قُلۡ لَّا یَسۡتَوِی الۡخَبِیۡثُ وَ الطَّیِّبُ وَ لَوۡ اَعۡجَبَکَ کَثۡرَۃُ الۡخَبِیۡثِ ۚ فَاتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ یٰۤاُولِی الۡاَلۡبَابِ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۱﴾٪
قُل لَّا يَسۡتَوِي ٱلۡخَبِيثُ وَٱلطَّيِّبُ وَلَوۡ أَعۡجَبَكَ كَثۡرَةُ ٱلۡخَبِيثِۚ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ يَـٰٓأُوْلِي ٱلۡأَلۡبَٰبِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُفۡلِحُونَ
e. 2:268. (close)
795. Being naturally influenced by his environment man is prone to follow and imitate others, particularly when they happen to be in the majority. The verse contains a warning against unthinking and blind following of the majority. (close)
c. 2:268. (close)
Being naturally influenced by his environment, man is prone to follow and imitate what others do, particularly when they happen to be in the majority. This verse, however, is a warning against unthinking and blind following of the majority. The real criterion by which the worth of a thing is to be judged is not how many people do it, but what good it contains; and, God being the source of all good, the only true and unfailing test is, as the verse puts it, تقوی or God-fearingness. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تَسۡـَٔلُوۡا عَنۡ اَشۡیَآءَ اِنۡ تُبۡدَ لَکُمۡ تَسُؤۡکُمۡ ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَسۡـَٔلُوۡا عَنۡہَا حِیۡنَ یُنَزَّلُ الۡقُرۡاٰنُ تُبۡدَ لَکُمۡ ؕ عَفَا اللّٰہُ عَنۡہَا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ غَفُوۡرٌ حَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۰۲﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تَسۡـَٔلُواْ عَنۡ أَشۡيَآءَ إِن تُبۡدَ لَكُمۡ تَسُؤۡكُمۡ وَإِن تَسۡـَٔلُواْ عَنۡهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ تُبۡدَ لَكُمۡ عَفَا ٱللَّهُ عَنۡهَاۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٞ
a. 2:109. (close)
796. The basis of the Islamic Shari‘ah is threefold: (1) The Law as embodied in the Qur’an, (2) the Sunnah or the practice of the Holy Prophet, and (3) injunctions and precepts contained in his authentic sayings. These three sources of Islamic Law deal with all the fundamental problems of man, but minor details are left to his discretion to solve them in the light of the above three torch-bearers of guidance, aided and assisted by his own God- given intellectual powers and faculties. It is to matters relating to minor details that the present verse refers. (close)
d. 2:109. (close)
The verse is important, as it sheds light on the principle underlying the Shari‘ah, i.e. the code of Divine Laws. The bases of the Islamic Shari‘ah are threefold: (1) the Law embodied in the Quran, (2) Sunnah or the practice of the Holy Prophet, and (3) the injunctions and precepts contained in his sayings. These three sources of Islamic Law deal with all the fundamental problems of man, but minor details are left to be thought out by man himself in the light of the above three torch-bearers of guidance, aided and assisted by his own God-given intellectual powers and faculties. It is to matters relating to minor details that the present verse refers and God warns the Faithful that the habit of asking questions about such matters will do them more harm than good.
As a matter of fact, God, in His infinite wisdom, leaves sufficient room for individuals to exercise and develop their power of judgement and their reasoning faculty. When man is confronted with situations and circumstances about which he finds no definite and clear-cut guidance in the Quran, or in the practice or sayings of the Holy Prophet, he has to find a way for himself in order to meet them as best he can, keeping always in view the guiding and unalterable principle that nothing is to be done which runs counter to any Quranic injunction or to the established practice and the authentic sayings of the Holy Prophet. Islam is thus not a hard and fast code of laws, for it does not lay down rigid injunctions regarding minor and ever-changing details. On the contrary, it affords sufficient scope for individ-uals to exercise their judgement in order to adapt an injunction of a general nature to meet a new and changed situation. The basic principles, however, are unchangable. But as details continue to change, Islam has not resorted to rigid legislation with regard to minor details and has forbidden Muslims to ask for legislation regarding them. Indeed, it was about filling up these very details to meet new and altered conditions that the Holy Prophet said اختلاف امتی رحمة i.e. "The difference of opinion among my followers is, indeed, a source of mercy". This hadith meant that as it had been left to Muslims to chalk out a way for themselves with regard to such minor details about which no definite pronouncement is to be found in the Shari‘ah, there was bound to be a difference of opinion among Muslim theologians about them, but that this difference would prove a blessing for them because it would afford opportunities for the exercise and cultivation of their reasoning faculties as well as a suitable and flexible law about ever-changing details.
