Introduction of Al-Mu'minun
(Revealed before Hijrah)
It can be said without fear of contradiction that the whole of this Surah was revealed at Mecca. All authorities including Qurtubi agree on this point. There seems to exist some difference of opinion about the exact number of verses of this Surah. The people of Basra regard it as 119. They count vv. 46 & 47 as two separate verses while the Kufis, who hold that these two verses constitute one verse, place the number of the verses of the Surah at 118. We, however, hold that the number of the verses including the Bismillah is 119. At any rate there appears to exist no ground for some Christian writers to discover a plea to impugn the authenticity of the text of the Quran on the basis of this slight difference of opinion. There is to be found complete unanimity among scholars that the whole text of the Quran as it exists today is the revealed Word of God and is completely immune from all human interference and interpolation. Thus, a seeming difference in the number of the verses of this Surah can cast no reflection on the reliability and authenticity of its text.
There is sufficient internal evidence to show that the Surah was revealed towards the end of the Holy Prophet’s stay at Mecca. Suyuti regards it as the last Surah to be revealed at Mecca while some other commentators assign its revelation to Medina. But not much weight is attached to this latter opinion. Wherry fixes sixth or seventh year of the Call as the time of its revelation. But the text of the Surah and Islamic traditions contradict Wherry’s assumption. The view however, seems to be more akin to reality that the Surah was revealed towards the end of the Meccan period, just before Hijrah, though actually it may not have been the last Surah to be revealed at Mecca as Sayuti thinks.
In the closing verses of the last Surah the believers were told to turn to God and obey His commandments as in this lay the secret of their future progress and prosperity. They were also enjoined to wage war with the sword so that those who drew the sword against Islam should themselves perish by the sword. They were further enjoined to strive in the way of the Lord with the Quran. The alternative commandment of jihad sometimes with the sword and another time with the Quran has made provision for both the contingencies. Neither were non-Muslims compelled to accept Islam by force nor were believers required to accept any commandment against their conscience. The believers were further told that jihad with the Quran meant that they should observe Prayers and give the Zakah and hold fast to God and that if they acted upon these commandments, God would help them and vouchsafe to them success and prosperity. Whereas the closing verses of the preceding Surah had held out to the believers a conditional promise of success, in the present Surah a sure guarantee is given that a community of believers will certainly be born who, because they will fulfil the above-mentioned conditions, will achieve success. Thus a thing which was only presumed to have existed is claimed in this Surah to have come into being as an actual fact.
The subject matter of this Surah makes a little digression from that of the preceding few Surahs. Those Surahscontained a summary of the teaching of Christianity and rejected what was unacceptable in it and corrected and amended where corrections and amendments were found necessary. This Surah, too, embodies a repudiation of the false doctrines and teachings of Christianity, but at the same time makes a pointed and emphatic reference to the fact that the whole Christian system has been replaced by Islam, which by removing all interpolations and false ideas that had found their way into it, will now guide mankind to its destined goal.
The Surah opens with the glad tidings to the true believers that the time of their success and prosperity has already arrived, and then proceeds to give a brief description of their characteristics and special marks, i.e. they worship their Lord with a humble heart; they refrain from all such actions as do no good to themselves or their community; they are ever ready to undergo all sorts of sacrifice for the sake of their country; they shut all those avenues through which evil thoughts find access to the human heart, particularly they guard their chastity; they faithfully discharge their responsibilities and fulfil their covenants and pledges with other peoples; they are specially regardful of congregational Prayers, i.e. they promote and foster national feelings among the members of their community and subordinate individual requirements to national needs. These are the people who will get the Paradise promised to them in this world and will enjoy God’s eternal and everlasting favours in the life to come.
This, in a nutshell, is the process of the spiritual growth and development of believers. It is followed by a brief but beautiful description of the growth of the human foetus and defines the different stages through which the child passes––from the stage of a drop of sperm to that of a fully developed human being. The Surah then proceeds to explain that just as every physical birth is followed by death and resurrection, similarly nations or communities among whom at one time a spiritual renaissance takes place, at another time are subject to decay and decadence and in due course are succeeded by another people. In fact spiritual and physical developments bear a close resemblance. Both of them have to pass through seven stages of development. Next, the Surah develops the theme, viz. that all things are sent down into the world according to a determined measure and each continues to exist and is afforded protection till an appointed time. When at last it has served its purpose it decays and dies. In the same way the Divine teachings, sent down before the Quran, died when they had served their intended purpose. Thus the mere fact of a teaching being Divine does not entitle it to immunity from decay. It is only the Quran which has been granted continuity of life and which will therefore provide spiritual food to all humanity for all time, because it is the last revealed Divine Law.
