Tafseer of Soorah Al-Hujaraat
From As-Sunnah Bi-Monthly Newsletter
'Hujurat' is the plural form of the word, 'Hujrah' which literally means room. It was revealed in the ninth year after the Hijrah. [al-Baihaqee]
In the year of the delegation (eight year after the Hijrah), many desert tribes began sending representatives to the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to present their oath of allegiance and to accept Islam. These representatives were often crude and coarse in their conversations with the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Thus, Allah revealed Soorah al-Hujurat as a guide to moral behaviors and etiquettes to Muslims.
Soorah al-Hujurat constitutes a set of moral ideas and general code of behavior for the Muslims and is therefore the essential foundation of a Muslim community.
"O Believers, do not put (yourselves) forward (hasten not to decide) in Allah and His Messenger's (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) presence but instead fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing."
The presence of Allah and His Messenger: One is in the presence of Allah, when the Qur'aan is recited and likewise one is in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) when his Hadeeths are mentioned. Thus, the presence of Allah and His Messenger is the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. [Ibn Katheer vol. 4, p.315]
And forwardness in their presence would be interpreting the Qur'aan and the Sunnah by other than what has been taught by the Messenger of Allah or giving one's own opinion precedence over the commands of Allah (Qur'aan) and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) (Sunnah).
A Believers Manhaj (way): When clear proofs and evidences from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah are presented to the Believer, he submits to them giving up all his or hers mistaken concepts. Allah says: "The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words: the Qur'aan) and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to judge between them, is that they say: 'We hear and we obey'. They are those who will attain success." [Soorah an-Noor (24): 51]
Whereas, the Manhaj of an innovator is that he makes up his own concepts and practices and then tries to make the religion comply with his ideas - by unintentionally making false interpretations of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah or claiming them to be the practices of his forefathers. He is no better then those regarding whom Allah says: "Then do you believe in a part of the Book and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Judgement, they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do." [Soorah Al-Baqarah (2): 58]
"O you who Believe! Raise not your voices in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) nor speak aloud to him in talk as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds may be rendered fruitless, while you perceive not."
Revelation - Narrated Az-Zubayr (radhi allahu anhu): "When a delegation from tribe of Tameem came to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Abu Baqr (radhi allahu anhu) suggested to the Prophet that al-Qa'qaa ibn Ma'bad (radhi allahu anhu) be sent to meet them and Umar ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) that al-Aqra bin Qays (radhi allahu anhu) be sent instead. Abu Baqr was irritated by Umar's counter proposal so he turned to Umar (radhi allahu anhu) and said: "You only said that to contradict me" Umar in turn replied that he did not do it to be contrary. A quarrel aroused and both of them raised their voices to such a level that the Prophet's voice was drowned out. Allah then revealed the verse "O you who Believe! Raise not your voices in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)..."
As explained earlier, here too the meaning derived from: 'in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)' are the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). [as explained by Ibn Abbass (radhi allahu anhu) (Ibn Katheer)]. According to the interpretation of Ibn Abbass (radhi allahu anhu), this verse indicates that when the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) reaches a Muslim, he should not reject or neglect it claiming that his forefathers worked out in a different way.
NOTE: It should be noted that it was forbidden to raise one's voice in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), while he was living, and it forbidden to raise one's voice at the grave of Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in Madeenah, now that he is dead.
