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)
اُحِلَّ لَکُمۡ لَیۡلَۃَ الصِّیَامِ الرَّفَثُ اِلٰی نِسَآئِکُمۡ ؕ ہُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّکُمۡ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ لِبَاسٌ لَّہُنَّ ؕ عَلِمَ اللّٰہُ اَنَّکُمۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تَخۡتَانُوۡنَ اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ فَتَابَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ عَفَا عَنۡکُمۡ ۚ فَالۡـٰٔنَ بَاشِرُوۡہُنَّ وَ ابۡتَغُوۡا مَا کَتَبَ اللّٰہُ لَکُمۡ ۪ وَ کُلُوۡا وَ اشۡرَبُوۡا حَتّٰی یَتَبَیَّنَ لَکُمُ الۡخَیۡطُ الۡاَبۡیَضُ مِنَ الۡخَیۡطِ الۡاَسۡوَدِ مِنَ الۡفَجۡرِ۪ ثُمَّ اَتِمُّوا الصِّیَامَ اِلَی الَّیۡلِ ۚ وَ لَا تُبَاشِرُوۡہُنَّ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰکِفُوۡنَ ۙ فِی الۡمَسٰجِدِ ؕ تِلۡکَ حُدُوۡدُ اللّٰہِ فَلَا تَقۡرَبُوۡہَا ؕ کَذٰلِکَ یُبَیِّنُ اللّٰہُ اٰیٰتِہٖ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۸﴾
أُحِلَّ لَكُمۡ لَيۡلَةَ ٱلصِّيَامِ ٱلرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَآئِكُمۡۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٞ لَّكُمۡ وَأَنتُمۡ لِبَاسٞ لَّهُنَّۗ عَلِمَ ٱللَّهُ أَنَّكُمۡ كُنتُمۡ تَخۡتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمۡ فَتَابَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَعَفَا عَنكُمۡۖ فَٱلۡـَٰٔنَ بَٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَٱبۡتَغُواْ مَا كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡۚ وَكُلُواْ وَٱشۡرَبُواْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ ٱلۡخَيۡطُ ٱلۡأَبۡيَضُ مِنَ ٱلۡخَيۡطِ ٱلۡأَسۡوَدِ مِنَ ٱلۡفَجۡرِۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّواْ ٱلصِّيَامَ إِلَى ٱلَّيۡلِۚ وَلَا تُبَٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمۡ عَٰكِفُونَ فِي ٱلۡمَسَٰجِدِۗ تِلۡكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ فَلَا تَقۡرَبُوهَاۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ ءَايَٰتِهِۦ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَّقُونَ
212. How beautifully in these brief words the Qur’an has described the rights and status of woman and the object and significance of marriage and conjugal relations. The real object of marriage, the verse purports to say, is the comfort, protection and embellishment of the parties, for such are the uses of a garment (7:27 & 16:82). It definitely is not merely the satisfaction of sexual urge. Husband and wife also safeguard each other against evil and scandal. (close)
213. The expression ‘Afallahu ‘An-hu means, God corrected his mistake and set right his affairs; bestowed honour upon him. It also means, God afforded him relief (Muhit). (close)
214. At places where days and nights are unusually long (e.g. near the Poles) day and night should be calculated to be of twelve hours’ duration (Muslim, ch. Ashratus-Sa‘ah). (close)
215. In I‘tikaf which constitutes, as it were, the consummation of the spirit of fasting, intercourse with wives and preliminaries thereto are not allowed even at night time. (close)
194. Important Words:
رفث (going in unto) has a number of meanings: amatory talk, kissing, caressing, embracing, compressing, coition, etc.; in fact, everything that a man desires of his wife. When رفث is followed by the preposition الی it means, coition or going in unto one’s wife, and it is in this sense that the word has been used here. رفث also means, immodest, foul and lewd talk or speech (Lane).
تختانون (you have been acting unjustly) is derived from خان. They say خانه i.e. he acted unfaithfully or perfidiously towards him; he was not faithful to the trust reposed in him. اختانه is like خانه, giving the same meaning. It also means, he acted wrongfully or unjustly towards him. The Arabs say خانته رجلاه i.e. his feet or legs acted unfaithfully towards him, meaning he was unable to walk. تختانون انفسکم would, therefore, mean, you failed to give your souls (i.e. yourselves) their due either (1) by preventing them from their duty to God, or (2) by refusing them the satisfaction of their natural and lawful cravings. The former act is a sin, while the latter, though not a sin, may endanger one’s health or deprive one of just happiness. The word has been used in both these senses in the Quran. In 4:108, it has been used in the sense of "sin", while in the present verse it has been used in the sense of "depriving the soul of the gratification of its natural and just desires".