The Surah then recounts some of the favours which God has bestowed upon man and which are necessary for his physical sustenance, and draws the moral lesson that when God has taken so much care to provide for man’s physical needs, He must have taken equal, even greater, care to provide for his spiritual requirements.
Next, we are told that the most essential prerequisite to ensure spiritual progress is belief in the Unity of God which since the inception of the world the Prophets of God have taught and preached. But the enemies of truth have always protested that some superhuman being should have been sent by God for their guidance, but in spite of this persistent protest of disbelievers God has always commissioned only men to guide men, who in the face of determined and organized opposition and persecution succeeded in their mission. (It is a strange irony that before the advent of Jesus the disbelievers always demanded that a superhuman being, preferably an angel, should have been sent as a messenger of God to guide them. How a mere mortal like them, they said, could arrogate to himself the position of being a Divine Messenger. In the time of Jesus, when he metaphorically said that he was a Son of God, they said that it was highly preposterous and blasphemous for a mere human being to claim to be a Son of God, and in the time of the Holy Prophet disbelievers said that a Prophet could not come from outside the House of Israel. In fact man in his perversity and waywardness always has found some foolish excuse to reject God’s message).
The Surah then deals at length with the subject of Divine Unity and says that Noah preached and propagated the Oneness of God. After Noah came a galaxy of Prophets. All of them taught that God was One and those Divine teachers who came after them also emphasized and stressed it. The devotees of darkness, however, always opposed and persecuted the Prophets. The result of the struggle between truth and falsehood invariably was that the believers were successful and those who disbelieved and rejected the Divine Messengers suffered defeat and came to grief. Then we are told that in course of time came Moses, the greatest Prophet of Israel, with Aaron his brother as his deputy, and they both gave the same teaching and were also successful in their mission. This is a phenomenon which has occurred again and again in the lives of God’s great Messengers. From this it is quite clear that Unity of God is the basic doctrine of all religions which all Divine Messengers taught and upon which they laid the greatest stress. The Surah further says that towards the end of the Mosaic Dispensation came Jesus, son of Mary. He also taught and laid very great stress on the Unity of God but his followers invented the false doctrine of his sonship. Such a foolish doctrine, however, cannot be accepted as true against the combined testimony and teachings of all Divine Prophets, including Jesus himself. Next, the Holy Prophet Muhammad is enjoined to observe ordinances and commandments of the Shari‘ah like all other Prophets in the matter of food and in all other acts and to adapt and mould himself to God’s perfect Shari‘ah, because those who give up the right path are led away from Him.
The Surah then proceeds to say that there have always existed differences among the followers of all religions but these differences are the result of lack of true knowledge and of heedlessness which takes hold of men after their Prophets leave the world. But such is not the case with true believers. They fear their Lord and believe in His signs and have firm faith in His Unity and do good deeds to the best of their power, and yet consider themselves not to have fully discharged their duties and responsibilities. They strive to vie with one another in doing good deeds. Man, however, is expected to act only to the best of his powers because "Allah does not burden any soul beyond its capacity." Then it is stated that though the Law of God is quite practical and practicable, the disbelievers refuse to act upon it and in their perversity and the pride of their power and wealth continue to indulge in luxury and vain pursuits till God’s punishment overtakes them and they weep and wail, but then it is too late and their wailing and weeping is of no avail. They defy and reject Divine Messengers and call them madmen. But they are so foolish as not to understand this simple thing that if the Prophets had been madmen, they should not have succeeded in their missions but should have come to an ignominious end. On the contrary, all what they say and claim comes to pass. The fact is that in their heart of hearts disbelievers do not regard the Prophets as maniacs and madmen, on the contrary they entertain a creeping fear lest what the Prophets say may be fulfilled and they may be brought to book for their rejection of the Divine Message.
The Surah further says that God would have forgiven the transgressions of disbelievers but they have gone so far in mischief and iniquity that God’s forgiveness would not be of any use to them but would only add to their wickedness. If the disbelievers should only reflect a little they would find that the very structure of the human body bears a strong testimony to the truth of God’s Prophets and His Law and to the fact that there is only One Creator and One Controller of the whole universe and of every individual being, and yet they would not believe in Divine Unity. The truth is that God has no son, neither has He a partner in creating or controlling the universe. If He had one, the consummate and beautiful arrangement and order that pervades and permeates it would have gone to pieces.
