حٰفِظُوۡا عَلَی الصَّلَوٰتِ وَ الصَّلٰوۃِ الۡوُسۡطٰی ٭ وَ قُوۡمُوۡا لِلّٰہِ قٰنِتِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳۹﴾
حَٰفِظُواْ عَلَى ٱلصَّلَوَٰتِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ ٱلۡوُسۡطَىٰ وَقُومُواْ لِلَّهِ قَٰنِتِينَ
a. 23:10; 70:35. (close)
295. After marriage one is apt to become a little lax in Prayers. Besides, family life multiplies the cares of both men and women. Hence, the necessity of urging married people to be more regular and punctual in their Prayers. (close)
296. The view that it is ‘Asr Prayer is supported by some of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (Bukhari). It seems to be the Prayer, which happens to fall within busy hours when one is in the middle of engrossing preoccupations. But each Prayer in a sense is "the middle Prayer." (close)
a. 23:10; 70:35. (close)
245. Important Words:
حافظوا (watch) is derived from حفظ. They say حفظه i.e. he preserved it, or he guarded or protected it, or he prevented it from perishing or becoming lost. حفظ القرآن means, he memorized the Quran, i.e. he learned it by heart. حافظ علی الامر means, he watched over the thing; he attended to it carefully and constantly (Taj).
قانتین (submissively) is derived from قنت for which see 2:117. The word conveys, among others, three important meanings: (1) standing motionless, (2) refraining from speech and (3) standing submissively (Lane). All these meanings are applicable here.
This verse which stresses the importance of, and regularity in, Prayers appears to be rather oddly placed, being wedged in between verses relating to conjugal relations. But the very context of it explains the deep philosophy of its meaning. After marriage one is apt to become a little lax in Prayers, particularly the supererogatory Tahajjud Prayer (said in the latter part of the night). Besides, family life multiplies the cares of both man and woman. Hence, the necessity of urging married people to be regular and punctual in their Prayers.
الصلوة الوسطی (the Middle Prayer) has been differently explained. According to some commentators it is the Tahajjud Prayer, and according to others, it is the morning Prayer, while according to yet others, it is the late afternoon or ‘Asr Prayer. The latter view is supported by some of the sayings of the Holy Prophet. For it is on record that on his missing the right time of the ‘Asr Prayer, when engaged in repelling the repeated attacks of the enemy in the Battle of the Ditch, and having been obliged to combine it with the Maghrib or the sunset Prayer, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "May God curse the Jews (who were mostly responsible for this battle)! They have prevented us from saying our Middle Prayer in time" (Bukhari). Truly speaking, however, the "Middle Prayer" is the Prayer which happens to fall within busy hours. In the above-quoted tradition, the Holy Prophet called the ‘Asr the "Middle Prayer," because it fell within extraordinarily busy hours. The Quran has placed this verse here to point out firstly, that married life, and for that matter any life however busy, should not make man slack in the observance of Prayers, and secondly, that like this verse, the Middle Prayer is one which is surrounded by apparently incongruous elements. The style is peculiar to the Quran but is quite natural.
The clause, and stand before Allah submissively, teaches that besides aiming at complete concentration in Prayers the worshipper should observe three special injunctions: (1) he should refrain from speech, (2) he should stand motionless and refrain from making any unnecessary movement, and (3) his general attitude should be that of submissiveness, as lack of these is liable to adversely affect concentration and detract from the sanctity of worship. (close)
فَاِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ فَرِجَالًا اَوۡ رُکۡبَانًا ۚ فَاِذَاۤ اَمِنۡتُمۡ فَاذۡکُرُوا اللّٰہَ کَمَا عَلَّمَکُمۡ مَّا لَمۡ تَکُوۡنُوۡا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴۰﴾
فَإِنۡ خِفۡتُمۡ فَرِجَالًا أَوۡ رُكۡبَانٗاۖ فَإِذَآ أَمِنتُمۡ فَٱذۡكُرُواْ ٱللَّهَ كَمَا عَلَّمَكُم مَّا لَمۡ تَكُونُواْ تَعۡلَمُونَ
b. 4:102. (close)
297. Observance of five daily Prayers is the most important commandment. In no circumstances should a Muslim neglect his Prayers as long as he is sane and conscious. Even when he is moving about in a state of extreme fear, he must not fail to say his Prayers and should perform them on horseback or on foot, whether running or sitting or lying, as the case may be. (close)
c. 4:104. (close)
a. 4:102. (close)
b. 4:104. (close)
246. Important Words:
رجالا (on foot) is the plural of راجل (one who walks on foot) which is derived from رجل i.e. he walked on foot, رجل (rijl) meaning a foot. رجل (rajul) which means man is so called because man walks on foot and not on both hands and feet like quadrupeds (Lane).