It has been narrated that the great Caliph, Umar ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) once he heard two men raising their voice in the Prophet's Masjid, so he asked them: "Do you realize where you are?" But before they could answer, he asked them, "Where are you both from?" They replied they were from Taaif. He then said to them: "If you had said that you were from Madeenah, I would have given you both severe lashes for raising your voices in the masjid of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)" [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
Cure for Disagreement and Disunity among Muslims:
The revelation of this verse helps in realizing and understanding that the cure for disputes and disagreement among the Muslims is the adherence to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. It is emphasized in details in the verse: "And if you disagree about anything you should refer it to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), if you believe in Allah and the Last Day." [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 59]
After the death of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), this verse applies to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah as the basis of all decisions. It is also important that the decision be accepted completely by the heart, tongue and the limbs because Allah says: "By Allah, they do not truly believe until they make you (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)) the judge in disputes between them, without finding within themselves any resistance to your decision but instead accepting them completely" [Soorah An-Nisaa (4): 65]
Because his (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) speech was divinely guided: "Nor does he speak of (his own) desires. It is only an inspiration that is inspired." [Soorah an-Najm (53): 3]
Allah then warns that one might loose all his good deeds, due to disrespect to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) or his Sunnah, without he knowing it. Also, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "A man may inadvertently speak a word pleasing to Allah because of which Paradise is destined to him, and another may recklessly speak a word displeasing to Allah because of which he will be cast in the Hellfire, further then the distance between heaven and the earth." [Saheeh al-Bukharee v.8, p.322, no.485]
He also said: "O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and make not vain your deeds." [Soorah Muhammad (47): 33]
We Learn - Morals
Anger: The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) advised the Muslim Ummah to avoid anger and bad language. He once repeated the command: "Do not get angry" thrice. [Saheeh Bukharee v.8, p.88, no. 137] and: "The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
He (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also said: "The signs of a hypocrite are four and anyone who possesses one of them possesses a characteristic of Nifaaq (hypocrisy) until he abandons it. When he is entrusted he betrays his trust, when he talks he lies, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he quarrels he uses foul (bad language) words" [Saheeh al-Bukharee v.1 p.32-33, no. 33, Muslim v.1, p.40, no.111, and Abu Dawood v.3, p.1313, no.4671]
The ill feeling produced by arguments may last forever and spoil the Muslim unity. Hence, Islam has completely prohibited this ill behavior for Muslims on the tongue of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), he said: "It is not allowed for a Muslim to cut off his relations with his Muslim brother for more than three nights by turning away from each other whenever they meet. And the best of them is the one who greets (Salaams) to the other - first." [Saheeh Bukharee v.8, pp.64-65, no.100]
Loud Voices: Raising the voice is a sign of bad character, and Islam has abandoned such ill manners. Allah recalls the saying of Luqman (alaihi as-salaam): "Lower your voice, (my son) for verily, the most detestable (hateful) voice is the braying of a donkey." [Soorah Luqmaan (31): 19]
Furthermore, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) referred the raising of voices as being among the signs of the Last Day and said: "Voices will be raised loud in the masjids and the tribes will be lead by their most sinful members" [At-Tirmidhee]
And he (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) advised: "If you get angry, be quiet!" [Adaab al-Mufrad]
"Surely, those who lower their voices in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) are the ones whom Allah has tested their hearts for Taqwa (piety). Forgiveness and a great reward will be theirs."
Here, Allah informs the believers that if they lower their voices in the presence of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), then they will be considered to have passed the test of piety, thereby, earning His forgiveness and the reward of paradise.
A Test of Taqwa (Piety)
Following the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) - According to the Tafseer of Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) in which the presence of Allah's Messenger is interpreted as his (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) Sunnah, then this test can only be achieved through submission to Allah's Messenger. Thus, if a believer has practices and ideas that contradict the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), then he should lower his voice by submitting to the truth.
And if he does so, then he will have passed the test of piety and proved his belief in the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), because the second half of the testimony - "Muhammadur Rasool-Allah" obligates the obedience to Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). And Allah says: "Whatsoever the Messenger gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you refrain from it." [Soorah al-Hashr (57): 7]
Thus, this verse emphasizes the importance and obligation of following the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and giving his Sunnah precedence over one's own desires and habits.
Choice between Good and evil
Another general explanation of this verse was given by Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu), when he was asked whether a man who never desired evil nor did he do it, was better than one who desired it but did not do it. He replied: "Surely, those who desire sin and do not commit it are the ones whom Allah has tested their hearts for Taqwa. Forgiveness and a great reward will be theirs." [Musnad Ahmad]
Also, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "Whoever intends to do a bad deed and chooses not to do it, will have good deed recorded for him." [Saheeh al-Bukharee v.8, p.329, no: 498 and Saheeh Muslim v.1, p.75, no: 237]
Thus, this verse also refers to those who are tempted to commit acts of disobedience and choose to do the right. All such people have passed the test of Taqwa.
"Surely, most of those who call you out from behind the apartments have no sense."
