لَیۡسَ الۡبِرَّ اَنۡ تُوَلُّوۡا وُجُوۡہَکُمۡ قِبَلَ الۡمَشۡرِقِ وَ الۡمَغۡرِبِ وَ لٰکِنَّ الۡبِرَّ مَنۡ اٰمَنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ وَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ وَ الۡکِتٰبِ وَ النَّبِیّٖنَ ۚ وَ اٰتَی الۡمَالَ عَلٰی حُبِّہٖ ذَوِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ الۡیَتٰمٰی وَ الۡمَسٰکِیۡنَ وَ ابۡنَ السَّبِیۡلِ ۙ وَ السَّآئِلِیۡنَ وَ فِی الرِّقَابِ ۚ وَ اَقَامَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اٰتَی الزَّکٰوۃَ ۚ وَ الۡمُوۡفُوۡنَ بِعَہۡدِہِمۡ اِذَا عٰہَدُوۡا ۚ وَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ فِی الۡبَاۡسَآءِ وَ الضَّرَّآءِ وَ حِیۡنَ الۡبَاۡسِ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ صَدَقُوۡا ؕ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡمُتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷۸﴾
۞لَّيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ قِبَلَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأٓخِرِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ وَٱلۡكِتَٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ وَءَاتَى ٱلۡمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِۦ ذَوِي ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَٱلۡيَتَٰمَىٰ وَٱلۡمَسَٰكِينَ وَٱبۡنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَٱلسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِي ٱلرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱلۡمُوفُونَ بِعَهۡدِهِمۡ إِذَا عَٰهَدُواْۖ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ فِي ٱلۡبَأۡسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَحِينَ ٱلۡبَأۡسِۗ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُواْۖ وَأُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُتَّقُونَ
a. 2:190. (close)
b. 76:9. (close)
202. ‘Ala Hubbi-hi means, for love of God; notwithstanding love of money. (close)
c. 9:4; 13:21. (close)
d. 2:215; 6:43; 7:95. (close)
202A. Al-Ba’sa’ and al-Ba’s are both derived from Ba’usa and Ba’isa. i.e.; he was or became strong and valiant in war or fight; he was or became in a state of great want or poverty or distress. Al-Ba’sa’ means, might or strength in war or fight; war or fight; fear; harm, etc., ad-Darra’ is especially that evil or affliction which relates to one’s person as disease, etc., and al-Ba’sa’ is that which relates to property, as poverty, etc. (Lane). (close)
e. 49:16. (close)
203. The verse gives a gist of Islamic teaching. It begins with the basic Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are the source and basis of all actions and on the rightness of which depends the rightness of human actions—belief in God, in the Last Day, in angels, Revealed Books and Divine Prophets. After this some of the more important ordinances relating to man’s actions are mentioned. (close)
b. 2:190. (close)
c. 76:9. (close)
d. 9:4; 13:21. (close)
e. 2:215; 6:43; 7:95. (close)
f. 49:16. (close)
184. Important Words:
البر (righteousness) is derived from بر. They say بر والدہ i.e. he obeyed his father or he behaved kindly and lovingly towards him. بر الله means, he obeyed God. بر فی قوله means, he spoke truthfully. برت الصلوة means, the Prayer was accepted. بر(birr) therefore, means: (1) a gift or favour; (2) obedience; (3) righteousness; (4) truthfulness (Aqrab); also (5) extensive goodness or goodness of a high order (Mufradat). And بر (barr) is one who does good to others. It is also one of the attributive names of God (Aqrab).
ابن السبیل (wayfarer) literally means, son of the road. The word signifies: (1) one who travels much (Lane); (2) a traveller or wayfarer who is far away from home, i.e. one who is on a long journey (Mufradat); (3) simply one on journey; (4) one whose way has been cut short to him, i.e. one who is stranded on the way (Aqrab).
الرقاب (captives) is the plural of رقبة (a captive or a slave) which is derived from رقب. They say رقبه i.e. he waited for or looked for him; he watched or guarded him; he was on his guard against him; he put a rope round his neck. رقبة means: (1) neck; (2) the hinder part thereof; (3) a person or being possessing a neck; (4) a slave or bondman or captive or prisoner, particularly a slave or captive who has contracted with his owner or custodian for his freedom. Thus the expression فی الرقاب would mean, in the ransoming of slaves or captives, etc. (Aqrab, Mufradat & Lane).
الباساء (poverty) and الباس (war) are both derived from بؤس orبئس i.e. (1) he was or became strong and valiant in war or fight; (2) he was or became in a state of great want or poverty or distress. الباساء means: (1), distress; (2) poverty; (3) hardship; (4) misfortune; (5) calamity; and (6) war. And البأس means (1) might or strength in war or fight; (2) courage, valour and prowess; (3) war or fight; (4) fear; (5) punishment or torment; and (6) harm or injury, as in لاباس به i.e. there is no harm in it (Lane & Aqrab). See also below.
الضراء (afflictions) is derived from ضر meaning, he caused him a loss or an injury. الضراء means: (1) vicissitudes of time; (2) hardship; (3) loss of life or property; (4) afflictions; and (5) famine (Aqrab). الضراء is especially that evil or affliction which relates to one’s person, as disease, etc. whereas البأساء is that which relates to property, as poverty, etc. (Lane).
The verse points to an important principle relating to form and spirit. Every commandment must have an outward form as well as an underlying spirit. What, however, is really meant is the underlying spirit and not the outward form which mostly serves as an outer shell for preserving the inner kernel. To illustrate this principle, the verse refers to the commandment relating to the turning of faces to a particular direction while offering Prayers. The verse points out that Islam has not directed the Faithful to face in a particular direction during Prayers, because it considers such an act to be of any intrinsic virtue. The fixing of a special direction is merely meant to bring about uniformity, whereas what really counts is the purpose underlying it, which is perfection of faith and deeds. The Quran, accordingly, proceeds to give in a nutshell the Islamic teachings about these two subjects.
The literal translation of the clauses ولکن البر من آمن is, "but righteousness is one who believes" which is obviously incomplete. So some words must be understood here. According to Sibawaih, a great authority on Arabic syntax, the rules of the Arabic language sometimes permit the omitting of a word for the sake of brevity or for laying special stress or for affording greater elasticity in speech. In accordance with this rule, the clause would read: ولکن البر من آمن i.e. "but righteousness is the righteousness of one who believes." Instances of such omissions of words are not lacking in the Arabic language (Sibawaih, i. 109).
According to yet another rule of the Arabic language, a مصدر (infinitive noun) is sometimes used in place of an اسم فاعل(active participle) in order to convey an intensified sense. Thus the word بر (righteousness) in the verse would mean بر الکامل i.e. "perfectly righteous or very righteous," and the clause would be translated as "perfectly righteous or very righteous is he who believes in Allah…"
The pronoun in the expression حبه (love of Him) may refer either to the word "Allah" in the previous clause, and in that case, the clause آتی المال علی حبه would mean, "spends his money for love of God". Or it may refer to the word مال(money). In this case, the clause would mean, "spends his money notwithstanding his love for money". Lastly, it may also refer to the noun implied in the verb آتی i.e. the act of spending. In this case the clause would mean "spends his money for the love of spending it". All these meanings are correct and may be applied. Indeed, it is one of the inimitable beauties of the Quranic diction that it chooses words and constructions that go to convey a variety of meanings in the shortest of expressions.
The verse affords another example of this kind in the expression ابن السبیل (son of the road). As explained under Important Words, this expression gives no less than four meanings and all are equally applicable here. So spending on ابن السبیل would signify (1) spending money in order to encourage travelling, which is a means of increasing knowledge and extending social relations; (2) helping such travellers as are on long journeys and are far away from home; (3) helping all wayfarers; and (4) helping such wayfarers and travellers as become stranded on the way. This is indeed a wonderful example of the combination of brevity and comprehensiveness. The verse also throws some light on the Islamic teaching about slavery. Islam prescribes it as a sign of true faith and perfect righteousness that money be spent on emancipating slaves. Nay, even such as are made captives from among those who attack Muslims with a view to annihilating them, are to be shown mercy and granted freedom out of money supplied by Muslims. For the discussion of Islamic teachings about slavery see 24:34.