The reader will see that this verse also incidentally refutes the allegations of those who say that the laws of Islam, being rigid and unchangeable, afford not room for the exercise of individual judgement, and that they fetter humanity for all time to hard and fast rules and are thus calculated to impede the intellectual advancement of man rather than help it.
The expression, which if revealed to you would cause you trouble, means that if God or His Prophet had legislated about minor details and had not left such matters to individual discretion so that people might formulate law concerning them according to their own judgement and their own circumstances, they would have found it troublesome and the development of man’s intellect would have become seriously hampered. (close)
قَدۡ سَاَلَہَا قَوۡمٌ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ ثُمَّ اَصۡبَحُوۡا بِہَا کٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۳﴾
قَدۡ سَأَلَهَا قَوۡمٞ مِّن قَبۡلِكُمۡ ثُمَّ أَصۡبَحُواْ بِهَا كَٰفِرِينَ
b. 2:109. (close)
797. Unnecessary questioning about minor details or seeking legislation on them is generally to the detriment of the questioner himself. It limits his discretion and fetters his judgment, besides binding him to unnecessary and irksome legislation. The Israelites put unnecessary questions to Moses in regard to minor details with the result that they created difficulties for themselves and ended by breaking the commandments of God (2:109). (close)
a. 2:109. (close)
Unnecessary questioning about minor details and seeking legislation on them is always to the detriment of the questioner himself. It limits his discretion and fetters his judgement, besides binding him and his co-religionists to unnecessary and irksome legislation. The Israelites are reported in the Quran to have put unnecessary questions to Moses in regard to minor details with the result that they created difficulties for themselves and became more and more perplexed and confounded and ended with breaking the commandments of God and drawing His displeasure on themselves (e.g. 2:109). (close)
مَا جَعَلَ اللّٰہُ مِنۡۢ بَحِیۡرَۃٍ وَّ لَا سَآئِبَۃٍ وَّ لَا وَصِیۡلَۃٍ وَّ لَا حَامٍ ۙ وَّ لٰکِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا یَفۡتَرُوۡنَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ الۡکَذِبَ ؕ وَ اَکۡثَرُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۴﴾
مَا جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ مِنۢ بَحِيرَةٖ وَلَا سَآئِبَةٖ وَلَا وَصِيلَةٖ وَلَا حَامٖ وَلَٰكِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يَفۡتَرُونَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ٱلۡكَذِبَۖ وَأَكۡثَرُهُمۡ لَا يَعۡقِلُونَ
c. 6:137. (close)
798. Bahirah: A name given by pagan Arabs to a she-camel which had given birth to seven young ones and was then let loose to feed freely after its ears were slit. It was dedicated to some god and its milk was not used nor its back. (close)
798A. Sa’ibah: A she-camel let loose to water and pasture after giving birth to five young ones. (close)
798B. Wasilah: A she-camel (or an ewe or she-goat) let loose in the name of a god after she had given birth to seven female young ones consecutively. If at the seventh birth she bore a pair, male and female, these were also let loose. (close)
798C. Hamin: A camel which had fathered seven young ones. It was let loose and was not used for riding or carrying. It was free to pasture and water. (close)
798D. After having stated that minor matters and details have been left to man to legislate as he thinks proper, the verse fittingly draws attention to the fact that such freedom and discretion are not allowed in fundamentals, because in fundamentals unanimity is essential and divergence of opinion may prove immensely harmful. The verse gives an illustration to show that human intellect cannot be trusted with the making of the laws on fundamental matters. The Arabs used to let loose the animals mentioned in the verse in honour of their idols. Besides being based on disbelief and superstition, the practice was also highly foolish. The animals thus let loose wrought great havoc wherever they went. The Qur’an refers to this evil practice as an example of man-made laws and warns Christians who question the wisdom of a revealed Law to learn a lesson from the morally degrading practices to which the pagan Arabs had resorted because they had no revealed Law to guide them. (close)
b. 6:137. (close)
731. Important Words:
بحیره (Bahirah) is derived from بحر which means, he cut or slit lengthwise; he split or clave. Bahirah was a name given by the pagan Arabs to a camel (or a goat) which they let loose to feed, after slitting its ears. The word may be applied both to males and females, but in practice it was only the females that were thus let loose to pasture where they liked. They were dedicated to some god and their milk was not used nor their back. The description of Bahirah varied among different tribes.