عفاعنکم (afforded you relief). The word عفا gives a number of meanings (see 2:53). The expression عفاالله عن فلان is sometimes used where there is no question of pardoning any sin or obliterating traces thereof but simply in the sense of removing one’s mistake or misunderstanding or improving one’s condition or bestowing honour on one (Aqrab). It also means, making things easy, i.e. affording relief (Muhit).
باشروھن (go in unto them) is derived from بشر from which is also derived the word بشارة or بشری meaning, glad tidings. The expression بشربه means, he became glad and happy because of that. The words بشرالجلد mean, he removed or peeled off its skin. البشرة means, outer part of skin, or what is visible of the face or body. باشرالمرأة means, he came in contact with his wife skin to skin; he went in unto her. البشری (glad tidings) is so called because it changes the colour of the listener’s face. البشر (man) is also so called because, unlike other animals, man’s skin is visible and not concealed under hair (Aqrab, Mufradat & Lane).
It was a custom among the Israelites to abstain from all kinds of food from one evening to the other on the occasion of the fast of the Atonement Day, the only fast prescribed by Moses for his people. When fasts were first prescribed for Muslims, and details had not yet been revealed, they thought that, like the Jews, they too would have to fast for 24 hours with a slight intervening breakfast. Hence, following their own judgement, they concluded that it was lawful for them to eat and drink and to go in unto their wives only as long as they did not go to bed, and that after they had gone to sleep, they were not allowed to partake of any food or drink or to go in unto their wives until the next evening. Bukhari gives the following tradition on the authority of Bara’: "When the command to fast was revealed, if anybody kept a fast and then went to sleep in the evening, he abstained from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse until the time for breaking the fast the following day" (Bukhari ch. on Saum). This tradition and others of the same import show that it was not in obedience to any command from God or the Holy Prophet that his Companions abstained from sexual intercourse after going to bed at night, but it was owing to their own imitation of similar customs among the People of the Book that they had imposed these restrictions on themselves. As, however, these restrictions were against the will of God, a revelation was soon sent down allowing the Faithful to eat and drink and approach their wives as they liked during the night; only they were forbidden to do so while fasting during the day.
Some commentators have inferred from the words, you have been acting unjustly to yourselves, that the Companions of the Holy Prophet were unable to act upon the commandment to abstain from intercourse with their wives during the nights of fasts and frequently broke it. But this is evidently wrong, for the good reason that there was no such commandment to be broken. Moreover, the words of the Quran, i.e. you may now go in, also belie this interpretation, for the use of the word "now" clearly indicates that the Companions of the Holy Prophet were erring not on the side of indulgence but on that of abstinence. The Quran could not obviously say, you may now go in, to a people who were already going in unto their wives.
The clause, they are a garment for you and you are a garment for them, very beautifully describes the object of marriage. The verse points out that the object of marriage is not the gratification of carnal passions. The real object is the comfort, protection and embellishment of the parties, for such are the uses of a garment as explained in 7:27 & 16:82. Thus in a very few words, the Quran has described the true relationship that should exist between husband and wife, a description which has hardly a parallel in any other scripture.
The clause, the white thread becomes distinct from the black thread of the dawn, does not refer to the thread made of yarn but to the streak of light that appears along the eastern horizon at the time of dawn. The verse enjoins that from dawn till sunset Muslims should abstain from food and drink and intercourse while fasting. But they are free to have recourse to these things between sunset and dawn. At places where days and nights are unusually long, i.e. nearer the poles, calculation should be made for the purpose of fasting on the basis of average conditions, i.e. in such a case day and night would each be supposed to be of twelve hours’ duration (Muslim, ch. on Ashratus-Sa‘at). The clause, while you remain in the mosques for devotion, refers to the practice of اعتکاف which is observed by remaining in the mosque, night and day, during the last ten days of Ramadan. During these days, the devotee who decides to observe اعتکاف is not to leave the mosque except from human necessity, i.e. to answer a call of nature, etc. He enters the mosque on the morning of the 20th of Ramadan