The word الصابرین (the patient) in this verse is in the accusative case, while, according to the common rules of Arabic grammar, it should be in the nominative case like the preceding word الموفون (those who fulfil). The change is not without purpose and has been made to put emphasis on the word. According to Abu ‘Ali, a well-known authority on Arabic syntax, when a sentence contains a number of nouns of praise or dispraise, it is considered idiomatic to vary their grammatical inflection (Muhit, part ii). This is done to intensify the meaning.
As pointed out in the beginning, this verse gives a gist of the teachings of Islam. It begins with the fundamental Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are the source and basis of all actions and on the rectitude of which depends the rectitude of' one’s actions. The most fundamental of these is belief in God Who is the central point of all faith. Second in importance is belief in the Last Day or the Day of Judgement, upon a real understanding of which depends the direction of man’s actions in this life. Then follows belief in angels who serve as a sort of intermediaries between God and His creation. Then there are Divine Scriptures embodying God’s revelation which point out the way to the attainment of His pleasure and the purification of man’s soul. Lastly are Prophets who are the recipients of God’s revelations, communicating to man the will of God and serving as models to be followed and imitated by him. These five objects of faith have been mentioned here in their natural order and not necessarily in order of importance.
After stating the fundamental objects of faith, the verse proceeds to mention some of the more important ordinances relating to man’s actions. Pride of place is given to charity which a man gives not as a duty imposed on him, but as prompted by love, solicitude and sympathy for his kinsmen and fellow beings or out of love for common humanity. Next come the commandments regarding Prayer and Zakah which help to establish a true connection between God and man on the one hand and regulate relations between man and man on the other. Finally are laid down the two bulwarks of character and morality, i.e. (1) the redemption of promises and pledges; and (2) the displaying of fortitude, patience and steadfastness in time of distress, the first-mentioned forming one of the bases of international morality and the latter the means of its perfection. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡقِصَاصُ فِی الۡقَتۡلٰی ؕ اَلۡحُرُّ بِالۡحُرِّ وَ الۡعَبۡدُ بِالۡعَبۡدِ وَ الۡاُنۡثٰی بِالۡاُنۡثٰی ؕ فَمَنۡ عُفِیَ لَہٗ مِنۡ اَخِیۡہِ شَیۡءٌ فَاتِّبَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ اَدَآءٌ اِلَیۡہِ بِاِحۡسَانٍ ؕ ذٰلِکَ تَخۡفِیۡفٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ وَ رَحۡمَۃٌ ؕ فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰی بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ فَلَہٗ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۷۹﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡقِصَاصُ فِي ٱلۡقَتۡلَىۖ ٱلۡحُرُّ بِٱلۡحُرِّ وَٱلۡعَبۡدُ بِٱلۡعَبۡدِ وَٱلۡأُنثَىٰ بِٱلۡأُنثَىٰۚ فَمَنۡ عُفِيَ لَهُۥ مِنۡ أَخِيهِ شَيۡءٞ فَٱتِّبَاعُۢ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَأَدَآءٌ إِلَيۡهِ بِإِحۡسَٰنٖۗ ذَٰلِكَ تَخۡفِيفٞ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَرَحۡمَةٞۗ فَمَنِ ٱعۡتَدَىٰ بَعۡدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَلَهُۥ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٞ
a. 2:195; 5:46. (close)
204. The verse comprises a very important principle of civil law, i.e. equality of man and necessity of awarding proportionate punishment to all offenders without distinction, unless an offender is forgiven by the relatives of his victim under circumstances that are calculated to lead to improvement and betterment of conditions.
The words "is prescribed for you" show that retaliation for the slain is obligatory. Failure to inflict the punishment prescribed by Law on the offender is tantamount to violation of the Divine commandment. The duty, however, of punishing the culprit devolves not on the heirs of the murdered person but, as the plural ‘Alaikum (for you) shows, on the authorities responsible for the maintenance of law and order. The former, however, have been given the option to forgive. So whereas on the one hand the concerned authorities are bound to punish the offender according to the requirements of law, having no right to pardon him of their own accord, on the other the heirs of the murdered person are not entitled to take the law into their own hands and inflict the punishment on the guilty person themselves. In awarding the punishment the verse makes no distinction between offenders. The words used are of a general nature and apply to all offenders who might be guilty of murder, no matter of what rank or station in life or of what religion. Any person, irrespective of his caste or creed and of his station, must be put to death for the murder of any other person, unless pardoned by the relatives of the victim and unless also the pardon has the sanction of the competent authorities. The sayings of the Holy Prophet are explicit on this point (Majah, ch. on Diyat). The Companions of the Holy Prophet are all agreed that a Muslim may be put to death for murdering a non-belligerent disbeliever (Tabari, v. 44). The Holy Prophet himself ordered a Muslim murderer to be put to death for the murder of a non-belligerent non-Muslim (Qutni). The words, the freeman for the freeman and the slave for the slave and the female for the female, do not mean that a freeman should not be punished with death for the murder of a slave or that a woman should not be put to death for killing a member of the opposite sex, etc. The social position of a person or the sex of a party also cannot be considered a bar to the application of this law. The peculiar construction, i.e. "the freeman for the freeman,……" has been adopted to refer to, and abolish, a certain custom of the Arabs whereby they used to take into consideration the sex and the social status of the murderer and the murdered person when determining punishment. The commandment contained in this verse seeks to abolish that obnoxious custom. In fact, the law of retaliation, as stated in this verse, is confined to the clause, equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you, which forms a complete sentence in itself, giving a full and complete meaning. The ensuing expression, the freeman for the freeman and the slave for the slave and the female for the female, is something extra, not forming part of the law. It only contains a repudiation of the Arab custom referred to above and illustrates, by giving three instances, how the law is to be administered. Such an expression is known as Jumlah Isti’nafiah in Arabic Grammar, and is technically introduced with a view to answering a question which is suggested by the preceding clause to which it is added without any intervening conjunction. The question answered in such an expression is often understood and not expressed (Mukhtasar). The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "Whoever kills his slave shall be put to death" (Majah). At another place he says: "The blood of all Muslims is alike in respect of the law of retaliation" (Nasa’i). (close)
185. Important Words:
قصاص (retaliation) is derived from قص. They say قصه i.e. (1) he cut it (hair, etc.), or be clipped it; (2) he followed him closely or followed in his footsteps; and (3) he described or narrated it. قاص الرجل means, he did with the man the like of that which he did to him; he retaliated on him for the wrong done to him. اقص الامیر زیدا من بکر means, the Amir retaliated upon Bakr for the wrong he had done to Zaid. قصاص therefore, means, retaliation, by slaying for slaying, and wounding for wounding, etc. (Aqrab) or the following up of a murder or an injury with a view to retaliating or punishing (Mufradat).
القتلی (the slain) is the plural of قتیل in the sense of مقتول i.e. a murdered person (Aqrab).
الحر (freeman) is derived from حر meaning: (1) he was free-born; (2) he was of good and noble origin. حرالارض means, the best portion of land. Thus الحر means; (1) a freeman, opposite of slave or captive; (2) a noble person; (3) the good and pure portion of a thing (Aqrab).
This verse comprises a very important principle of civil law, i.e. equality of man and necessity of awarding proportionate punishment to all offenders without distinction, unless an offender is forgiven by the relatives of his victim under circumstances that are expected to lead to improvement and betterment of conditions.
The words کتب علیکم i.e. "is prescribed for you" show that retaliation for the slain is not simply permissible but is obligatory. Failure to inflict the punishment prescribed by Law on the offender would be tantamount to a violation of the commandment. The duty, however, of punishing the culprit does not devolve on the heirs of the murdered person but, as the plural number of the expression علیکم (for you) shows, on the authorities responsible for the maintenance of law and order. But, as the singular number of the expression اخیه (one’s brother) shows, the former have been given the option to forgive. The clause, therefore, means that on the one hand the concerned authorities are bound to punish the offender according to the requirements of law, having no right to pardon him of their own accord, and on the other hand the heirs of the murdered person are not entitled to take the law into their own hands and inflict the punishment on the guilty person themselves.
The verse under comment makes no distinction between different classes of persons in connection with the law of retaliation. The words used are of a general nature and apply to all offenders who might be guilty of murder, no matter of what rank or station in life or of what religion. Any person, irrespective of his caste or creed and irrespective of his station, must be put to death for the murder of any other person, unless pardoned by the relatives of the victim and unless the pardon has the sanction of the authorities. The sayings of the Holy Prophet are explicit on this point (Majah, ch. on Diyat).
