Path towards Enlightenment (1002)
Salaam and welcome to another episode of our weekly series titled “Path towards Enlightenment” which is an endeavour to make you and us familiar with an easy and fluent explanation of God’s Final Scripture to all mankind, the holy Qur’an that was revealed to the Last and Greatest of all Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny).
Last week we completed explanation of “Surah Hashr” and from this Friday onwards we embark on explanation of the next Surah, that is, “Surah Mumtahanah”, which is number 60 in the serial order of compilation of the holy Qur’an.
It has 13 Ayahs and it was revealed before the peaceful surrender of Mecca to the Muslims without a fight. Al-Mumtahanah means “the Woman Tested” and the Surah takes its name from Ayah 10 regarding the examining of the faith of migrant women who renounce paganism and accept Islam. The test was to publicly establish that their migration from Mecca was purely for the sake of God and without worldly motive, so as to grant these newly converted women full protection and rights in the Muslim community. The Surah emphasizes love and obedience of the Almighty Creator and forbids believers from befriending the enemies of God, by citing the example of Prophet Abraham, who is regarded a model of monotheism for Muslims.
As for the merits of recitation of Surah Mumtahanah, a hadith says believing men and women will intercede with the All-Forgiving Lord on the Day of Resurrection for forgiveness of the reciter.
We now invite you to listen to Ayahs 1 and 2:
“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful – O you who have faith, do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends, (secretly) offering them affection while they have certainly defied whatever has come to you of the truth, expelling the Prophet and you, because of your faith in Allah, your Lord! If you have set out for jihad in My way and to seek my pleasure (do not befriend them). You secretly nourish affection for them, while I know well whatever you hide and whatever you disclose, and whoever among you does that has certainly strayed from the right way.
“If they were to confront you they would be your enemies, and would stretch out against you their hands and their tongues with evil [intentions], and they are eager that you should be faithless.”
The occasion for revelation of these passages was a letter secretly dispatched by Hatib ibn Abi Bulta’a through a slave songstress of Mecca, named Sara, who had come to Medina posing as a destitute but was a spy. Hatib intended to inform the Meccans of the preparations being made by the Prophet for the expedition to Mecca, and he wrote to them to arm themselves to fight the Muslims. God Almighty through the Archangel Gabriel revealed the plot to the Prophet who immediately sent his dearest cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), along with Meqdad ibn Aswad, Ammar ibn Yasser, and a few others to intercept Sarah who was actually spy. When intercepted she denied she was carrying any letter, and no such letter was found in her baggage on being searched. The Muslims decided to return to Medina but Imam Ali (AS) insisted that the Prophet never speaks untruth and she is definitely hiding the letter somewhere. On being severely warned that her lies may prove fatal to her, she produced the letter from her long tresses of hair. When the Prophet summoned Hatib and showed him the letter he had written to the Meccans, he replied that it was because of his desire to save his family members who were living in Mecca from the pagans. The Prophet, in view of his past conduct, graciously asked him to seek pardon from Allah.
The principle of these Ayahs is thus of universal importance, since by referring to the plot of the pagan Arabs against the life of the Prophet on the night of his migration from Mecca to Medina and the battles they had imposed upon Muslims, it rules out any intimacy with the enemies of faith who persecute the believers and seek to destroy them and their creed. The Almighty Creator is aware of each and every thing, including thoughts that flash across minds, which means hypocrites cannot hide anything.
These Ayahs reprimand Muslims of weak faith who incline towards the enemies of God of the consequences of their miscalculations, pointing to the hostility of the disbelievers who, if they were to dominate the believers will never show mercy to them and would turn them into faithless ones.
From these Ayahs we learn that:
- One cannot be obedient to God and the Prophet as well as those who are the enemies of faith and believers.
- It is the firm faith of the believers in God that makes the Godless to hate them.
- Religion is not separate from politics, and thus any relationship with others should be based on the principles of Islam.
- Friendship with the enemies of Islam is hypocrisy, and pretense to save relatives through favours to the disbelievers is treachery that harms the entire community.
Now let us listen to Ayah 3 of Surah Mumtahanah:
“Your relatives and your children will not avail you on the Day of Resurrection; He (God Almighty) will separate you (from one another) and Allah sees best what you do.”
The previous Ayahs referred to the plots of some Muslims of weak faith to disclose to the disbelievers the secrets of the believers, so as to ensure the safety of their relatives. Ayah 3 censures such tendencies and points out that the relatives and children who are not faithful cannot rescue you from Divine Wrath. On the Day of Resurrection, too, they will be separated from you and sent to Hell. So, be careful the Almighty Creator is aware of things.
This Ayah teaches us that:
- Bonds based upon religion take precedence over family bonds, and are thus the deciding factor for one’s salvation towards the bliss of Paradise or fall into the bowels of Hell.
- The faithless should never be trusted even if they happen to be relatives, since one’s children will also be of no avail on the Day of Judgement.
Now let us listen to Ayahs 4 and 5 of the same Surah:
“There is certainly a good exemplar for you in Abraham and those who were with him, when they said to their own people, ‘Indeed we repudiate you and whatever you worship besides Allah; we disavow you, and between you and us there has appeared enmity and hate forever, unless you come to have faith in Allah alone,’ except for Abraham’s saying to his foster-father (that is, uncle), ‘I will surely plead forgiveness for you, though I cannot avail you anything against Allah.’
“Our Lord, in You do we put our trust, and to You do we turn penitently, and toward You is the destination! Our Lord, do not make us a trial for the faithless and forgive us! Our Lord, indeed You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
God Almighty introduces to humanity some excellent exemplars for faith and behaviour, and Prophet Abraham (peace upon him) is one such person, and so also are those who were his steadfast disciples. As role models of monotheism and virtue, they used to preach the message of salvation to the people of their community censuring them for their deviation from the right path and indulgence in the sordid practice of idol-worship along with its so many social ills, saying frankly that unless you return to faith in the One and Only Creator of the universe, we disavow you for the enmity your behaviour has created. Prophet Abraham had assured his paternal uncle Azar that if he renounces the making of idols and idolatry, he will beseech God Almighty for his forgiveness, but when Azar showed reluctance fearing that monotheism would deprive him of worldly benefits, Abraham severed all ties with his uncle, saying his invocation to Allah for a disbeliever will be of no avail.
As is evident by Ayah 5 Abraham supplicated to God, saying: O Lord! We have complete trust in You and to You is our return; so do not make us a trial for those who disbelieved and caused torments and troubles for us in a bid to make us turn away from the path of truth. O Lord, forgive us and assist us in our endeavours.
These Ayahs teach us the following:
- The words and deeds of the Prophets are Divine inspiration and they are thus the practical exemplars or role model for mankind, especially believers.
- Friendship and enmity are based on religious values and not personal whims of love or hate.
- Polytheists and polytheism should be openly disavowed
In conclusion of this week’s episode of Path towards Enlightenment, here is Ayah 6, which is continuation of Abraham’s supplication to the Lord Most High:
“There is certainly a good exemplar for you in them (that is, Prophet Abraham and his steadfast disciples) for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day and anyone who refuses to comply [should know that] indeed Allah is the All-Sufficient, the All-Laudable.”
It means that whoever disobeys God Almighty and befriends His enemies, has certainly incurred loss and God Almighty is Needless of such people.