Suras 39-50

December 2020

Sura 39  Az-Zumar (The Troops)  Mecca

The Title: the chapter states that Muslims and infidels would be conducted to heaven and hell ‘by crowds or troops.’ “The unbelievers will be led to hell in crowd: until, when they arrive, there, its gates will be opened. And its keepers will say, “Did not messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing to you the signs of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this day of yours …………. “Enter ye the gates of hell, to dwell therein: and evil is (this) abode of the arrogant!” And those who feared their Lord will be led to the garden in crowds: until behold, they arrive there; its gates will be opened; and its keepers will say: “Peace be upon you! well have ye done! enter ye here, to dwell therein. ………………” (v 71-74)

Muhammad rebukes the idolaters in favour of the ‘pure religion’ which is free from idolatry: “Lo! We have revealed the scripture unto thee (Muhammad) with truth; so worship Allah, making religion pure for Him. Surely pure religion is for Allah only ……… Had Allah wished to take to Himself a son, He could have chosen whom He pleased out of those whom He doth create ….. When some trouble toucheth man, he crieth unto his Lord, turning to Him in repentance: but when He bestoweth a favour upon him as from Himself, (man) doth forget what he cried and prayed for before, and he doth set up rivals unto Allah, thus misleading others from Allah’s path.” (v 2-8) —- The rivals to Allah were Al-Lat, Uzza, Manat and etc through which the Quarraish found intercession to Allah.

Muhammad the first Muslim?: “And I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah in Islam.” (v 12) —– Either Muhammad was the first of the Qurraish tribe to become a Muslim or he is the first in the sense that he is the foremost Muslim.

Eternal differences between believers and unbelievers: Muhammad having claimed the superiority of his ‘pure religion’, he points out to the Meccans the great eternal differences between believers and unbelievers yet they continue in their idolatry. “Say, “Enjoy thy blasphemy for a little while: verily thou art (one) of the companions of the Fire!” ……………….. Say: “Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? ………….. They shall have layers of Fire above them, and layers (of Fire) below them ……………………….  But it is for those who fear their Lord. That lofty mansions, one above another, have been built: beneath them flow rivers (of delight): (such is) the Promise of Allah: never doth Allah fail in (His) promise.” (v 8-20 c/f 47-51,67-75).

The Arabic Quran claims to be consistent but repetitive: “Allah has revealed the most beautiful message in the form of a book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah’s praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide” (v 23). —– “(It is) a Quran in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against evil” (v 28).

Sura 40. Al-Ghafir (The Forgiver) or Al-Mu’min (The Believer) Mecca

The Title: Those who take the title as Al-Ghafir do so on the basis of verse 3: “Who forgiveth sin, accepteth repentance, is strict in punishment” others take the title name from verse 28: “A believer, a man from among the people of Pharaoh”

Former prophets rejected: The Meccans are considered to be prosperous and speak out against Muhammad calling him a liar, a sorcerer and an impostor. Muhammad believes this is how unbelievers acted towards the former prophets: “But (there were people) before them, who denied (the signs), the people of Noah, and the Confederates after them; and every people plotted against their prophet ……….” (v 5)

Moses rejected as a liar: “Of old We sent Moses ….. to Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun; but they called (him)” a sorcerer telling lies!” (v 23-27 )

The legend of the Islamic confession of an Egyptian believer: “A believer, a man from among the people of Pharaoh, who had concealed his faith, said: “Will ye slay a man because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah’? when he has indeed come to you with clear (signs) from your Lord? and if he be a liar, on him is (the sin of) his lie: but, if he is telling the truth, then will fall on you something of the (calamity) ………” (v 28-33) ——– The legend presented is that when Pharaoh was wishing to kill Moses a secret believer declared his faith. The long appeal of the believer which continues until verse 45 resulted in Moses experiencing safety while Pharaoh was ruined.

Joseph’s message met with scepticism: “And to you there came Joseph in times gone by, with clear signs, but ye ceased not to doubt of the (mission) for which he had come …………..” (v 34). Joseph is presented as a prophet to the Egyptians yet they did not believe him. In the same way the Qurraish were sceptical of Muhammad.