There is indeed a saying of the Holy Prophet to the effect that a Muslim should not be put to death for killing a disbeliever. But this saying, read in conjunction with several others bearing on the same subject and interpreted in the light of the relevant Quranic verses, forces us to the conclusion that the word "disbeliever" in the tradition referred to above is not general but means only a حربی کافر i.e. such disbeliever as belongs to a people who are at war with the Muslims or, in other words, one who is a member of a belligerent community. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet are all agreed that a Muslim may be put to death for murdering a non-belligerent unbeliever (Tabari, v. 44). The Holy Prophet himself ordered a Muslim murderer to be put to death for the murder of a non-belligerent non-Muslim (Qutni).
The expression, the freeman for the freeman and the slave for the slave and the female for the female, does not mean that a freeman should not be punished with death for the murder of a slave or that a woman should not be put to death for killing a member of the opposite sex, etc. The other verses of the Quran as well as the sayings and the practice of the Holy Prophet clearly establish the fact that the social position of a person or the sex of a party was never considered a bar to the application of this law. The peculiar construction, i.e. "the freeman for the freeman," etc. has been adopted here to refer to, and abolish, a custom of the Arabs whereby they used to take into consideration the sex and the social status of the murderer and the murdered person when determining punishment. If a man of high social position happened to kill a man of humble position, or if the slave of a great man killed that of a humble man, or if a lady of noble birth murdered a woman of humble origin, etc. the murderer was not punished with death, leniency being shown to him or her in sundry other ways as well. The commandment contained in this verse seeks to abolish that obnoxious custom of the Arabs and lays down in clear and unmistakable terms that no regard should be paid to the status of the murderer in the matter of retaliation.
In fact, the law of retaliation, as stated in this verse, is confined to the clause, equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you, which forms a complete sentence in itself, giving a full and complete meaning. The ensuing expression, the freeman for the freeman and the slave for the slave and the female for the female, is something extra, not forming part of the law. It only contains a repudiation of the Arab custom referred to above and illustrates, by giving three instances, how the law is to be administered. Such an expression is known as جملة استینا فیه or جملة مستانفه in Arabic grammar, and is technically introduced with a view to answering a question which is suggested by the preceding clause to which it is added without any intervening conjunction. The question answered in such an expression is often understood and not expressed (Mukhtasar).
The sayings of the Holy Prophet and his practice also support the above interpretation, for it is on record that he once ordered a woman to be put to death for murdering a man (Muslim), and on another occasion he commanded that a freeman be put to death for the murder of a slave. Says the Holy Prophet: "Whoever kills his slave shall be put to death" (Majah). At another place he says: "The blood of all Muslims is alike in respect of the law of retaliation" (Nasa’i).
The words, if one is granted any remission by one’s brother, show that the infliction of capital punishment is not obligatory in all cases; for in special circumstances the murderer can be exempted from the extreme punishment by the heirs of the murdered person. Such exemption, which may be termed partial as the word شیء (any) indicates, means that the heirs of the deceased may renounce their right to have the murderer put to death and may in place of that receive from him blood money. Or as the Holy Prophet has made it clear, the heirs may, in exceptional cases and with the sanction of the authorities, even grant full pardon, remitting blood-money as well (Musnad & Baihaqi).
It is worthy of note that where the Quran speaks of remission, it uses the word "brother" instead of "heir of the murdered person". This is to hint to the heir of the slain person that he should, as far as possible, take a lenient view of the offence. On the other band, the murderer is also enjoined to pay blood money with good grace and without undue delay.
The concluding clause, i.e. whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment, is meant to point to the fact that if, after the matter has been amicably settled and the murderer granted a remission by the heirs of the murdered person, the heirs should take it into their heads to wreak vengeance on the murderer by killing him, they will be shown no mercy and will get capital punishment. Says the Prophet: "I will allow no remission in case of one whokills the murderer after he has accepted blood money from him" (Jarir).
The Islamic law of قصاص (retaliation), as briefly stated above, provides a very effective and practical means to put a stop to murder and safeguard human life. A man who shows a callous disregard for the life of a fellow person, loses his title to live as a member of human society. The option to pardon allowed to the heirs of the slain person should not be regarded as likely to encourage murder, for such option is not synonymous with exemption from punishment, as in ordinary circumstances the murderer will have to pay the blood money. Moreover, the would-be murderer possesses no means to know that the heirs of the person whose murder he contemplates will actually be persuaded to pardon him; so the fear of capital punishment will always be there to deter him from the commission of the crime. Again, pardon or remission is permissible only where the circumstances are such that pardon or remission is likely to improve matters and bring about good results for all parties concerned (42:41). Thus, while on the one hand, Islam has made due provision for the suppression of crime, it has, on the other, kept open the door for the display of the noble qualities of benevolence and mercy.
The way in which the Quran has upheld the ultimate necessity of the death penalty is indeed most significant. At the time when the Quran was revealed, people exacted retaliation for an injury done to them with a vengeance. They were not satisfied even with inflicting capital punishment on the murderer, to say nothing of pardoning him. They needed no incentive to retaliation. They were already overdoing it. In fact, the Islamic law of retaliation, viewed in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time of its revelation, implied a prophecy that a time would come when people would go to the other extreme and a movement for the total abolition of capital punishment would be set on foot. So the Omniscient God laid down the law of retaliation in a form that is indispensable for the preservation and protection of human life, as well as the promotion of harmony and goodwill.
To prevent crime, Islam really aims at eliminating the conditions that produce it. It seeks to remove the very root-cause of all crime by working a complete moral reformation in man. But it does not remain content with that. It also prescribes deterrent laws in conformity with the dictates of reason, justice and humanity. The fact that, despite efforts to the contrary, the death penalty is still found on the Statute Books of most countries in one form or another, constitutes a sufficient proof of the wisdom of the Islamic teaching. As a matter of fact, even the most enthusiastic protagonists of the abolition of capital punishment have not yet been able to suggest a suitable alternative to it. They have had to admit that a long term of imprisonment as an alternative is "horrible" and is "not an ideal substitute" (Capital Punishment in the Twentieth Century by E. Roy Calvert, G. P. Putnam, London, 1930). The law of retaliation still remains the most effective deterrent to crime and an essential method to satisfy the demands of justice; and the Islamic Law takes a further step to bring about reconciliation between the offender and the aggrieved party. (close)
وَ لَکُمۡ فِی الۡقِصَاصِ حَیٰوۃٌ یّٰۤاُولِی الۡاَلۡبَابِ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۰﴾
وَلَكُمۡ فِي ٱلۡقِصَاصِ حَيَوٰةٞ يَـٰٓأُوْلِي ٱلۡأَلۡبَٰبِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
204A. The Islamic law of retaliation provides a very effective means to put a stop to murder and safeguard human life. A man, who shows a callous disregard for human life loses all title to live as a member of human society. Pardon or remission is permissible only where the circumstances are such that it is likely to improve matters and bring about good results for all parties concerned (42:41). Thus, while, on the one hand, Islam has made due provision for the suppression of crime, it has, on the other, kept open the door for the display of the noble qualities of benevolence and mercy. The fact that, despite efforts to the contrary, the death penalty is still found on the Statute books of most countries in one form or another constitutes a sufficient proof of the wisdom of the Islamic ordinance. Even the most enthusiastic protagonists of the abolition of Capital Punishment have not yet been able to suggest a suitable alternative to it. They have had to admit that a long term of imprisonment as an alternative is "horrible" and is "not an ideal substitute" (Capital Punishment in the Twentieth Century by E. Roy Calvert, G. P. Putnam, London, 1930). (close)
186. Important Words:
اولوا الالباب (men of understanding). الباب is the plural of لب (lubb) which is derived from (labba) meaning, he was or became possessed of لب i.e. understanding, intellect or intelligence. لب بالمکان means, he remained or dwelt in the place and kept to it. لب اللوز means, he broke the almond and took out its kernel. لب therefore, means: (1) the best and choicest part of anything; (2) kernel; (3) pith; (4) heart; (5) mind; (6) understanding, intellect and intelligence, because it is the choicest and best part of man; (7) the substance or essence of a thing (Lane). لب is something higher and purer than عقل (understanding), being the brightest and best part of it (Mufradat). It appears that لب is the name given to that quality in man which distinguishes him from other animals and makes him a rational being.
