MUHAMMAD


Madīnah Period

One of the earliest Revelations in Madīnah, this sūrah of 38 verses is named after Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, who is mentioned in the second verse. It deals with such matters as fighting, the treatment of prisoners of war, the distribution of the spoils of war, and the final end that awaits the believers and unbelievers.


  1. Those who disbelieve and bar (people) from God’s way – God will render all their deeds vain.1
    1. That is, all their efforts to prevent the spread of Islam will be in vain. Secondly, although their good deeds may bring profit to them in the world, this will signify nothing in the Hereafter because they did not aim at the afterlife and pursued only the goods of the worldly life.
    2. While those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, who believe in what has been sent on Muhammad – and it is the truth from their Lord – He will blot out from them their evil deeds (which will otherwise prevent their achievement of their goals in both worlds), and set their hearts fully aright, and improve their conditions (both in this world and the next).2
      1. Sincere faith and doing good, righteous deeds as required by faith cause one to have a sound, sincere, and satisfied heart. God leads such a person to right decisions, proper thoughts, and good actions, which in turn cause that person to deepen in faith and sincerity. The virtuous circle that is formed in this way will lead the believers to attain their (Islamic) goals in the world and eternal happiness in the Hereafter.
      2. That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood (in their beliefs, thoughts, and actions), while those who believe follow the truth from their Lord.3 Thus, God expounds to people what they are like.
        1. The falsehood mentioned here is any system of belief, thought, or action that is based not on the Revelation, but on human desires and fancies that do not conform to, or even con- tradict, God’s ways of acting in the universe, which we improperly call “laws of nature,” and the moral laws He has established for life in the world. However, the truth is the system of beliefs, thoughts, and actions that is based on the Divine Revelation and, therefore, in conformity with the laws God has established for the operation of the universe and human life on the earth. So, as have previously mentioned, God has two collections of laws, one to govern human life and the universe, and the other for religious life. Both require obedience: obedience or disobedience to the former gives its results mainly in this world, while obedi-
 

ence or disobedience to the latter yields its results both in this world and in the Hereafter, but primarily in the Hereafter. Believers must obey both of them.

        1. So, when you meet those who disbelieve in war, smite at their necks (without giving them opportunity to defeat you). At length, when you have sufficiently suppressed them, (without continuing fighting) bind a firm bond of captivity on them. Then set them free either as a favor without demanding anything in return, or for ransom (which may consist of a reciprocal exchange of prison- ers of war), so that warfare may abandon weapons and come to an end. That (is God’s command). Had God so willed, He would certainly exact retribution from them (Himself ), but (He orders you to fight) in order to try you by means of one another. As for those who are killed in God’s cause, He will never render their deeds vain.
        2. (Rather,) He will guide them (to the realization of their goal in both worlds) and set their conditions right for them,4

4. This verse mainly refers to the conditions of those killed in God’s cause, though it has some reference to the world also. That is, God never lets the sacrifices made in His cause go to waste. Such actions contribute to the realization of the goal of those who perform them in the world. Martyrdom is among the greatest of sacrifices made in God’s cause. Martyrs aim to uplift God’s Word and gain God’s approval and good pleasure; God enables the uplifting of His Word, becomes pleased with martyrs, saves them from suffering in the worlds of the Hereafter, and forgives them.

        1. And He will admit them into Paradise that He has made known to them.
        2. O you who believe! If you help God(’s cause by striving in His cause), He will help you and make your feet firm (so that you are steadfast in His cause and ultimately victorious).
        3. But those who disbelieve: collapse and perdition are their lot, and He will render all their deeds vain.
        4. This is because they are averse to that which God has sent down, and so He causes their deeds to go to waste.
        5. Have they not traveled about the earth and seen how the outcome was for those who came before them (and persisted in associating partners with Him, and in all kinds of transgression)? God brought utter devastation upon them, and the unbelievers (now) the like of their fate awaits.
        6. This is because God surely is the Guardian of those who believe, but those who disbelieve have no guardian (acceptable in God’s sight and who can help them against Him).
 
