Tafsîr of Sûrah Al-Hujarât: Verses 13-15

by

 

Brother Yahya Adel Ibrahîm

 

 

VERSE 13

 

"O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allâh is that (believer) who has Taqwa (God-consciousness, fearing Allâh ). Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Aware." [Sûrah al-Hujurat (49): 13]

 

The beginning of human race: Allâh addresses all mankind and mentions that He created all humans from one soul; Adam. From him, He created his wife, Hawa (Eve), and through them the human race grew and spread. Therefore, all humans are of the same category, rank and status, everybody is alike in the Sight of Allâh .

Nations, tribes and groups are only for acquaintance and knowing family relations. Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said:

 

"Learn enough about your lineages to know about your blood relatives and treat them accordingly." [(Sahîh) Sahîh Sunan at-Tirmidhî (no. 1612)]

Division of man into nations and tribes is also an expression of Allâh 's unique Attribute; 'al-Khâliq' 'the Creator', that He created infinite number of people with distinct features extending from one soul. Allâh explained that these differences of color and language are a sign of His Greatness and Power, He said:

 

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the difference of your languages and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge." [Sûrah al-Rûm (30): 22]

 

The main concern of this verse is to demonstrate equality and brotherhood. Imâm Ibn Kathîr (rahimahullah) says:

 

"This is the wisdom behind revealing this verse after the verses, which prevent one from Ghîbah (backbiting), Spying, Nicknaming, etc. so that everybody might contemplate that in regards to their lineage, they are all equal."

After explaining the wisdom behind the division of mankind into tribes and groups, the next verse diverts the readers attention to the only factor which can elevate man in the Sight of Allâh and that is 'Taqwa.' Those who fear Allâh and obey Him are far superior to those who are arrogant and disobedient. Allâh says:

 

"Not equal are the blind and those who see, nor are (equal) those who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh ) and do righteous good deeds, and those who do evil! Little do you remember." [ (40): 58]

 

Paradise and eternal bliss becomes the right of those who acquire Taqwa, Allâh says:

 

"And whosoever believes in Allâh and performs righteous good deeds, He will admit him into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) to dwell therein forever. Allâh has indeed granted for him an excellent provision" [al-Talâq 65:11]

 

Kufr, arrogance and oppression all lead to Hell-Fire regardless of who performs them, Allâh says:

 

"But those who disbelieved (in the Oneness of Allâh (Islamic Monotheism) and denied Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they will be the dwellers of the Fire, to dwell therein forever. And worst indeed is that destination." [Sûrah al-Taghâbun (64): 10]

 

Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) exposed the insignificance of racism in his Khutbah (sermon) on the Day of 'Fath-e-Makkah' (victory of Makkah) and categorized humans into two, on the basis of righteousness and Taqwa, he (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said:

 

"Allâh has dispelled from you the effects of Jahiliyyah (ignorance) and the practice of Jahiliyyah to boast around with people upon one's lineage. (Know) Men are only of two types, either righteous, who have high ranks with Allâh , or the sinful, who are disgraced in the Sight of Allâh ."

And then he recited the above verse Sûrah al-Hujurat (49): 13) [Ibn Abi Hatim] Thus, pride in one's lineage is against the teachings of Islâm , and Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) discouraged all such practices. Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said:

 

"All of you are the children of Adam (alaihi as-salâm), and Adam himself was created from clay. Refrain from boasting upon one's lineage. (Otherwise) you will be lighter than the heap of dust and marine birds in the Sight of Allâh ."

It is mentioned in Musnad Ahmad that Allâh 's' Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) was never pleased by any person or any thing, except a man with Taqwa. He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said:

 

"There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab. except due to Taqwa." [al-Silsilat al-Sahîh, (2700) Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Asâkir and Ibn Sa'd]

To enforce the effect of brotherhood in his Sahabah (radhi Allâh u anhu) (Companions of Allâh 's Messenger), he (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) would often address them saying, 'Ya Banî Adam!' 'O descendants of Adam' and likewise is the approach of the Qur'ân in several verses.

Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) strictly abhorred racial discrimination. Abu Dharr (radhi Allâh u anhu) said:

 

"There was an argument between me and one of my brothers whose mother was non-Arab. I insulted him about his mother, and he complained about me to the Prophet (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam). I met the Prophet (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) and he said, "O Abu Dharr, you are a man who still has Jahiliyyah (ignorance) in him." [Sahîh al-Bukharî and Sahîh Muslim (3139)]

It is related in a long Hadîth of Sahîh Muslim that Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Allâh does not look at your faces and wealth, rather He consider your hearts and deeds." And he (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said to Abu Dharr:

 

"Remember! You have no virtue over any brown or black (man) But yes! If you increase in Taqwa then you are a virtuous man." [Musnad Ahmad]

Thus, Islâm gives equal rights to all, rich and poor, noble and ignoble and there is no superiority of anyone over anybody else in Islâm , except in terms of Taqwa. And this is the basis of Islamic society.

In this world, there are other things, which may grant loftiness to a person or a group of people, like wealth, power, lineage, etc. But the true greatness, which counts, is the greatness in the Sight of Allâh and its basis is Taqwa.

Allâh then closes the verse with two of His Great Names, All Knowing, All Aware, which encourage the believers to do righteous deeds and fear Him, because He knows and is All-Aware about the true nature of man.

VERSE 14

 

"The Bedouins say: "We have believed." Say to them: "You have not yet believe', say instead, 'We have accepted Islâm ' for true belief has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey Allâh and His Messenger you will not lose any of your (good) deeds for verily, Allâh is Most Forgiving, and Most Merciful." [Sûrah al-Hujurat (49): 14]

 

Allâh revealed this verse reprimanding a tribe of Bedouins, who had newly converted to Islâm , for a dishonest action. They used to request charity from the people of Makkah while claiming to be Mu'mins (true believers) like the early Muslims, who fought and suffered along with Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) in Makkah. But Allâh mentions in this verse that Îmân had not truly established itself in their hearts, and therefore revealed to His Messenger to warn them saying, they were only Muslims who had merely accepted Islâm , and not Mumins (true believers). They would have to work harder to prove their devotion and faithfulness to Islâm , until then they should judge their actions genuinely and accept it with sincerity.

Islâm and Îmân

 

This verse explains that Islâm and Îmân are two distinct entities and Îmân is more exalted than Islâm . Islâm and Îmân are two synonyms if they are mentioned together, both have separate meanings, and when they are mentioned separate, each means the other. Allâh distinguished between Îmân and Islâm , when he addressed the Bedouins. He, the Most Merciful, notified that they were Muslims and not unbelievers, but they had not completely comprehended the higher level of Îmân, as is clear from the last part of the verse.

 

 

"But if you obey Allâh and His Messenger, He will not decrease anything in rewards for your deeds. Verily, Allâh is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

 

If the Bedouins were hypocrites or unbelievers, they would have not been rewarded for their obedience to Allâh and His Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam). The case described here is that the complete and true Îmân is not yet present in their hearts. However, they are not outside of Islâm .

The distinction between Islâm and Îmân is also manifest from the Hadîth of Jibrîl (alaihi as-salâm), when he asked Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam), 'What is Islâm ?' He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) replied: "Al-Islâm implies that you testify that there is no god but Allâh and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allâh , and you establish prayer, pay Zakât, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you can (bear the expense of) the journey." Jibrîl (alaihi as-salâm) further asked: "Inform me about Îmân (faith)." He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) replied: "That you affirm your faith in Allâh , in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil." Jibrîl (alaihi as-salâm) asked: "Inform me about al-Ihsan (performance of good deeds)." He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said: "That you worship Allâh as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, surely sees you." [Sahîh al-Bukharî and Sahîh Muslim] Thus, Jibrîl (alaihi as-salâm) started with the less exalted rank (Islâm ) to the higher exalted position (Îmân) and then to the highest position (Ihsan). [Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr]

Also, in a Hadîth reported by Bukharî and Muslim, Sâd (radhi Allâh u anhu) reported: 'The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) bestowed some gifts upon a group of people and I was sitting among them. The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) left out a person and did not give him anything.

I thought that he was the best of the group. So I stood up before the Prophet (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) and said: 'O Messenger of Allâh ! What about so and so? By Allâh , I find him to be a believer.' The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) answered: "He may be (just) a Muslim." I kept quite for a short while but then I could not restrain myself and again said to him: 'O Messenger of Allâh ! What about so and so? By Allâh , I find him to be a believer.'He said: "He may be (just) a Muslim."I remained quite and what I knew about the man made me speak again: 'O Messenger of Allâh ! What about so and so? By Allâh , I find him to be a believer.' The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) answered: "He may be a Muslim. I often bestow something upon a person whereas someone else is dearer to me than he, because of the fear that he may fall headlong into the Fire." Thus, we find Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) differentiating between a Mu'min (true believer) and a Muslim.

