Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Hujurat 49:1-10

In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.

49:1 O You who have attained to faith! Do not put yourselves forward in the presence of [what] God and His Apostle [may have ordained], but remain conscious of God, For, Verily, God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing!

Explanation

i.e., “do not allow your own desires to have precedence”.

49:2 O you who have attained to faith! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and neither speak loudly to him, as you would speak loudly to one another, lest all your [good] deeds come to nought without your perceiving it.

Explanation

This has both a literal and a figurative meaning: literal in the case of the Prophet’s Companions and figurative for them as well as for believers of later times – implying that one’s personal opinions and predilections must not be allowed to overrule the clear-cut legal ordinances and/or moral stipulations promulgated by the Prophet (cf. 4:65 and the corresponding note 84).

49:3 Behold, they who lower their voices in the presence of God’s Apostle – it is they whose hearts God has tested [and opened] to the consciousness of Himself, [and] theirs shall be forgiveness and a reward supreme.

Explanation

i.e., address him, or (in later times) speak of him, with unbecoming familiarity.

49:4 Verily, [O Prophet] as for those who call thee from without thy private apartments – most of them do not use their reason. 

Explanation

While this relates in the first instance to the Prophet, it may also be taken to apply to any supreme leader of the communitY (amir al-mu’minin) who acts as the Prophet’s successor (khalifah) and rules in his name, i.e., under the aegis of Islamic Law. (As regards the Prophet himself, the above exhortation to reverent behavior implies, in the view of many outstanding Islamic thinkers, a prohibition to  “call out to him” when visiting his tomb).

49:5 For, if they had the patience [to wait] until thou come forth to them [of thine own accord], it would be for their own good. Still, God is much Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace.

Explanation

i.e., verify the truth before giving credence to any such report or rumor. The tale-bearer is characterized as “iniquitous” because the very act of spreading unsubstantiated rumors affecting the reputation of other persons constitutes a spiritual offense.

49:6 O You who have attained to faith! If any iniquitous person comes to you with a [slanderous] tale, use your discernment, lest you hurt people unwittingly and afterward be filled with remorse for what you have done.

Explanation

Thus, after laying stress in the preceding verses on the reverence due to God’s message-bearer and, by implication, to every righteous leader of the community – the discourse turns to the moral imperative of safeguarding the honor and reputation of every member of the community, man and woman alike. This principle is taken up, more explicitly, in verse 12.

49:7 And know that God’s Apostle is among you were he to comply with your inclinations in each and every case, you would be bound to come to harm [as a community]. But as it is, God has caused [your] faith to be dear to you, and has given it beauty in your hearts, and has made hateful to you all denial of the truth, and all iniquity, and all rebellion [against what is good]. Such indeed are they who follow the right course. 

Explanation

Sc., “and he ought to be an example for you as regards your behavior towards one another”. i.e., he would not accept rashly a hearsay tale affecting the honor of third persons but would either refuse to listen to it altogether or, should a clarification become necessary in the interests of the community, would insist on ascertaining the truth objectively

49:8 Through God’s bounty and favor, and God is All-Knowing, Truly Wise.

Explanation

Lit., “in many a case (amr)”: the implication being that, more often than not, man is prone to give credence to malicious rumors devoid of any real evidence.

49:9 Hence, if two groups of believers fall to fighting, make peace between them, but then, if one of the two [groups) goes on acting wrongfully towards the other, fight against the one that acts wrongfully until it reverts to God’s commandment, and if they revert, make peace between them with justice, and deal equitably [with them], For Verily, God loves those who act equitably!

Explanation

The expression “fighting” comprises in this context all modes of discord and contention, both in word and deed, evidently as a consequence of the slanderous rumors spoken of in verse 6 above.

49:10 All believers are but brethren. Hence, [whenever they are at odds] make peace between your two brethren, and remain conscious of God, so that you might be graced with His mercy.

Explanation

i.e., that the believers should act as brethren (see next verse).

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