Towards the end of the Surah disbelievers are warned that they will be punished if they persisted in their rejection of the Divine Message, and the Holy Prophet is told that as punishment is sure to overtake disbelievers he should pray that at that dreadful hour he might be away from the scene of their destruction. He is further told that disbelievers would not desist from their evil course and would continue to indulge in iniquitous deeds till when the hour of punishment arrived they will beg and beseech that they might be granted one last opportunity to reform themselves. But then it would be too late, and they will realize that pain and punishment after a life of ease and comfort is doubly mortifying. In fact a single day of punishment appears to be much longer than a whole life of comfort and ease. The Surah ends with stating the great spiritual truth that man is not created without a purpose. His life has a noble aim. He should not therefore doubt or dispute the truth of Divine Law and of God’s Messengers and should realize that after the truth is made manifest he will have to render an account of his deeds to his Lord if he did not desist from the worship of false gods.
یہ مکہ میں نازل ہونے والی آخری سورتوں میں سے ہے۔ بسم اللہ سمیت اس کی ایک سو اُنیس آیات ہیں۔
پچھلی سورت کے آخر پر یہ ذکر ہے کہ اصل کامیابی قیامِ نماز اور قیامِ زکوٰۃ سے ہے اور اس امر سے کہ اللہ تعالیٰ کو مضبوطی سے تھام لیا جائے۔ پس جس فلاحِ عظیم کا اس میں اشارہ ملتا ہے اس کی تفصیل سورۃ المؤمنون کی ابتدائی آیات میں مذکور ہے کہ فلاح پانے والے وہ مومن ہیں جو محض نماز کو قائم نہیں کرتے اور زکوٰۃ نہیں دیتے بلکہ اور بھی ان میں بہت سی صفات پائی جاتی ہیں۔ وہ دونوں قسم کی صفات ہیں یعنی کن کن چیزوں سے بچتے ہیں اور کیا نیکیاں بجالاتے ہیں۔
اس کے بعد یہ بھی فرمایا گیا ہے کہ اگرچہ زندگی کا پانی آسمان سے اُترتا ہے اور اس کے بار بار آسمان سے نازل کرنے کا نظام موجود ہے لیکن اگر کسی بنا پر بنی نوع انسان کو اللہ تعالیٰ سبق سکھانا چاہے تو وہ اس بات پر قادر ہے کہ اس پانی کو لے جائے۔ اس کی دو صورتیں ہیں یا تو یہ کہ پانی بار بار آسمان کی بلندیوں سے واپس کرنے کا جو نظام ہے اس میں اللہ تعالیٰ کوئی تبدیلی فرمادے جیسا کہ ابتدائے آفرینش میں زمین کا پانی مسلسل بخارات کی صورت میں آسمانوں کی طرف بلند ہوتا رہا اور جب برستا تھا تو درمیانی گرم فضا کے نتیجہ میں پھر واپس عروج کر جاتا تھا۔ اور دوسری صورت وہ ہے جو عام مشاہدہ میں آتی ہے کہ جب پانی زمین میں گہرا اُتر جائے تو پھر گہرے کنوؤں کی تہ سے بھی نیچے غائب ہو جاتا ہے۔ اس کے بعد پھر پانی کے مضمون کو آگے بڑھاکر اُن کشتیوں کا ذکر ہے جو پانیوں پر چلتی ہیں اور اس نسبت سے حضرت نوح علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام کی کشتی کا ذکر بھی آیا ہے کہ پانی کی سطح پر بلند رہنے کی استطاعت کشتیوں کو تبھی نصیب ہوتی ہے جب اللہ تعالیٰ کا اِذن ہو۔ بلند سے بلند طوفان میں بھی کشتیاں پانی کی سطح پر بلند ہوتی رہتی ہیں اور معمولی سے طوفان سے بھی غرق ہو جاتی ہیں۔ جب قومیں آسمانی پانی سے جو روحانی طور پر ان پر نازل کیا جاتا ہے ناشکری سے پیش آتی ہیں تو دنیاوی پانی کی طرح اس سے بھی اللہ انہیں محروم کر دیتا ہے اور یہ امر بھی ان کو فائدہ نہیں پہنچاتاکہ موسلادھار بارش کی طرح مسلسل رسول ان میں آتے رہے ہیں بلکہ سب کے انکار پر وہ مُصر رہتے ہیں۔
پھر ایسے پہاڑی علاقے کا ذکر فرمایا جہاں پانی کے چشمے اُبلتے تھے اور امن اور تسکینِ قلب کا موجب بنتے تھے۔ اسی وادی میں حضرت مسیح علیہ الصلوٰۃ والسلام اور اُن کی والدہ کو دشمنوں سے نجات دیتے ہوئے اللہ تعالیٰ لے گیا۔ قرائن و آثار بتاتے ہیں کہ یہ وادیٔ کشمیر ہی ہے۔ اس کے بعد آیت ۷۹ میں یہ مضمون بیان فرمایا گیا ہے کہ ارتقائی منازل میں سب سے پہلے قوتِ شنوائی عطا ہوئی تھی اور اس کے بعد بصارت اور پھر وہ دل انسان کو عطا کئے گئے جو گہری بصیرت رکھتے ہیں اور ہر قسم کے روحانی مضامین کو سمجھنے کی استطاعت رکھتے ہیں۔