رکبانا (riding) is the plural of راکب (one who rides) which is derived from رکب i.e. he rode an animal or a conveyance. One says, رکبت الفرس i.e. I mounted the horse. رکب الرجل البحر means, the man embarked on a sea voyage. رکب ذنبا means, he made sin his riding beast, i.e. he committed a sin (Lane).
The five daily Prayers constitute the most important worship in Islam. In no circumstances can a Muslim neglect his Prayers as long as he is sane and conscious. Even when a person is moving about in a state of extreme fear and consternation, he must not fail to say his Prayers and should perform them on horseback or on foot, whether running or sitting or lying, as the case may be.
In view of this great importance of Prayers, a married couple can ill afford to be careless about them. The form in which Prayers are to be performed in time of ordinary fear or danger is mentioned in 4:102, 103; but the present verse refers to a state of extreme fear when one cannot observe even the form of ordinary صلوة الخوف (Prayer in a state of fear).
The clause, but when you are safe, remember Allah as he has taught you, means that the injunction with regard to offering Prayers on foot or on horseback, etc. pertains to very special circumstances only. As soon as better conditions return, one should pray in the ordinary way as taught in the closing portion of the preceding verse, i.e. one should stand motionless in Prayer and refrain from speech, etc. (close)
وَ الَّذِیۡنَ یُتَوَفَّوۡنَ مِنۡکُمۡ وَ یَذَرُوۡنَ اَزۡوَاجًا ۚۖ وَّصِیَّۃً لِّاَزۡوَاجِہِمۡ مَّتَاعًا اِلَی الۡحَوۡلِ غَیۡرَ اِخۡرَاجٍ ۚ فَاِنۡ خَرَجۡنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ فِیۡ مَا فَعَلۡنَ فِیۡۤ اَنۡفُسِہِنَّ مِنۡ مَّعۡرُوۡفٍ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۴۱﴾
وَٱلَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوۡنَ مِنكُمۡ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزۡوَٰجٗا وَصِيَّةٗ لِّأَزۡوَٰجِهِم مَّتَٰعًا إِلَى ٱلۡحَوۡلِ غَيۡرَ إِخۡرَاجٖۚ فَإِنۡ خَرَجۡنَ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ فِي مَا فَعَلۡنَ فِيٓ أَنفُسِهِنَّ مِن مَّعۡرُوفٖۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٞ
a. 2:235. (close)
298. The period of waiting laid down for a widow in 2:235 is four months and ten days in which time she can, as of right, claim residence and maintenance from the heirs of her deceased husband. The period of one year mentioned here is only a concession or a favour for a widow in addition to her right of residence and maintenance mentioned in 2:235. The concession forms no part of her share in the inheritance, nor is it an obligatory injunction. (close)
a. 2:235. (close)
The middle verses, which came in like the middle Prayer, having ended, the Quran reverts to the original subject of conjugal relations. The verse under comment is erroneously believed by some to have been abrogated by 2:235 and 4:13. Apart from the fact that the abrogation theory is based on lack of the knowledge of true teaching of the Quran, there is nothing in the verses referred to above which contradicts the provision contained in the present verse. The period of waiting laid down for a widow in 2:235 is four months and ten days in which time she can, as of right, claim residence and maintenance from the heirs of her deceased husband. The period of one year mentioned in the present verse has nothing to do with the above-mentioned period of waiting, as the words, but if they themselves go out, there shall be no blame upon you; clearly show. The present verse only contains a concession or a favour for a widow in addition to her right of residence and maintenance mentioned in 2:235. One year is about the time conveniently required by a widow for making suitable arrangements about her future. It is also the requisite time for a pregnant widow to be delivered of the child and relieved of the encumbrances attending thereto. Nor has this verse anything to do with the share of a widow in the property left by her husband as stated in 4:13. The concession about residence and maintenance for one year mentioned in the present verse forms no part of her share in the inheritance. The verse contains no obligatory injunction, but only an additional exhortation to the heirs of the deceased person to show special kindness to the widow for a period of one year, just as the following verse embodies an identical exhortation in favour of a divorced woman. (close)