This verse, small in size but great in weight, points to the wisdom underlying the law of retaliation. The words used are full of beauty of diction of the highest order. As قصاص means the killing of the murderer in retaliation of his act, the expression is like saying, "There is life for you in death, O men of understanding." How fearful the saying but how eternally true! In fact, no peaceful social life is possible without the awarding of swift capital punishment to those who consider human life to be of so little consequence.
The clause, there is life for you in the law of retaliation, has a wider significance also. For a long time Muslims suffered at the hands of disbelievers indignities, persecution and even death in patient silence. But, when the cup of the iniquities of the enemies of truth became full to overflowing, further continuation of the policy of non-resistance became tantamount to the demoralization of the victims and their national death. They were, therefore, enjoined to take up arms against the aggressors and pay the wicked people in their own coin. Indeed in the law of retaliation lies hidden the secret of individual and national life. You retaliate and you live; you refrain from retaliating and you die an ignoble death. Such is the eternal and inexorable law of nature which has been so beautifully expressed in the verse under comment.
The words, O men of understanding, have been used to make a direct appeal to that quality in man which makes him a rational being and distinguishes him from other creatures. The Quran uses this expression whenever a strong appeal is to be made to man in his capacity as a rational being. God, as it were, says to men: "We have made you the noblest among Our creation and have bestowed on you the power of understanding and intelligence as We have bestowed it on none other. Will you not, therefore, be wise and try to understand things?" (close)
کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ اِذَا حَضَرَ اَحَدَکُمُ الۡمَوۡتُ اِنۡ تَرَکَ خَیۡرَۨا ۚۖ الۡوَصِیَّۃُ لِلۡوَالِدَیۡنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبِیۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ۚ حَقًّا عَلَی الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۸۱﴾ؕ
كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيۡرًا ٱلۡوَصِيَّةُ لِلۡوَٰلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِۖ حَقًّا عَلَى ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
a. 4:12, 13, 177; 5:107. (close)
205. Verses 4:12, 13 fix the shares of all those persons who should succeed to a deceased person’s property. These verses have been mistakenly understood by some Commentators to abrogate the verse under comment, which, in fact, lays down an additional and very necessary provision, and refers only to bequests made in favour of individuals not legally entitled to a share in the testator’s property, or for charitable purposes, or for war conditions. It does not refer to bequests made in favour of legal heirs which subject has been dealt with in 4:12, 13. There is no question, therefore, of the abrogation of this verse by those verses which lay down the rules of inheritance and also recognise the validity of any bequests that may have been made. Each operates in its own sphere and draws strength from the other. The bequests thus made, however, should not exceed one third of the property left as is mentioned in a saying of the Holy Prophet related by Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas (Bukhari, Kitabul-Jana’iz); this being the utmost limit to which the testator can exercise his discretion, and that only in case he leaves abundant wealth as the word Khair (much wealth) shows. Verse 5:107, according to which a dying Muslim could make a bequest and which was, by common consent, revealed after vv. 4:12, 13, further supports the view that the verse under comment is not abrogated by vv. 4:12, 13. In fact, the whole theory of abrogation has no foundation. (close)
187. Important Words:
خیر (much wealth) means: (1) good as opposed to evil; (2) wealth acquired or collected by fair and praiseworthy means; (3) much wealth or abundance of wealth; (4) a thing that all desire; (5) welfare and good fortune (Mufradat); (6) the existence of a thing in abundance and perfection; (7) horses, etc. (Aqrab).
حقا (obligation) is derived from حق and has been used in the verse in the accusative case, having something understood before it, the complete expression being حق ذالك حقا (Kashshaf). الحق means: (1) equity or justice; (2) right mode of acting; (3) an obligation or a duty; (4) a debt or anything that is owed; (5) a thing suitable to the requirements of justice, truth, duty, etc. (Lane). See also 2:148.
As disputes about inheritance are a fruitful source of quarrels, murders, etc., the Quran here suitably turns from the subject of retaliation to that of inheritance.
The word used here for "wealth" is خیر and not مال which is the ordinary word used in this sense. خیر means, "wealth acquired by fair and praiseworthy means". Thus by substituting the word خیر for مال, the Quran has also emphasized the necessity of being very circumspect in the acquisition of wealth which should be acquired only by fair and lawful means. Incidentally, therefore, it has been hinted that it is not lawful for a Muslim to make a will with regard to property that has been acquired by unlawful means; for such wealth does not really belong to him.
In 4:12, 13 the Quran fixes the shares of all those persons who should succeed to a deceased person’s property, according to the Islamic law of inheritance, and these in the first instance include parents, children, and wife or husband. In the presence of this law, the injunction given in the verse under comment would, at first sight, appear to be uncalled-for and unnecessary. As a matter of fact, those who believe in the abrogation theory, have actually declared this verse to be abrogated by the ones referred to above. But they are clearly mistaken; for the verse under comment makes an additional and necessary provision in regard to inheritance. Not seldom there come forward claimants who allege that a deceased person had bequeathed such and such portion of his property to them, and even witnesses are not wanting to support their claims. The rightful heirs, not knowing anything about it, naturally suspect the claim. The result is quarrel and litigation. Every Muslim is, therefore, enjoined to make a proper bequest at the time of his death that his property be divided among his heirs, i.e. parents, children, wives, etc., according to the Law of Islam, stating therein also the portion of any other individual who is not legally entitled to inherit from him but to whom he may wish to bequeath some of his wealth. Such a declaration made with the knowledge of his heirs and relatives is calculated to put a stop to much litigation. Such a provision is all the more essential in cases when the property or wealth is considerable.
The verse also throws out a hint that a Muslim should, before his death, bequeath a part of his property, not exceeding one-third, to such of his relations as have been debarred by Law from inheriting from him, for instance, distant but deserving relations, non-Muslim parents, non-Muslim children and so on. In such a case the remaining two-thirds will go to his lawful heirs. As to the restriction relating to one-third, it may be noted that the Holy Prophet has made it clear that no testator can bequeath more than one-third of his wealth to others than the lawful heirs. At least two-thirds of the property must go to the heirs (Bukhari).
Islam excludes non-Muslim relatives from the category of heirs to avoid complications. For instance, the near relatives of a deceased person might belong to a people who are at war with the Muslims or in open hostility toward them. In that case, to put money into their hands would be to damage the cause of Islam and injure one’s own interests. Non-Muslim relatives have, therefore, been excluded from lawful heirs so that they may not claim their part of the inheritance as of right. The Quran, however, instructs Muslims to leave to them a part of their property by a special will, so that, in case such property is not likely to be used against the interests of Islam, the former may in this way discharge the obligations they owe to the latter as kinsmen. Another reason for excluding non-Muslim relatives from the category of heirs is that generally non-Muslims do not in practice allow their Muslim relatives to succeed them as heirs. There is no sense, therefore, in allowing Muslim wealth to flow to non-Muslims where no such flow takes place the other way.
The verse serves yet another purpose. According to the Law of Islam, as generally accepted, the grandchild of a deceased Muslim is debarred from inheritance in case the former’s father has predeceased the latter. The Quran, therefore, directs that a portion of the property may be left by a special will by a dying Muslim for such of his relatives as are otherwise rightful heirs but cannot inherit owing to some of their near kinsmen having predeceased them.