اس کے بعد کچھ ایسی آیات آتی ہیں جن کے مضامین اُن آیات سے ملتے جلتے ہیں جن پر تفصیلی بحث پہلے گزر چکی ہے۔ پھر ایک ایسی آیت ہے جو ایک نئے مضمون کو پیش فرما رہی ہے۔ قیامت کے دن جب انسانوں سے یہ سوال کیا جائے گا کہ تم زمین میں کتنی دیر رہے ہو تو وہ کہیں گے کہ شاید ایک دن یا اس کا بھی کچھ حصہ۔ اللہ تعالیٰ اس کا جواب یہ دے گا کہ دراصل تم اس سے بھی بہت تھوڑا عرصہ وہاں ٹھہرے ہو۔ اس سے موت کے بعد جی اٹھنے تک کے زمانے کی طوالت کی طرف اشارہ ہے۔ دنیا اتنی دُور دکھائی دے گی کہ جیسے آناً فاناً گزر گئی اور یہ وہ مضمون ہے جو روزمرہ انسانی تجربہ میں آیا ہے کہ بہت دُور کے ستارے جو اپنے حجم میں چاند اور سورج کے تمام نظام شمسی سے بھی بہت بڑے ہیں محض چھوٹے چھوٹے نقطوں کی صورت میں دکھائی دے رہے ہیں۔
اس سورت کی آخری آیت ایک دعا کی صورت میں ہے جو آنحضرت صلی اللہ علیہ و سلم کو ان الفاظ میں سکھائی گئی کہ اپنے ربّ کو مخاطب ہوکر یہ عرض کیا کر کہ اے میرے ربّ! بخش دے اور رحم فرما اور تُو سب رحم کرنے والوں سے بہتر رحم کرنے والا ہے۔
بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ﴿۱﴾
بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
a. 1:1. (close)
a. See 1:1. (close)
See 1:1. (close)
قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۲﴾
قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ
1978. The verse refers to believers of a very high spiritual calibre whose characteristics and special marks have been mentioned in the verses that follow. Such believers will achieve Falah (success) and not only Najah (salvation), because the achievement of Falah is a much higher spiritual stage than the attainment of Najah. (close)
By "the believers" in this verse are meant believers of a very high spiritual caliber whose characteristics and special marks have been mentioned in the following verses. The verse says that the believers will achieve فلاح i.e. success, and not that they will get نجاة i.e. salvation, because the achievement of فلاح (success), which is the object of one’s life, is a much higher stage than the attainment of salvation or نجاة which only signifies getting rid of hardships and privations. (close)
الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ فِیۡ صَلَاتِہِمۡ خٰشِعُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۳﴾
ٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ فِي صَلَاتِهِمۡ خَٰشِعُونَ
1979. With this verse begins a description of the conditions or prerequisites which a believer must fulfil before he should aspire to attain success in life and achieve the supreme object for which God has created him. These conditions may be regarded as so many stages in the spiritual development of man. The first stage or milestone in this journey of the human soul is that a believer turns to God in all humility, overawed by Divine Majesty, and with a penitent heart and humbled soul. (close)
2510. Important Words:
خاشعون is the plural of خاشع which is act. part. from خشع which means, he was or became lowly, humble or submissive. They say خشعت الشمس i.e. the sun was about to set. خشع فی صلاته means, he was humble in his prayer. خشوع which is infinitive noun from خشعgenerally signifies humility which is expressed by the movements of the body while تضرع generally signifies humility of the heart. But these words are also used synonymously (Lane & Aqrab).