وَ لِلۡمُطَلَّقٰتِ مَتَاعٌۢ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ ؕ حَقًّا عَلَی الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۴۲﴾
وَلِلۡمُطَلَّقَٰتِ مَتَٰعُۢ بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِۖ حَقًّا عَلَى ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
b. 2:242; 65:8. (close)
299. Just as the preceding verse bestowed an additional favour on widows, the present one bestows an additional favour on divorced women. The injunction is particularly essential in the case of divorced women, because in moments of bitterness, which is the inevitable aftermath of a dissolved marriage, people are liable to be unjust and cruel towards their divorced wives. (close)
a. 2:232; 65:3. (close)
Just as the preceding verse bestowed an additional favour on widows, the present one bestows an additional favour on divorced women. The injunction is particularly essential in the case of divorced women, because in moments of bitterness, which is the inevitable aftermath of a dissolved marriage, people are liable to be unjust and cruel towards their former wives. The verse warns them not to lose sight of the fear of God on such occasions and to act towards their former spouses not only with justice but with positive benevolence and kindness. (close)
کَذٰلِکَ یُبَیِّنُ اللّٰہُ لَکُمۡ اٰیٰتِہٖ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴۳﴾٪
كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ ءَايَٰتِهِۦ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَعۡقِلُونَ
249. Important Words:
تعقلون (you may understand) is derived from عقل for which see 2:45. The word also signifies the sense of binding and restraining.
The verse points out that the above commandments have been given so that people might learn to act wisely and by exercising restraint on themselves, refrain from breaking God’s behests. (close)
اَلَمۡ تَرَ اِلَی الَّذِیۡنَ خَرَجُوۡا مِنۡ دِیَارِہِمۡ وَ ہُمۡ اُلُوۡفٌ حَذَرَ الۡمَوۡتِ ۪ فَقَالَ لَہُمُ اللّٰہُ مُوۡتُوۡا ۟ ثُمَّ اَحۡیَاہُمۡ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَذُوۡ فَضۡلٍ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴۴﴾
۞أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ خَرَجُواْ مِن دِيَٰرِهِمۡ وَهُمۡ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مُوتُواْ ثُمَّ أَحۡيَٰهُمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَذُو فَضۡلٍ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَشۡكُرُونَ
300. When, being persecuted by Pharaoh, the Israelites left Egypt and crossed over to Asia, Moses wanted them to enter the Promised Land, but they were afraid of the people that dwelt there and refused to march ahead (5:25). (close)
301. The Bible represents the number of the Israelites migrating from Egypt as six hundred thousand. Recent researches favour the Quranic view according to which they were only several thousand (History of the People of Israel, by Ernest Renan. p. 145, 1888, and History of Palestine and the Jews, i. 174, by John Kitto). See also 2:61. (close)
302. The Israelites left Egypt because their further stay in that country would have meant their total annihilation. Pharaoh had recourse to all sorts of means to destroy their manhood. See 2:50. (close)
a. 5:27. (close)
303. The reference is to the wandering in the wilderness of Sinai of the Israelites who had refused to march with Moses into Canaan until they perished in the wilderness and a new generation arose who, inspired with a new life, marched into the Promised Land under Joshua. Elsewhere the Qur’an says, "Then we raised you up after your death" (2:57). (close)
b. 5:27. (close)
The commandments relating to conjugal relations were mentioned as an offshoot of the subject of جھاد (holy war) dealt with in 2:217 and the following verses. The Quran now reverts to the original subject and by way of re-introduction cites the example of the Israelites who had left the land of the Pharaohs for fear of death. Trodden under the foot of the tyrant, the children of Israel were then in a most abject condition, and the wise God, in His eternal wisdom, decreed that they should lead a life of ordeals in the wilderness before becoming fit for the great life that awaited them in the Promised Land. The words, Allah said to them: 'Die', point to the great truth that all life must be preceded by death, i.e. great trials and extraordinary sacrifices.