The verse must not be understood to lend itself to the interpretation that the heirs whose portions have been definitely fixed by the Law, can be given more than their prescribed share. This is expressly forbidden by the Holy Prophet (Tirmidhi, ch. on Wasaya). (close)
فَمَنۡۢ بَدَّلَہٗ بَعۡدَ مَا سَمِعَہٗ فَاِنَّمَاۤ اِثۡمُہٗ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُبَدِّلُوۡنَہٗ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۸۲﴾ؕ
فَمَنۢ بَدَّلَهُۥ بَعۡدَ مَا سَمِعَهُۥ فَإِنَّمَآ إِثۡمُهُۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُۥٓۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٞ
205A. This indicates that the previous verse contemplates some directions which are obligatory and a contravention of which would be sinful. Obviously, what is meant is a direction that the estate shall be administered in accordance with the law of inheritance. If the testator gives such a direction, then the sin of any contravention would lie on those who are guilty of the contravention. (close)
If a person makes a will in compliance with the above commandment, but his heirs, finding it to be prejudicial to their interests, alter it or hinder its execution, the blame and the responsibility for consequences will lie on those who tamper with the will and not on the maker of the will. Apparently, the verse seems to be superfluous; for what it says is obvious, i.e. the responsibility of any subsequent alteration cannot lie on the testator. But deeper consideration would show the futility of such an idea. In fact, the verse serves three important purposes. Firstly, it warns the testator that fear of any subsequent alteration should not deter him from making the will. Secondly, that he should act intelligently and cautiously and should try to foresee and forestall all possible mischief by his heirs. Thirdly, the verse warns the heirs and their friends that any alteration made by them in the will will bring them under the wrath of God Who is All-Knowing. (close)
فَمَنۡ خَافَ مِنۡ مُّوۡصٍ جَنَفًا اَوۡ اِثۡمًا فَاَصۡلَحَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ فَلَاۤ اِثۡمَ عَلَیۡہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۸۳﴾٪
فَمَنۡ خَافَ مِن مُّوصٖ جَنَفًا أَوۡ إِثۡمٗا فَأَصۡلَحَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ فَلَآ إِثۡمَ عَلَيۡهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٞ رَّحِيمٞ
205B. A will may comply with legal requirements and may yet be unfair in some of its provisions. For instance, if a person leaves a large number of heirs, it may entail a hardship on them if he wills away as much as the full one-third for charitable or other lawful purposes. Or, out of the permissible 1/3 the testator may have made unfair dispositions, neglecting or overlooking just claims. It would in such a case be permissible, indeed meritorious, to bring about a fair adjustment between the heirs and the legatees affected. (close)
189. Important Words:
جنفا (partiality) is the infinitive noun from جنف. They say جنف عن الطریق meaning, he deviated from the right path. جنف فی وصیتهmeans, he acted wrongfully in his will. جانف اھله means, he kept away from his family out of anger and not for a just cause. تجانف لاثم means, he inclined towards sin. So جنف means: (1) inclining to sin, etc. (2) deviating from the right course; (3) acting unjustly or wrongfully; (4) keeping away from rightful things (Aqrab).
If someone should have reason to fear that the testator is showing undue favour to any particular person or party, or that he is acting contrary to Islamic Law, it would be no sin for him to bring about reconciliation between the parties concerned by removing the cause of displeasure or disagreement between the testator and his heirs and thereby having the will altered in accordance with the requirements of justice and Islamic Law. The words, it shall be no sin for him, do not mean that such pious intervention is simply an act of negative virtue. The expression has been used lest, in view of what has been said in the preceding verse regarding the sinfulness of the act of alteration in a will, some overcautious people should hold aloof even when they see an unjust inclination on the part of the testator. The verse thus really means that such an interference, far from being an act of sin, is an act of virtue which is sure to draw God’s mercy.
The concluding clause reminds the testator that God is Forgiving, so that if he mends his error, He will be pleased to forgive him. The declaration that God is Merciful, also serves as an inducement to other Muslims to intervene, if it is felt that the testator is unduly partial to one party, to the detriment of the other. In that case they should readily step in and set things right, for which God would give them an ample portion out of His mercy. Thus the word غفور (Most Forgiving) relates to such testators as return to the right course when reminded to do so, and the word رحیم (Merciful) relates to those persons who succeed in persuading the testator to revert to the path of rectitude and justice. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الصِّیَامُ کَمَا کُتِبَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۴﴾ۙ
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ
206. Fasting, as a religious institution, in whatever form or detail, is to be found in all Faiths. "By the greater number of religions, in the lower, middle and higher cultures alike, fasting is largely prescribed; and when it is not required it is nevertheless practised to some extent by individuals in response to the promptings of nature" (Enc. Brit.). It is the common experience of saints and seers that a certain degree of severance from physical relations or worldly connections is essential for spiritual advancement and has a powerful purifying effect on the mind. Islam, however, has introduced a new orientation and a new spiritual significance in this institution. According to it fasting constitutes a symbol of complete sacrifice. One who fasts not only abstains from food and drink which are the chief means of sustenance and without which one cannot live, but also from going in unto one’s wife which is the means of assuring one’s progeny. Thus he who fasts really evinces his readiness, if need be, to sacrifice his all for the sake of his Lord and Creator. (close)
190. Important Words:
الصیام (Fasting) is derived from صام meaning, he kept back or refrained from doing something; or he refrained from eating or drinking or talking or walking, etc. The Arabs say صامت الریح i.e. the wind became calm or motionless. فرس صائمmeans, a horse from which food has been withheld, or a horse which is confined to its manger and not made to walk or race. Thus صیام means: (1) keeping back or refraining from something; (2) refraining from eating and drinking, etc; and (3) formally refraining from eating, drinking, going in unto wives, etc. i.e. fasting from dawn till sunset as ordained by Islam. صائم is one who so refrains from food, etc. i.e. one who keeps a fast (Aqrab & Mufradat). An interesting feature of the Arabic language is revealed when we notice that the word صمات though derived from a different root, yet, owing to its having two root letters common with صیام gives a somewhat similar meaning, for, whereas صیام means, refraining from food, drink or speech, صمات means: (1) refraining from speech; and (2) intensity of thirst, the latter state being the direct result of refraining from drink (Aqrab).
As the preceding verses contain a reference to patience in trials and sacrifices as well as refraining from disputes and temptations, the Quran here fittingly turns to the subject of fasting, which is a most effective means of self-discipline.
The command to fast, whatever its details, is to be found in most religions in one form or another. The early devotions and fasting of Buddha (see Lalitavistara & Buddhacharita), the fasting of Moses, prior to his receiving the Ten Commandments (Exod. 34:28; Deut. 9:9), the fasts of Jesus before his receiving the heavenly call (Matt. 4:2), all testify to the importance of this institution. In fact, fasting is a form of devotion and self-discipline which has a natural appeal to man. "By the greater number of religions," says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "in the lower, middle and higher cultures alike, fasting is largely prescribed: and when it is not required, it is nevertheless practised to some extent by individuals in response to the promptings of nature." The verse under comment, however, does not mean that fasting has been prescribed for the Muslims in the same form in which it was prescribed for the people of earlier faiths. Islam has greatly spiritualised this institution by attaching to it a number of highly useful regulations and restrictions.
The clause, so that you may become righteous, explains the deep philosophy underlying the commandment relating to fasting. It is a special characteristic of the Quran that, whenever it gives an important commandment, it does not give it arbitrarily but also explains its usefulness so that the addressee may be convinced of, and satisfied about, the wisdom underlying it. The object of صیام or fasting has been stated in this verse as the attainment of تقوی i.e. righteousness.
As explained in 2:3 the word تقوی or اتقا from which the word تتقون used in the present verse is derived means, to guard oneself against (1) harm and suffering, and (2) evil and sin. Thus the verse points out that the real object of fasting is, first, to be saved from harm and suffering, and secondly, to be saved from sin and evil.
The first object is attained through fasting in two ways: (1) When a man commits evil deeds and becomes deserving of God’s punishment on account of those deeds, but later feels ashamed of them and turns to God in repentance, then fasting serves as an atonement for his sins. (2) Fasting not only makes a man fit and able to bear hardships but also makes him realize the sufferings of his brethren in distress and feel sympathy for them. Thus fasting goes a long way to remove and minimize the pains and sufferings of humanity.
The second object, viz., that of being saved from sin and evil, is attained through fasting because, while fasting, a person has not only to abandon eating and drinking but also, to a certain extent, to keep himself aloof from worldly connections and to abstain from indulging in his desires, with the result that his thoughts naturally tend towards spiritual things. Spiritual men of all religions unanimously testify, on the basis of personal experience, that a certain degree of severance from physical relations and worldly connections is essential for spiritual advancement and has a powerful purifying effect on the mind. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that to carry such severance too far is sure to weaken the body to such an undesirable extent as to render a person unfit not only to fulfil his social and religious obligations but also to withstand temptations which requires a certain amount of strength. Islam, therefore, follows the path of the golden mean. While it does prescribe a certain degree of abstention from material pleasures, it does not permit such a weakening of the body as should incapacitate it for performing its normal functions. This is why the Holy Prophet has forbidden continuous fasting, saying, "Your self has a claim upon you and your family has a claim upon you and your guests have a claim upon you" (Tirmidhi). On another occasion, he is reported to have said, "Verily, I am the most righteous of you all, yet sometimes I fast and sometimes I abstain from fasting, and so must you do" (Bukhari).