With this verse begins a description of the conditions or prerequisites which a believer must fulfil before he aspires to attain success in life and achieve the supreme and sublime object for which God has created him. These conditions may be regarded as so many stages in the spiritual development and journey of man. The first stage or milestone in this journey of the soul is that a believer turns to God in all humility, overawed with Divine majesty, and with a penitent heart and humbled soul. (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ عَنِ اللَّغۡوِ مُعۡرِضُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۴﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ عَنِ ٱللَّغۡوِ مُعۡرِضُونَ
b. 25:73. (close)
1980. The second stage consists in the avoidance of all vain talk and thoughts and also of idle, vain and futile actions. Life is a grim and serious fact and a believer must take it as such. He must employ every moment of it usefully and shun all vain and useless pursuits. (close)
b. See 25:73. (close)
2511. Important Words:
اللغو (that which is vain) is derived from لغا and signifies a vain, foolish, worthless or careless talk or speech or that which one utters without seriously meaning it; vain act or an act done carelessly or unthinkingly; deviation from the right path; foolish joking. It covers all vain and foolish thoughts. It is also used for the chirping of sparrows and the sound of other birds (Lane, Aqrab & Muhit). See also 2:226.
The second stage in the spiritual journey of man consists in the avoidance of all vain talk and thoughts and also of idle, vain and futile actions. A true believer not only prays to God in the utmost humility of the heart but takes life very seriously. Life is a grim and serious fact and he takes it as such. He employs every moment of it usefully and shuns all vain and useless pursuits which are incapable of doing any good either to his own person or to his community or country. Incidentally, the avoidance of vain pursuits is the natural and inevitable result of humility in prayer as is evident from another verse of the Quran, viz. "Surely Prayer restrains one from indecency and manifest evil" (29:46). (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِلزَّکٰوۃِ فٰعِلُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۵﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِلزَّكَوٰةِ فَٰعِلُونَ
c. 5:56; 9:71. (close)
1981. The object of Zakat is not only to provide means for the relief of the distressed, or for the promotion of the welfare of the economically less favoured sections of the community, but also to discourage the hoarding of money and commodities and thus to ensure a brisk circulation of both, resulting in healthy economic adjustments. (close)
a. 5:56; 9:71. (close)
This verse refers to the third rung of the spiritual ladder. The true believers not only turn to God with utmost humility of the heart and avoid all sorts of vanities and trivialities but actually engage themselves in pursuits that purify them, such as the spending of their valuable time and hard-earned money and employing all the natural capacities and abilities with which God has endowed them, in the cause of truth. They are prepared to undergo all manner of sacrifice. In v. 4 above, the believers are mentioned as avoiding vain and useless things which is at best a negative virtue, and a negative virtue or good is not of a very high order. The present verse, however, points to a positive virtue which consists in the doing of good that should purify oneself and also benefit others and consists in giving money, which one has earned with the sweat of one’s brow, in the way of God. This indeed is a great positive virtue. In fact, Islam regards the share of the poor in the wealth of the rich as the inalienable right of the former and when a rich man discharges the debt that he owes to the poor by paying the Zakah, he does no favour to anybody. He only gives what is due from him. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "Let no one imagine that his wealth or standing or power is the result merely of his own efforts or enterprise. That is not so. Your power and your position and your wealth are all earned through the poor" (Tirmidhi, Abwabuz-Zuhd).
The object of Zakah is not only to provide means for the relief of the distressed or for the promotion of the welfare of the economically less favoured sections of the community, but it is also to discourage the hoarding of money and commodities and, thus to ensure a brisk circulation of both, resulting in healthy economic adjustments. (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِفُرُوۡجِہِمۡ حٰفِظُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۶﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِفُرُوجِهِمۡ حَٰفِظُونَ
d. 70:30. (close)
a. 70:30. (close)
2513. Important Words:
فروجھم (their chastity) is the plural of فرج (farjun) which is derived from فرج (faraja). فرج الشیء means, he opened the thing so as to make a gap or breach. فرج means, the pudendum or pudenda; the part or parts of a person which it is indecent to expose; or the external portion of the organs of generation of a man or a woman; an open, wide space; the part between the two sides of a valley, i.e. entrance; a frontier of access to a country (Lane & Aqrab).
This verse refers to the fourth stage in the spiritual development of man. It indeed marks a very high stage. The lesson is writ large on the pages of history that many a nation has gone to rack and ruin because they abandoned themselves to immoral practices. Sexual morality plays a very important part in the building up of the national character of a people. Islam is very keen on this point. It regards the guarding of sexual chastity as one of the most sacred duties of a believer. It has closed the door to all those avenues which lead to moral laxity. The word فرج signifies those avenues through which evil thoughts find access to the human heart. It covers all parts and organs of the body, i.e. eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet etc. Islam looks with extreme disfavour upon all those practices which are calculated to excite human passions and which are so popular in the west or among people enamoured of western ways of life.