Haman builds his tower for Pharaoh so Haman builds his tower: “Thus doth Allah, seal up every heart of arrogant and obstinate transgressors.” Pharaoh said: “O Haman! Build me a lofty palace, that I may attain the ways and means, “The ways and means of (reaching) the heavens, and that I may mount up to the god of Moses: But as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!” ( v 35-37) —– Haman is here set in the wrong era for he worked for King Ahasaurus in Persia (c/f Qassas 29:39)

The life of Moses and the genuineness of his book are an example for Muhammad to follow: “We did aforetime give Moses the (book of) guidance, and We gave the book in inheritance to the Children of Israel, A guide and a message to men of understanding. Patiently, then, persevere: for the promise of Allah is true: and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and celebrate the praises of thy Lord in the evening and in the morning” (v 53-55). ——– Muhammad again acknowledges the book of Moses was God given and he is to exhorted to follow the patience and perseverance of the apostles of old. Al-Baidawi states Muhammad’s sin, for which he needed to ask for forgiveness, was only a fault, namely, that he was too backward and negligent in advancing Islam before the unbelievers.

The punishment of those who reject the Quran and the former messengers: “Those who reject the book and the (revelations) with which We sent our messengers: but soon shall they know, When the yokes (shall be) round their necks, and the chains; they shall be dragged along In the boiling fetid fluid: then in the fire shall they be burned; Then shall it be said to them: “Where are the (deities) to which ye gave part-worship?” (v 70-73) —— This severe punishment which is threatened upon those who reject both the Quran and the previous scriptures once again shows the high value that Muhammad placed on the Taurat, Zabur and the Injil.

Muhammad identified with all the previous prophets: “We did aforetime send messengers before thee: of them there are some whose story We have related to thee, and some whose story We have not related to thee. It was not (possible) for any messenger to bring a sign except by the leave of Allah” (v 78) ——- It is possible that Muhammad was conscious of his ignorance of Jewish history and that in this verse he intends to screen himself from the charge of the Jews that his histories of the prophets in many cases were suspect.

Sura 41. Fussilat (They are explained in detail) Mecca

The Title: Fussilat meaning ‘they are explained in detail’ is taken from verse 3: “A book, whereof the verses are explained in detail”

Muhammad claims it is inspiration that caused him to understand that Allah is one: “It is revealed to me by inspiration, that your Allah is one Allah” (v 6)

Allah and the days of creation: “Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two days?…. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance)……. So He completed them as seven firmaments in two days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command…………. ” (v 9-12).

Jallaludin is of the opinion that the above verses only refer to the first two days of creation week as other suras agree with the biblical account that the world was created in six days: “Your guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days” (Al-A’raf 7:54, Yunus 10:3). Signs in creation: Apart from references to creation this chapter is very similar to sura 41. “Among His signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon.” (v 37). “And among His signs is this: thou seest the earth barren and desolate ……..” (v 39)

Rejection of the messengers: “But if they turn away (the people of Mecca), say thou: “I have warned you of a stunning punishment like that which (overtook) the ‘Ad and the Thamud!” Behold, the messengers came to them, from before them and behind them, (preaching): “Serve none but Allah.” They said, “If our Lord had so pleased, He would certainly have sent down angels. Now we reject your mission.” (v 13-15) ——–  A similar fate awaits the Meccans who ignore the reading of the Quran

The Arabic Quran: The Quran is said to be the truth and is given to the people of Mecca in clear Arabic so that they could understand. Despite this the Meccans refuse the signs, the message and the prophet in a similar way, it is alleged, that earlier peoples refused the messenger. “The unbelievers say: “Listen not to this Quran, but talk at random in the midst of its (reading), that ye may gain the upper hand!” But We will certainly give the unbelievers a taste of a severe penalty, and We will requite them for the worst of their deeds……….. (v 26-28) ……………. “Those who reject the message when it comes to them (are not hidden from Us). And indeed it is a book of exalted power. ……… Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the messengers before thee: that thy lord has at his command forgiveness as well as a most grievous penalty. Had We sent this as a Quran other than Arabic, they would have said: “Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a book) not in Arabic and a messenger an Arab?” Say: “It is a guide and a healing to those who believe; and for those who believe not, there is a deafness in their ears, and it is blindness in their (eyes) …… ” (v 41-44)

As with Muhammad there was uncertainty over the book of Moses: “We certainly gave Moses the book aforetime: but disputes arose therein. Had it not been for a word that went forth before from thy Lord, (their differences) would have been settled between them: but they remained in suspicious disquieting doubt thereon” (v 45).