Fasting also stands as a symbol for complete sacrifice. One who fasts not only abstains from food and drink, which are the chief means of sustenance and without which one cannot live, but also from going in unto one’s wife which is the means of assuring one’s future race. Thus he who fasts really expresses his readiness, if need be, to sacrifice his all for the sake of truth. Fasting indeed affords a wonderful training ground for man.
It must also be noted here that this verse does not actually contain a command to fast, which follows in the verse coming after the succeeding verse. It only prepares Muslims for the coming commandment by saying that (1) the fasting which is going to be prescribed for them is not a new thing but was also prescribed for the people that had gone before, and that (2) it is a most useful thing which is sure to benefit them greatly. It will be seen that very often the Quran does not give a commandment all of a sudden but first prepares the ground for it by making some general remarks. In this connection see also 2:143-145 where a similar process has been adopted. (close)
اَیَّامًا مَّعۡدُوۡدٰتٍ ؕ فَمَنۡ کَانَ مِنۡکُمۡ مَّرِیۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّۃٌ مِّنۡ اَیَّامٍ اُخَرَ ؕ وَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ یُطِیۡقُوۡنَہٗ فِدۡیَۃٌ طَعَامُ مِسۡکِیۡنٍ ؕ فَمَنۡ تَطَوَّعَ خَیۡرًا فَہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّہٗ ؕ وَ اَنۡ تَصُوۡمُوۡا خَیۡرٌ لَّکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۵﴾
أَيَّامٗا مَّعۡدُودَٰتٖۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٖ فَعِدَّةٞ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَۚ وَعَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُۥ فِدۡيَةٞ طَعَامُ مِسۡكِينٖۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيۡرٗا فَهُوَ خَيۡرٞ لَّهُۥۚ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيۡرٞ لَّكُمۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
a. 2:204. (close)
207. This meaning of the Arabic expression in the text is supported by another reading of Yutiquna-hu which is Yutayyiquna-hu meaning, they can do so only with great difficulty (Jarir). The verse mentions three classes of believers to whom concession is allowed: the sick; those on a journey and those too weak to fast except with danger to their health. The expression may also mean: "Those who are unable to fast" (Lisan and Mufradat). The whole sentence has also been taken to signify: "Those, who can afford, should, besides fasting, feed a poor man as an act of piety;" the pronoun hu in Yutiquna-hu standing for "the feeding of a poor man." (close)
191. Important Words:
یطیقونه (are able to fast only with great difficulty) is derived from طاق. They say طاق الشیء or اطاق الشیء meaning, he was able or fit to do it; or he had the strength and power to do it (Aqrab). But the word طاقة is not used of strength generally but of such strength only as, so to speak, lies on the border, i.e. just the strength with which a thing may be done and no more—a strength required to do a thing only with difficulty and trouble (Mufradat & Lane). This is why the word طاقة is never used to express the power of God for which words like قدرة and قوة are used; for whereas the latter two words express the sense of vastness of power, the former expresses only that of its narrowness. The Quran uses the word طاقةonly twice and at both these places it uses it in a negative sentence, i.e. لاطاقة لنا viz. "we do not even possess the requisite strength to do that" (2:250 & 287). Thus the correct rendering of the clause علی الذین یطیقونه would be, "for those who are able to fast but can fast only with great difficulty." طوقه (Tawwaqahu) which is from the same root means, he put a collar or a neck-ring round his neck, i.e. he imposed on him a thing that was difficult, troublesome or inconvenient. طاقه also means, a single strand which after combining with others goes to make a rope (Lane), i.e. the weak part of a rope which cannot stand tension alone.
فدیة (an expiation) is derived from فدی. They say فدی الرجل meaning, the man secured his release from captivity, etc. by paying his ransom. Thus فدیة means, such payment as is made for obtaining release of a person; or such expenditure as is made in expiation of some sin or shortcoming, etc. (Aqrab).
This verse again refrains from giving the actual commandment regarding fasting but prepares further ground by pointing out that the fasting about to be prescribed is not meant for all days but only for a limited number of days. Again, the commandment to come is not meant to be observed in all circumstances; for those suffering from disease or those on a journey will be exempt from it. In fact, Islam is a practical religion. It does not give any commandment which is impossible of compliance. Hence, while referring to its injunctions about fasting, the Quran makes it clear that whosoever is ill or is on a journey should not fast but should redeem the omission by fasting an equal number of days at some other time when the sickness is gone or the journey is over.
The pronoun الذین (those) in the clause, those who are able, refers to believers in general, the words الذین یطیقونه meaning, those who are able to fast but can fast only with great difficulty. This interpretation is supported by another reading of the verse in which the word یطوقونه (yutawwaqunahu) has been substituted for یطیقونه (yutiqunahu) (Jarir), the former word meaning, those to whom fasting is like a tight collar, i.e. those who are not actually sick but whose physical condition or general health is such that they are unable to fast without running the risk of injuring their health. Such people, who include old men and raw youths and weakly persons and pregnant women and mothers giving suck to their children, may not fast but should make amends for their non-observance of each day’s fast by feeding a poor man according to their standard of food. Another reading of the word یطیقونه is یطیقون (yutayyaqunahu) (Jarir) meaning, they can do it only with great difficulty, which also bears out the above meaning. Thus the verse mentions three classes of believers to whom concession is allowed with respect to fasting: (1) the sick; (2) those on a journey; and (3) those neither on a journey nor actually sick but otherwise too weak to fast except with real risk to their health.
Some commentators do not recognize the last-mentioned class as being separate from, and independent of, the first two, but take it as being an exception from them. In this case the verse would mean that such of the sick and of those on a journey as can afford to feed poor men should also do so, besides fasting the same number of days after the sickness or the state of journey is over. (close)
شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِیۡۤ اُنۡزِلَ فِیۡہِ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ ہُدًی لِّلنَّاسِ وَ بَیِّنٰتٍ مِّنَ الۡہُدٰی وَ الۡفُرۡقَانِ ۚ فَمَنۡ شَہِدَ مِنۡکُمُ الشَّہۡرَ فَلۡیَصُمۡہُ ؕ وَ مَنۡ کَانَ مَرِیۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰی سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّۃٌ مِّنۡ اَیَّامٍ اُخَرَ ؕ یُرِیۡدُ اللّٰہُ بِکُمُ الۡیُسۡرَ وَ لَا یُرِیۡدُ بِکُمُ الۡعُسۡرَ ۫ وَ لِتُکۡمِلُوا الۡعِدَّۃَ وَ لِتُکَبِّرُوا اللّٰہَ عَلٰی مَا ہَدٰٮکُمۡ وَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۶﴾
شَهۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِيٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدٗى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَٰتٖ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّهۡرَ فَلۡيَصُمۡهُۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٖ فَعِدَّةٞ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَۗ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِكُمُ ٱلۡيُسۡرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ ٱلۡعُسۡرَ وَلِتُكۡمِلُواْ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَىٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّكُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ
207A. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar year. The word is derived from Ramada. They say Ramadas-Sa’imu, i.e. the inside of the man fasting became very hot with thirst owing to fasting (Lane). The month is so named because (1) fasting in this month produces heat and burning due to thirst; (2) worship in this month burns away the traces of sin in man (‘Asakir & Mardawaih); and (3) because his devotions in this month produce in the heart of man the necessary warmth of love for his Creator and his fellow-beings. The name Ramadan is of Islamic origin, the former name of the month being Natiq (Qadir). (close)
207B. Al-Qur’an is derived from Qara’a which means, he read; he conveyed or delivered a message; he collected the thing. Thus Qur’an means: (1) a book which is meant to be read. The Qur’an is the most widely read book in the world (Enc. Brit.); (2) a book or message which is meant to be conveyed and delivered to the world. The Qur’an is the only revealed Book whose Message is absolutely unrestricted; for whereas all other revealed Books are meant for specific times and specific peoples, the Qur’an is meant for all times and all peoples (34:29); (3) a book which comprises all truths; the Qur’an is indeed a storehouse of knowledge which comprises not only all eternal truths contained in the previous revealed Books (98:4), but also all such truths as mankind may stand in need of at any time and in any circumstances (18:50). (close)
208. It was on the 24th of Ramadan that the Holy Prophet received his first revelation (Jarir); and the whole revelation was rehearsed every year to the Holy Prophet by the angel Gabriel in this month. This practice continued till the very last year of the Prophet’s life when the whole of the Qur’an was rehearsed to him twice by the Archangel Jibril in this month (Bukhari). Thus in a way even the whole of the Qur’an may be said to have been revealed in the month of Ramadan. (close)
a. 2:186; 3:4; 8:42; 21:49; 25:2. (close)
209. The sentence is not an unnecessary repetition; for whereas in the previous verse it formed part of the verse that was meant to prepare the ground for the commandment to fast, in this verse it forms part of the actual commandment. The Qur’an, however, wisely refrains from defining the terms "sickness" and "journey," leaving them to be defined by the common usage of the people and the attending circumstances. (close)
b. 2:287; 5:7; 22:79. (close)
c. 22:38. (close)
a. 2:186; 3:4; 8:42; 21:49; 25:2. (close)
b. 2:287; 5:7; 22:79. (close)
192. Important Words:
رمضان (Ramadan) is the name given to the ninth month of the lunar year. The word is derived from the verb رمض. They say رمض النھار i.e. the day became intensely hot. رمض الرجل means, the man had his feet burnt by the earth which had become intensely heated by the sun. رمض الصائم means, his inside became very hot with thirst owing to fasting. ارتمض من الحزن means, he began to burn, i.e. he was greatly distressed, with grief and sorrow. الرمض means, the first rain of autumn which finds the earth hot and burning (Aqrab & Lane). The month of رمضان is so named because (1) fasting in this month causes heat and burning due to thirst; (2) worship and devotion in this month burns away the traces of sin in man, this signification being corroborated by a saying of the Holy Prophet (‘Asakir and Merdawaih as quoted by Fathul-Qadir); and (3) its devotions produce in the heart of man the necessary warmth of love for his Creator and his fellow beings. The name رمضان is of Islamic origin, the former name of the month being ناتق (Muhit & Mawardi, as quoted by Fathul-Qadir).