As mentioned above, the clause, those who went forth from their homes, refers to the Israelites who had gone forth from Egypt to escape persecution by Pharaoh. It was the fear of death which had made the Israelites migrate from the land (2:50).
The words, they were thousands, contradict the Bible which represents the number of the Israelites migrating from Egypt as six hundred thousand. Recent researches favour the Quranic view (See History of the People of Israel, p. 145, by Ernest Renan, London, 1888, and History of Palestine and the Jews, i. 174 by John Kitto, London, 1844). See also. 2:55.
The story of the exodus of the Israelites is briefly this. When, being persecuted by Pharaoh, they left Egypt and crossed over to Asia, Moses wanted them to enter the Promised Land, but they were afraid of the people that dwelt there and refused to march ahead, saying Go thou and thy Lord and fight and here we sit (5:25). The result was that they drew upon themselves the wrath of God, Who said to Moses, Verily, it shall be forbidden them for forty years; in distraction shall they wander through the land (5:27). The promise was thus put off for forty years and the children of Israel were left to wander in the wilderness until those who had refused to fight perished in the desert, whereafter the younger generation led by Joshua conquered the land. Thus it was that the people whom God had caused to perish had new life breathed into them. It is with reference to these events that the Quran uses the word "die" in the verse under comment. This very death, i.e. destruction of the rebellious and training of the youth through trials and ordeals, proved the forerunner of life. Elsewhere, the Quran says about the Israelites: Then We raised you up after your death (2:57).
It may also be noted here that from this verse onward, the Quran begins the description of تزکیة or means of national progress spoken of in 2:130, reference to "Signs" and "the Book" and "Wisdom" having already been made. (close)
وَ قَاتِلُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ اعۡلَمُوۡۤا اَنَّ اللّٰہَ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۴۵﴾
وَقَٰتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٞ
b. 2:191; 4:85. (close)
304. The address is to the Muslims. They are told that a people who do not shed fear of death and are not prepared to sacrifice their all for the preservation of their national existence and honour, do not deserve to live. This is the secret of national progress which the Qur’an inculcates. (close)
a. 2:191; 4:85. (close)
The clause, and fight in the cause of Allah, is addressed to Muslims, who are warned of the fate which overtook the Israelites when they refused to fight the enemy when called upon to do so by Moses. God tells Muslims that a people who fear death do not deserve to live. This is the first secret of national progress which the Quran inculcates, viz. that a people can live and prosper only if they shed the fear of death, and that those who are afraid of death die ignobly.
It is hardly necessary to point out here how well Muslims took this lesson to heart. When the well-equipped force of the Quraish came forth from Mecca to destroy the small and ill-equipped Muslim community of Medina, and the Holy Prophet consulted his followers as to whether they were prepared to face and fight the enemy, they told him that they would not behave like the companions of Moses who said to him, Go thou and thy Lord and fight, and here we sit (5:25) but that they would willingly fight on his right and on his left and in his front and at his back, and the enemy would not reach him except over their corpses, and that they would unhesitatingly plunge their horses even into the raging sea, if he only wished them to do so. The tradition says that when the Holy Prophet heard these words from his Companions, his face beamed with joy and he said to them, "Then go forth and trust in Allah Who will be with you" (Tabari & Hisham).
