Qur'an / Tafsir

Shaykh `Ata’ Tafsir Al `Imran Verse 104…Let there be Groups

Shaykh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil (may Allah protect him)

and an Analysis of the Verse Q. 3:104

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an:

{ ولتكن منكم أمة يدعون إلى الخير ويأمرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر وأولئك هم المفلحون }

{And so let there be from amongst you groups calling to the Khayr and commanding the Ma`ruf and forbidding munkar. They are the successful ones [Q. 3:104]}.

Below are partial translations – with additional supplementary notes – of the comments by the noble Shaykh and mujtahid, `Ata’ b. Khalil (may Allah protect him) on the glorious verse of the Holy Qur’an.[1]


Shaykh `Ata’ states: “{and hold fast together on the rope of Allah … and there be groups from amongst you … and do not be like those who separated into sects and disagreed… [Q. 3:103-105]}. The wording with which the address of the legislator commences in the previous the verse [s: i.e. verse 103] is in the plural form (hold fast all of you) and in the succeeding verse [s: i.e. verse 105] it is also in the plural form (and do not become like) but the verse under discussion is between these two verses and is in the singular form (and let there be) and not (and let all of you be). In the science of the Arabic language, if the context of the passage differs like this, i.e. to have the plural form, then the singular form and then the plural form again, this means that the address that began in the singular is the aim and focus [s: i.e. what is sought] and that it is not according to the preceding or succeeding verses. Thus, the preceding verse began in the plural referring to all Muslims to hold fast together and in the succeeding verse the wording is also in the plural referring to all Muslim not to divide up into sects but the present verse between them both begins in the singular, meaning it is not referring to all Muslims in general […] And thus, (let there be) is singular in form and so the verse {and let there be from amongst you groups} and not (you all become a group).”[2]

{ واعتصموا بحبل الله جميعاً … ولتكن منكم أمة … ولا تكونوا كالذين تفرقوا واختلفوا…} إن اللفظ الذي بدئ به الخطاب في الآية السابقة هو للجمع (واعتصموا)، وفي الآية اللاحقة كذلك للجمع (ولا تكونوا)، ولكن الآية موضع البحث الواردة بين الجمعين هي خطاب بلفظ المفرد (ولتكن)، وليس (ولتكونوا). وفي فقه اللغة إذا اختلف السياق على هذا النحو, أي لفظ جمع فمفرد ثم جمع، هذا يعني أن بدء الخطاب بلفظ المفرد هو مقصود وأنه على غير سابقه ولاحقه. فالخطاب في الآية السابقة بدئ بلفظ جمع للمسلمين أن يعتصموا، وفي الآية اللاحقة بلفظ جمع للمسلمين أن لا يتفرقوا، وأما ما بينهما فقد بُدئ بلفظٍ مفردٍ للمسلمين, أي ليس لجميعهم.

وهكذا (ولتكن) فهي لفظ مفرد, فالآية { ولتكن منكم أمة …} وليست (كونوا أمة)


Shaykh `Ata’ comments: “Commanding right and forbidding wrong is only achievable and realisable by able individuals and not every single individual. Note that this verse is not a command to establish the duty of commanding right and forbidding wrong because if this where the case then its accomplishment would have been possible by every individual and the address [s: by the Creator in the verse] would have been for everyone. But the verse is ordering the invitation to the khayr with commanding right and forbidding wrong connected with it.”[3]

إن الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر لا يتأتى إلا من أفراد قادرين وليس من جميع الأفراد, ومع ذلك فإن الآية ليست أمراً بالمعروف ونهياً عن المنكر فحسب، ولو كانت كذلك لكان هذا ممكناً إتيانه من الأفراد, ولكان الخطاب للجميع. ولكن الآية أمر بالدعوة إلى الخير بالإضافة إلى الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر

  • The verse Q. 3:104 is a command to invite and call to Islam.
  • The duty of commanding right and forbidding wrong is for those able to do it.
  • The verse is not establishing a primary command to establish commanding right and forbidding wring which is subsidiary to inviting and calling to Islam.


Shaykh `Ata’ states: “And the word ‘al-khayr’ in the verse {and invite to the khayr} means Islam. The word ‘khayr’ has the definite article with the letters alif (أ) and lam (ل) denoting generality, i.e. Islam in its entirety. And Islam in its entirety includes acts of devotion (`ibadat) and transactions (mu`amalat) as well as punishment laws (`uqubat) and the Hudud and the state that implements the punishment laws and the Hudud. Wherever ‘Islam in its entirety’ is mentioned, it includes the State, i.e. [s: the presence of] a Khalifah who administers and ensures the implementation of all the laws. And where it is not possible to establish the Khilafah through individual action but through a structured and organised political work, this much is clear, then in it follows that the verse requires an ‘umma’ meaning a structured group to be established from the Muslims that will invite to Islam in its entirety though establishing the Islamic State and that will command right and forbid wrong.”[4]

والخير في الآية {يدعون إلى الخير} هو الإسلام وهو أي الخير محلّىً بالألف واللام فهو عام أي الإسلام كله، والإسلام كله يشمل العبادات والمعاملات وكذلك يشمل العقوبات والحدود, والدولة التي تطبق العقوبات والحدود … وما دام (الإسلام كله) يشمل الدولة أي الخليفة لتطبيق الأحكام، وحيث لا يمكن أن تقام الخـلافة بعمل فردي بل بكتلة، وهذا واضح، فتكون الآية توجب قيام (أمة) بمعنى جماعة متكتلة من بين المسلمين تدعو إلى الإسلام كله بإقامة دولته، وتأمر بالمعروف وتنهى عن المنكر

  • Inviting and calling to Islam means inviting and calling to all of Islam.
  • Two arguments are embedded here:

 Argument 1:

[P1] If inviting to Islam means inviting to all of Islam, then this includes devotion, the penal system, political, judicial and commercial systems.