سائبة (Sa’ibah) is derived from ساب which means, it or he went away at random or went wherever it or he liked. سائبة was a name given to a she-camel set free to go wherever she pleased. She was generally let loose as an offering to the gods when one recovered from a sickness or returned safe from a journey. Often a she-camel having given birth to 10 female young ones was let loose to pasture where she would, and she was not ridden nor was her milk drunk except by her young.
وصلیة (Wasilah) is derived from وصل which means, he connected or joined. وصیلة was the name given to a she-camel that was let loose in the name of a god after she had consecutively given birth to seven female young ones. If at the seventh birth, she bore a pair, male and female, each of the latter was also let loose.
حام (Ham) is derived from حمی. They say احمی الشیء i.e. he prohibited the thing; or he protected it; or defended it against encroachment, invasion or attack. حام which is really حامی therefore means a stallion camel that has his back prohibited or interdicted to be used for bearing a rider or carrying a burden; such camel was neither ridden nor shorn of his fur; he was left at liberty and was not debarred from pasturage or from water. The word is also used about a stallion camel whose offspring’s offspring has conceived (Lane).
After having said that minor matters and details should be left to man to legislate as he thinks proper, the Quran, in the present verse, fittingly draws our attention to the fact that such freedom and discretion cannot be allowed to man in fundamentals and things of importance, because in such matters unanimity is essential and divergence of opinion may prove immensely harmful. The verse under comment gives an illustration to show that human intellect cannot be trusted with the making of laws on fundamental matters, for, if left to itself, it is likely to make laws that would lead man to perdition. An instance of such laws is given in this verse. It is really Christians for whom the address in this verse is meant; but instead of drawing attention to the laws devised and invented by Christians, the Quran very wisely refers here to certain practices of the pagan Arabs, for one can more easily see a mote in another man’s eye than a beam in one’s own. The Arabs used to let loose the animals mentioned in the verse in honour of their idols. Besides being based on disbelief and superstition, the practice was also highly foolish. The animals thus let loose wrought great havoc wherever they went. They devastated field crops and gardens and killed children. The Quran refers to the letting of these animals as an example of man-made laws and warns Christians who question the wisdom and blessings of a revealed Law to learn a lesson from the degrading practices to which the pagan Arabs had fallen victim, because they had no revealed Law to guide them. (close)
وَ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَہُمۡ تَعَالَوۡا اِلٰی مَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ وَ اِلَی الرَّسُوۡلِ قَالُوۡا حَسۡبُنَا مَا وَجَدۡنَا عَلَیۡہِ اٰبَآءَنَا ؕ اَوَ لَوۡ کَانَ اٰبَآؤُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ شَیۡئًا وَّ لَا یَہۡتَدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۵﴾
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمۡ تَعَالَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ وَإِلَى ٱلرَّسُولِ قَالُواْ حَسۡبُنَا مَا وَجَدۡنَا عَلَيۡهِ ءَابَآءَنَآۚ أَوَلَوۡ كَانَ ءَابَآؤُهُمۡ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ شَيۡـٔٗا وَلَا يَهۡتَدُونَ
a. 2:171; 31:22. (close)
