Surat al-Hujurat

Tafsir Surat al-Hujurat_part 2

A Tafsir of Surat al-Hujurat_Part 2

***

Translation vv.6-8:

{O you who have believed, if a sinful person brings you some news, inquire into it carefully lest you should harm others unwittingly and then regret what you have done / Know well that the Messenger of Allah is among you. If he were to obey you in most affairs, you would certainly be in trouble, but Allah has endeared the Faith to you and made it seem fair in your hearts and made disbelief, wrongdoing and disobedience abhorrent to you. Such are those who are rightly guided / through Allah’s grace and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise}.

Meanings:

v.6: Sabab al-nuzul: Ibn al-Jawzi commented: “This verse came down regarding al-Walid ibn `Uqba whom the Messenger of Allah (SAW) sent to Banu ’l-Mustaliq in order to collect the Zakat from them and between him and them in the days of jahiliyya [s: before Islam] was an on-going enmity. Some from the tribe advanced towards him and [al-Walid b. `Uqba] became afraid [s: thinking they wanted to kill him] and fled back [to the Messenger of Allah] and said: ‘they prevented me from taking the zakat and wanted to kill me!’ The Prophet sent a contingent [s: headed by Khalid ibn al-Walid] to them [s: in order to verify whether that was the case and it proved not to be]. So Allah revealed the verse…”[1]

نزلت في الوليد بن عقبة، بعثه رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إِلى بني المصطلق ليِقَبْضِ صدقاتهم، وقد كانت بينه وبينهم عداوة في الجاهلية، فسار بعضَ الطريق، ثم خاف فرجع فقال: إِنهم قد منعوا الصدقة وأرادوا قتلي، فصرف رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم البَعْثَ إِليهم، فنزلت هذه الآية

{fasiq}: meaning ‘sinner’, ‘depraved person’, ‘openly disobedient’, ‘openly commits wrong actions’. Some of the meanings of the word “fasiq” (فاسق) include: “…the fasiq is the one who lies […] Abu ’l-Hasan al-Warraq said: it is a person who is open with his sins. Ibn Tahir said: it is a person who has no shame before Allah…”[2]

وسمي الوليد فاسقا أي : كاذبا . قال ابن زيد ومقاتل وسهل بن عبد الله الفاسق الكذاب. وقال أبو الحسن الوراق هو المعلن بالذنب. وقال ابن طاهر الذي لا يستحي من الله

{naba’}: ‘news’, ‘information’, ‘report’. In the verse, it is any report or news that has a consequence in the law and not just any old mundane news.

{fa-tabayyanu}: ‘clarify it’, ‘confirm it’, ‘investigate it’, ‘corroborate it’ and ‘inquire about it’. This is so that there are no drastic or unfortunate consequences for not acting on verified information thus leading to regret later for the irreparable damage caused.

Lessons:

  • The need to verify information: the clear agenda of the print and digital media is to undermine Islam and generate gross misrepresentation in the stories they present to the public. Sensationalism, direct lies, myths, moral scare, Islamophobia and distortions are some of the dangerous features found in majority of the news reports about Islam and Muslims – especially any form of political dissent through exposing Western foreign policy failures (cf. Oklahoma bombing, Charles De Menezies shot dead being mistaken for a Muslim, Forest Gate raid, the veil controversy, Minaret issues, spying on Muslims, Muslims arrested and detained without charge, extradition to the US, Bagram, Mosques labelled as Jihad training camps, schools described as extremist recruitment centres, supposed perpetual al-Qaeda threat, alleged bomb plots, etc… and the catalogue of slanders continues). Sometimes these media stories are perpetuated without any verifications leading to Muslim acting – reacting – to unverified information entering the ‘blame game’ and ‘condemn nation’ of other Muslims.
  • Uprightness or probity (`adala) is a condition for accepting a person’s testimony.
  • Scholars differ over whether a Muslim is by default considered upright and his testimony accepted. Some argue his default position is `adl (probity) until proven otherwise whereas others have argued to the contrary based on v.6.[3]
  • Some scholars use this verse as evidence to establish the validity of a fasiq leading a congregational prayer.[4]
  • Some scholars use this verse to establish the permissibility of accepting narrations that have come down through solitary transmission route (khabar ahad) if the transmitter is upright.[5]
  • For everyday or mundane and worldly matters, it is not necessary to corroborate and confirm information (e.g. price of groceries, etc.) because an effective cause (`illa) governs verse 6: {lest you harm a people unwittingly}. Thus, whatever does not fall under that effective cause is excluded from the purport of the verse.[6]
  • The sahaba (Allah be pleased with them all) are not infallible; only Prophets are infallible. Mufti Shafi (ra) comments:

“Authentic ahadith verify that this verse was revealed in connection with Walid Ibn `Uqba, and in the verse he is referred to as a fasiq (‘sinner’). Apparently, it goes to show that a sahabi (‘companion’) can be a fasiq. This is in conflict with the universally established maxim الصحابة كلهم عدول (‘all the Companions are truthful and reliable’). None of their statements, reports or testimony can be doubted. `Allama `Alusi in Ruh al-Ma`ani says that the truth of the matter is according to the majority of the scholars, the blessed Companions are not infallible; it is possible for them, to commit sins – major sins which is fisq; at the time of committing the sin they will be dealt with in the appropriate manner in terms of the punishment prescribed for that act; and if any of them is found guilty of lying, his news, information, report or testimony will be rejected. However, on the basis of the express texts of the Qur’an and Sunna, Ahl al-Sunna wa ’l-Jama`a believe that even if it is possible for the companion to commit sins, they do not persist in it. There is no companion of the Holy Prophet (SAW) who has not repented and purified himself after committing a sin. The Qur’an, referring to the general class of the Companions announces in general terms: {Allah is well [pleases with them and they are pleased with Him…[98:8]}. The pleasure of Allah is not possible without forgiveness of sins. And al-Qadi Abu Ya`la says that Allah’s pleasure is one of His eternal attributes. He expresses His pleasure only for those about whom He knows they will die whilst seeking His pleasure…”[7] > thus, fisq cannot be considered a permanent trait of a companion because through the blessed presence of the Prophet or his direct teachings and instruction, they were restored when any minor or major irregularities occurred. They were more disposed to obedience and true worship over sin and infractions.[8] The narration from Abu Dawud states the unequivocal greatness of the Companions: “By Allah! Anyone of them who participated in a battle with the Messenger of Allah and his face was covered with dust (yughbarru fihi wajhuh) is better than your life-long acts of worship – even if you attained the age of Nuh…”[9]

والله لمشهد رجل منهم مع رسول الله يغبر فيه وجهه خير من عمل أحدكم ولو عمر عمر نوح

v.7: {wa`lamu anna fikum rasul Allah}: meaning ‘and know very well that the Prophet is among you in case you forget so respect him implement what he orders you to do’ and  no doubt {if he were to listen to you in most matters, you would certainly be in trouble} and fall into error and sin because he has been endowed by Allah with a unique level of insight, perspicacity and discernment that you as Companions do not possess. Therefore, it is not proper that you insist on your opinion over the Prophet’s own predilections and understanding.[10] If some of the Companions of the Prophet had insisted on attacking the tribe based on this false information of Walid Ibn al-`Uqba, their zeal would have proved extremely costly and detrimental.

{la`anittum}: meaning: “…in case you fall into sin and error. Ibn Qutayba said: it means error and corruption. Others said it means: sin and destruction…”[11]

أي: لَوَقَعْتُم في عَنَتٍ. قال ابن قتيبة: وهو الضَّرر والفساد. وقال غيره: هو الإِثم والهلاك 

The word “`anat” (عنت) also means ‘to commit a crime’ and ‘to suffer from hardship’.[12]

{wa habbaba ilaykum al-iman}: meaning ‘Allah has desired belief for you’.[13]

{wa zayyanhu fi qulubikum} meaning ‘Allah has made it attractive and beautiful to you because of the victories he has promised you in this world for having it as well as the immense reward it carries in the Hereafter.’[14] It also means that the rational truth of the faith is what makes it attractive and beautiful.[15]

{wa karraha ilaykum}: meaning ‘Allah hates and despises and is displeased that you should have disbelief and be involved in sin and wrongdoing’; in other words, Allah detests anything that leads one away from obedience and correct worship (al-ta`a).[16]

{al-rashidun}: ‘rightly guided’, ‘firm on the correct path’, ‘steadfast’.

Lessons:

  • It is better to follow the Prophet’s recommendations even if in the rare instance his decision in some worldly matter ends up contrary to experience.[17] Thus, obedience to the Prophet is better than some worldly loss suffered because of it.[18]
  • Allah does not desire the believers to be involved in anything that amounts to His disobedience such as following and implementing other systems of law, standards of morality and regulations. The Muslims rushing to implement secular laws by abandoning the Shariah in its entirety is one of the major causes of the Umma’s division, humiliation, subjugation and exploitation. The restoration project for the Khilafah is what will reverse this plight.

v.8: {fadlan}: ‘bounty’, ‘grace’, ‘excellence’.

{ni`ma}: ‘blessing’, ‘favour’. All this is a bounty and act of grace form Allah He grants to whomever He wishes.

{wa Allahu `alimun}: And Allah knows who is deserving of guidance and who is not.

{hakim}: Allah is perfect, fair and just in all His decisions, legislation, rules and regulations. He also knows what is best for all His creation.

End of part 2.

s.z.c.

Peace and blessings on our Master Muhammad,

On his companions and family

And all who follow them.

Amin.


[1] Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir, 7:179-180. The narration can be found in the Musnad of ahmad (#17991) and al-Tabarani’s al-Mu`jam al-Kabir (#3395) and cf. al-Suyuti’s, al-Asbab al-Nuzul, pp.331-332.

[2] al-Qurtubi, al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, 16:283.

[3] Ibid., 16:283. cf. also, Sh. Ahmad al-Da`ur, al-Ahkam al-Bayyinat, p.20.

[4] Ibid., 16:283.

[5] Ibid., 16:283.

[6] Mufti M. Shafi, Ma`ani al-Qur’an, 8:121.

[7] Ibid., 8:122.

[8] Ibid., 8:122-124.

[9] See Abu Dawud, Sunan (#4650).

[10] Ibn Kathir, al-Tafsir al-Qur’an al-`Azim, 7:372:

أي: اعلموا أن بين أظهركم رسول الله فعظموه ووقروه، وتأدبوا معه، وانقادوا لأمره، فإنه أعلم بمصالحكم، وأشفق عليكم منكم، ورأيه فيكم أتم من رأيكم لأنفسكم

[11] Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir, 7:181.

[12] Mufti M. Shafi, Ma`ani al-Qur’an, 8:125.

[13] al-Mawardi, al-Nukat wa’l-`Uyun, 4:151.

[14] Ibid., 4:151.

[15] Ibid., 4:151.

[16] Ibid., 4:151.

[17]. Mufti M. Shafi, Ma`ani al-Qur’an, 8:125.

[18] Ibid., 8:125.

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