The words "All-Hearing" and "All-Knowing" point out that though Muslims were weak and without equipment, yet the help of their Lord was with them, Who heard their prayers and knew their condition. (close)
مَنۡ ذَا الَّذِیۡ یُقۡرِضُ اللّٰہَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنًا فَیُضٰعِفَہٗ لَہٗۤ اَضۡعَافًا کَثِیۡرَۃً ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یَقۡبِضُ وَ یَبۡصُۜطُ ۪ وَ اِلَیۡہِ تُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿۲۴۶﴾
مَّن ذَا ٱلَّذِي يُقۡرِضُ ٱللَّهَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنٗا فَيُضَٰعِفَهُۥ لَهُۥٓ أَضۡعَافٗا كَثِيرَةٗۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَقۡبِضُ وَيَبۡصُۜطُ وَإِلَيۡهِ تُرۡجَعُونَ
c. 57:12, 19; 64:18. (close)
305. The Qur’an speaks of spending money in the cause of Allah as giving a loan to Him, meaning thereby that money spent for the promotion of righteous causes should not be regarded as money wasted. (close)
a. 57:12, 19; 64:18. (close)
252. Important Words:
یقرض (will lend) is derived from اقرض which again is derived from قرض. They say قرض الشیء i.e. he cut or severed the thing.اقرضه means, he gave him a loan. اقرض فلانا means, he cut off for him a portion so that he may requite or recompense it. قرضmeans, the act of giving a loan; a loan itself; any good or evil act which brings reward or punishment (Lane).
یقبض (receives) is derived from قبض. They say قبض الشیء i.e. he got hold of it; he received it. قبض یدہ عنه means, he kept back or withdrew his hand from it. قبض الله رزقه means, God straitened his means and lessened his provision (Aqrab).
This verse gives the second means of national advancement, i.e. free expenditure in nation-saving and nation-building affairs. If a nation desires to rise and prosper, it must spend money freely for national purposes, which include helping the poor and the needy. The Quran speaks of spending money in the cause of Allah as giving a loan to God, meaning thereby that money spent in the cause of God should not be regarded as something wasted or even consumed. It should be considered as something given to God as a loan which He would return to the lender manifold. The word loan, however, should not cause any misunderstanding. God needs no loans, for He is not only Self-Sufficient, but is also the Supporter and Sustainer of all other beings and things. He has used the term to indicate that one who spends in the cause of Allah will receive an ample reward from Him; his money, as it were, will be returned to him, being multiplied many times.
The interrogative form in the clause, Who is it that will lend, is used by way of exhortation, and the words, a goodly loan, have been added to indicate that this money is to be spent with a willing and cheerful heart.
It should be noted that apart from specifically national expenditures, the spending of money to help the poor and the needy also is tantamount to giving a loan to God. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, "God will say to the sinful man on the Day of Judgement, O son of man, I fell ill, but you paid Me no visit; I asked you for food, but you gave Me no food; I asked you for water but you gave Me no water. The man will say, O my Lord, when didst Thou fall ill that I did not visit Thee? When didst Thou ask for food that I did not give it to Thee? When didst Thou ask for water that I gave it Thee not?' God will say, O son of man, know you not that one of My servants fell ill and you did not pay him a visit, he asked you for food and you did not give it to him; and he asked you for water and you gave him no water" (Muslim, ch. on Birri Was-Silah). This shows that spending money for the poor and the needy is tantamount to giving money to God.