Sura 42. Ash-Shura (The Consultation) Mecca

The Title: The title of this sura is taken from verse 38 where believers are praised, amongst other things, for consulting together in order to act efficiently. “Those who hearken to their Lord ….. who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation”

Muhammad’s claims his inspiration is on a par with the Bible: “Thus doth (He) send inspiration to thee as (He did) to those before thee” (v 3). ————- The Jewish and Christian scriptures are here said to have been revealed in the same manner as the Quran, and are therefore entitled to the same reverence.

Muhammad sent to warn the Mother of Cities (Mecca) and all around her: “Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Quran: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her, and warn of the day of assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the garden, and some in the blazing fire” (v 6, 7)

Islam claims that it is the religion of all the Biblical characters and prophets: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah the which We have sent by inspiration to thee and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein ………. ” (v 13).

Muhammad claims there should be no contention between those of the ‘People of the Book’: “Allah is our Lord and your Lord: for us our deeds, and for you for your deeds. There is no contention between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is (our) final goal.” (v 15).

Muhammad accused of forgery: “What! Do they say, “He has forged a falsehood against Allah”? (v 24).

The signs in creation: In order to show the Quran was not forged Muhammad tries to establish his claims to be a prophet by the presentation of ‘signs’ “And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them …..” (v 29); The sign of ships: “And among His signs are the ships, smooth-running through the ocean, (tall) as mountains” (v 32). The Wind: “then would they become motionless on the back of the (ocean). Verily in this are Signs for everyone” (v 33) Those who refuse the signs “But let those know, who dispute about Our signs, that there is for them no way of escape.” (v 35)

Muhammad the preacher: “If then they run away, We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty is but to convey (the message)” (v 48).

How Allah sends His revelations: “It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with Allah’s permission, what Allah wills …………….. And thus have We, by Our command, sent inspiration (Beidhawi – Gabriel) to thee” (v 51, 52) ——- These verses were given to answer those who objected that no person ever saw Muhammad when he was receiving his revelation.

Sura 43  Az-Zukhruf (The Gold Adornments) Mecca

The Title: The title of this chapter is probably taken from verse 35 “And (silver) doors to their houses, and thrones (of silver) on which they could recline, And also adornments of gold” (v 34, 35).

The Arabic Quran is said to be a copy of the divine original: “By the book that makes things clear, We have made it a Quran in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand. And verily, it is in the Mother of the Book, in Our presence, high, full of wisdom” (v 1-4). ——– In Allah’s presence on the ‘preserved table’ which is said to be the original from which all scriptures are derived.

Previous prophets rejected: Muhammad seems to have despaired over the conversion of the Qurraish who display their excuses and hold him up to ridicule “But how many were the prophets We sent amongst the peoples of old? and never came there a prophet to them but they mocked him” (v 6, 7).

Quarraish continue following the idolatry of forefathers: “Nay! they say: “We found our fathers following a certain religion, and we do guide ourselves by their footsteps” ……………… He said: “What! Even if I brought you better guidance than that which ye found your fathers following?” They said: “For us, we deny that ye (prophets) are sent (on a mission at all).” (v 22-24) “But when the truth came to them, they said: “This is sorcery, and we do reject it.” (v 30) “Also, they say: “Why is not this Quran sent down to some leading man in either of the two (chief) cities?” (v 31) —- The two cities being Mecca and Taif.

Example of Abraham who sought to turn people away from idolatry: Abraham had broken loose from his forefathers religion but the Qurraish remained immovable in theirs, despite having a copy of the message from the alleged preserved tablet, which was before Allah recited to them. “Behold! Abraham said to his father and his people: “I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship: “(I worship) only Him Who made me, and He will certainly guide me.” And he left it as a word to endure among those who came after him, that they may turn back” (v 26-28).

Example of Jesus who was held up for ridicule: Jesus is given as an example of one who came with clear truthful signs but was ridiculed and was a cause of division yet he will be a sign at the approaching day of judgement. “When (Jesus) the son of Mary is held up as an example, behold, thy people raise a clamour thereat (in ridicule)! And they say, “Are our gods best, or he?” …………. He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favour to him, and We made him an example to the Children of Israel.” (57-59).