It is indeed strange that when science and knowledge advance and new discoveries and new inventions are made, people are quick to throw overboard worn out ideas and theories tenaciously held by their forefathers and hasten to accept and benefit by the new inventions and discoveries; but when a Prophet brings to them a new guidance from God, they refuse to accept it on the ground that it does not agree with the beliefs and ideas held by their ancestors and with their own time-honoured notions and theories. How foolish is this attitude and how lame and absurd the excuse for the rejection of divine truths! This is how the Quran exposes the untenability of the position of the rejecters of truth. (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا عَلَیۡکُمۡ اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ ۚ لَا یَضُرُّکُمۡ مَّنۡ ضَلَّ اِذَا اہۡتَدَیۡتُمۡ ؕ اِلَی اللّٰہِ مَرۡجِعُکُمۡ جَمِیۡعًا فَیُنَبِّئُکُمۡ بِمَا کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۰۶﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ عَلَيۡكُمۡ أَنفُسَكُمۡۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا ٱهۡتَدَيۡتُمۡۚ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ مَرۡجِعُكُمۡ جَمِيعٗا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُونَ
a. 2:138. (close)
799. Our duty only is to preach the truth to others. If they accept it, well and good, but if in spite of our best efforts they refuse to be weaned from their evil course, their rejection of truth will do us no harm. In no case should we compromise our principles in order to win others over to our way of thinking. That would be ruining our own souls to save the souls of others and that indeed would be a bad bargain. (close)
b. 2:138. (close)
This verse tells us that though man can sacrifice his worldly interests for the sake of others, yet he cannot so sacrifice his beliefs and religious principles. In religious matters our duty is only to show people the right path and exhort them to follow it; but we should not ruin or wrong our souls for their sake. It cannot profit mankind nor ourselves if we lose our own soul in trying to save others. The body may be sacrificed but not the soul. Christians abandoned some of the fundamental principles of their religion, hoping to win over certain heathen nations to Christianity. But in doing so they lost the truth and struck a very bad bargain.
The verse, however, should not be understood to mean that we should not preach the truth to others, and should confine our attention to saving our own souls only and have no thought for others. In fact, the Quran enjoins upon every Muslim to try his utmost to make others see truth, because firstly, it is our duty to propagate truth; and secondly, placed as we are, we cannot properly save ourselves unless we also save those among whom we live. What the verse, therefore, means is that our duty is only to preach truth to others. If they accept it, well and good; but if, in spite of our efforts, they refuse to be weaned from their evil course, their rejection of the truth will do us no harm. But in no circumstances should we compromise our principles in order to win others over to our way of thinking. That would be ruining our own souls to save others.
There is a hadith to the effect that once the Holy Prophet explained this verse as meaning that you should preach truth under all circumstances but when you see that the person to whom you preach truth persists in following his own evil inclinations and does not listen to you, then your duty will have ended by your having preached to him the truth, and in this case his evil practices would do you no harm, if only you yourselves scrupulously follow the truth (Tirmidhi, ch. on Tafsir).