and abides therein till the end of the month, fasting from daybreak to sunset and occupying himself in prayer or recitation of the Quran or other religious study or meditation. During اعتکاف (I‘tikaf), which is, as it were, the consummation of the spirit of fasting, intercourse with wives and preliminaries thereto are not allowed even at night time. The clause, these are the limits fixed by Allah, so approach them not, points to the very important principle that a man can attain true piety only if he refrains from even "approaching" the things that have been forbidden by God. "Some acts," says the Holy Prophet "are of doubtful character, one not knowing whether they are right or wrong. It is always better to avoid these. The forbidden things are like a pasture-land which the Wise God prohibits to the people. If you make your beasts graze on the borders of such land, i.e. allow your beasts to approach near them, there is danger of their trespassing upon the prohibited area" (Bukhari, ch, on Iman). This is an extremely wise injunction which cuts at the root of all trespass. Only those can protect themselves against sin who give all unlawful things a wide berth. The final clause, that they may become secure against evil, repeats the idea contained in 2:184 in which the subject of fasting was first introduced. In both verses the underlying object of fasting has been stated to be the attainment of تقوی i.e. piety, righteousness and protection against evil, which are all different forms of divineblessings. The reader may, with advantage, compare this idea with the belief of the Christians that the Law is a curse (Gal. 3:10, 13). (close)
وَ لَا تَاۡکُلُوۡۤا اَمۡوَالَکُمۡ بَیۡنَکُمۡ بِالۡبَاطِلِ وَ تُدۡلُوۡا بِہَاۤ اِلَی الۡحُکَّامِ لِتَاۡکُلُوۡا فَرِیۡقًا مِّنۡ اَمۡوَالِ النَّاسِ بِالۡاِثۡمِ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۹﴾٪
وَلَا تَأۡكُلُوٓاْ أَمۡوَٰلَكُم بَيۡنَكُم بِٱلۡبَٰطِلِ وَتُدۡلُواْ بِهَآ إِلَى ٱلۡحُكَّامِ لِتَأۡكُلُواْ فَرِيقٗا مِّنۡ أَمۡوَٰلِ ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَأَنتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُونَ
a. 4:30, 162; 9:34. (close)
215A. In order to emphasize communal or national unity the Qur’an often refers to other Muslims’ property as "your property." So here also other Muslims’ property is spoken of as "your property." (close)
216. The commandment relating to fasting enjoined Muslims to refrain from eating and drinking within specified periods with a view to attaining piety and righteousness. This was the most opportune time to remind them that unlawful eating, i.e. unlawful acquisition of wealth, must all the more be scrupulously avoided. Incidentally, the verse forcefully condemns the practice of giving and taking bribe. (close)
195. Important Words:
تدلوا (offer it) is derived from ادلی which again is derived from دلا. They say دلاالدلو, he let down the bucket (into the well), or he pulled it up. ادلی means, he let down the bucket (into the well.) ادلی الیه بمال means, he offered or gave him money (Aqrab).
The commandment relating to fasting enjoined Muslims to refrain from lawful eating and drinking within specified periods with a view to attaining piety and righteousness. This was thus the most opportune time to remind the people that unlawful eating, i.e. unlawful acquisition of wealth, must be all the more scrupulously avoided. Indeed, one of the greatest evils prevailing in the world is the practice of devouring other men’s property by means of falsehood, fraud and litigation. Many a sin is nothing but an offshoot of this evil. Islam condemns the practice of taking another man’s property without his knowledge or consent. Similarly, it is unlawful to appropriate another person’s possessions by means of false litigation. If a man takes possession of a property that does not belong to him by right, it will prove the ruin of him, even if a court of justice should decree the property as his. Says the Holy Prophet: "Beware! I am but a man like you and it sometimes happens that a litigant comes to me and he is more eloquent than his opponent, and I, after listening to his arguments, may give my decision in his favour. But if the property is really not his, my decision will not make it his in the sight of God; in that case it is nothing but a piece of burning fire; so let him put this fire into his belly if he likes, or let him leave it" (Bukhari).
The verse cuts at the root of the evil that has made its appearance in the present age even among those who lay claim to culture and enlightenment. People generally do not deem it worthwhile to consider what right is. All that is seen is how the judge decides. When a judge awards a property to a man, he eagerly takes possession of it without the slightest compunction, even if it happens not to belong to him by right. It never occurs to him that in the sight of God he is no less a usurper than he who forcibly seizes another man’s property.