Jesus, a sign of the coming judgement day: “And (Jesus) shall be a sign (for the coming of) the hour (of judgement): therefore have no doubt about the (hour), but follow ye Me: this is a straight way” (v 61). ——— Muslims believe that before the resurrection, Jesus will descend to earth near Damascus, some say near a rock in the Holy Land called Afiq. He will, lance in hand, destroy the anti-Christ and arrive at Jerusalem in time for the morning prayer. Here the officiating Imam will give way to Christ who will then lead prayers according to the institutions of Islam. He will then destroy crosses and churches.

Jesus came with clear signs: “When Jesus came with clear signs, he said: “Now have I come to you with wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me” (v 63). ——- Muhammad believed the signs Jesus presented were his miracles and his revelation of the gospel. His signs cause a division: “But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement ………… ” (v 65) ——— Muhammad’s view was that despite the clear signs Jesus brought a division was caused. Muhammad too found division amongst his hearers and like Jesus experienced ridicule and division in his own times.

The wicked in hell ask in vain for annihilation: “They will cry: “O Malik! would that thy Lord put an end to us!” He will say, “Nay, but ye shall abide!” (v 77) —-  Muslims believe Malik is the name of the principal angel who has charge over hell, and presides over the tortures there.

Because of the excuses of the idolaters Muhammad turns away: “(Allah has knowledge) of the (Prophet’s) cry, “O my Lord! Truly these are people who will not believe!” But turn away from them, and say “Peace!” But soon shall they know!” (v 88, 89)

Sura 44  Ad-Dukhan (The Smoke) Mecca

The Title: The title of the chapter comes from verse 10 and 11 where smoke is mentioned: “Then watch thou for the day that the sky will bring forth a kind of smoke (or mist) plainly visible. Enveloping the people: this will be a penalty grievous” While some commentators suggest that the smoke occurred during a time of famine inflicted on the Meccans, there is a tradition of Ali which suggest the smoke is a sign of the day of judgement. Some Traditionists state that the mist would occur around Mecca at the time preceding its conquest.

The Quran sent down on a blessed night: “By the book that makes things clear; We sent it down during a blessed night” (v 2, 3) ————– This verse explains the Muslim belief that a copy of the Quran, from the original in heaven, was sent by Gabriel to the lowest heaven on a ‘blessed night’ the Night of Power, between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth night of Ramadan. The pagans remain unconvinced believing someone has been teaching him. ——– The Quran was given in Arabic to admonish the Arabs “Verily, We have made this (Quran) easy, in thy tongue, in order that they may give heed.” (v 58, 59)

Unbelievers express suspicion about the Quran: “Yet they turn away from him and say: “Tutored (by others), a man possessed!” (v 13, 14) ——- The traditions differ as to who it was that was tutoring Muhammad. Some suggest Jabar, a Greek, who could read and write well. Others suggest Jabar and Yeser, two slaves, who used to read the Pentateuch and the Gospel, while still others propose Yaish, a Muslim convert; Qais, a Christian, and Bahira, the monk. It is likely that the suggestion was that Muhammad received help from a non-Arab.

 Example of Moses who preached to the resistant Egyptians:  (v 17 -29) The unbelievers are warned of future judgement by the example of the preaching of honourable Moses.

The Quarraish are warned with a picture of the torments of hell: The Meccans continue to be unimpressed by Muhammad’s preaching, denying both the message and the resurrection of the dead (v 34-36) “Therefore “Verily the tree of Zaqqum will be the food of the sinful, Like molten brass; it will boil in their insides. Like the boiling of scalding water. A voice will cry: Seize ye him and drag him into the midst of the blazing fire! Then pour over his head the penalty of boiling water, Taste thou (this)! Truly wast thou mighty, full of honour! Truly this is what ye used to doubt!” (v 43-50)

The reward of believers: “As to the righteous (they will be) in a position of security Among gardens and springs; Dressed in fine silk and in rich brocade, they will face each other; So; and We shall join them to fair women with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes. There can they call for every kind of fruit in peace and security; Nor will they there taste death, except the first death; and He will preserve them from the penalty of the blazing fire” (v 51-56).

 Sura 45. Al-Jathiyah (The Kneeling) Mecca

The Title: The Quarraish continue to reject and ridicule the Quran therefore the idolaters are threatened with dreadful punishment “And thou wilt see every sect bowing the knee Every sect will be called to its record: “This day shall ye be recompensed for all that ye did!” (v 27, 28) Whether they are pagans who reject the signs of Allah in creation or in the Quran, or whether the Jews who had been given the Torah, all will bow the knee to Allah.

