The first recitation is preferred and more popular, and the majority recite it that way, but the second is reported from A’ishah, the Mother of the believers.“and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge,” means, you were speaking about something which you knew nothing about. Then Allah says: “you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” means, ‘you said what you said about the Mother of the believers and you thought that it was a trifling and insignificant matter, but even if she was not the wife of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, it still would not be an insignificant matter – so how about when she is the wife of the Unlettered Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets and Leader of the Messengers?’ It is a very serious matter with Allah that such a thing should be said about the wife of His Messenger! For Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, feels great fury and anger over such matters, and He would never decree such a thing for the wife of any of His Prophets. If that is the case, then how about the best of the wives of any Prophet, the wife of the best of the sons of Adam in this world and the next Allah says:“you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” In the Two Sahihs it is reported that:

“A man may say a word that angers Allah without realizing how far it will go, and because of that he will be thrown into Hell a distance greater than that between heaven and earth.”

According to another report:“And he may not pay any attention to it.” (Fath Al-Bari 11:314) 

{16. And why did you not, when you heard it, say: “It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie.” 

17. Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever, if you are believers. 

18. And Allah makes the Ayat plain to you, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.}

Further Discipline

This is further discipline, in addition to the command to think well of people, i.e., if something unbefitting is mentioned about good people, then one should think well of them, and not feel towards them anything but good. Then if a person has any unsuitable thoughts about them, insinuated into his mind and imagination by Shaytan, he should not speak about that, for the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Allah will excuse my Ummah for anything that occurs to their minds, so long as they do not speak about it or act upon it.” 

This was reported in the Two Sahihs. (Fath Al-Bari 1:557)

Allah’s saying:“And why did you not, when you heard it, say: “It is not right for us to speak of this?” meaning, we should not talk about it or mention it to anyone.“Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie.” means, glory be to Allah that such a thing should be said about the wife of His Prophet and close Friend.

Then Allah says,“Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever,” meaning, Allah is forbidding you and warning you from doing anything like this again in the future. Allah says,“if you are believers.” meaning, if you believe in Allah and His Laws, and you respect His Messenger . As for those who are described as disbelievers, a different ruling applies in their case. Then Allah says,“And Allah makes the Ayat plain to you,” meaning, He makes clear to you the rulings of Shari`ah and His divine decrees.“and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” means, He knows what is right for His servants and He is Wise in His Laws and decrees.

{19. Verily, those who like that Fahishah should be circulated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.}

Disciplining Those Who like that Illegal Sexual Intercourse should be circulated among the Believers

This is a third instance of discipline directed at those who hear evil talk, believe it to some extent, and start to spread it; they should not spread such talk or pass it on to others. Allah says:“Verily, those who like that Fahshah should be circulated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment” meaning, those who like to see evil talk about them (the believers) appear, “they will have a painful torment in this world” means, because of the prescribed punishment, and in the Hereafter because of the torment in Hell.

“And Allah knows and you know not.” means, return the matter to Him and you will be guided. Imam Ahmad recorded from Thawban that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“Do not annoy the servants of Allah, nor abuse them, nor seek their hidden shortcomings. Whoever seeks out the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults and degrade him, even if he is hiding in his house.” (Ahmad 5:279) 

{20. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, and that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful. 

21. O you who believe! Follow not the Khutuwat of Shaytan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan, then, verily, he commands Al-Fahsha’ and the evil deeds. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins. But Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.}

A Reminder of the Grace of Allah and a Warning against following the Footsteps of Shaytan

Allah says:“And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, and that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful.” meaning, if it were not for this, it would have been another matter altogether, but He, may He be exalted, is full of kindness towards His servants and Merciful towards them. He accepts the repentance of those who repent to Him from this sin, and purifies those among them who are purified by the prescribed punishment carried out on them. Then Allah says:“O you who believe! Follow not the Khutuwat of Shaytan.” hmeaning, his ways and paths and what he commands,“And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan, then, verily, he commands immorality and the evil deeds.” This is a warning given in the most concise and eloquent manner. Ali bin Abi Talhah recorded from Ibn Abbas that “the Khutuwat of Shaytan” means his deeds. (At-Tabari 3:301) Ikrimah said that it means his evil whispers. Qatadah said: “Every sin is one of the footsteps of Shaytan.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 1:404) Abu Mijlaz said: “Vowing to commit sin is one of the footsteps of Shaytan.” (At-Tabari 3:301) Then Allah says: “And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins.” meaning, if He did not help whomever He wills to repent and come back to Him and be purified from Shirk, evil and sin, and whatever bad characteristics each person has according to his nature, no one would ever attain purity and goodness.“But Allah purifies whom He wills” means, among His creation, and He sends astray whomever He wills, leaving him to be doomed in his misguidance and sin.“and Allah is All-Hearer,” means, He hears what His servants say, “All-Knower.” of who deserves to be guided and who deserves to be misguided.

{22. And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen, the poor, and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Urging Those Who have been blessed with Wealth to give and to be tolerant

Allah says, “And let not swear” meaning, make an oath, “those among you who are blessed with graces” means, those who have the means to give charity and do good, “and wealth” means, good fortune, “to give to their kinsmen, the poor, and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause.” means, do not swear that you will not uphold the ties of kinship with your relatives who are needy or who migrated for the sake of Allah, which is the ultimate act of kindness in the area of upholding kinship ties. Allah says, “Let them pardon and forgive.” past insults and bad treatment. This is part of the patience, generosity and kindness of Allah towards His creation, despite the fact that they wrong themselves. This Ayah was revealed concerning As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, when he swore that he would not help Mistah bin Uthathah after he said what he said about A’ishah, as we have already seen in the Hadith.

When Allah revealed the innocence of the Mother of the believers, A’ishah, and the believers were happy and content with the outcome of this incident, and those believers who had talked about the matter repented, and the prescribed punishment had been carried out upon those on whom it was carried out, then Allah started to soften the heart of As-Siddiq towards his relative Mistah bin Uthathah. Mistah was the cousin of As-Siddiq, the son of his maternal aunt, and he was a poor man with no wealth except whatever Abu Bakr spent on him. He was one of those who had migrated for the sake of Allah. He had invented the lies and the slander, but then Allah accepted his repentance from that and the prescribed punishment was carried out on him. As-Siddiq was known for his generosity and he did favors to his relatives and strangers alike. When this Ayah was revealed: “Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?”, which shows that the reward fits the action, and that ‘if you forgive others, you will be forgiven,’ then As-Siddiq said, “Of course, by Allah, we love – O our Lord – that You should forgive us.” Then he resumed his spending on Mistah and said, “By Allah I will never stop spending on him.” This was to counteract what he had said previously, “By Allah I will never spend on him.” This proves that he deserved to be called As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him and his daughter.