33:21 Verily, in the Apostle of God you have a good example for everyone who looks forward [with hope and awe] to God and the Last Day and remembers God unceasingly.
Lit., “for then” or “in that case” (idhan), signifying here “however it may be”.
33:22 And [so] when the believers saw the Confederates [advancing against them], they said, “This is what God and His Apostle have promised us!” – and, “Truly spoke God and His Apostle!” – and all this but increased their faith and their readiness to surrender themselves unto God.
Sc., “but would come back in force and resume the siege”.
33:23 Among the believers are men who have [always] been true to what they have vowed before God, and among them are such as have [already] redeemed their pledge by death, and such as yet await (its fulfillment] without having changed [their resolve] in the least.
Lit.,”‘they would not fight except a little”.
33:24 [Such trials are imposed upon man] so that God may reward the truthful for having been true to their word, and cause the hypocrites to suffer – if that be His will – or [if they repent] accept their repentance, for, Verily, God is indeed Much-Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace!
This verse (and the passage that follows) connects with verses 9-11 above, and especially with verse 11 – “there and they were the believers tried, and shaken with a shock severe” – which summarizes, as it were, their experiences during the critical days and weeks of the War of the Trench. Although it is addressed, in the first instance, to those early defenders of Medina who were thus exhorted to emulate the Prophet’s faith, courage, and steadfastness, the above verse is timeless in its import and its validity for all situations and conditions. – Since the verb rajawa, as well as the noun-forms rajw, rujuww and raja’ derived from it, carry the connotation of both “hope” and “fear” (or “awe”), I have rendered yarju accordingly
33:25 Thus, for all their fury, God repulsed those who were bent on denying the truth, no advantage did they gain since God was enough to [protect] the believers in battle – seeing that God is most powerful, Almighty.
These seem to be allusions to 29:2 (which may have been one of the last Meccan revelations) as well as to 2:155 and 214 (i.e., verses of the first surah of the Medina period).
33:26 And He brought down from their strongholds those of the followers of earlier revelation who had aided the aggressors, and cast terror into their hearts, some you slew, and some you made captive.
Specifically, this verse is said to apply to certain of the Companions who vowed, at the time of the early campaigns, that they would fight until death at the Prophet’s side (Zamakhshari); in its wider sense, however, it relates to all efforts involving a supreme sacrifice in God’s cause.
33:27 And He made you heirs to their lands, and their houses, and their goods – and [promised you] lands on which you had never yet set foot, for God has indeed the power to will anything.
Cf. 6:12 – “God, who has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy” – and the corresponding note 10.
33:28 O Prophet! Say unto thy wives, “If you desire [but] the life of this world and its charms – well, then, I shall provide for you and release you in a becoming manner.
i.e., the pagans among the Confederates (see note 13 above); their Jewish allies are mentioned separately in the next verse.
33:29 But if you desire God and His Apostle, and [thus the good of] the life in the hereafter, then [know that], Verily, for the doers of good among you God has readied a Mighty Reward!”
Lit., “them”, i.e., the tribes allied against Muhammad and his community. The “followers of earlier revelation” (ahi al-kitab) referred to here were the Jews of the tribe of Banu Qurayzah, who despite their monotheistic faith had betrayed the Muslims and made common cause with the pagan Confederates. After the dismal rout of the latter, the Banu Qurayzah, anticipating the vengeance of the community which they had betrayed, withdrew to their fortresses in the vicinity of Medina. After a siege lasting twenty-five days, they surrendered to the Muslims, forfeiting all that they possessed.
33:30 O wives of the Prophet! If any of you were to become guilty of manifestly immoral conduct, double [that of other sinners] would be her suffering [in the hereafter], for that is indeed easy for God.
i.e., lands that the Muslims were to conquer and hold in the future. This clause – with its allusion to yet more prosperous times to come – provides a connection between the present passage and the next.