Allah’s signs in creation: “Verily in the heavens and the earth, are signs for those who believe. And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth), are signs for those of assured faith. And in the alternation of night and day …………… Such are the signs of Allah, which We rehearse to thee in truth; then in what exposition will they believe after (rejecting) Allah and His signs?” (v 3-6)

Idolaters reject the signs and threat of punishment: “He hears the signs of Allah rehearsed to him, yet is obstinate and lofty, as if he had not heard them: then announce to him a penalty grievous!  ………… he takes them in jest: for such there will be a humiliating penalty. In front of them is hell: and of no profit to them is anything they may have earned, nor any protectors they may have taken to themselves besides Allah: for them is a tremendous penalty. This is guidance and for those who reject the signs of their Lord, is a grievous penalty of abomination” (v  8-11 c/f 27,28, 34,35). ——– The traditions say “The Prophet said, “The people will be thrown into Hell ( Fire) and it will keep on saying, ‘Is there any more?’ till the Lord of the worlds puts His foot over it, whereupon its different sides will come close to each other, and it will say, ‘Qad! Qad! (enough! enough!) (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 481).

The scripture with clear signs given to the Jews: “We did aforetime grant to the Children of Israel the book the power of command, and Prophet-hood; We gave them, for sustenance, things good and pure; and We favoured them above the nations. And We granted them clear signs in affairs: it was only after knowledge had been granted to them that they fell into schisms, through insolent envy among themselves. Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the day of judgement as to those matters in which they set up differences” (v 16, 17). ——— There are many expressions in the Quran at this later Meccan period that Muhammad had some general knowledge of the ancient history of the Jews. There is no evidence that he ever had a Bible before him and only one Old Testament quotation is found in the Quran but again the Jewish scriptures are acknowledged as the Word of God.

Muhammad claims to receive clear signs: “Then We put thee on the way of religion: so follow thou that, and follow not the desires of those who know not………………. These are clear evidences to men and a guidance and mercy to those of assured faith” (v 18-20).

Sura 46. Al-Ahqaf (The Curved Sand Hills) Mecca

The Title: The chapter gets its name from the verses that deal with the impending destruction of the people of Al-Ahkaf “Mention (Hud) one of ‘Ad’s (own) brethren: Behold, he warned his people about the winding sand-tracts …….” (v 21-24) —– The brother of ‘Ad was the prophet Hud. A pestilent wind is said to have killed all the ‘Adites and destroyed their possessions because they did not believe the doctrine of Hud. ———– The Quarraish through their constant mocking of Muhammad should beware lest the same fate awaits them (v 26, 27)

Muhammad believes his message agrees with Moses and the earlier prophets: Muhammad rejects the objection that his message is not forged or involves sorcery (v 7-8) but rather on the contrary it is genuine and agrees with earlier prophets “Say: “I am no bringer of new-fangled doctrine among the messengers” (v 9 c/f v 12)

A Jew who believes in Muhammad’s message: “and a witness from among the Children of Israel testifies to its similarity (with earlier scripture), and has believed while ye are arrogant, truly, Allah guides not a people unjust.” (v 10) ——- This ‘witness’ from the Jews who testifies about the truthfulness of Muhammad is supposed to be ‘Abdullah ibn Salama, who declared that Muhammad was the prophet foretold by Moses. Other Jews were less favourable about Muhammad’s claims and called the Quran a lying-legend.

The Righteous Man: “We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, “O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam.” (v 15-17) ——– Sunni’s who highly esteem Abu Bakr say that this verse refers to him (Rev Canon Sell). According to the commentator Hussain, Abu Bakr embraced Islam when he was thirty-eight, and his father and mother were also converted. When he became forty he said ‘O Lord, give me inspiration, that I may be grateful’ ( Tafsir-i- Husaini, vol. 2 p.321)

Muhammad warns the people of Mecca as they reject the signs of Allah: Faced with continual ridicule Muhammad warns the Qurraish that they will have to face an impending judgement “And to all are (assigned) degrees according to the deeds which they (have done), and in order that (Allah) may recompense their deeds, and no injustice be done to them. And on the day that the unbelievers will be placed before the fire …………. but today shall ye be recompensed with a penalty of humiliation: for that ye were arrogant on earth without just cause, and that ye transgressed.” (v 19, 20)