The words, Allah receives and enlarges, signify that God accepts the money spent in His cause and multiplies it exceedingly so that the reward a man gets is out of all proportion to what he spends. The words, and to Him shall you be made to return, have been added to point out that, though virtuous men get their reward even in this life, yet what is in store for them in the next is far greater. (close)
اَلَمۡ تَرَ اِلَی الۡمَلَاِ مِنۡۢ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مُوۡسٰی ۘ اِذۡ قَالُوۡا لِنَبِیٍّ لَّہُمُ ابۡعَثۡ لَنَا مَلِکًا نُّقَاتِلۡ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ ؕ قَالَ ہَلۡ عَسَیۡتُمۡ اِنۡ کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الۡقِتَالُ اَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوۡا ؕ قَالُوۡا وَ مَا لَنَاۤ اَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ وَ قَدۡ اُخۡرِجۡنَا مِنۡ دِیَارِنَا وَ اَبۡنَآئِنَا ؕ فَلَمَّا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوۡا اِلَّا قَلِیۡلًا مِّنۡہُمۡ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَلِیۡمٌۢ بِالظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۲۴۷﴾
أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلۡمَلَإِ مِنۢ بَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مُوسَىٰٓ إِذۡ قَالُواْ لِنَبِيّٖ لَّهُمُ ٱبۡعَثۡ لَنَا مَلِكٗا نُّقَٰتِلۡ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِۖ قَالَ هَلۡ عَسَيۡتُمۡ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلۡقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَٰتِلُواْۖ قَالُواْ وَمَا لَنَآ أَلَّا نُقَٰتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ وَقَدۡ أُخۡرِجۡنَا مِن دِيَٰرِنَا وَأَبۡنَآئِنَاۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوۡاْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٗا مِّنۡهُمۡۚ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمُۢ بِٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
a. 4:78. (close)
306. The incident mentioned indicates an improvement in the condition of the Israelites at the time to which this verse relates compared with the time of Moses himself. In 5:25 the Qur’an relates that when Moses exhorted his followers to fight the enemy in the cause of Allah, they replied, Go thou and thy Lord and fight, and here we sit. On the contrary, in the present verse they are reported to have said, What reason have we that we should not fight in the cause of Allah when we have been driven forth from our homes and our sons. The improvement, however, was only verbal rather than real; for when the time of actual fighting came, many of them wavered and refused to fight. The incident thus serves as a grim warning to Muslims to beware of treading the same path. (close)
253. Important Words:
الملاء (chiefs) is derived from ملاء. They say ملاء الاناء بالماء i.e. he filled the vessel with water. ملی رعبا means, he was filled with fright. الملاء means: (1) assembly of persons; (2) chiefs and nobles, for they fill the eyes and hearts of the commoners withawe and admiration; or because with them a meeting becomes full and appears to be properly attended. الملاء الاعلی means, the community of high placed angels (Aqrab).
The Quran now proceeds to give the story of how the different tribes of Israel were welded into one great nation, also noting incidentally the weaknesses displayed by them, so that their example may serve as a lesson to Muslims.
The incident mentioned in the verse under comment indicates an improvement in the condition of the Israelites in the time to which this verse relates over that of the time of Moses himself. In 5:25 the Quran relates that when Moses exhorted his followers to fight the enemy in the cause of Allah, they replied, Go thou and thy Lord and fight, and here we sit. On the contrary, in the present verse the Israelites are reported to have said, What reason have we to abstain from fighting in the cause of Allah when we have been driven forth from our homes and our sons? The improvement, however, was more verbal than real; for when the time of actual fighting came, many of these people wavered and refused to fight. The incident thus serves as a grim warning to Muslims to beware of treading the same path. (close)
وَ قَالَ لَہُمۡ نَبِیُّہُمۡ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ قَدۡ بَعَثَ لَکُمۡ طَالُوۡتَ مَلِکًا ؕ قَالُوۡۤا اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لَہُ الۡمُلۡکُ عَلَیۡنَا وَ نَحۡنُ اَحَقُّ بِالۡمُلۡکِ مِنۡہُ وَ لَمۡ یُؤۡتَ سَعَۃً مِّنَ الۡمَالِ ؕ قَالَ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰٮہُ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ زَادَہٗ بَسۡطَۃً فِی الۡعِلۡمِ وَ الۡجِسۡمِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ یُؤۡتِیۡ مُلۡکَہٗ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۴۸﴾