Revelation- Allah revealed this verse when a group of Bedouins called out to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) from behind his house, as was their custom among themselves, saying: "O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), verily my praise is sweet and my curse is bitter." The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied: "Only Allah is like that." [Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhee]
Manners towards the Muslim leaders and Common Muslims:
The act of Bedouins, though not intentional, was disrespect to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). However, the approach towards a Muslim leader should be respectful and his right to privacy must be honored. Likewise, to all Muslims, if one wants to visit a Muslim, the Islamic etiquettes instruct him to knock on the door up to three times, if there is no reply then he should leave. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "If any of you seeks permission (to enter a house) and no permission is granted, he should return." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
"And if they were patient until you came out to them, it would have been better for them but Allah is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
In this verse Allah explains the correct etiquettes of visiting a Muslim leader, while emphasizing on Patience that if the Bedouins had waited patiently until the Messenger of Allah himself came out, then it would have been better for them.
Patience holds great virtues in Islam and Allah has emphasized Patience with great stress. He said: "…And be patient and preserving: for Allah is with those who patiently preserve." [Soorah al-Anfal (8): 46]
Linguistically 'Sabr' means detain, refrain and stop. In the Islamic terminology, 'Sabr' means to stop oneself from despairing and panicking. To stop one's tongue from complaining and hands from striking faces and tearing clothes at times of grief and stress.
Patience can be of two types, either by choice or without choice, for example: Patience without choice such as patiently bearing illness, cold or heat. Patience by choice would be refraining from that which Shari'ah has prohibited. Patience by choice is of higher virtue than the patience without choice.
Patience is made a condition of success and prosperity "O you who believe! Preserve in patience and guard your territory; and fear Allah; that you may prosper." [Soorah al-Imraan (3): 200]
Allah will reward them with blessings, mercy and guidance: "…but give glad tidings to those who patiently preserve who say, when afflicted with calamity: 'To Allah we belong and to Him is our return" They are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 155-7]
And: "Those who patiently preserve will truly receive a reward without measure!" [Soorah az-Zumar (39): 10]
A Test for Mankind:
Allah says: "(It is He) who created death and life to test which of you is best in deeds." He also said: "Be sure that We will test you with some fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life or the fruits (of your efforts). So give glad tidings to the patient ones who say when disaster strikes them, 'Surely we belong to Allah and surely to Him we will return" [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 155-6]
And: "He raised some of you over the other by varying degree to test you in what you were given." [ (6): 165] However, Allah's test is fair towards His slaves, He said: "Allah does not burden a soul beyond his ability." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 286]
Moreover, He promised that: "Surely, with every difficulty comes ease." [Soorah al-Inshiraah (94): 5-6]
Then Allah closes the verse saying: "but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." Giving hope and way to the sinner to repent and ask forgiveness from His Lord, since Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful to his slaves.
"O you who believe! If an unrighteous person comes to you with information, you should verify it or else you might inflict harm on a people in ignorance and then end up regretting what you have done."
Narrated Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) that "…Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) sent al-Waleeed ibn Uqbah (radhi allahu anhu) as a messenger to collect Zakaah from the Muslims (of Mustaliq tribe). However, on his way al-Waleed heard that a group from Banu Mustaliq had set out and he became afraid. He returned to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and told him that al-Haarith (former king of Banu Mustaliq) refused to pay the Zakaah and threatened his life.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) became angry and sent a group of companions (radhi allahu anhu) to deal with him. The two groups met and returned to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). He (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) questioned al-Haarith: "Why did you refuse to pay Zakaah and tried to kill my messenger?" Al-Harith replied: "By Allah, Who sent you with the truth. I did not see him, nor did he come to me, and the only reason I came because I feared that your reason for not contacting me was due to Allah's displeasure with us. Thus, Allah revealed this verse confirming the statement of al-Haarith.
Verification before Action:
This verse designates the rule of verifying any information received through people of less certainty and doubtful character. Because instant and impulsive judgments might harm or grieve someone and such unintentional accusations cannot be erased even with great apology (sorrow). Thus, great care must be taken to verify such information.
Based on this ruling scholars have taken great pains in verifying any religious information, including the ahaadeeth, by means of attesting the chain of narrators, their good character and righteousness. Thus, preserving the authenticity of the Sunnah.
"And you should realize that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is amongst you. If he were to obey you in many of your affairs, you would be in difficulty. But Allah has endeared Eeman (faith) to you, beautified it in your hearts and made Kufr (disbelief), sin and disobedience hateful to you. Those are the rightly guided. A favor and a blessing from Allah and Allah is all-Knowing, all Wise."