The jinn believe the message and warn their people: With the overall rejection of his message Muhammad is encouraged by the conversion of some jinn “Behold, We turned towards thee a company of Jinns listening to the Quran: when they stood in the presence thereof, they said, “Listen in silence!” When the (reading) was finished, they returned to their people, to warn them of their sins” (v 29). ————— After his unsuccessful preaching in Taif the disconsolate Muhammad reached Nakhla and here it is said that the jinn heard Muhammad reciting the Quran and believed.

The example of the rejected patient messengers encourages Muhammad: “Therefore patiently persevere, as did (all) messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the (unbelievers). On the day that they see the (punishment) promised them, (it will be) as if they had not tarried more than an hour in a single day. (Thine but) to proclaim the message: but shall any be destroyed except those who transgress?” (v 35)

Sura 47. Muhammad  Medina 

The Title: Muhammad Some give the name ‘War’ to this chapter because believers are encouraged to oppose the enemies of Islam otherwise, the title is taken from verse 2: “But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (revelation) sent down to Muhammad.” In another reference to Muhammad (v 19) Muhammad is asked to ask forgiveness for his sins (faults). Here and elsewhere Muhammad acknowledges himself to be a sinner, although many Muslims claim he was sinless. Bukhari Volume 8, Book 75, Number 319 states “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying.” By Allah! I ask for forgiveness from Allah and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”

How enemies of Islam are to be treated in war: The spirit of this Medina sura is very different from those revealed at Mecca, which mostly inculcated peace and forbearance “Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.” (v  4) ———- The School of the Hanifites suppose that this law applies only to the battle of Badr while the Shiites take it as a universal obligation.

Allah will reward those who fight for Islam: “But those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. Soon will He guide them and improve their condition, And admit them to the garden which He has announced for them.” (v 4-6)

Hypocrites rebuked: “And among them are men who listen to thee, but in the end, when they go out from thee, they say to those who have received knowledge, “What is it he said just then?” Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed, and who follow their own lusts” (v 16) In verses 20-28 they make excuses for not fighting in the way of Allah.

Sura 48. Al-Fath (The Victory) Medina

Introduction to the sura entitled The Victory: “Verily We have granted thee a manifest victory” (v 1). This passage is said to have been revealed after Muhammad’s negotiated treaty with Suhail ibn ‘Amr at Hudaibiya where the Quarraish, for the first time, acknowledged Muhammad as an equal in respect of political status. It appears that Muhammad had fully intended to take Mecca but the Bedouins failed to help him, so he thought it more appropriate to conclude a treaty. This was a good policy for the treaty had positive implications in respect of taking Mecca two years later.  Some understand the victory to be referring to the victory over the Jews at Khaibar, or to the victory at Muta, which was a town belonging to the Roman Empire. Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 367 is said to give the background to when sura Al-Fath was revealed.

Muhammad’s sin to be forgiven: “That Allah may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow …… ” (v 2) ———————– Some say that it this is a reference to the sins committed by Muhammad before and after his call, while others are more specific by referring it to his conduct with Mary the Copt, and his marriage with the wife of his adopted son.

Changing loyalties to Allah and Muhammad: “Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to Allah: the hand of Allah is over their hands: then any one who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul ……………. The desert Arabs who lagged behind will say to thee: “We were engaged in (looking after) our flocks and herds, and our families: do thou then ask forgiveness for us.” They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts ……………………….“And if any believe not in Allah and His Messenger, We have prepared, for those who reject Allah, a blazing fire!” (v 10-13) ———————– The tribes concerned were summoned to join Muhammad at Hudaibiya but considered the needs of their poor families before the cause of Allah.

Spoils will be the reward of obedience but punishment the reward of disobedience: “Say to the desert Arabs who lagged behind: “Ye shall be summoned (to fight) against a people given to vehement war: then shall ye fight, or they shall submit. Then if ye show obedience, Allah will grant you a goodly reward, but if ye turn back as ye did before, He will punish you with a grievous penalty…………………… ” (v 16, 17).