The verse marks a still higher stage in the spiritual development of man than the one mentioned in v. 5 above. It seems much easier to spend one’s money and property in the way of God, to which reference has been made in the preceding verse, than to overcome one’s carnal passions when they once get excited. Man has suffered more from the gratification of his sensual appetites than perhaps from any other evil. The curbing of carnal desires requires a greater mental discipline than the spending of wealth in good causes. (close)
اِلَّا عَلٰۤی اَزۡوَاجِہِمۡ اَوۡ مَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُہُمۡ فَاِنَّہُمۡ غَیۡرُ مَلُوۡمِیۡنَ ۚ﴿۷﴾
إِلَّا عَلَىٰٓ أَزۡوَٰجِهِمۡ أَوۡ مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَٰنُهُمۡ فَإِنَّهُمۡ غَيۡرُ مَلُومِينَ
a. 70:31. (close)
1981A. See 561. (close)
b. 70:31. (close)
2514. Important Words:
ما ملکت أیمانھم (what their right hands possess). أیمان is the plural of یمین which is derived from یمن یمین. They say یمن الرجل i.e. he came from the right hand of the man. یمن اللّٰه فلاناً means, God blessed such a one.
یمین means, good luck; the right hand; power and strength; a covenant confirmed by an oath; a good position. They say فلان عندنا بالیمین i.e. such a one possesses high position with us. An Arab would say ھذا ملک یمینی i.e. he or it is in the possession of my right hand, meaning, he or it is in my possession (Lisan & Aqrab). The expression ما ملکت ایمانھم generally signifies prisoners of war whether men or women, who are in the custody and control of their Muslim captors because they had taken part in a war which was waged to destroy Islam. The term has been used in the Quran in preference to عباد and اماء (slaves and bondwomen) to point to a just and rightful possession. It includes both slaves and bondwomen, but it is only the context which determines what the expression signifies in a particular place. See also 4:25.
Much misunderstanding prevails as to what the expression "their right hands possess" signifies, and what are the rights and status of the persons to whom it applies.
It should be clearly understood that Islam has condemned slavery in unequivocal terms. According to it, it is a mortal sin to deprive a person of his liberty by kidnapping him, i.e. to make him a slave, unless, of course, he renders himself liable to deprivation of it by taking part in a war waged to destroy Islam or an Islamic state. It is also a grievous sin to buy or sell slaves. All human beings as such are equal in the sight of God and enjoy equal human rights. Islamic teaching on this point is quite clear, unequivocal and emphatic. According to it a person who makes another person his slave commits a grave sin against God and man (Bukhari, Kitabul-Bai’ & Abu Dawud as quoted by Fathul-Bari). It is also worthy of note that when Islam came into the world slavery was a part and parcel of the human social system and there existed large number of slaves in every country. It was therefore not feasible, nor even wise, to abolish with a stroke of the pen, an institution which had become so inextricably interwoven into the whole texture of human society, without doing serious injury to its moral tone. Islam, therefore, sought to abolish it gradually but effectively and surely. The Quran has laid down the following very sound principles for the speedy and complete abolition of slavery:
(1) Prisoners of war (i.e. ما ملکت أیمانھم) can only be taken after a regular battle.
(2) They cannot be retained after the war is over.
(3) They are to be set free either as a mark of favour or by exchange of prisoners.
The Quran says:
And when you meet in regular battle those who disbelieve, smite their necks; and when you have overcome them; bind fast the fetters—then afterwards either release them as a favour or by taking ransom—until the war lays down its arms. That is the ordinance (47:5).
Those unfortunate persons however, who, may fail to gain their freedom through any of these means, or should choose to remain with their Muslim masters can purchase it by entering into a contract called mukatabat (24:34). Now if a woman is taken prisoner in a war of the nature mentioned above and thus loses her liberty and becomes ملک یمین and she fails to get her release by exchange of prisoners of war, and the exigencies of government also do not justify her immediate release as a mark of favour, nor do her own people or government get her ransomed and she does not even seek to buy her freedom by entering into mukatabat and her master, in the interest of morality marries her, whether she likes it or not, in what way, it may be asked, can this arrangement be regarded as objectionable and the great hue and cry raised over it as justified or justifiable?