Excellent example for Humanity:
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) - The life of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is the living example of the Qur'aan, since his speech and actions are divinely guided: "And surely there is for you in Allah's Messenger an excellent example." [(33): 21]
And with his (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) death the divine revelation ceased whilst completing the ultimate guide for a successful Islamic life, Allah said: "This Day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my Favor upon you and chosen for you Islam as the religion." [Soorah al-Maidah (5): 3]
Thus, Allah ordered the believers to hold Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in high regards and submit to his way saying: "And whatsoever the Messenger gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids refrain from it." [(59): 7]
Then Allah mentioned the aims and benefits of adhering to the guidance of Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam); that he (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is divinely guided and more knowledgeable of Allah and His religion than the believer. Moreover, He explains that if the Messenger was to follow man's desire then it would result in great difficulty, as He said in another verse: "…if the truth had been in accordance with their desires, verily the heavens and the earth and whosoever is therein would have been corrupted!" [Soorah al-Mu'minun (23): 71]
Thus, any religious act through which people seek closeness to Allah or a reward from Him should carry the approval of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Otherwise, it should be rejected. Because one who introduces new practices in the religion either claims to have more knowledge than the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), or the guidance of Allah's Messenger is not complete. And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Whosoever introduces in the religion of ours that which is not a part of it then it must be rejected." [Musnad Ahmad]
After calling the believers to the obedience of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Allah informs that the believers are protected from the grave sin of Kufr, through establishing in them love for true Faith and hatred for disbelief.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "There are three qualities for which who is characterized with them will have experienced the sweetness of faith; he who loves a human being for Allah's sake alone and he who has a great hatred of returning to disbelief (Kufr) after Allah has rescued him from it as he has of being cast into the fire." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
Love for Faith and hatred for disbelief is revealed through one's actions: the submission and obedience to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). And as Allah said: "Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): If you love Allah then follow me and Allah will love you." [Soorah al-Imraan (3): 31]
This verse explains that love for Faith and hatred for Kufr, mentioned in the previous verse, is a Favor and Blessing from Allah, the Exalted. And He closes the verse with two great Attributes of Allah; the All-Knowing and All-Wise.
"And if two factions of the believers fight, you should make peace between them. But if one of them continues to do wrong to the other, fight the transgressor until they return to Allah's command. If they then do so, then make a just peace between them for verily Allah loves the just ones."
Dealing with Violence and Disputes:
Allah, the Exalted has explained systematic ways of dealing with violence and disputes amongst Muslims. The first step towards settlements should be to convince both the entities to make peace and cease the aggression without making parties.
Secondly, if one entity does not stop fighting then his opposition must be aided until he returns to the command of Allah. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) emphasized this issue saying: "Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed." A Companion (radhi allahu anhu) asked: "O Messenger of Allah! Helping him when he is oppressed is clear, but how can I help him when he is the oppressor?" The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "You help him by preventing him from oppression." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
Finally, when the oppressor submits to the law of Allah, then peace should be made between them with justice. Allah says: "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor. Allah is a better protector to both (than you). So follow not the desires lest you may avoid justice…" [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 135]
And the Messenger of Allah said: "Those who are in their judgments just to their families, and just to whatever they govern, will be in Allah's presence on the Day of Resurrection sitting on podiums of light on the right of the Throne." [Saheeh Muslim]
"Verily, the believers are brothers so make peace between your two brothers that perhaps you may receive mercy."
After ordering just peace among the believers, Allah reveals the basis of this action - 'Islamic Brotherhood'. All Muslims are brothers and equal in the sight of Allah regardless of race, color and their disputes. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "It is not permitted for a Muslim to break relations with his Muslim brother for more than three nights each turning away from the other when they meet. And the best of them is he who is first to begin greeting the other with Salaams." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) taught Brotherhood to the Muslims with great emphasis, he said: "A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him. Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of his grieves on the Day of Judgment. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him on the Day of Resurrection." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
"The believers in their mutual love are like the human body, where the eye is in agony, the entire body feels pain, when head aches, all the body will suffer." [Saheeh Muslim]
"The bonds of brotherhood between two Muslims are like parts of a house, one part strengthening the other." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
Islamic Brotherhood is not just theoretical but is practically illustrated from the fundamental aspects of Islam: -
The Salaah (Prayer): All Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder while praying.