The words, He who goes astray cannot harm you when you yourselves are rightly guided, may also mean that if you do the right sort of preaching and try to find the right way of approach to a person and even then he does not accept the truth, then his going astray will not harm you and you will not be held responsible for it. In this case, the words, when you yourselves are rightly guided, would mean, "if you succeed in finding out the right way of preaching and put in the right sort of effort". (close)
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا شَہَادَۃُ بَیۡنِکُمۡ اِذَا حَضَرَ اَحَدَکُمُ الۡمَوۡتُ حِیۡنَ الۡوَصِیَّۃِ اثۡنٰنِ ذَوَا عَدۡلٍ مِّنۡکُمۡ اَوۡ اٰخَرٰنِ مِنۡ غَیۡرِکُمۡ اِنۡ اَنۡتُمۡ ضَرَبۡتُمۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ فَاَصَابَتۡکُمۡ مُّصِیۡبَۃُ الۡمَوۡتِ ؕ تَحۡبِسُوۡنَہُمَا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ الصَّلٰوۃِ فَیُقۡسِمٰنِ بِاللّٰہِ اِنِ ارۡتَبۡتُمۡ لَا نَشۡتَرِیۡ بِہٖ ثَمَنًا وَّ لَوۡ کَانَ ذَا قُرۡبٰی ۙ وَ لَا نَکۡتُمُ شَہَادَۃَ ۙ اللّٰہِ اِنَّاۤ اِذًا لَّمِنَ الۡاٰثِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۷﴾
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ شَهَٰدَةُ بَيۡنِكُمۡ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ حِينَ ٱلۡوَصِيَّةِ ٱثۡنَانِ ذَوَا عَدۡلٖ مِّنكُمۡ أَوۡ ءَاخَرَانِ مِنۡ غَيۡرِكُمۡ إِنۡ أَنتُمۡ ضَرَبۡتُمۡ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ فَأَصَٰبَتۡكُم مُّصِيبَةُ ٱلۡمَوۡتِۚ تَحۡبِسُونَهُمَا مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ فَيُقۡسِمَانِ بِٱللَّهِ إِنِ ٱرۡتَبۡتُمۡ لَا نَشۡتَرِي بِهِۦ ثَمَنٗا وَلَوۡ كَانَ ذَا قُرۡبَىٰ وَلَا نَكۡتُمُ شَهَٰدَةَ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّآ إِذٗا لَّمِنَ ٱلۡأٓثِمِينَ
800. An incident is reported to have occurred in the time of the Holy Prophet which throws some light on this and the following two verses. A Muslim who died far from home entrusted his goods to two Christian brothers—Tamim Dariy and ‘Adi—before his death and asked them to deliver the same to his heirs at Medina. On receiving the goods the heirs found that a silver bowl was missing. The two men were thereupon called to explain the loss of the bowl, but they denied all knowledge of it on oath. Later, the heirs of the deceased person happened to see the bowl with some persons at Mecca who told them that it had been sold to them by the two men to whom the deceased had entrusted his belongings. Thereupon the two men were again summoned, and in their presence the heirs of the belongings stated on oath that the bowl was theirs, whereupon it was handed over to them (Manthur). (close)
801. The Prayer should preferably be the ‘Asr (Late Afternoon) Prayer, because it was after this Prayer that the Holy Prophet summoned the two witnesses to whom reference has been made above and who were believed to have stolen the silver bowl. The time after Prayer has been chosen with a view to inspiring the witnesses with God-fearingness and inclining their minds to truthfulness. If the witnesses be non-Muslims, then they may be called upon to swear after the time of their own worship, so that the solemnity of the hour may incline them to make true statement. (close)
a. 2:141, 284. (close)
See collective note on 5:109 below. (close)
فَاِنۡ عُثِرَ عَلٰۤی اَنَّہُمَا اسۡتَحَقَّاۤ اِثۡمًا فَاٰخَرٰنِ یَقُوۡمٰنِ مَقَامَہُمَا مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اسۡتَحَقَّ عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡاَوۡلَیٰنِ فَیُقۡسِمٰنِ بِاللّٰہِ لَشَہَادَتُنَاۤ اَحَقُّ مِنۡ شَہَادَتِہِمَا وَ مَا اعۡتَدَیۡنَاۤ ۫ۖ اِنَّاۤ اِذًا لَّمِنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۸﴾
فَإِنۡ عُثِرَ عَلَىٰٓ أَنَّهُمَا ٱسۡتَحَقَّآ إِثۡمٗا فَـَٔاخَرَانِ يَقُومَانِ مَقَامَهُمَا مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسۡتَحَقَّ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡأَوۡلَيَٰنِ فَيُقۡسِمَانِ بِٱللَّهِ لَشَهَٰدَتُنَآ أَحَقُّ مِن شَهَٰدَتِهِمَا وَمَا ٱعۡتَدَيۡنَآ إِنَّآ إِذٗا لَّمِنَ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
802. The word Aulayan refers to the first two witnesses and signifies that these two were in a better position to give true evidence, being the persons who were with the deceased at the time of his death and in whose presence the will was made and to whom the property was entrusted to be handed over to the heirs of the deceased. The "other" two witnesses should be from among the deceased person’s heirs. (close)
735. Important Words:
اَولیان (the two who were in a better position) is derived from ولی being the dual of اولی which means, one more worthy or more competent or more entitled or more deserving or better fitted or having a better claim to do a thing, etc. (Lane). See also 4:136.