Incidentally the verse also forcefully condemns the practice of the giving and taking of bribe which unfortunately is so rampant nowadays. In many countries justice has actually to be bought. What is still worse is that through this evil practice, the door of justice is often closed to a rightful owner. The practice is to be found even in some advanced Western countries and is said to be prevalent in certain parts of the New World. The Holy Prophet has condemned it in the strongest of terms saying: "The taker and giver of a bribe are alike, and both stand accursed" (Tirmidhi). (close)
یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡاَہِلَّۃِ ؕ قُلۡ ہِیَ مَوَاقِیۡتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَ الۡحَجِّ ؕ وَ لَیۡسَ الۡبِرُّ بِاَنۡ تَاۡتُوا الۡبُیُوۡتَ مِنۡ ظُہُوۡرِہَا وَ لٰکِنَّ الۡبِرَّ مَنِ اتَّقٰیۚ وَ اۡتُوا الۡبُیُوۡتَ مِنۡ اَبۡوَابِہَا ۪ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۹۰﴾
۞يَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلۡأَهِلَّةِۖ قُلۡ هِيَ مَوَٰقِيتُ لِلنَّاسِ وَٱلۡحَجِّۗ وَلَيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرُّ بِأَن تَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰۗ وَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِنۡ أَبۡوَٰبِهَاۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ
a. 2:198; 9:36. (close)
217. Islam has made use of both the lunar and solar systems for measuring time. Where worship is to be performed in different parts of the day the solar system of reckoning time is used, as in the five daily Prayers or for the beginning and the breaking of the daily fast; and where worship is to be completed within a particular month or part thereof, the lunar system is used, as in selecting the month of fasting or the appointment of the time of Pilgrimage, etc. Thus Islam has made use of both the systems; so the solar system is as much Islamic as the lunar system. (close)
218. The clause points to a very important principle that the real purpose in prescribing different acts of worship is the intrinsic usefulness thereof and not that every change of time should have attached to it an act of worship. Therefore the question, arising from the over-eagerness of the Faithful, that, like fasting, there may be prescribed other acts of worship in other months also, was like approaching a house not through its door but by "the back thereof." The primary thing is worship and time is only secondary, but those who put the question wanted to make time a primary, and worship merely a secondary thing. This was like putting the cart before the horse. The reference also seems to be to a practice of the pagan Arabs that when they had once started on Pilgrimage to Mecca, if for any reason they had to come back, they would enter their houses from their backs by scaling over the walls. The verse condemns such practices, pointing out that they do not constitute virtue which is a spiritual concept, and implies that appropriate means should be adopted for the achievement of one’s objective (Bukhari, ch. on Tafsir). (close)
b. 2:178. (close)
a. 2:198; 9:36. (close)
196. Important Words:
الاھلة (new moons) is the plural of الھلال i.e. the new moon. The word is generally used about the moon of the first two or three nights. About the moon of other nights the word used is قمر (Aqrab).
مواقیت (means for measuring time) is the plural of میقات which is derived from وقت i.e. time. میقات means: (1) time; (2) time fixed or appointed for a certain thing; (3) a promise for which a time is fixed; (4) a place in which a meeting is appointed to take place at a particular time (Aqrab & Lane).
When the Companions of the Holy Prophet heard of the great blessings of the month of Ramadan, they naturally desired to know the blessings attending other months. This question on their part shows how solicitous they were to win God’s blessings and attain His nearness.
The clause, they are means for measuring time, should not give rise to the misunderstanding that Islam looks upon the moon only as a means of measuring time; for elsewhere the Quran speaks of the sun also as such (6:97 and 17:13). In fact, Islam has made use of both the lunar and solar systems for measuring time. Where worship is to be performed in different parts of the day, the solar system of reckoning time is used, as in the five daily Prayers or for the opening and the closing of a daily fast; and where worship is to be connected with a particular month or part thereof, the lunar system is used, as in selecting the month of fasting or the appointment of the time of Pilgrimage, etc. As a matter of fact, as religious commandments are meant for the general public, the system used is always such as may be easily understandable by the common people. All commandments relating to a fixed time are therefore based on the visible part of the solar or the lunar system of reckoning time, as the case may be. Changes in the position of the sun during the day are visible but the beginning of a solar month is not visible. On the other hand, the appearance of a new moon in the beginning of a lunar month is visible. Therefore Islam has made use of both; and the solar system is as much Islamic as the lunar system.
The clause, and it is not righteousness that you come into houses by the backs thereof, points to a very important principle that the real purpose in appointing different acts of worship is the intrinsic usefulness thereof and not that to each change of time there should be attached an act of worship. Therefore the question, resulting from the over-eagerness of the Faithful, that, like fasting, there may be prescribed other acts of worship relating to other months also, was like approaching a house not through its door but by "the back thereof". The primary thing was worship and time was only secondary, but those who put the question wanted to make time primary and worship merely secondary. This was like putting the cart before the horse.
The clause also means that one should adopt the right course to attain an object. Every end can be attained by having recourse to certain means. Similarly, certain ways have been prescribed by God for winning His pleasure and attaining His nearness. People should faithfully stick to these and not devise ways of their own. By doing so, they will only suffer trouble, and gain nothing.