Zakaah (Annual Charity): Charity is highly encouraged in Islam and made obligatory for the wealthy Muslim to give a portion of their yearly savings to his poor Muslim brother.
Hajj (Pilgrimage): Muslims (men) wear a similar dress of two sheets of cloth indicating the equality of Islamic brotherhood.
"O Believers! People should not scorn others for perhaps they may be better than them. Neither should women scorn other women, for they may also be better than them."
This verse introduces certain prohibitions necessary for the establishment of successful Islamic Society. Allah forbids the believers from mockery, scorning or looking down at someone - Scorn is the product of Pride, which is itself prohibited in Islam. And: "Indeed He (Allah) does not love the proud" [Soorah an-Nahl: 23]
Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Allah All-Mighty said: "Pride is My cloak, and Glory is My Wrap, so for he who competes with Me in either of these, I will cast him into the Fire." [Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah]
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "If you were not sinners, I would fear what is worse for you: Pride, Pride (Ujb)."
Al-Ujb in this Hadeeth implies arrogance due to self-praise. It borders on the slave who is blessed by Allah with His Ability of hiding imperfections and sins. Allah hides his sins and imperfections from the people and yet he behaves in a manner as though he is better than some.
Al-Ujb may or may not be apparent, and if manifested outwardly it is called Pride or Arrogance. It creeps unto us when ideal discussions take place criticizing the sinner, though we do not name him. It is a way of 'showing your pride without showing it' And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "He will not enter Paradise who has even a speck of pride in his heart." [Saheeh Muslim]
Categories of Pride and their Cure:
Ego (the self as distinguished from others) Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Indeed, Allah revealed to me: Humble yourself until none is proud over another and none is oppressive over another." [Saheeh Muslim]
Each additional thing that one becomes proud of, builds his ego or the contentment of his self. This is witnessed in the behavior of Iblees. When Allah ordered angels and Iblees to bow to Adam (alaihi as-salaam). Iblees refused to do so arguing that he was formed from smokeless fire, and thus was better than Adam (alaihi as-salaam), who was created from dust. [(7): 12]
He was too proud to obey Allah's command: "He said: 'I am better than him (Adam)." [Soorah Saad : 76]
The cure of Pride is to remember that we are created from a substance not worth mentioning: "Has there not been, over man, a period of time when he was nothing worthy of mention?" [Soorah al-Insan (9): 1]
"Did we not create you from a fluid of no value?" [Soorah al-Mursalaat (71): 20]
Thus, be mindful of the saying of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): "…and none humbles himself to Allah, but Allah raises him." [Saheeh Muslim]
Let him, who is proud of his knowledge analyze the Hadeeth of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). He (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "…And a person who learned knowledge and taught it, and recited the Qur'aan, so Allah brought this man before Him and pointed out His Favor, which the man recognized. He is asked: "What did you do with it?" He says: 'I learned knowledge and I taught it, and I recited the Qur'aan for you.' So He (Allah) says: "You lie! In fact you learned so that it would be said of you, 'He is a scholar' and you recited the Qur'aan so that it would be said of you, 'He is a Qari' and it was said." Then it will be ordered that he be dragged upon his face into the Fire…" [Saheeh Muslim]
Let him, who is proud of his deeds, know that deeds are only accepted on the basis of two conditions, they being;
1- Sincerity (Ikhlas): The deed should be performed for the sake of Allah Alone without intending to be seen or heard by others nor attaining titles and positions.