استحقااثما (the two are guilty of sin) and استحق علیھم (against whom they sinfully deposed). The word استحق is derived from حقwhich means, it was or became suitable to the requirements of wisdom, justice, right and truth; it was or became right, proper, correct or true; it became established as a truth. استحقه means, he demanded it as his right or due; he had a right or title or claim to it; he deserved or merited it. They say استحق اثما i.e. he did what necessitated sin; or he was guilty of a sin and deserved it being said of him that he was a sinner. The expression علیھم added the word استحق means "against them", the particle علی sometimes meaning "against". استحقھا علی المشتری means, he has a right to it in preference to the purchaser, i.e. he has a better claim to it as against the buyer. The words استحق علیھم therefore, would mean, they (the two witnesses who were in a better position to give true evidence) gave false evidence against their just rights, seeking to deprive them (heirs of the deceased) of their rights by giving false evidence against them.
See collective note on 5:109. (close)
ذٰلِکَ اَدۡنٰۤی اَنۡ یَّاۡتُوۡا بِالشَّہَادَۃِ عَلٰی وَجۡہِہَاۤ اَوۡ یَخَافُوۡۤا اَنۡ تُرَدَّ اَیۡمَانٌۢ بَعۡدَ اَیۡمَانِہِمۡ ؕ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اسۡمَعُوۡا ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ لَا یَہۡدِی الۡقَوۡمَ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۹﴾٪
ذَٰلِكَ أَدۡنَىٰٓ أَن يَأۡتُواْ بِٱلشَّهَٰدَةِ عَلَىٰ وَجۡهِهَآ أَوۡ يَخَافُوٓاْ أَن تُرَدَّ أَيۡمَٰنُۢ بَعۡدَ أَيۡمَٰنِهِمۡۗ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱسۡمَعُواْۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهۡدِي ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡفَٰسِقِينَ
The Arabic words ترد ایمان بعد ایمانھم rendered as "other oaths will be taken after their oaths" literally means: (1) "oaths will be repeated, i.e. taken again, after their oaths"; or (2) "their oaths will be rejected after their (other witnesses’) oaths", the significance in both cases being practically the same, i.e. the oaths of the first two witnesses will be rejected and two other witnesses called in to give true evidence on oath.
The purport of this and the preceding two verses is that when a person is about to make his will at the time of his death, he should have as witnesses to his statement two just men, who should testify to the validity of his will after his death. But if death comes upon a person suddenly when he is away from home and no Muslim witnesses are at hand, then two trustworthy non-Muslims may be asked to serve as witnesses. If, however, the veracity of the witnesses is called into question by the heirs of the deceased, the former should be asked to prove their truthfulness by a statement on oath made after the time of Prayer. But if the persons in whose favour the will was made have good reason to believe that the witnesses have been guilty of perjury, then they can state on oath that their statement is truer than that of the two witnesses, and in that case the qadi or judge, if satisfied, will give his decree in their favour.
An incident is reported to have occurred in the days of the Holy Prophet which throws some light on the verses under comment. A Muslim who died away from home entrusted his goods to two men before his death and asked them to deliver the same to his heirs at Medina. On receiving the goods, the heirs found that a silver bowl was missing. The two men were thereupon called upon to explain the loss of the bowl, but they denied all knowledge of it on oath. Later, the heirs of the deceased person happened to see the bowl with some persons at Mecca who told them that it had been sold to them by the two men to whom the deceased had entrusted his property. Thereupon the two men were again summoned, and in their presence the heirs of the deceased stated on oath that the bowl was theirs, whereupon it was handed over to them (Manthur).