القرآن (the Quran) is the name given by God Himself to the Book revealed to the Holy Prophet of Islam, containing the final Law for mankind. The word is derived from قرأ. They say قرأ الکتاب meaning: (1) he read the book, i.e. he read it to himself; or (2) he recited the book, i.e. he read it aloud so that others might hear it; قرأ also means, he conveyed or delivered a message, etc., as they say اقرأعلیه السلام meaning, convey or deliver my salam to him; (3) قرأ الشیء means, he collected or drew together the thing; (4) قرأت المراة means, the woman became pregnant and brought forth a child (Aqrab & Lane). Thus قرآن (Quran) means: (1) a book which is meant to be read. The Quran is indeed the most widely read book in the world (Enc. Brit. 11th edition, article on Koran by Nöldeke); (2) a book or message which is meant to be conveyed and delivered to other peoples. The Quran is indeed the only revealed Book whose delivery or message is absolutely unrestricted; for whereas all other Books are meant for specific times and specific peoples, the Quran is meant for all times and all peoples (34:29; also Bukhari); (3) a Book which comprises and has collected in itself all truth; the Quran is indeed a storehouse of knowledge which not only comprises all eternal truths revealed in previous Books (98:4) but also all such truths as mankind may stand in need of at any time and in any circumstances (18:50); (4) a Book which contains not only visible truth which may be seen and felt by all but, like a pregnant woman big with child, it contains truths that lie hidden from the eyes of most men and, like a newborn child, come to light only as and when time ripens (15:22). All these meanings are not only expressive of an existing state of affairs but also serve as mighty prophecies, the truth of which has been established in all ages.
The ground having been suitably prepared in the preceding two verses, this verse gives the awaited commandment about fasting. But even here the actual commandment is preceded by a suitable description of the month of Ramadan in which fasts were to be observed. The month was not chosen arbitrarily but was selected for the purpose of fasting because it was a sacred month in which the Quran was revealed. And the Quran is not an ordinary book. It is a Book full of right guidance and of bright Signs and of things that help to differentiate between truth and falsehood. This sublime foreword placed before the commandment about fasting contains an implied question to the effect: Will you not now fast when fasting is a tried thing, when it is so useful, when it is to be observed only for a few days, when even in these few days suitable facilities have been provided, and lastly when these few days correspond with a month which is full of blessings?
As hinted above, this verse mentions the reason for which the month of Ramadan was selected for the purpose of fasting. It was in this month that the Quran was revealed. The revelation of the Quran in the month of Ramadan may mean two things: (1) that the revelation of the Holy Book commenced in the month of Ramadan, for it is on record that it was on the 24th of Ramadan that the Holy Prophet received his first revelation (Musnad & Jarir); (2) that the revelation of the Quran was repeated to the Holy Prophet every year in the month of Ramadan, for it is also on record that the angel Gabriel rehearsed every year to the Holy Prophet the whole of the revealed portion of the Quran during this month and this he continued to do till the very year of the Prophet’s death (Bukhari, ch. on Manaqib). Thus in a way even the whole of the Quran may be said to have been sent down in Ramadan.
The words, clear proofs of guidance and discrimination, point out that the Quran is a Book which is not content with making mere assertions. It supports every assertion it makes with necessary reasons and arguments which are both clear and convincing, and it also adduces heavenly Signs which go to discriminate right from wrong with such clearness that they leave no room for doubt. This excellence belongs exclusively to the Quran. Indeed, other scriptures, too have been spoken of as "a light and guidance," but about none of them has it been said that they supply reasons, arguments and Signs in support of their assertions.
Although former Prophets also were given Signs that people might accept them as Divine Messengers, yet the Scriptures they brought contained nothing that might bear testimony to their truth. It is only the Quran that contains all kinds of evidence—rational, scriptural and heavenly—to demonstrate the truth of its teachings so that it might itself furnish necessary evidence of its truth, and that, unlike other scriptures, tales and stories of the past might not form its sole support.
The clause, let him fast therein, signifies that it is necessary to fast all the days of the month of Ramadan; it will not do to fast only for a few days. Thus, out of every twelve months in the year, at least one—that of Ramadan—must be so devoted to the worship of God.
The clause, whoso is sick or is on a journey, he shall fast the same number of other days, at first appears to be an unnecessary repetition of what has already been said in the preceding verse in identical words, but really it is not so; for whereas in the previous verse this clause formed part of a verse that was meant to prepare the ground for the commandment to fast, in this verse it forms part of the actual commandment. The clause signifies that if in the month of Ramadan one happens to be sick or is on a journey, one should not fast, owing to the extra hardship entailed, but should fast the same number of other days when one has recovered from sickness or when the journey is over. The Quran, however, wisely refrains from defining the terms "sickness" and "journey," leaving them to be defined by the common usage of the people.
The clause, He desires not hardship for you, points to the very important principle that divine commands are not meant to cause trouble or inconvenience but to afford ease and facility. In this connection it may well be noted that St. Paul looks upon the Law as an entanglement with "the yoke of bondage" if not as an actual curse (Gal. chs. 3 & 5). But he forgets that true freedom, and for that matter, true happiness lie only in willing obedience to a good and righteous legislation. The Islamic law, even "in meats and drinks and divers washings, and carnal ordinances," is a real help and guidance rather than a hindrance and a bondage.
The clause, so that you may complete the number, indicates that God’s purpose in prescribing a fixed number of days is that believers may be able to complete the number which, in His sight, is essential for their spiritual welfare. A fixed number was essential; for, otherwise, some people might have failed to fast even the minimum number, while others would have unduly suffered for doubt as to their having completed the necessary number even after they had long exceeded it.
The clause, that you may exalt Allah for His having guided you, points to yet another object underlying the commandment. All such expressions in which the offering of a particular praise to God is enjoined signify two things: (1) that man being God’s creation should continuously offer praise to Him, invoking the particular divine attribute that may suit the occasion; (2) that he should also try to reflect in his person the selfsame attribute of God. "Exalting God" would therefore mean not only God’s glorification but the uplift and exaltation of the devotee himself. In fact God stands in need of no praise. He is what He is whether we praise Him or not. So truly speaking, everything is for the benefit of man himself, and the benefit underlying fasting is the exaltation of man, morally and spiritually and, in a sense, physically as well.
The final clause, that you may be grateful, is also full of deep meaning. God is not cruel or unkind; He has due regard for our weaknesses and He does not put us to unnecessary trouble; and whatever seeming trouble He puts us to is for our own good. This kind and loving attitude of God towards us ought to give rise to a corresponding feeling of love for Him in our hearts and we ought to feel grateful to Him for His love and kindness.