It is also on record that it was the practice among the idolaters of Arabia that when they left their homes and started on Pilgrimage to Mecca, then if for some purpose or object they had to come back to their houses, they did not enter them by their doors, but climbed into them by their back walls (Bukhari, ch. on Tafsir). Islam does not approve of such meaningless practices. (close)
وَ قَاتِلُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ الَّذِیۡنَ یُقَاتِلُوۡنَکُمۡ وَ لَا تَعۡتَدُوۡا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ الۡمُعۡتَدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۱﴾
وَقَٰتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّذِينَ يُقَٰتِلُونَكُمۡ وَلَا تَعۡتَدُوٓاْۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُعۡتَدِينَ
a. 4:76; 8:40; 9:13; 22:40; 60:9, 10. (close)
219. This is one of the earliest verses in which permission to fight was given to Muslims, the very first verse revealed in this connection being 22:40. The verse under comment contains the gist of the conditions which should govern a religious war: (a) Such a war should be undertaken with the object of removing obstacles placed in the way of Allah, i.e. for the establishment of the freedom of religious belief and practice. (b) It is to be waged only against those who first take up arms against Muslims. (c) The Muslims should lay down arms as soon as the enemy desists from fighting. (close)
a. 4:76; 8:40; 9:13; 22:40; 60:9, 10. (close)
197. Important Words:
سبیل الله (the cause of Allah) literally means, "the way of Allah". Anything done to remove the obstacles hindering people from approaching God or accepting His religion is termed فی سبیل الله i.e. in the cause of Allah; also anything done to further the cause of Allah or any act performed in compliance with God’s commandment. Thus holy wars, missionary campaigns, Pilgrimage, search of knowledge, etc. in fact anything done to further the cause of goodness and virtue as commanded by God is فی سبیل الله.
The subject relating to the attainment of virtue and piety and the incidental mention of Pilgrimage naturally diverts one’s attention to the obstacles that were being placed in the way of Muslims by disbelievers who were making them victims of all sorts of wrongs and even prevented them from approaching their Qiblah in Mecca. The Quran, therefore, fittingly turns here to the subject of religious wars.
The verse contains the gist of the conditions which should regulate a religious war and which were made binding on Muslims. The conditions mentioned in this verse are four in number:
(1) Such a war should truly be فی سبیل الله i.e. undertaken with the object of removing obstacles placed in the way of God and His religion. Any war that is not فی سبیل الله is not a lawful, religious war.
(2) Such war is allowed only against those who first take up arms against Muslims as the words. الذین یقاتلونکم (those who fight against you), indicate.
(3) Great care should be taken that women, children and old men of the belligerent nation who do not take actual part in the war against Islam are spared, for religious war is allowed only against those who fight against you. If, however, an old man or a woman takes actual part in the fighting, the responsibility lies on him or her and in such a case he or she loses the concession. Says the Holy Prophet: "Do not kill an old man or a child or a woman, and always try to improve things and reform matters and act kindly towards others, for Allah loves those who act kindly" (Dawud).
(4) Muslims should bring the war to an end as soon as the enemy desists from fighting, for in this case further fighting is not permissible, as the words لاتعتدوا i.e. do not transgress; surely Allah loves not the transgressors, clearly prove. What a just and noble teaching and how tersely and beautifully expressed! (close)
وَ اقۡتُلُوۡہُمۡ حَیۡثُ ثَقِفۡتُمُوۡہُمۡ وَ اَخۡرِجُوۡہُمۡ مِّنۡ حَیۡثُ اَخۡرَجُوۡکُمۡ وَ الۡفِتۡنَۃُ اَشَدُّ مِنَ الۡقَتۡلِ ۚ وَ لَا تُقٰتِلُوۡہُمۡ عِنۡدَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَرَامِ حَتّٰی یُقٰتِلُوۡکُمۡ فِیۡہِ ۚ فَاِنۡ قٰتَلُوۡکُمۡ فَاقۡتُلُوۡہُمۡ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ جَزَآءُ الۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۲﴾
وَٱقۡتُلُوهُمۡ حَيۡثُ ثَقِفۡتُمُوهُمۡ وَأَخۡرِجُوهُم مِّنۡ حَيۡثُ أَخۡرَجُوكُمۡۚ وَٱلۡفِتۡنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ ٱلۡقَتۡلِۚ وَلَا تُقَٰتِلُوهُمۡ عِندَ ٱلۡمَسۡجِدِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ حَتَّىٰ يُقَٰتِلُوكُمۡ فِيهِۖ فَإِن قَٰتَلُوكُمۡ فَٱقۡتُلُوهُمۡۗ كَذَٰلِكَ جَزَآءُ ٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ
220. This verse relates to conditions when war has actually broken out. Obviously, it enjoins Muslims to fight against only such disbelievers as are the first to take up arms against them. (close)
221. The words signify that Mecca being the centre and the most sacred place of Islam, no non-Muslim should be allowed to remain in it. (close)
b. 2:218. (close)
a. 2:218. (close)
198. Important Words:
ثقفتموھم (you met them) is derived from ثقف. They say ثقفه i.e. (1) he faced him or he met him; (2) he caught hold of him; (3) he got the better of him (Aqrab).