The Prayer mentioned in 5:107 above may be any Prayer but preferably it should be the ‘Asr or late afternoon Prayer, because it was after this Prayer that the Holy Prophet summoned the two witnesses to whom reference has been made above and who were believed to have stolen the silver bowl. The time after Prayer has been chosen with a view to inspiring witnesses with ideas of piety and God-fearingness and inclining their minds to truthfulness. If the witnesses be non-Muslims, then they may be called upon to swear after the time of their own worship, so that the solemnity of the hour may incline them to make a true statement, because the worship of God is calculated to exercise a purifying influence on the human mind, and men fresh from Prayer are expected to fear God and make a true statement.
The word اَولیان (the two, who were in a better position) occurring in 5:108 above is the dual of اولی which means more competent or more worthy. It refers to the first two witnesses and signifies that these two were in a better position to give true evidence, being the persons who were with the deceased at the time of his death and in whose presence the will was made and to whom the property was entrusted to be handed over to the heirs of the deceased. The expression also serves as a sort of veiled reproach to them that, in spite of being in a better position and more competent to give true evidence, they stumbled and drifted away from truth.
The second two witnesses should be from among the deceased person’s heirs, whom the first two witnesses deprived of their right by bearing false witness regarding the will of the deceased. (close)
یَوۡمَ یَجۡمَعُ اللّٰہُ الرُّسُلَ فَیَقُوۡلُ مَا ذَاۤ اُجِبۡتُمۡ ؕ قَالُوۡا لَا عِلۡمَ لَنَا ؕ اِنَّکَ اَنۡتَ عَلَّامُ الۡغُیُوۡبِ ﴿۱۱۰﴾
۞يَوۡمَ يَجۡمَعُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلرُّسُلَ فَيَقُولُ مَاذَآ أُجِبۡتُمۡۖ قَالُواْ لَا عِلۡمَ لَنَآۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّـٰمُ ٱلۡغُيُوبِ
a. 7:7; 28:66. (close)
803. The answer of the Prophets implies that the object of God’s questioning would not be to elicit information from them or to supplement His own knowledge, but that they should give testimony against the disbelievers, as is also clear from 4:42. (close)
a. 7:7; 28:66. (close)
The words, We have no knowledge; it is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things, constitute both a sort of veiled recommendation and a glorification of God. The Prophets will, in effect, say, "The people did indeed reject us; but Thou art the Knower of secrets. We do not know what was in their minds and whether they rejected us from their hearts or only expressed disbelief out of the fear of others. It is, therefore, for Thee to decide what their real attitude was and what treatment should be meted out to them." This recommendation seems to run counter to 4:42, which shows that the Prophets will bear witness against their people. The study of the relevant verses, however, shows that the occasions are different. The above-mentioned reply of the Prophets will be made when in the beginning God will question them in a general way; whereas the tendering of evidence will come at a later stage when God will call upon them definitely to come forward and give the required evidence about those who rejected them. There is, thus, no real conflict between the two verses.
The answer given by the Prophets is also in harmony with the dignity of God and constitutes an act of His glorification on the part of the Prophets. God perfectly knows what reply the people made to the Prophets, but, in spite of this, He will ask the Prophets to say what answer they were given by the people, as if He Himself was not aware of that answer. The Prophets, therefore, will very appropriately remove this apparent implication of ignorance on the part of God, by attributing all knowledge to Him.
The answer of the Prophets also implies that the object of God’s question was not to elicit information from them or to supplement His own knowledge, for He knew what answer they were given. In fact, there was some other purpose behind His question which was that they should give their testimony against the disbelievers, as is clear from 4:42, and thus carry out the Divine command referred to in the latter verse. (close)