Treaty of Hudaibiya with promise of spoils now and in the future: “Allah’s good pleasure was on the believers when they swore fealty to thee under the tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down tranquillity to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy victory; And many gains will they acquire and Allah is exalted in power, full of wisdom…………………….. And other gains (there are), which are not within your power, but which Allah has compassed: and Allah has power over all things” (v 18-21).

While sitting under the shade of a tree at Hudaibiya Muhammad called his men to a take an oath of loyalty that would hold even to death. Consultations were held with the Quarraish and while admission to the Ka’aba was refused the form of a treaty was drawn up. —————– Under this treaty war was to be suspended for ten years in which neither side could attack the other. Liberty was given to individuals to choose either to join Muhammad or the Quarraish but those who were under guardianship had to have the permission of their guardian. On this occasion, Muhammad and his followers were to leave Mecca without entering the city however, in the coming year he and his followers could visit Mecca for three days while the Quarraish retired as long as they did not bare arms.

The conquest of Mecca a proof of Muhammad’s mission: “Truly did Allah fulfil the vision for His messenger: ye shall enter the sacred mosque, if Allah wills, with minds secure, heads shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what ye knew not, and He granted, besides this, a speedy victory” (v 27). ————————- Muhammad had a dream at Medina that he and his companions would enter Mecca with their heads shaved or their hair cut. The Treaty of Hudaibiya had caused consternation amongst some of his followers as they had expected an immediate victory, so this passage was revealed in order to comfort and assure them until the dream was fulfilled. When he eventually conquered Mecca he rode into the city riding on his she-camel reciting this or a part of this sura c/f Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 631.

Islam claims to abrogate all other religions: “It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to proclaim it over all religion” (v  28) —————- It states in Tafisir-I-Husiani (Vol 1, p.271) “He who chooses any other religion other than Islam, whether Judaism, Christianity or any other, will not be approved and  accepted, and his efforts will be frustrated and disappointed. This verse abrogates all religions which have preceded or which will follow Islam.”

Sura 49  Al-Hujurat  (The Inner Apartments) Mecca

The Title: The chapter receives its title from verse 4: “Those who shout out to thee from without the inner apartments most of them lack understanding.” were showing insufficient respect for Muhammad.

Rebuke for not showing due respect to Muhammad: “O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. Those that lower their voices in the presence of Allah’s messenger, their hearts has Allah tested for piety: for them is forgiveness and a great reward. Those who shout out to thee from without the inner apartments most of them lack understanding. If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them ……..” (v 2-5).

The first of this type of command was given when Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were disputing loudly before Muhammad. On other occasions believers called to him asking him to come out when he was sleeping at noon in his wives inner apartment. The background to this command is found in Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 368 with the following result that “Ibn Az-Zubair said, “Since the revelation of this verse, ‘Umar used to speak in such a low tone that the Prophet had to ask him to repeat his statements.”

Rebuke for failing to inquire into the truth of a story: An inadequate inquiry into the truth of a story is here related: “O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done” (v 6). —————– Muhammad sent a Muslim to collect alms which were due from the tribe of Mustaliq. On arriving he feared they would endanger him so he returned and told the prophet that they refused to pay and had attempted to kill him. Muhammad contemplated using force against the tribe but after further enquiry found that the original messenger had spoken wrongly against the submissive tribe.

Brotherly behaviour and reconciliation when required amongst Muslim brothers: “If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair. The believers are but a single brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive mercy “O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are doing wrong. O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs……………. ” (v 11-12) ———— The two parties involved in this affray were said to be the Aws and the Khazraj tribes.

Insincere faith: “The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “Ye have no faith; but ye (only) say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ For not yet has faith entered your hearts.” (v 14) Sincere faith: “Only those are believers who have believed in Allah and His messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones” (v 15)

Sura 50. Qaf  (The letter Qaf)  Mecca

The Glorious Quran: “Qaf: By the glorious Quran” (v 1) the meaning of the letter Qaf placed at the beginning of this chapter is disputed. The term al-Mujid, ‘the glorious’ is often applied to the Quran.

The Message of Resurrection: Idolaters constantly rejected this message while Muhammad found support for his doctrine in Nature: “What! When we die and become dust, (shall we live again?) That is a (sort of) return far (from our understanding)” …………. and We give (new) life therewith to land that is dead: Thus will be the resurrection” (v 3-11). Idolaters who doubt the resurrection are warned that “Allah is nearer than the jugular vein” (v 15,16).