فتنة (persecution) is derived from فتن. They say فتن فلانا i.e. he led him astray; he tried or tested him. The expression فتن فلاناعن رأیه means, he prevented him from holding his views. The words فتن الصائغ الذھب mean, the goldsmith melted the gold in the crucible to ascertain its genuineness. فتنه means, he put him in a state of trial or persecution. Thus فتنة means: (1) trial; (2) torture and persecution; (3) divergence of views among men and the disputes and fighting that take place as a result thereof (Aqrab). See also 2:103.
The verse relates to conditions when a war has actually broken out. Obviously it does not apply to all disbelievers, for it only says, "kill them" and not "kill the disbelievers". The pronoun "them" clearly refers to, those who fight against you, as mentioned in the previous verse. The verse calls upon Muslims to fight against only such disbelievers as take up arms against them. It does not call upon them to slay each and every disbeliever that may happen to come in their way. Indeed this verse affords a remarkable instance of the way in which the plain words of the Quran are generally distorted by the opponents of Islam.
The clause, and drive them out from where they have driven you out, refers to the time when the enemies of Islam compelled the Holy Prophet and his Companions to flee from Mecca. It enjoins Muslims to bear in mind that they have eventually to conquer Mecca which being the centre and the most sacred place of Islam, no non-Muslim would be allowed to remain in it.
The clause, persecution is worse than killing, provides an argument in support of defensive war. The disbelievers were persecuting Muslims in diverse ways with a view to turning them away from their faith and they were also creating disorder in the land. It was certainly better to put a stop to this state of affairs by fighting against the aggressors than to allow it to continue. There are circumstances when, to every right-thinking man, war becomes necessary.
The words فتنة (persecution) and قتل (killing) may be interpreted in another way also. فتنة means, "persecution or war waged against a people with a view to turning them from their faith", and قتل means, "an ordinary secular war". Now the verse points out that a war of religious persecution is worse than an ordinary war; for, firstly, worldly interests are nothing as compared with matters of faith; and secondly, wars caused by religious differences are more bitter and cruel, and seldom come to an end.
The clause, and fight them not in and near the Sacred Mosque until they fight you therein, contains a very important principle. Even after the declaration of war, there are restrictions to be observed, and Muslims should never be the first to break them. The sanctity of the holy precincts of the Ka‘bah must be safeguarded even in time of war. If, however, the other party violates its sanctity, Muslims may retaliate so that the attacking party may thereby be brought to its senses. (close)
فَاِنِ انۡتَہَوۡا فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۹۳﴾
فَإِنِ ٱنتَهَوۡاْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٞ رَّحِيمٞ
c. 8:40. (close)
a. 8:40. (close)
The verse speaks of the great clemency of Islamic teaching. Even after the disbelievers have inflicted diverse torments on Muslims, turning them out of their homes and making their lives miserable and creating chaos and disorder in the land, they are to be forgiven and treated mercifully if they desist from fighting. Nay, God even promises them His forgiveness and mercy if they so desist. (close)
وَ قٰتِلُوۡہُمۡ حَتّٰی لَا تَکُوۡنَ فِتۡنَۃٌ وَّ یَکُوۡنَ الدِّیۡنُ لِلّٰہِ ؕ فَاِنِ انۡتَہَوۡا فَلَا عُدۡوَانَ اِلَّا عَلَی الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۴﴾
وَقَٰتِلُوهُمۡ حَتَّىٰ لَا تَكُونَ فِتۡنَةٞ وَيَكُونَ ٱلدِّينُ لِلَّهِۖ فَإِنِ ٱنتَهَوۡاْ فَلَا عُدۡوَٰنَ إِلَّا عَلَى ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
d. 8:40. (close)
222. This verse also shows that Muslims are allowed to fight in self-defence only when war is inflicted upon them by the other party and to continue it till complete freedom of religion is established. The Holy Prophet could not have entered into a number of treaties of peace with disbelievers if the Divine commandment had been to continue fighting until all disbelievers had embraced Islam. For a detailed note on Jihad see 1956 - 1960. (close)
223. ‘Udwan means, (1) hostility; (2) wrongful conduct; (3) punishment for wrongful conduct; and (4) approach to a person by way of justification or excuse against him (Mufradat & Lane).