Let it be clearly understood that as regards establishing sexual relations with a female prisoner of war or a slave-wife, which is the real significance of the expression ما ملکت أیمانھم used in the present verse, without first marrying her, neither this nor any other verse of the Quran lends any support whatsoever. Not only does the Quran not give any sanction for the treatment of female prisoners of war as wives without first taking them into proper wedlock, but there are clear and positive injunctions to the effect that these prisoners of war, like free women, should be married if they are to be treated as wives, the only difference between the two being a difference of social status inasmuch as prior consent of prisoners of war to their marriage is not considered necessary as in the case of free women. The fact that the expression ما ملکت أیمانھم signifies female prisoners lends no support whatsoever to the untenable view that Islam has upheld and encouraged concubinage. Besides the present verse, at least in as many as four other verses of the Quran, the injunction has been laid down in clear and unambiguous terms that female prisoners of war should not remain unmarried. These verses are as follows:
1. And marry widows from among you and your male-slaves and female-slaves who are fit for marriage (24:33).
2. And those of you who cannot afford to marry free believing women, let them marry what your right hands possess, namely your believing handmaids—so marry them with the leave of their masters and give them their dowries according to what is fair (4:26).
3. And if you fear that you will not be fair in dealing with the orphans, then marry of women as may be agreeable to you, two or three or four; and if you fear you will not deal justly, then marry only one or (if you cannot afford to marry even one free wife then marry) what your right hands possess (4:4).
The verse may also be rendered as "then marry of women as may be agreeable to you two or three or four or what your right hands possess;" the words "and if you fear you will not deal justly, then marry only one," forming a parenthetical clause. According to this rendering also slave-girls are to be married before they are treated as wives.
4. And marry not idolatrous women until they believe; even a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatrous woman, although she may highly please you (2:222).
The sense being that a believing slave wife should be preferred to a non-believing free wife. The Holy Prophet is also very explicit on this point. He is reported to have said, "He who has a slave girl, and gives her proper education and brings her up in a becoming manner and then frees and marries her, for him is double reward" (Bukhari, Kitabul-‘Ilm). This hadith implies that if a Muslim wishes to have a slave girl as wife, he should first set her free and then marry her. The Holy Prophet’s own practice was quite in harmony with his precept. Two of the Holy Prophet’s wives, Juwairiyyah and Safiyyah, came to him as prisoners of war. They were his ملک یمین. But he married them according to Islamic Law. Mariyah was sent to him by the King of Egypt. He also married her and she enjoyed the status of a free wife like his other wives. She observed "purdah" and was included among "the Mothers of the Faithful."
Another verse of the Quran, viz. O Prophet We have made lawful to thee thy wives whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesses from among those whom Allah has given thee as gains of war, and the daughters of thy paternal uncle, and the daughters of thy paternal aunts, and the daughters of thy maternal uncle, and the daughters of thy maternal aunts who have migrated with thee (33:51), points to the fact that the commandment regarding marriage applies to ما ملکت أیمانکم (whom your right hands possess) as much as it does to daughters of the Holy Prophet’s paternal and maternal uncles and aunts. Both are to be legally wedded before they are treated as wives. All the three categories mentioned above were made lawful to the Holy Prophet through marriage.
The verse 4:25 viz. And forbidden to you are married women, except such as your right hands possess, seems to present some difficulty. But in reality there is no such difficulty. The verse along with its predecessor deals with women whom it is unlawful for a man to marry and among these are included married women. But it makes one exception. Those married women who are taken prisoner in a religious war and then choose to remain with Muslims, can be married to their masters. The fact that they choose not to go to their former husbands is considered as tantamount to the annulment of their former marriage.
It may also be noted in passing that it is not permitted to take in marriage such female relations of a slave as correspond to the relations of a free woman within the prohibited degree. For instance, the mothers, sisters, daughters etc., of a slave wife cannot be taken in marriage. This also shows that the Quranic commandments with regard to marriage and in-laws apply as much to bondwomen as they apply to free women.
It may further be stated here that in view of circumstances obtaining at the time of its revelation the Quran had to make a distinction between the social status of two classes of women. That distinction was expressed by the word زوج (a free woman taken in marriage) and ملک یمین (bondwoman taken in marriage). The former word connotes a sense of equality between husband and wife while the latter implies an inferior status of the wife. The Quran and the Holy Prophet, however, desired and encouraged that bondwomen should first be given full freedom and full status and then married as the Holy Prophet himself did.