وَقَالَ لَهُمۡ نَبِيُّهُمۡ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَدۡ بَعَثَ لَكُمۡ طَالُوتَ مَلِكٗاۚ قَالُوٓاْ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ ٱلۡمُلۡكُ عَلَيۡنَا وَنَحۡنُ أَحَقُّ بِٱلۡمُلۡكِ مِنۡهُ وَلَمۡ يُؤۡتَ سَعَةٗ مِّنَ ٱلۡمَالِۚ قَالَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱصۡطَفَىٰهُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَزَادَهُۥ بَسۡطَةٗ فِي ٱلۡعِلۡمِ وَٱلۡجِسۡمِۖ وَٱللَّهُ يُؤۡتِي مُلۡكَهُۥ مَن يَشَآءُۚ وَٱللَّهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٞ
307. Talut is the attributive name of an Israelite king who lived about two hundred years before David and about the same number of years after Moses. Some Commentators of the Qur’an have wrongly identified Talut with Saul. The description of the Qur’an fits in more with Gideon (Judg. chs. 6-8) than with Saul. Gideon lived in about 1250 B.C. and the Bible calls him a "mighty man of valour" (Judg. 6:12) which is the same as Talut. According to some Christian writers incidents related in this passage refer to two different periods which are separated from each other by the long interval of 200 years, and refer to this passage as an instance, as they say, of historical anachronisms to be found in the Qur’an. The passage does indeed refer to two different periods, but there is no anachronism in it. The Qur’an has here referred to both these periods. Its object in doing so is to show how the unification of the different tribes of Israel began in the time of Gideon, (i.e. Talut), two hundred years before David, and was finally consummated in the time of David. The words "after Moses" in the preceding verse indicate that the incident belongs to an early period when the Israelites as a nation had just begun to take definite shape in history. For two hundred years after Moses they were divided into different tribes and had no king and no fighting force. In 1256 B.C., owing to their iniquity, God delivered them into the hands of the Midianites who plundered and ravaged them for seven long years, and they were compelled to take refuge in caves (Judg. 6:1-6). "Upon this they cried to God and He raised among them a Prophet; and an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, appointed him king and promised him Divine help. Then Gideon said to God, "Oh my Lord wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house" (Judg. 6:15). This tallies with the description given in the verse under comment about Talut. What makes the identification of Talut with Gideon still more certain is the fact that it was in the time of Gideon and not that of Saul that the Israelites were tried by means of water, and the description of the trial as given in the Bible (Judg. 7:4-7) is the same as that of the Qur’an. From Judg.7:6, 7, we learn that after the aforesaid trial there remained with Gideon only 300 men. It is interesting to note that a Companion of the Holy Prophet is reported to have said, "We were 313 men in the Battle of Badr, and this number corresponds to the number of men who followed Talut" (Tirmidhi, ch. on Siyar). The Hadith lends support to the conclusion that Talut was no other than Gideon. What further confirms the identity of Talut with Gideon is the fact that this word is derived from a root which in Hebrew means "to fell" (Enc. Bib.) or "to hew" (Jew. Enc.). Thus Gideon means "one who cuts down his adversary and fells him to the ground" and the Bible itself speaks of Gideon as a "mighty man of valour" (Judg. 6:12). See also 'The Larger Edition of the Commentary.' (close)
a. 3:27. (close)
254. Important Words:
طالوت (Talut) is the attributive name of an Israelite king who lived about two hundred years before David and about the same number of years after Moses. Most commentators regard Talut to be a name of Hebrew origin and consider him to be synonymous with Saul (1. Sam. ch. 9). As Hebrew is only an offshoot of Arabic, the word Talut appears to be derived from the Arabic root طال i.e. he became tall or high___a description coinciding with the one given in the verse under comment viz. one increased abundantly in knowledge and body. It is, however, not right to identify Talut with Saul. The description of the Quran fits more with Gideon (Judg. chs. 6-8) than with Saul. Gideon lived in about 1250 B.C. and the Bible calls him a "mighty man of valour" (Judg. 6:12) which is the same as Talut.