        1. God will admit those who believe and do good, righteous deeds into Gar- dens through which rivers flow. As for those who disbelieve, they take their enjoyment and consume (God’s bounties) just as cattle consume, (without con- sidering Who has given them to them, and what they are expected to do in return, and with no sense of the life to come); and the Fire will be their dwelling (fitting for them).
        2. How many a township there has been, greater in power (and more abundant in wealth) than your township, which has driven you out, (O Messenger). We destroyed them and they had no helper (against Us).
        3. Is, then, the one who is (standing) upon a clear evidence from his Lord like him whose evil deeds are decked out to be appealing to him, and (those who) follow their lusts and fancies?
        4. A likeness of Paradise which the God-revering, pious are promised is this: in it are rivers of water incorruptible (in taste, smell, and color); and rivers of milk whose taste never changes; and rivers of wine5 delicious for the drinkers; and rivers of pure, clear honey. And in it, there are also fruits of every kind for them, as well as forgiveness from their Lord (to bring unforeseen blessings).6 (Are those who will enjoy all this) like those who will abide in the Fire and be given boiling water to drink, so that it rends their bowels?
          1. Wine as one of the blessings of Paradise is not of the kind which causes intoxication, and denotes the perfection of the pleasure that the drinks of Paradise will give.
          2. everything in the Hereafter will be particular to the conditions of that world. But as stated in verse 2: 25, everything will resemble in name, shape, and color its counterparts in this world, though this resemblance will be only in name and shape, so that its inhabitants will not lose their appetite because of being presented with an unknown food. Their taste and smell or the pleasure they will give will be completely particular to that world, and ev- ery time these bounties will be presented to the people of Paradise, they will be renewed.
        5. Among them (the people of Madinah) are some who give ear to you, but when they go out from your presence, they ask (with arrogance and derision) those who have been given (some) knowledge (of the truths of the Religion): “What has he said just now?” Those are they whose hearts God has sealed, and who follow their lusts and fancies.
        6. As for those who have accepted God’s guidance, He strengthens them in guidance (through deeper knowledge and submission), and gives them piety and protection from sinning.
        7. Do they (who persist in unbelief and evil deeds) wait but for the Last Hour
 
  • (waiting) that it come upon them all of a sudden? Now, indeed, its portents have already come.7 But how can it benefit them to take admonition when the Last Hour has (already) come upon them?

7. Only God knows the exact time of the Last Hour, but it has many portents which show that its coming is certain. The advent of God’s Messenger as the Last and universal Messenger or the Seal of the Prophets, upon him be peace and blessings, was the first and greatest portent of its coming.

        1. Then, know (bear in mind) that there is no deity but God, and ask forgive- ness for your lapses,8 and for the believing men and believing women. God knows from which (inner) state and (social) condition, to which state and condi- tion you do and will move, and in which state and condition you will be steady.

8. For the sinlessness of the Prophets and the Messenger’s asking forgiveness for his “faults,” see 48: 2, and the corresponding note 2.

        1. Those who believe (look forward to a new surah conveying knowledge of Divine truths and God’s new commandments being sent down, and) say: “If only a new surah were sent down!” But when a decisive surah has been sent down in which fighting is mentioned (clearly as a commanded duty), you see those in whose hearts there is sickness looking at you with a look of one swoon- ing to death. That is, in fact, what is expected of them!
        2. (Whereas, what true believers are expected to do in response to any Divine order is) obedience and a proper word. So, if they were true to God when the command has been resolved upon (and it calls them to do what their pledge to God requires them), it would certainly be good for them.
        3. But is it to be expected of you (O hypocritical ones), that you will break your promise and turn away (from God’s commandments), and cause disorder and corruption in the land, and sever the ties of kinship?
        4. Such are they whom God has cursed (excluded from His mercy), and so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes (to the truth).
        5. Do they not meditate earnestly on the Qur’ān, or are there locks on the hearts (that are particular to them, so that they are as if deaf and blind, and in- capable of understanding the truth)?9

9. The persons mentioned are the hypocritical ones among the believers. Hypocrisy arises from a sickness in the center of the heart which dries up the source of spiritual life, ex- tinguishing the power of understanding, and corrupting character (See: 2: 10). The main reason for the “spiritual” sense of hearing being lost in deafness, or the “spiritual” sense of seeing being lost in blindness, is this sickness in the heart: For indeed it is not the eyes that

 

have become blind, it is rather the hearts in the breasts that are blind (22: 46). So verse 24 in this sūrah also interprets the verse before it, explaining why God makes the ears deaf and the eyes blind. The locks on the heart must be those put on the senses or faculties of the heart, such as hearing, seeing, thinking, and understanding, etc. (Also, see verse 26 and the corresponding note 10 below.)