What can be derived from the above is that for a person to be called a Mumin (believer), he must fulfill the conditions and obligations of Îmân. If he is lacking in them, then he does not deserve to be called a true believer (Mumin). But he has not left the fold of Islâm . Instead, he has moved from the lofty level of being called a 'believer (Mumin)' to the level of being a 'Muslim.'

This point is to be kept in mind when one reads Ahâdîth like: "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." [Sahîh al-Bukharî and Sahîh Muslim] In other words, no one is a true and complete believer (meeting all the requirements and necessary components of Îmân) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.

Morals in Islâm

 

This verse also teaches Islamic Morals of avoiding arrogance and false praise. The Bedouins claimed true faith while they were only new Muslims who had recently accepted Islâm and it was not appropriate on their part to claim the status of those true believers who had struggled along with Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam). The Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said: "He who claims for himself qualities which he does not have is not of us. Let him prepare his seat in Hell." [Sahîh al-Bukharî] Allâh hates false praise.

Islâm encourages modesty and humbleness and considers it to be a necessary element of Îmân. On one occasion, Allâh 's Messenger passed by a man from the Ansâr who was criticizing his brother of Haya (self respect, modesty). He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said to him: "Leave him alone because Haya is an integral part of Îmân." [Sahîh al-Bukharî 1/23] At another occasion he (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Modesty and Îmân are companions, when one is taken away, the other follows." [al-Bayhaqî] He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) also explained: "Whoever is humble for Allâh 's sake will be honored by Allâh ." [al-Bayhaqî]

Even excessive praise for others, whether it be in their presence or absence is also detested in Islâm because it produces a feeling of pride. Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said:

 

"When you see those who shower too much praise upon others throw dust on their faces." [Sahîh Muslim (vol: 4, no: 7143)]

Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam), who is the best and most pious of all mankind did not like this even for himself, when some people said to him: "O Messenger of Allâh , you are the best and the son of the best among us, and our master and the son of our master." He (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) addressed him saying:

 

"O people! Make your request straightforward and let not Shaytân lure you into saying the wrong things. I am only the slave of Allâh , and His Messenger. I do not like you to elevate me above my rank in which Allâh , the Exalted, has praised me." [Musnad Ahmad]

Therefore, excessively praising the Messenger of Allâh (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) is prohibited. What we hear today of unrestricted praise for Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) to the extent that he (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) is sometimes raised to a status which fits no one except Allâh , the Exalted, is unlawful. This includes believing Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) to be able to answer supplications or fulfill requests made to him (after his death), etc. These attributes are unique for Allâh , for He alone answers the supplications and He alone can fulfill needs. As Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) said in the previous Hadîth, such acts are lure and misguidance from the Shaytân, who is at a constant attempt to lead humans astray.

This prohibition however, does not forbid due praises for someone, it only rejects the excessive praise. When Allâh 's Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) was asked: "What is your opinion about one who has done good deeds and people praised him?" He replied: "It is glad tidings for a believer." [Sahîh Muslim (vol: 4, no: 6388)]

VERSE 15

 

"But if you obey Allâh and His Messenger, you will not lose any of your (good) deeds for verily Allâh is Most Forgiving, and Most Merciful." [Sûrah al-Hujurat (49): 15]

 

After warning them (the Bedouins) for their disliked actions, Allâh then explains to them a way to repentance and atonement. Allâh says if they rightfully obey Allâh and His Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam), the reward of their previous good deed will be retained. Obedience here implies full submission to the orders of Allâh and His Messenger (sallAllâh u alaihi wa-sallam) mentioned in the Qur'ân and the Sunnah without negligence. And this is from the Great Mercy of Allâh , the Exalted.

 

 

Source: http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=842&category=50

 

 

 

 

Return to Commentary on Selected Verses in the Qur'an

Return to Homepage

 

click here to view site

HomeWhat's new?IslamChristianityRefutations LanguagesMultimediaE BooksLinksContact Me