These four verses (191-194) embody the following rules about war: (a) War is to be resorted to only for the sake of God and not for any selfish motive, nor for aggrandisement or the advancement of national or other interests. (b) Muslims can go to war only against those who attack them first. (c) Even after the enemy has initiated the attack, they are enjoined to keep warfare within limits and not to extend it beyond the immediate objective. (d) They are to fight against only the regular army and not to attack or molest non-combatants. (e) During the course of fighting immunity is to be afforded to all religious rites and ceremonies. (f) To attack religious places or to do any kind of harm to them is absolutely forbidden, so that no fighting is allowed even in their neighbourhood. (g) If the enemy uses a place of worship as a base for attack, only then Muslims may return the attack in or near it. (h) Fighting is to continue only so long as interference with religious freedom lasts. See also 8:40; 9:4-6; 22:40, 41; etc. (close)
a. 8:40; See 2:191. (close)
200. Important Words:
الدین (religion) has a number of meanings including (1) religion; (2) rule and government (Aqrab). See also 1:4.
عدوان (hostility) is derived from عدا. They say عداه meaning, he passed beyond it. The expression عدا علیه means, he acted wrongfully towards him or he exceeded the proper limit against him. The words عاداه mean, he treated him with enmity and hostility. Thus عدوان means: (1) hostility; (2) wrongful conduct; (3) punishment for wrongful conduct and; (4) approach or way to a person by way of justification or excuse against him (Munjid, Mufradat & Lane).
This verse is often quoted by the opponents of Islam in support of their allegation that the Quran inculcates the carrying-on of war against unbelievers until all traces of false religions are wiped out and the whole world embraces Islam. But such a view is clearly wrong. The word which throws light on the true significance of this verse is فتنة (persecution) which, as has been explained in the preceding verse, means religious persecution. This verse therefore enjoins Muslims to fight only till persecution for religion is over. It is on record that during the war between Hadrat ‘Ali and Mu‘awiyah, ‘Abdullah, son of ‘Umar, was once asked why he did not take part in the war when the Quran enjoined the Muslims to fight to put an end to فتنة. He replied: "We did indeed act upon this injunction of the Quran when in the time of the Holy Prophet the number of Muslims was small and a man was subjected to فتنة i.e. persecution for his religious beliefs, being either put to death outright or tortured, until at last Islam spread and the "فتنه was over" (Bukhari, ch. on Tafsir). These words of ‘Abdullah, son of ‘Umar, leave no doubt that the word فتنة in this verse means persecution for religious beliefs and nothing else. Muslims are enjoined to fight until there is no فتنة i.e. no persecution for religious beliefs.
The words that follow, i.e. and religion is professed for Allah, would, therefore, mean that Muslims should fight till profession of a faith is not influenced by the fear of men, but that whatever religion a man follows, he should follow it only for the sake of God, and not out of the fear of men. The above interpretation is also borne out by the fact that the Holy Prophet entered into a number of treaties of peace with disbelievers, which could have no justification if the divinecommandment had been to continue fighting until all embraced Islam. The object of the jihad or holy war which the Holy Prophet was bidden to undertake is clearly stated in 22:40-42, which were the first verses that gave Muslims the permission to take up arms against disbelievers and the idea has been further clarified in 2:191, 193 above. Among the numerous other verses which throw light on this subject the reader is referred to 2:195, 218, 257; 3:135; 4:91, 92; 5:3, 9, 33; 8:39, 62, 63; 9:6, 8, 10, 13; 22:39,41; 41:35; 42:49; 50:46; 60:9, 10.