There has been a difference of opinion as to the identity of the person to whom the name Talut has been applied. According to a number of Muslim commentators, Talut stands for Saul, and the passage refers to the reign of Saul. Christian writers have, however, taken exception to this view. According to them the incidents related in this passage refer to two different periods which are separated from each other by the long interval of 200 years; and these critics refer to this passage as an instance of historical anachronism, found in the Quran. The passage does indeed refer to two different periods, but if Christian critics had carefully thought over their own history, they would have seen that there is no confusion of dates in the passage in question and that the Quran has here referred to both these periods. Its object in doing so is to show how the unification of the different tribes of Israel began in the time of Gideon (i.e. Talut) two hundred years before David, and was finally consummated in the time of David.
In order to determine the identity of Talut, let us glance over the main incidents related in verse 247 to 252. These are as follows: 1. The people of the period to which Talut belongs had been driven forth from their homes and their children (2:247). 2. One who was not originally a king was appointed as such (2:248). 3. God helped the followers of this king, giving them the Talut as a token of His sovereignty (2:249). 4. The people were tried by means of water (2:250). 5. There existed a great disparity in numbers between these people and the enemy, and the trial reduced their number still further (ibid). 6. In spite of the small number of his followers, this king overcame the enemy (2:252).
Now some of these details do indeed apply to Saul, but there are others which do not. The key words which afford a clue to the identity of Talut are, Hast thou not heard of the chiefs of the children of Israel after Moses. The words "after Moses" indicate that the incident belongs to an early period when the Jews as a nation had just begun to take a definite shape in history. For two hundred years after Moses, the Israelites were divided into different tribes and had no king and no fighting force. In 1256 B.C., owing to their iniquity, God delivered them into the hands of the Midianites who plundered and ravaged them for seven long years, and they were compelled to take refuge in caves (Judg. 6:1, 2). This is why they are represented in the Quran as saying, we have been driven forth from our homes. The Midianites attacked them and carried away their sheep and oxen and asses, and destroyed their crops and pillaged them as far as Gaza (Judg. 6:4-6). The Israelites then cried to their Lord, and God raised among them a Prophet; and an angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, appointed him king and promised him divine help. Then Gideon said to God, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house" (Judg. 6:15). This tallies with the description given in the Quran which represents the chiefs among the Israelites as saying with regard to the new king, How can he have sovereignty over us while we are better entitled to sovereignty than he and he is not given abundance of wealth (2:248). What makes the identification of Talut with Gideon still more certain is the fact that it was in the time of Gideon and not Saul that the Israelites were tried by means of water and the description of the trial as given in the Bible (Judg. 7:4-7) is the same as that of the Quran.
From Judg. 7:6, 7 we learn that after the aforesaid trial, there remained with Gideon only 300 men. It is interesting to note that a Companion of the Holy Prophet is reported to have said, "We were 313 men in the Battle of Badr, and this number corresponds to the number of men who followed Talut" (Tirmidhi, ch. on Siyar). Thus this tradition also lends support to the conclusion that Talut was no other than Gideon.
What further confirms the identity of Talut with Gideon is that the Hebrew word Gideon is identical in meaning with the Arabic word Talut. The former is derived from a root which in Hebrew means "to fell" (Enc. Bib.) or "to hew" (Jew. Enc.). Thus, Gideon means "one who cuts down his adversary and fells him to the ground" and the Bible itself speaks of Gideon as a "mighty man of valour" (Judg. 6:12), and we have already noted that in Arabic Tala means one who is tall and towers above others (see Important Words above).
The clause, how can he have sovereignty over us while we are better entitled to sovereignty than he, and he is not given abundance of wealth, indicates that the people raised two objections against Talut or Gideon: (1) that he did not belong to a highly placed family and was therefore not entitled to kingship, and (2) that he did not possess the requisite wealth for exercising influence. Both of these are plausible objections that are usually made by ordinary people of the world; but a chosen people guided by the will of the Just and Wise God must think otherwise. With them the real title to sovereignty is neither family status nor wealth but the personal qualities of a man; hence the clause, surely Allah has chosen him above you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and body. The superiority of a man in physical and mental faculties coupled with knowledge and prowess must remain the basis for all title to rulership. And in the case of Talut the title had the additional strength of coinciding with the choice of God Who is the best and, in fact, the only true Judge of all titles. (close)