2- Deeds should be according to the guidance of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and nothing beyond this criterion:
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Indeed, the first of people upon whom the judgment will be passed on the Day of Resurrection is a man who sought martyrdom. When he appears before Allah, he is made to recognize his Favors. It is said, What did you do with it?" He says: "I fought for you until martyrdom.' It is said: 'You lie! You fought so that it would be said: "He is brave, and so it was said." Then it will be ordered that he be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Fire…" [Saheeh Muslim]
"Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers, their selves and their wealth for which there is Paradise for them…" [Soorah at-Tawbah: 111]
He who is proud of his possessions should know that the Eventual end of all possessions is with Allah, and he possesses nothing but it is a test for him. He should use them sincerely for the pleasure of Allah. How often do we find ourselves responsible for more than we are capable of maintaining? In such situations we will certainly be unjust to something. Thus, to give each thing its right one must content himself with few. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Whoever among you arises in the morning feeling a sense of security, in good health, having his food for the day, then he has gathered what the world has to offer him." [Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah]
There was once a camel that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) owned, it was undefeated in racing. The Muslims were proud of this camel. One day the camel lost a race, this saddened the Muslims. On this occasion, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) informed them: "Indeed, it is the right upon Allah that nothing in this life is raised, but He lowers it." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
Again we may quote here the remainder of the Hadeeth mentioned earlier; where on the Day of Resurrection a man who was blessed with wealth in his earthly life is asked what he did with it, and he replied: "… I neglected no opportunity which You would like this wealth to be spent, but I spent it for Your sake.' Allah says: "You lie! You spent it only so that it would be said: 'He is generous' and so it was said: "Then it will be ordered that he be dragged upon his face until he is cast into Fire." [Saheeh Muslim]
Race, Notable Lineage, Nationalism and Patriotism:
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Indeed Allah has removed from you the blind loyalties of Jahiliyah and the pride for ancestry. Either be a pious believer, or a miserable proud. (All of) you are children of Adam (alaihi as-salaam) and Adam (alaihi as-salaam) is from dust. Let some men cease to take pride in others who are nothing but burning coals for the Hell-Fire, it will be easier for Allah to handle them than a dung-beetle driving his nose into filth." [Abu Dawood and Ahmad]
Moreover, he (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also said: "…whoever invites to tribalism, or aids in tribalism and is killed, he dies the death of jahiliyah (ignorant state of man before the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) … he is not of me and I am not of him." [Saheeh Muslim and An-Nisaee]
After the prohibition of Scorn, Allah explains why this act is unwise. He said, the scorned may be superior to the scorner, just as Adam (alaihi as-salaam) was superior to Iblees.
Then Allah specifically warns the women, although He had previously used the word 'people' which includes both men and women. It is to bring special attention to the women and in order to emphasize to the men that they should protect their wives and families from boasting.
"You should neither discredit each other nor abuse each other with nicknames. The worst of titles is that of 'immorality' after that of 'Belief' and whoever does not repent is truly an oppressor." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 11]
Nicknaming: Parting from Nicknaming is the second step towards establishing a successful society. Islamic brotherhood can never exist in an environment, where people's faults are harshly exposed, as it corrupts the basis of unity. A Muslim is strictly prohibited from uttering words of curse or names, which involve insult or defamation of another person. Islam forbids revealing faults except in cases of necessity, like court or marriage cases.
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Cursing a Muslim is wickedness and fighting against him is disbelief." [Saheeh al-Bukharee no: 6044, 7076 and Saheeh Muslim, no: 64] and "The believer is not a person who hurts others with words, or curses or swears or is foul-mouthed." [Adab al-Mufrad of Imaam Bukharee] He also said: "The Believers whose faith is most perfect are those who have the best character." [Sunan Abu Dawood (v: 3, no: 4665)]
Nicknaming shows ignorance and low moral character therefore: "Allah does not love anyone who is foul-mouthed and obscene." [Musnad Ahmad (thiqat)] and: "Verily, Allah will be angry with the disgusting, foul-mouthed person." [At-Tabarane (thiqat)] It is not befitting a believer, who believes in the Day of Judgment and accountability of actions to commit such ugly and immoral acts, which decrease one's Eemaan. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Do not hurt the feelings of Allah's servants, do not embarrass them; do not seek to expose their faults. Whoever seeks to expose the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults and expose him, even if he hides in the innermost part of his home." [Musnad Ahmad - (Rijaal -as-Saheeh)]
Allah pointed out to the seriousness of verbal abuse saying: "The worst titles is that of 'immorality' after that of 'Belief'." And His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "It is sufficient evil for a man to despise his Muslim brother." [Saheeh Muslim] Once, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) asked his companions, "Do you know who is the one who is ruined?" They said: "It is the one who has no money or possession." He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "The one who is ruined among my Ummah is the one who comes on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting and Zakaat to his credit, but he had insulted this one, slandered that one, devoured one's wealth, shed that one's blood, and beat that one. So some of his good deeds will be given to this one and some to that one... And if his good deeds run out before all his victims have been compensated, then some of their sins will be taken and added to his, then he will be thrown into the Hell." [Saheeh Muslim]
Therefore, "He who has a right he has to pay back, whether with regards to honor, or anything else, let him pay it back today before there will be neither Deenar nor Dirham (i.e. The Day of Judgment); if he has good work, it will be taken from him, what is equal to injustice (done to the people). If he has no good deeds, then some of his foe's sins will be taken from him, and he (the unjust person) will be burdened with them." [Saheeh Muslim 4/6251)]
Unfortunately, today this ugly practice of Nicknaming has become a way of life. Social gathering, elections, debates are filled with personal jokes and character assassination of the opposition. Whereas, Islam strictly prohibits such evil practices and encourages covering the faults of others and seeking to eliminate them because Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Each of you is the mirror of his brother, so if he sees any faults in him, he should wipe it away from him." [Sunan Abu Dawood 3/4900] and: "Whoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults on the Day of Resurrection." [(Saheeh) Sunan at-Tirmidhee 2/1152]
Nickname or Petname!! Pet-names are allowed in Islam, as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) named his companions (radhi allahu anhum) . For instance, he named Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Sakhr, as 'Abu Hurayrah' (father of kittens) because he often carried a kitten in his arms and 'Abu Turab' (father of dust) to Alee Ibn Abee Talib (radhi allahu anhu), because once he got dusty while lying on the ground.