The concluding clause i.e. but if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors, further confirms the interpretation of the verse as given above. If the Quran enjoined the waging of war till Islam obtained universal acceptance, then there would be no sense whatever in the injunction that if disbelievers desisted from fighting and no longer remained aggressors, Muslims should also stop hostilities; for, as the verse puts it, fighting is not permissible "except against the aggressors". (close)
اَلشَّہۡرُ الۡحَرَامُ بِالشَّہۡرِ الۡحَرَامِ وَ الۡحُرُمٰتُ قِصَاصٌ ؕ فَمَنِ اعۡتَدٰی عَلَیۡکُمۡ فَاعۡتَدُوۡا عَلَیۡہِ بِمِثۡلِ مَا اعۡتَدٰی عَلَیۡکُمۡ ۪ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَ الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۵﴾
ٱلشَّهۡرُ ٱلۡحَرَامُ بِٱلشَّهۡرِ ٱلۡحَرَامِ وَٱلۡحُرُمَٰتُ قِصَاصٞۚ فَمَنِ ٱعۡتَدَىٰ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَٱعۡتَدُواْ عَلَيۡهِ بِمِثۡلِ مَا ٱعۡتَدَىٰ عَلَيۡكُمۡۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
a. See 2:179. (close)
224. The Sacred Months are Dhul-Qa‘dah; Dhul-Hijjah; Al-Muharram and Rajab. In these months all fighting is disallowed. The commandment is intended to safeguard the sanctity of the Ka‘bah and the Sacred Months. (close)
225. See 33. (close)
201. Important Words:
الشھرالحرام (Sacred Month). From the earliest pre-Islamic times, four out of the twelve lunar months have been regarded as sacred (9:36) in which fighting, etc., was held to be unlawful and people travelled in perfect peace and security. They were (1) Dhul-Qa‘dah, (2) Dhul-Hijjah, (3) Al-Muharram, and (4) Rajab, the first named three months occurring consecutively and the last separately. As حج (Pilgrimage) was performed in Dhul-Hijjah, the three consecutive months served as a safe period for travelling for the purposes of Pilgrimage, both for the inward and the outward journey. The month of Rajab was generally meant for عمرة (the Lesser Pilgrimage). The system was pre-Islamic not in the sense that it had its origin in pagan Arabia but in the sense that it came in vogue along with the institution of Pilgrimage established by Abraham under the commandment of God (22:27, 28). As Islam retained the institution of حج it naturally upheld the sanctity of the Sacred Months as well. Even warring tribes desisted from fighting at the approach of a Sacred Month when all bloodshed vanished from the land (Bukhari, Qastalani, Zurqani & Taj).
The words فاعتدوا علیه (punish him for his transgression) literally mean, "transgress against him", but as one who retaliates against the transgression of a party does not really transgress but simply punishes the transgression of the aggressor, the words have been rightly translated as punish him for his transgression. This is quite in accordance with the Arabic idiom; for, as shown under 2:16, the Arabs generally repeat the very word used for expressing the wrongdoing of a party to signify the punishment thereof.
The verse embodies an important principle. If, in fighting, the sanctity of a Sacred Month is violated by some tribe hostile to Islam, Muslims are not to sit hand-bound and allow the aggressors to victimize them. They should retaliate; for in such retaliation lies the very safeguarding of the sanctity of a sacred thing; otherwise, the enemy would be unduly encouraged and would be all the more emboldened to commit such sacrileges.
But as fighting in a Sacred Month is a dangerous thing (2:218) and as the punishment of an act of transgression is also likely to exceed proper limits and a slight error of judgement on the part of Muslims might make them sinful in the sight of God, the latter part of the verse suitably warns them to fear God and always remain within proper bounds; for, Allah is with those who fear Him. (close)
وَ اَنۡفِقُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ لَا تُلۡقُوۡا بِاَیۡدِیۡکُمۡ اِلَی التَّہۡلُکَۃِ ۚۖۛ وَ اَحۡسِنُوۡا ۚۛ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۹۶﴾
وَأَنفِقُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تُلۡقُواْ بِأَيۡدِيكُمۡ إِلَى ٱلتَّهۡلُكَةِ وَأَحۡسِنُوٓاْۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ
a. 2:255; 14:32; 47:39; 57:11; 63:11. (close)
226. As for the successful prosecution of war money is required, the believers are exhorted to spend freely in the cause of Allah as any hesitancy to do so would result in national ruin. (close)
a. 2:255; 14:32; 47:39; 57:11; 63:11. (close)
As the successful prosecution of war required money, the Faithful are here exhorted to spend in the cause of Allah so that the war which they have been bidden to wage in the defence of their faith may be conducted with efficiency.
The clause, and cast not yourselves into ruin with your own hands, does not mean, as supposed by some ignorant people, that Muslims should spare themselves and do nothing that may endanger their lives. On the contrary, it means that if Muslims will not spend money freely to carry on the war properly, they will be casting themselves into ruins with their own hands; for in that case the enemy will continue to persecute them and will one day wipe them out of existence. This interpretation is borne out by the sayings of some of the Companions themselves (Dawud, Tirmidhi & Jarir).
The clause, and do good, surely Allah loves those who do good, may have four meanings: (1) Either it means, do not spend money yourselves only but give it to your proper brethren also so that they too may be able to take part in the war. (2) Or it means, do not be unjust or cruel to your enemies in your eagerness to bring the war to a speedy end, for Allah loves those who are good to others. Elsewhere the Quran says: Let not the enmity of a people incite you to be unjust. Be just (to all) for that is nearer righteousness, (3) Or it means, think well of your Lord, i.e. do not think that if you spend your money under God’s commandment, He will suffer you to come to ruin thereby. Or (4) it means, perform your duties well and fulfill your obligations faithfully and efficiently. The latter two meanings are supported by the saying of the Companions of the Holy Prophet also (Jarir). (close)