In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
48:1 Verily, [O Muhammad] We have laid open before thee a manifest victory.
Namely, the moral victory achieved by the Truce of Hudaybiyyah, which opened the doors to the subsequent triumph of Islam in Arabia (see an introductory note, which explains many allusions to this historic event found in the subsequent verses).
48:2 So that God might show His forgiveness of all thy faults, past as well as future, and [thus] bestow upon thee the full measure of His blessings and guide thee on a straightway.
Lit., “so that God might forgive thee all that is past of thy sins and all that is yet to come” – thus indicating elliptically that freedom from faults is an exclusive prerogative of God, and that every human being, however exalted, is bound to err on occasion.
48:3 And [show] that God will succor thee with [His] mighty succor.
Sc., “to a fulfillment of thy mission”, which the Truce of Hudaybiyyah clearly presaged.
48:4 It is He who from on high has bestowed inner peace upon the hearts of the believers, so that – seeing that God’s are all the forces of the heavens and the earth and that God is All-Knowing, Truly Wise they might grow yet more firm in their faith.
i.e., endowed them, although they were few and practically unarmed, with calm courage in the face of the much more powerful forces of the enemy.
48:5 [And] that He might admit the believers, both men, and women, into gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide, and that He might efface their [past bad] deeds, and that is, in the sight of God, indeed a triumph supreme!
Lit., “so that they might add faith to their faith, seeing that God’s are . . .”, etc. Since the latter is obviously a parenthetic clause, I have transposed it in my rendering in order to make the meaning clear.
48:6 And [God has willed] to impose suffering [in the life to come] on the hypocrites, both men and women, and on those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, both men and women, all who entertain evil thoughts about God. Evil encompasses them from all sides, and God’s condemnation rests upon them, and He has rejected them [from His grace], and has readied hell for them, and how evil a journey’s end!
i.e., who deny His existence or man’s responsibility to Him, or offend against the concept of His oneness.
48:7 For, God’s are all the forces of the heavens and the earth, and God is Indeed Almighty, Truly Wise!
Lit., “at morn and evening”, i.e., at all times.
48:8 Verily, [O Muhammad] We have sent thee as a witness [to the truth], and as a herald of glad tidings and a warner.
This refers, in the first instance, to the pledge of faith and allegiance (bay’at ar-ridwan) which the Muslims assembled at Hudaybiyyah gave to the Prophet (see introductory note). Beyond this historical allusion, however, the above sentence implies that as one’s faith in God’s message-bearer is to all intents and purposes synonymous with a declaration of faith in God Himself, so does one’s willingness to obey God necessarily imply a willingness to obey His message-bearer. – The phrase “the hand of God is over their hands” does not merely allude to the hand-clasp with which all of the Prophet’s followers affirmed their allegiance to him, but is also a metaphor for His being a witness to their pledge.
48:9 So that you [O men] might believe in God and His Apostle, and might honor Him, and revere Him, and extol His limitless glory from morn to evening.
Lit., “who were left behind”: i.e., the bedouin belonging to the tribes of Ghifar, Muzaynah, Juhaynah, Ashja’, Aslam and Dhayl, who, although allied with the Prophet and outwardly professing Islam, refused under various pretexts to accompany him on his march to Mecca (which resulted in the Truce of Hudaybiyyah), since they were convinced that the Meccans would give battle and destroy the unarmed Muslims (Zamakhshari). The excuses mentioned in the sequence were made after the Prophet’s and his followers’ successful return to Medina; hence the future tense, sayaqul.
48:10 Behold, all who pledge their allegiance to thee pledge their allegiance to God, the hand of God is over their hands. Hence, he who breaks his oath, breaks it only to his own hurt, whereas he who remains true to what he has pledged unto God, on him will He bestow a reward supreme.
Implying that the excuses which they would proffer would be purely hypocritical.