To a superficial observer the language of the Quran as used in this verse might appear to be rather unconnected, forming independent clauses. But a closer study reveals a beautiful arrangement between them. In fact the four clauses in the concluding portion of this verse furnish reasons for the four commandments contained in the first portion of the verse, the succeeding reasons following the reversed order of the preceding commandments in a most natural manner. The first reason given by the verse is contained in the clause, Allah desires to give you facility and He desires not hardship for you. Though the apparent wording of this clause is different from the wordings of the succeeding clauses, actually it is also one of those that supply a reason, for in reality the clause stands like this, "that you be afforded facility, etc." Corresponding to this clause we have the last commandment of the verse, i.e. whoso is sick or is on a journey, etc. The second clause supplying a reason is, that you may complete the number, corresponding to which we have the commandment, whosoever of you is present at home in this month, let him fast therein, hinting that God means the Muslims to fast the whole month. The third clause supplying a reason is, that you may exalt Allah for His having guided you. Corresponding to this we have the words, a guidance for mankind, etc. Finally comes the clause, that you may be grateful, corresponding to which we have the clause, the month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down, hinting that the wise God has chosen the most sacred and the most blessed part of the year for fasting so that you may be doubly benefited by it. Such figure of speech in which parts of a sentence correspond with others occurring in the same sentence in a reverse order, the first clause of the former group corresponding with the last clause of the latter, is known in Arabic rhetoric as لف و نشر معکوس (Mutawwal). (close)
وَ اِذَا سَاَلَکَ عِبَادِیۡ عَنِّیۡ فَاِنِّیۡ قَرِیۡبٌ ؕ اُجِیۡبُ دَعۡوَۃَ الدَّاعِ اِذَا دَعَانِ ۙ فَلۡیَسۡتَجِیۡبُوۡا لِیۡ وَ لۡیُؤۡمِنُوۡا بِیۡ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَرۡشُدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۷﴾
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌۖ أُجِيبُ دَعۡوَةَ ٱلدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِۖ فَلۡيَسۡتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلۡيُؤۡمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَرۡشُدُونَ
a. 11:62; 34:51; 50:17. (close)
210. When the Faithful come to know of the blessings of the month of Ramadan and of fasting therein they naturally become eager to derive as much spiritual benefit from it as possible. It is to this hankering of the soul of a believer to which the verse supplies an answer. (close)
b. 27:63. (close)
211. The words, believe in Me, do not refer to belief in the existence of God; for, this idea is included in the preceding clause, they should hearken to Me, it being impossible that one should hearken to God and obey His commandments without believing in His existence. The words, believe in Me, therefore, refer to the belief that God hears and accepts the prayers of His servants. (close)
a. 11:62; 34:51; 50:17. (close)
193. Important Words:
اجیب (I answer) and فلیستجیبوا (they should hearken) are both derived from the same root جاب meaning, he cut a cloth, etc. اجابه means, he answered him or answered his question. اجابت الارض means, the earth brought forth its vegetation, i.e. responded to sowing. استجابه means, he answered him or responded to him. استجاب له means, he obeyed him or complied with his wish and did what he was asked to do (Aqrab & Lane).
یرشدون (may follow the right way) is derived from رشد meaning, he was rightly guided and became steadfast in his guidance; he took or followed the right way. رشد (rushd) and رشد (rashad) and رشاد mean, true guidance; following the right way with firmness and steadfastness; rectitude; maturity of intellect. رشید and راشد mean, one who is rightly guided, one who takes or follows the right way. رشید is more intensive of the two and is also applied to God when it means, "Director to the right way; One Who follows a perfect course in His decrees" (Aqrab & Lane).
When the Faithful came to know of the blessings of the month of Ramadan and of fasting therein, they naturally became eager to derive as much benefit from it as possible and asked the Holy Prophet as to the particular attitude of God in this month, i.e. whether He came nearer to His servants in respect of grace and mercy, and whether He accepted more prayers in Ramadan and so on. The verse provides an answer to this question.
The words, My servants, do not obviously refer to all people but to only such men as believe in God and are willing to obey Him, particularly Muslims who follow His commandments regarding Prayers, Fasting, etc. In fact atheists or, for that matter, rebellious people are never spoken of as "My servants" in the Quran.
The clause, I am near, does not, and indeed cannot, refer to bodily nearness. The preceding verses told us that the command to fast was given with a view to purifying us, and that in giving it God desired our own welfare and meant no torture. The conception of such a loving God naturally creates the desire in the minds of all men to attain spiritual nearness to Him. Hence the present verse contains the glad tidings that access to God is not beyond human power nor is His nearness the monopoly of any particular people. The attainment of union with Him is within the reach of every man and woman, and the door of His mercy and grace is also open to all.
The words, I answer the prayers of the supplicant, point to the fact that it is not only the true believers and the righteous who have their prayers accepted by God but that God hears and accepts the prayers of all. As a matter of fact, the acceptance of prayer is an expression of God’s grace and mercy which encompass Muslims as well as non-Muslims. It would be unjust to think that God, Who is "the Lord of the worlds," accepts the prayers of Muslims alone. It is natural, however, that He should show greater favour to those who obey Him and hold fast to truth and act righteously. He therefore listens more to their prayers than to those of others, and He certainly rejects such prayers as are offered against His beloved ones. Nor does He accept such prayers as may lead to results that are detrimental to the cause of truth. But He is the Lord of all and listens to all.
The clause, so they should hearken to Me, means that they should believe in God (for without believing there can be no hearkening, and no response to His calls) and obey Him. God promises acceptance of prayers to "His servants" but He also expects that His creatures should believe in Him and obey His commandments. This will make their prayers all the more entitled to acceptance.
The words, and believe in Me, do not here refer to a belief in the existence of God; for this idea is included in the preceding clause, they should hearken to Me, it being impossible that one should hearken to God and obey His commandments without believing in His existence. The words, believe in Me, therefore refer here to belief in the power of God to accept prayers and belief in the fact that if appealed to, He will certainly come to our help.
The final clause, that they may follow the right way, means that if men would act upon the guidance contained in this commandment they would (1) attain God’s nearness, and (2) find God inclined to accept their prayers more and more.
But as with all other things, there are limitations and conditions attached to the acceptance of prayers also, to some of which the verse under comment refers. They may be briefly stated as follows:
(1) One should be a servant of God, accepting His dominion over him and worshipping Him, alone, as the words, My servants, indicate.
(2) One should call on God alone for help and turn to no other being or thing opposed to Him, as the words, when he prays to Me, show. There are indeed many who, while seemingly praying to God, put their real trust in other things or sometimes even turn to false deities for help. Such men cannot expect their prayers to be accepted.
(3) One should hearken to God’s call, i.e. not only believe in Him but also obey His commandments, accepting His Messengers and acting righteously in accordance with His Law, as the words, hearken to Me, point out.
(4) One should have firm belief in the fact that God not only has the power to accept one’s prayers but would actually accept them if one could only persist in asking, as the words, believe in Me, signify. There are indeed many who pray for a time and then get tired of it. These really do not believe; for if they had believed, they would willingly have waited. Says the Holy Prophet: "God would accept one’s prayer if only one did not show impatience, by saying, 'I have prayed and I have not been answered' " (Muslim).
(5) The prayers of those who are rebellious against God, rejecting His commandments and opposing His will, are not accepted, particularly such prayers in which something against His will or something likely to injure the cause of His beloved ones is solicited. Says God: "The prayer of the rebellious ones is nothing but wasted" (40:51).
A saying of the Holy Prophet very beautifully explains the philosophy of prayer. He is reported to have said: "Every Muslim who prays to God and whose prayer does not consist in anything which is a sin, i.e. anything against God’s will or against His commandments or against His way, or anything which involves an injustice or unkindness to a relative, will have his prayer accepted. But the acceptance of prayer may take three forms: (a) either God will grant to the supplicant his request in this very life; or (b) He will store the thing for him in the next; or (c) He will ward off a like evil from him" (Bukhari).
The Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement says: "God treats His servants like friends. A friend would sometimes accept the request of his friend and would sometimes expect him to accept his will. So does God. But even when God seemingly rejects the prayer of a believer, He is very often acting in his interests" (Haqiqat, p. 19). (close)