[P2] If P1, then it implies inviting to and calling to that which enables the implementation of these systems.

[P3] That which enables the implementation of these systems is the Islamic State/Khilafah.


[C1] Inviting to and calling to Islam means inviting and calling to the existence/establishment of the Islamic State.

Argument 2:

[P4] If C1, then the audience of the verse must either be individuals only or individuals in a structured group.

[P5] The audience cannot be referring to individuals only because the invitation to and establishment of the State is not realisable by an individual on h/her own capacity.


[C2] The audience in the verse must be referring to a structured group.


Shaykh `Ata’ writes: “It is important to mention that without the State, the implementation of Islam in its entirety is not possible. In terms of Islamic laws, there are those that are established by individuals like the Prayer and fasting and others that require an Imam or Khalifah to implement like the Hudud. Hence, inviting to Islam in its entirety means establishing the Khilafah and this requires collective work, i.e. structured and organised work and not individual work.”[5]

ومن الجدير ذكره أنه بدون الدولة لا يتأتى تطبيق الإسلام كله حيث إن الأحكام الشرعية منها ما يقوم به الأفراد كالصلاة والصيام .. ومنها ما لا بد من الإمام أو الخليفة لتطبيقه كالحدود .. فالدعوة إلى الإسلام كله تعني إقامة الخـلافة، وهذه تحتاج العمل الجماعي أي عمل كتلة وليس عمل أفراد.


[P6] Islamic laws refer to those fulfilled in an individual capacity like prayer and fasting.

[P7] Islamic laws refer to those fulfilled in a systemic capacity like administering the punishment laws which would require a ruler/khalifah to realise this.

[P8] It is not permitted to restrict the call to laws like Prayer and fasting only because both individual and systemic laws are equally part of Islam and its laws.


[C3] The call and invite to Islam must be a call and invitation to its systems and that which will enable these systems to be implemented – the khalifah. 

He continues: “It cannot be said that da`wa to establish the State means one does not have to work for it because working to re-establish the State is correct and is need of a structured group but da`wa to the establishment of the State does not require a group because it can be realised by mere individuals. This is not correct because the invitation to establish the State is not separate from the work to establish it. Da`wa to Islam is not an intellectual aspect detached from and separate to working for it but is necessarily connected to it and both cannot be separated. This is what the Messenger f Allah (saw) did: he invited, he worked and he sought political power, and he established the State. We must therefore invite and work in this same way emulating the Messenger of Allah until we establish the state – by the permission of Allah.”

ولا يقال إن الدعوة لإقامة الدولة غير العمل لإقامة الدولة, فالعمل لإقامة الدولة صحيح يحتاج إلى جماعة متكتلة , وإنما الدعوة لإقامة الدولة فلا تحتاج إلى جماعة بل تتأتى من الأفراد… لا يقال ذلك لأن الدعوة لإقامة الدولة لا تنفصل عن العمل لإقامتها, فالدعوة في الإسلام ليست ترفاً فكرياً منفصلاً عن العمل. إن الدعوة لإقامة الدولة تلازم العمل لإقامتها, ولا تنفصل عنه. هكذا فعل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: دعا … وعمل … وطلب النصرة… وأقام الدولة… و اقتداءاً بالرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم, فنحن ندعو ونعمل بالطريقة نفسها… حتى نقيم الدولة بإذن الله.

  • There may not be a separation from calling to Islam and working for Islam.
  • There may not be a separation between accepting the call and invitation to the establishment of the State and not working for its establishment because this is not the way and method of the Messenger of Allah if one consults the noble sira (biography of the Prophet).

And he continues: “Thus, the subject-matter of the verse, i.e. inviting to Islam in its entirety, designates the address not for Muslims as individuals without any structure or organisation because establishing the State is not possible by individuals giving da`wa without being part of a structure in a group rather, their da`wa and work rests on securing a structured group from the Muslims who are able to fulfil this action. Therefore, the preposition min [(مِن)], is partitative (li ’l-tab`id) and not explicative (li ’l-bayan).”[6]

وهكذا فإن موضوع الآية أي الدعوة إلى الإسلام كله تجعل الخطاب ليس للمسلمين أفراداً غير متكتلين، لأن إقامة الدولة لا تتأتى من دعوة أفراد يعملون غير متكتلين في جماعة, بل دعوتهم ليعملوا ضمن جماعة متكتلة من بين المسلمين قادرة على هذا العمل، فتكون (مِن) للتبعيض وليست للبيان.



Peace and blessings upon Our Beloved,

His family, companions and those who follow them –

– Until the last Day.


[1] Sh. `Ata’ b. Khalil, “Response to a Question Regarding the Verse ‘and let there be groups from amongst You’…” (2008).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.


Why not leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s