Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Ahzab: 33:61-73

33:61 Bereft of God’s Grace, they shall be seized wherever they may be found, and slain one and all.

Explanation

The above parenthetic sentence refers to the previously revealed, general laws relating to marriage (see 2:221, 4:3-4 and l9-25, as well as the corresponding notes), and particularly the laws bearing on the question of dower.

33:62 Such has been God’s way with those who [sinned in like manner and] passed away aforetime – and never wilt thou find any change in God’s way!

Explanation

Thus, the Prophet was told that he need not observe a strict “rotation” in the conjugal attentions due to his wives, although he himself, impelled by an inborn sense of fairness, always endeavored to give them a feeling of absolute equality.

33:63 People will ask thee about the Last Hour. Say: “Knowledge thereof rests with God alone, yet for all, thou knowest, the Last Hour may well be near!”

Explanation

i.e., by the inner certainty that whenever he turned to any of them, he did so on impulse, out of genuine affection, and not out of a sense of marital “obligation”.

33:64 Verily, God has rejected the deniers of the truth and has readied for them a blazing fire. 

Explanation

According to a hadith on the authority of ‘A’ishah, recorded in the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal, the Prophet “used to divide his attentions equitably among his wives, and then would pray: ‘O God! I am doing whatever is in my power: do not, then, blame me for [failing in] something which is in Thy power [alone], and not in mine!’ thus alluding to his heart, and to loving some [of his wives] more than others.”

33:65 Therein to abide beyond the count of time: no protector will they find, and none to bring them succor.

Explanation

Some commentators (e.g., Tabari) assume that this restriction relates to the four categories of women enumerated in verse 50 above: it is, however, much more probable that it is a prohibition barring the Prophet from marrying any woman in addition to those to whom he was already married (Baghawi, Zamakhshari). Some of the earliest, most outstanding authorities on the Qur’an, like Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd (all of them cited by Ibn Kathir), or Al-Hasan al-Basri (quoted by Tabari in his commentary on verses 28-29), link this prohibition of further marriages with the choice between the charms of worldly life and the good of the hereafter with which the wives of the Prophet were confronted on the strength of verses 2~29, and their emphatic option for “God and His Apostle” (cf. note 32 above). All those early authorities describe the revelation of verse 52 – and the assurance which it was meant to convey to the wives of the Prophet – as God’s reward, in this world, of their faith and fidelity. Since it is inconceivable that the Prophet could have disregarded the categorical injunction, “No [other] women shall henceforth be lawful to thee”, the passage in question cannot have been revealed earlier than the year 7 H., that is, the year in which the conquest of Khaybar and the Prophet’s marriage with Safiyyah – his last marriage – took place. Consequently, verses 28-29 (with which, as we have seen, verse 52 is closely connected) must have been revealed at that later period, and not, as some commentators think, in the year 5 H. (i.e., at the time of the Prophet’s marriage with Zaynab).

33:66 On the Day when their faces shall be tossed about in the fire, they will exclaim, “Oh, would that we had paid heed unto God, and paid heed unto the Apostle!”

Explanation

i.e., to divorce any of them with a view to taking another wife in her stead (with the prohibitive accent on the ‘supplanting” – i.e., divorcing – of any of his wives).

33:67 And they will say, “O our Sustainer! Behold, we paid heed unto our leaders and our great men, and it is they who have led us astray from the right path!

Explanation

In my opinion, the expression ma malakat yaminuka (lit., “what thy right hand possesses”, or “has come to possess”) has here the same meaning as in 4:24, namely, “those whom thou hast come to possess through wedlock” (see surah 4, note 26); thus, the above verse is to be understood as limiting the Prophet’s marriages to those already contracted.

33:68 O our Sustainer! Give them double suffering, and banish them utterly from Thy grace!”

Explanation

Connecting with the reference, in verses 45-48, to the Prophet’s mission, the above passage is meant to stress his unique position among his contemporaries; but as is so often the case with Qur’anic references to historical events and situations, the ethical principle enunciated here is not restricted to a particular time or environment. By exhorting the Prophet’s Companions to revere his person, the Qur’an reminds all believers, at all times, of his exalted status (cf. note 85 on 2:104); beyond that, it teaches them certain rules of behavior bearing on the life of the community as such: rules which, however insignificant they may appear at first glance, are of psychological value in a society that is to be governed by a genuine feeling of brotherhood, mutual consideration, and respect for the sanctity of each other’s personality and privacy.

33:69 O You, who have attained to faith! Be not like those [children of Israel] who gave offense to Moses, and [remember that] God showed him to be innocent of whatever they alleged [against him or demanded of him], for of great honor was he in the sight of God.

Explanation

The term hijab denotes anything that intervenes between two things, or conceals, shelters or protects the one from the other; it may be rendered, according to the context, as “barrier”, “obstacle”, “partition”, “screen”, “curtain”, “veil”, etc., in both the concrete and abstract connotations of these words. The prohibition to approach the Prophet’s wives otherwise than “from behind a screen” or “curtain” may be taken literally – as indeed it was taken by most of the Companions of the Prophet – or metaphorically, indicating the exceptional reverence due to these “mothers of the faithful”.

33:70 O you who have attained to faith! Remain conscious of God and [always] speak with a will to bring out [only] what is just and true

Explanation

Lit., “to marry his wives after him”.

33:71 [Whereupon] He will cause your deeds to be virtuous and will forgive you your sins. And [know that] whoever pays heed unto God and His Apostle has already attained to a mighty triumph.

Explanation

i.e., the wives of the Prophet (connecting with the injunction, in verse 53 above, that they should be spoken to “from behind a screen”).

33:72 Verily, We did offer the trust [of reason and volition] to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains: but they refused to bear it because they were afraid of it. Yet man took it up – for, verily, he has always been prone to be most wicked, most foolish.

Explanation

This interpolation is conditioned by the feminine gender of the subsequent plural imperative ittaqina.

33:73 [And so it is] that God imposes suffering on the hypocrites, both men, and women, as well as on the men and women who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him. And [so, too, it is] that God turns in His mercy unto the believing men and believing women, for God is indeed Much Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace!

Explanation

In classical Arabic, the term la’nah is more or less synonymous with ib’ad (“removal into the distance” or “banishment”); hence, God’s la’nah denotes “His rejection of a sinner from all that is good” (Lisan al-‘Arab) or “exclusion from His grace” (Manar 11, 50). The term mal’un which occurs in verse 61 below signifies, therefore, “one who is bereft of God’s grace”.

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