The message of previous prophets was also rejected: “Before them was denied (the hereafter) by the people of Noah, the companions of the Rass, the Thamud, the ‘Ad, Pharaoh, the brethren of Lut,  the companions of the wood, and the people of Tubba’; each one rejected the messengers, and My warning was duly fulfilled” (v 12-14) – The meaning of the term the ‘companions of the Rass’ is uncertain

Angels record all human thoughts and actions: Two angels condemn unbelievers on the day of judgement. One angel will bring every person before the tribunal, and the other will act as a witness. — “Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left. Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready to note it” (v 17, 18)…… “And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness. (It will be said:) “Thou wast heedless of this; now have We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this day!” And his companion will say: “Here is (his record) ready with me!” (v 20-23)

Hell asked if there is any more room for unbelievers: “(The sentence will be:) “Throw; throw into hell every contumacious rejecter! “Who forbade what was good, transgressed all bounds, cast doubts and suspicions;  “Who set up another god beside Allah: Throw him into a severe penalty.” …………………… One day We will ask hell, “Art thou filled to the full?” It will say, “Are there any more?” (v 24-31)

The believer receives the promise: “And the garden will be brought nigh to the righteous, no more a thing distant. (A voice will say:) “This is what was promised for you, for every one who turned (to Allah) in sincere repentance, who kept (His Law), “Who feared (Allah) most gracious unseen, and brought a heart turned in devotion:  “Enter ye therein in peace and security; this is a day of eternal life!” (v 31-34)

Muhammad required to act patiently and not use force: At this stage in his life Muhammad was told clearly not to use force but only warn the polytheists. “Bear, then, with patience, all that they say, and celebrate the praises of thy Lord, before the rising of the sun and before (its) setting ….. We know best what they say; and thou art not one to overawe them by force. So admonish with the Quran such as fear My warning!” (v 38-45)

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Individual Eschatology concerns the condition of the individual between his death and the general resurrection at the close of the age.

December 2020

The Mahdi literally means “the guided one”, and has come to mean in an individual way, the divinely guided one. While Allah himself is called al-Hadi in the Quran (Al-Hajj 22:54; Al-Furqan 25:31) the figure of al-mahdi or mahdi, and his mission is not mentioned at all. Islam uses the term of certain individuals in the past and of an eschatological individual in the future. The Mahdi is interpreted differently by Sunnis and Shi’a although both look for one who will arise to restore the purity of Islam and usher in a Golden Age in which Islamic revelation will reign in the ideal community, the umma.

There is a general belief amongst Muslims that the living Muhammad intercedes for them at the throne of God. The Wahhabi’s state that the intercession of their Prophet is only by the permission of Allah on the Last Day and that there will be no intercession for sins until the Day of Judgement. In principle the Quran denies that there is an intercessor with Allah. However, there are a few passages which suggest that under certain circumstances Allah does allow someone to intercede. It seems that Muhammad’s intercession is available for the Muslim as he/she invokes the blessings of Allah upon the Prophet.

The appearance of the Anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal)

Resurrection and the Last Judgement Al-Qiyama

December 2020

Questions and Answers about the Second Coming of Christ which are held by orthodox Muslims

Both the Quran and Tradition present their picture of ‘Isa. They give him a high place among the prophets; they affirm his sinless-ness; they affirm he had power to work miracles but all this does not distinguish Him in any way as to its nature from the other prophets who came before him.

The Quran recognises that David glorified and praised God. The mountains and the birds alternated with him in these praises (Al-Anbiya 21:79, Saba’ 34:10, Sa’d 38:18). Muhammad, it seems, took literally the passages where creatures and elements joined David in their praises so it seems that when David was fatigued Allah caused other parts of nature, both animate and inanimate to relieve him. David is presented as a model Muslim, praising Allah, fasting, prostrating, acting justly and fighting for the honour of Allah

The title Tawrat is given in the Quran and all Muslim works for the Book of Moses (in Hebrew Torah stands for ‘the Law’). The term tawrat is found in the Medina period. Muslim scholars accept that the Tawrat teaches the unity of God yet believe it falls short of the full revelation as it does not give an account of the stated method of prayers (Al-Fath 48:29), the fast, a detailed description of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and alms-giving, nor is there anything regarding heaven and hell. For these reasons the Tawrat is said to have been altered by the Jews.