Forbidden pet names are those, which denote bad meaning or are disliked by the one, who is so named. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) opposed all such manifestations. Once Abu Dharr al-Ghifaree (radhi allahu anhu) in a state of anger called Bilaal (radhi allahu anhu): "You son of black women." The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) angrily turned to him and said: "You are a man who still has in him (practices of) Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period)." [Saheeh al-Bukharee 8/76]
Also, Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha) reported that when the camel of Prophet's wife; Safeeyah, became ill, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) asked his wife Zainab to give one of her two camels to her. Zainab angrily replied: "Shall I give it to that Jewess?" The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) became so angry that he abandoned her for more than two months. [Abu Dawood 3/ no: 4585)]
Verse 12: "O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 12]
Suspicion: The focal point of the above verse is to shed light on the hidden and secretive sins that are prevalent amongst the Muslims. The fact that these sins are born, sustained and conducted from within one's self gives it a more lethal effect in destroying Islamic brotherhood. Islam seeks to uproot and destroy these evils from the very beginning.
Suspicion is the stepping-stone that the Shaytaan uses to exploit the Muslims to the other evils mentioned in the verse, namely; backbiting, gossip and spying. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) stressed to the believers the dangers of suspicion saying: "Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales…" [Saheeh al-Bukharee 8/90]
Suspicion leads to distrust and lack of trust among the people. It breaks down the strength of brotherhood. Once suspicion is eliminated from the minds of people, trust will grow. Otherwise people will be at each other's throat for every slip of tongue and misunderstood statement. Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) used to say: "If your Muslim brother makes an ambiguous statement to you, you should only think the best and you will find a good explanation for it." [Muwatta Imaam Maalik (eng. trans) p. 422, no: 1797]
Also, private conversation must be avoided since such a practice is likely to make the third person suspicious or at least, feel bad for being excluded from the conversation. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "When you are three persons sitting together, then no two of you should hold secret counsel excluding the third person until you are with some other people too, for that would grieve him." [Saheeh al-Bukharee, 8 /305]
Another evil branch of suspicion is uncontrolled curiosity, which simultaneously leads to the despised practice of Spying into the private affairs of others. Islam vehemently opposes invasion of one's privacy and sternly warns against it. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Part of a man's good observance of Islam is that he leaves alone what does not concern him." [(Saheeh) Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee, vol. 2, no: 1886 (at-Tirmidhee 4839)]
Safiyah (a wife of the
Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) narrates that once she came to visit
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) while he was in Itikaaf (i.e.
seclusion in the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan). When she got up
to return, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) got up with her and
accompanied her. When he reached near the gate of the mosque, close to the
door (of the house) of Umm Salamah (another wife of the Prophet (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam), two Ansari men passed by them, greeted him and then went
away. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) addressed them saying,
"Don't hurry! (She is my wife)." They said,
"Glorified be Allah! O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) (You
are far away from any suspicion)," and his saying was hard on them. The
Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): "Shaytaan
circulates in the mind of a person, as blood does (in his body). I was afraid
that Shaytaan might put some (evil) thoughts in your minds." [Saheeh
al-Bukharee, vol: 4 no: 333]
Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) reported the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) strictly warning against spying, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "If a man sees you in a state of undress without your permission and you blinded him by throwing a stone in his eye, there would be no blame on you." [Saheeh Muslim vol: 3 no: 5371] It is mentioned in Adaab al-Mufrad with authentic chain of narrators that a man peeped through a hole into the dwelling place of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) while he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was offering Salaat.