Besides, Islam does not allow women taken prisoner in ordinary wars to be treated as wives. This exceptional injunction comes into operation only when a hostile nation wages a religious war against Islam in order to extirpate it and to compel Muslims to abandon their religion at the point of the sword and then treats their prisoners—men and women, as slaves, as was done in the time of the Holy Prophet. At that time the enemy took away Muslim women as prisoners and treated them as bondwomen. The Islamic injunction was thus only a retaliatory measure and served also the additional purpose of protecting the morals of captive women. Those conditions have ceased to exist now. There are no religious wars now and hence no prisoners of war to be treated as slaves and bondwomen. For a fuller note on slavery see 24:34. (close)
فَمَنِ ابۡتَغٰی وَرَآءَ ذٰلِکَ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡعٰدُوۡنَ ۚ﴿۸﴾
فَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَىٰ وَرَآءَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلۡعَادُونَ
b. 70:32. (close)
a. 70:32. (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ لِاَمٰنٰتِہِمۡ وَ عَہۡدِہِمۡ رٰعُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۹﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِأَمَٰنَٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رَٰعُونَ
c. 70:33. (close)
b. 70:33. (close)
2515. Important Words:
راعون (watchful) is derived from رعی. They say رعی النجوم i.e. he watched the stars. رعی الامر means, he looked after the affair (Aqrab & Lane). See also 2:105.
This verse points to a yet higher stage in the spiritual development of man than the one described in v. 6 above. It means to say that the truly righteous men have full regard for the obligations they owe to God and man. They do not do good deeds cursorily or haphazardly but look to their minutest details with extreme caution and are careful not to overlook different aspects of their actions. They have a punctilious regard for the discharge of their responsibilities and duties. They do not relax in an endeavour to remain true to their trusts and are scrupulously true to the covenants and treaties they make with other people. This is what is signified by the word راعون. Compared to this stage of spiritual evolution the fourth stage at which a believer has complete control over his carnal passions is but a negative virtue. At that stage he only abstains from indulging in vice but in this, the fifth stage, he is always on the lookout to discover the most delicate facets of virtue and tries to act upon them. This is evidently a much higher stage than the one preceding it. (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ عَلٰی صَلَوٰتِہِمۡ یُحَافِظُوۡنَ ۘ﴿۱۰﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ عَلَىٰ صَلَوَٰتِهِمۡ يُحَافِظُونَ
d. 6:93; 70:35. (close)
1982. This verse marks the last and the highest stage of spiritual development, when remembrance of God becomes a second nature with the believer, a part and parcel of his being, the solace of his soul. At this stage he takes particular care about acts of collective worship which implies that the national instinct becomes very strong in him and he subordinates individual interests to communal and national good. (close)
a. 6:93; 70:35. (close)
This verse marks the last and the highest stage of spiritual development. Arriving at this stage the spiritual wayfarer almost becomes immune from the possibility of estrangement from his Creator. He basks, as it were, in the sun of God’s love and his soul continues to derive sustenance from the fountainhead of His grace and mercy. He achieves his goal and all fear of faltering or falling disappears. At this stage the worship and remembrance of God becomes a second nature with him, a part and parcel of his being, the solace of his soul. He needs no reminding or exhortation on this account. He feels irresistibly attracted towards his Maker and Creator. At this stage the believer takes particular care about acts of collective worship which implies that national instinct becomes very strong in him and he also tries to rouse and encourage in others love for his community and country and subordinates individual interest to communal and national good. This is the significance of the words والذین ھم علی صلواتھم یحافظون. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, الصلوة معراج المؤمن i.e. Prayer constitutes the highest stage of the spiritual development of a believer (Ibn ‘Asakir). In the fifth stage mentioned in v. 9 above the spiritual wayfarer was true to his trusts and responsibilities for virtue’s sake. At this, the last stage of his spiritual development, he is true to them for love of God which is manifestly a higher stage. It is when a believer attains to this stage that God descends upon his heart and he becomes at one with Him.
It is significant that the word صلوات (Prayers) has been used in the plural form. It shows that the believers not only are strict in the observance of Prayers themselves but urge their near and dear ones, their dependents and relatives also to be regardful of them. The word یحافظون signifies that they say their Prayers with all the rules and conditions attached to them, viz. (1) they say them regularly and at their appointed hours; (2) they say them in congregation; (3) they say them in a true spirit and with the utmost humility of the heart, not allowing wandering thoughts to spoil them and fully understanding the meanings of the words they utter and (4) they not only say their five daily Prayers but also supererogatory Prayers, particularly the Prayer in the latter part of the night (تھجد). (close)