Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Mujadalah 58:11-22

58:11 O You who have attained to faith! When you are told, “Make room for one another in your collective life”, do make room [and in return], God will make room for you [in His Grace].  And whenever you are told, “Rise up [for a good deed]”, do rise up, [and] God will exalt by [many] degrees those of you who have attained to faith and, [above all] such as have been vouchsafed [true] knowledge, for God is fully aware of all that you do.

Explanation

The prohibition referred to here arises from the Qur’anic statement, “No good comes, as a rule, out of secret confabulations – save those which are devoted to enjoining charity, or equitable dealings, or setting things to rights between people” (see 4:114 and the corresponding note 138). Although there is no doubt that, as the classical commentators point out, the “secret confabulations” spoken of in this passage relate to intrigues aimed against the Prophet and his followers by some of their unbelieving contemporaries, there is no doubt, either, that the passage has a general import, and is, therefore, valid for all times.

58:12 O You who have attained to faith! Whenever you [intend to] consult the Apostle, offer up something in charity on the occasion of your consultation, this will be for your own good, and more conducive to your [inner] purity. Yet if you are unable to do so, [know that] Verily, God is Much-Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace.

Explanation

i.e., in the wider sense, disobedience to the Apostle’s ethical teachings.

58:13 Do you, perchance, fear lest [you may be sinning if] you cannot offer up anything in charity on the occasion of your consultation [with the Apostle]? But if you fail to do it [for lack of opportunity], and God turns unto you in His mercy, remain but constant in prayer and render [no more than] the purifying dues, and [thus] pay heed unto God and His Apostle, for God is fully aware of all that you do.

Explanation

The reference to “approaching” the Prophet has here a twofold meaning, relating literally to his unbelieving contemporaries, and figuratively to an intellectual “approach” to his person and his teachings by hostile critics of all later times. The same observation is valid with regard to the next clause as well.

58:14 Art thou not aware of those who would be friends with people whom God has condemned? They are neither of you [O believers] nor of those [who utterly reject the truth], and so they swear to falsehood the while they know [it to be false].

Explanation

Lit., “with which God has never saluted thee”. Historically, this is an allusion to the hostile attitude of the Jews of Medina towards the Prophet. It is recorded that instead of pronouncing the traditional greeting “Peace be upon thee” when encountering him, some of them used to mumble the word salam (“peace”) in such a way as to make it indistinguishable from Sam (“death”); and they employed the same scurrilous play of words with regard to the Prophet’s companions as well. (The relevant ahadith are quoted in full, with an indication of the sources, by Tabari and Ibn Kathir  in their commentaries on the above verse.) But see also the preceding note.

58:15 God has readied for them suffering severe [in the life to come], Behold, evil indeed is what they are wont to do. 

Explanation

Sc., “if Muhammad is truly a prophet”.

58:16 They have made their oaths a cover [for their falseness], and thus they turn others away from the path of God, hence, shameful suffering awaits them.

Explanation

See note 12.

58:17 Neither their worldly possessions nor their offspring will be of the least avail to them against God, it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide!

Explanation

i.e., in and by itself, the force of evil epitomized in the concept of “Satan” has no power whatever: cf. 14:22 – “I had no power at all over you: I but called you – and you responded unto me. Hence, blame not me, but blame yourselves.” (See also Razi’s views quoted in my note 31 on the abovementioned verse.) As regards the problem of God’s “letting” or “allowing” a person to go astray (implied in the phrase “unless it be by God’s leave”), see note 4 on 14:4.

58:18 On the Day when God will raise them all from the dead, they will swear before Him as they [now] swear before you, thinking that they are on firm ground [in their assumptions]. Oh, verily, it is they, they who are the [greatest] liars!