        1. Surely those who have turned back as apostates after (God’s) guidance has become clear to them, Satan has seduced them; he has implanted in them long- term worldly ambitions.
        2. This is because they have said to those who are averse to what God has sent down: “We will follow you in some issues.” God knows their secrets.10

10. Obedience to the carnal soul in its desires, and nursing long-term worldly ambitions, causes one to fear death and thus to falter in carrying out God’s commandments, particu- larly those related to fighting. And this, in turn, causes the death of the heart (spiritual intellect), the blindness of the eye of the heart, and the deafness of the ear of the heart. This verse explains the true reason for the spiritual death mentioned in the previous verses. It also gives information about the secret agreements against the believers that were made be- tween the hypocrites in Madīnah and the unbelievers (of Makkah), who are also described in verse 9 above as being averse to what God sends down.

        1. So, how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, striking their faces and their backs?
        2. This is because they have followed what incurs God’s wrath (condemna- tion), and are averse to what pleases Him, and so He has caused all their (previ- ous good) deeds to go to waste.
        3. Or do those in whose hearts is sickness think that God will not bring to light their spite (against the Divine Religion and its followers)?
        4. Had We so willed, We would have shown them to you, and you would have known them by their marks (visible on their faces). But you certainly know them by the false tone and rhythm of their speech. God knows (O humankind) your deeds (and why and how you do them).
        5. And We will most certainly try you so that We may mark out those among you who strive hard (in God’s cause with their persons and their wealth), and those who are steadfast (on His Path and patient through adversities), and test your record (of assertions and deeds) for truth and quality.11

11. That is, God will distinguish between and judge His servants’ deeds, whether they are right or wrong and recompense each type of deed.

        1. Those who disbelieve and bar (people) from God’s way, and defy the Mes-
 

senger after (God’s) guidance has become clear to them – they will never be able to harm (the cause of ) God, and He will cause their deeds to go to waste.

        1. O you who believe! Obey God (in all His commandments) and obey the Messenger (in his execution of God’s commandments and in his own direc- tives), and do not let your deeds go to waste.12

12. Letting one’s deeds go to waste occurs through ostentation, hypocrisy, apostatizing, opposing God and His Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and through doing something that will annul a good deed, such as speaking during Prayer.

        1. Those who disbelieve and bar (people) from God’s way, and then die unbe- lievers, God will never forgive them.
        2. So (when in warfare with the enemy) do not be faint of heart and cry out for peace (which will bring you humiliation) when you have the upper hand. (Always bear in mind that) God is with you, and He will never diminish the reward of your good deeds.
        3. The present, worldly life is nothing but a play and a pastime. If you truly believe and keep from disobedience to Him in reverence for Him and piety, He will grant you your rewards, and will not ask of you your wealth.
        4. If He should ask it of you and press you (to give it), you would covet and withhold, and He would bring out your (suppressed) resentments.13

13. God has implanted in humankind numerous urges, some of which are apparently evil. However, a proper education causes these to be channeled into virtues. For example, enmity is channeled into enmity towards one’s own carnal soul in order to train it, and jealousy into emulating others in their virtues. In fact, these urges have been given to humankind for this end— that is, to channel them into virtues that will cause one to grow spiritually and morally.

        1. You are surely those called upon to spend (of your wealth) in God’s cause; yet among you are some who are niggardly. But whoever is niggardly is nig- gardly only to the depriving of his own soul. God is the All-Wealthy and Self- Sufficient (absolutely independent of any need), and you are the poor (in need of Him). If you turn away (from true faith and piety), He will substitute in your stead another people; then they will not be like you.