Explanation

Lit., “in the assemblies (al-majalis)”. Although it is frequently assumed that this refers to the assemblies held by the Prophet, when his followers would throng around him in their eagerness the better to hear what he had to say, or – more generally – to congregations in mosques, etc., in later times,  I am (with Razi) of the opinion that the plural noun majalis is used here in a tropical or metaphorical sense, denoting the totality of men’s social life. Taken in this sense, the “making room for one another” implies the mutual providing of opportunities for a decent life to all – and especially to the needy or handicapped – members of the community. See also next note.

58:19 Satan has gained mastery over them and has caused them to remain oblivious of the remembrance of God. Such as these are Satan’s partisans, Oh, Verily, it is they, the partisans of Satan, who will truly be the losers!

Explanation

Commenting on this passage, Razi says: “This verse indicates that if one widens the means (abwab) of happiness and well-being of God’s creatures (‘ibad), God will widen for him all that is good in this life and in the hereafter. Hence, no reasonable person (al-‘aqil) could ever restrict [the purport of] this ‘verse to merely making room for one another in an [actual) assembly.”

58:20 Verily, those who contend against God and His Apostle – it is they who [on Judgment Day] shall find themselves among the most abject.

Explanation

The interpretation implied in the words “for a good deed” interpolated by me above is analogous to that offered by most of the classical commentators, and most explicitly by Tabari; in the words of Qatadah (ibid.), “Whenever you are called upon to do a good deed, respond to this call.” 21 Cf. the saying of the Prophet: “The superiority of a learned man (‘alim) over a [mere] worshipper (‘abid) is like the superiority of the moon on the night when it is full over all other stars”  (Ibn Hanbal, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Darimi).

58:21 [For] God has thus ordained, “I shall most certainly prevail, I and My apostles!” Verily, God is Powerful, Almighty!

Explanation

Cf. the saying of the Prophet: “The superiority of a learned man (‘alim) over a [mere] worshipper (‘abid) is like the superiority of the moon on the night when it is full over all other stars” (Ibn Hanbal, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Darimi).

58:22 Thou canst not find people who [truly] believe in God and the Last Day and [at the same time) love anyone who contends against God and His Apostle – even though they be their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or [others of] their kindred. [As for the true believers] it is they in whose hearts He has inscribed faith, and whom He has strengthened with inspiration from Himself, and whom [in time] He will admit into gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide. Well-pleased is God with them, and wellpleased are they with Him. They are God’s partisans, Oh, Verily, it is they, the partisans of God, who shall attain to a happy state!

Explanation

This call to an exercise of charity on every occasion (bayna yaday) of one’s “consultation” with God’s Apostle has been widely misunderstood as applying only to factual consultations with him, i.e., in his lifetime, supposedly with a view to lessening the encroachments on his time by some of his too-eager followers. This misunderstanding, together with the qualified dispensation from the above-mentioned injunction expressed in the next verse, has given rise to the unwarranted contention by some of the commentators that this injunction has been “abrogated”. But apart from the fact that the theory of “abrogation” as such is entirely untenable (see 2:106 and the corresponding note 87), the above verse reveals its true meaning as soon as we realize that the term “the Apostle” (ar-rasul) is used in the Qur’an not merely to designate the unique person of the Prophet Muhammad but also the sum-total of the teachings conveyed by him to the world. This is evident from the many Qur’anic exhortations, “Pay heed unto God and the Apostle”, and, more specifically (in 4:59), “if you are at variance over any matter, refer it unto God [i.e., the Qur’an) and the Apostle [i.e., his sunnah]”, which latter is but meant to elucidate the former. Taken in this sense, the above reference to a “consultation with the Apostle” obviously applies not only to his person and his contemporaries but rather to his teachings in general and to believers of all times and environments. In other words, every believer is exhorted to “offer up something in charity” – whether it be material alms to a needy person, or the imparting of knowledge to such as may be in need of enlightenment, or even a mere word of kindness to a weak human being – whenever he intends to immerse himself in a study of the Apostle’s teachings or, as the Qur’an phrases it, to “consult” him who has conveyed the divine writ to us.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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