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) took an arrow from his quiver and pointed towards the man's eye (to pierce it with the arrow). The man withdrew his head and the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): "If you had remained I would have pierced your eye with my arrow." [(Saheeh) Adaab al-Mufrad]
Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu)
reported from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam):
"One who eavesdrops on the conversation of others and
hears what they would not like him to hear will have molten brass poured in
his ears on the day of Judgment." [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in
Saheeh al-Jamee as-Sagheer, vol. 2 no: 6028] and Hudhayfah (radhi allahu anhu)
narrated: "The habitual eavesdropper will not enter Paradise." [Saheeh
al-Bukharee vol: 8 no: 82]
Islamic law rejects evidence obtained by spying. It is reported that Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) entered upon a people drinking wine. He said: "Have I not forbidden you to drink wine and you did that?" They said: "O Amir (leader) of the believers, Allah has forbidden you to spy and you spied on us, and Allah forbade you to enter the houses without asking permission, and you did enter without permission." Umar (radhi allahu anhu) said: "These (your sins) in return for my mistakes." Then he left and didn't interfere or prevent them. Also, when al-Waleed Ibn Uqbah was brought to Ibn Mas'ood (radhi allahu anhu) and charged with having been found with wine dripping from his beard. Ibn Mas'ood said: "We have been forbidden from spying but, if any evidence appears in the open we will use it." [Sunan Abu Dawood, Eng. Trans, vol: 3, no: 4875] Thus, even if Haraam is done secretly we are not asked to spy.
Gheebah (Backbiting): When the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked about Gheebah, he defined it saying: "…Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner, which he does not like." It was said to him: "What is your opinion about this that if I actually find in my brother which I made a mention of? He said: "If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you have in fact backbitten him, and if that is not in him it is a slander." [Saheeh Muslim, no: 6265]
Gheebah is not only restricted to the tongue, it may be so that we imitate or mimic someone's defect or description. Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha) said: "A woman came in our house. When she left, I moved my hands indicating that she was short. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "You have backbitten her." [Abu Dawood]
One, who listens to Gheebah is also a sinner unless he opposes it with his tongue or heart because "Whoever witnesses the humiliation of a believer and doesn't support him while being capable of supporting him, Allah will humiliate him before all the creatures (on the day of judgment)." [Musnad Ahmad]
If possible one should, leave the gathering or interrupt and change the subject, this is based on the saying of Allah: "And when you (Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses (of the Qur'aan) by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaytaan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheist and wrongdoers, etc.)." [Soorah al-An'am (6): 68]
"Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 12]
In this verse, Allah compares Gheebah to eating the flesh of one's dead brother because it deals with the violation of honor. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) combined violating the honor, property and blood of a Muslim with violating the sanctity of the Day of Sacrifice, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said (on the day of Sacrifice): "Your blood, your wealth and your honor are sacred, as this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this land of yours are sacred…" [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 2 no: 797 and Saheeh Muslim no: 2803]
Furthermore, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) described the seriousness of this nasty sin saying: "There are seventy-two degrees of Riba (interest), the least of which is equivalent to committing adultery with one's own mother. The worst of them is a man's insulting his brother's honor." [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Silsilah al-Ahaadeeth as Saheehah, no: 1871 (al-Awsat of at-Tabarani)]
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) clearly warned against the great punishments which may befall as a result of committing Gheebah, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "When I was taken up to the Heavens, I passed by people who had copper claws tearing at their faces and chests. I asked: 'Who are these, O Jibreel?' He said: 'They are those who ate the flesh of the people, and insulted their honor.'".[Saheeh by Shaikh Albanee (Saheeh Sunan Abu Dawood # 4080]
Imam Ibn Katheer said: "Gheebah is forbidden by consensus, and in general there is no exception to it, except in circumstances where it is necessary to speak about people, such as al-Jarh-wal-Tadil (establishing the status and authenticity of Hadeeth narrators), and al-Nasihah (giving advice)" [Tafseer Ibn Katheer (Soorah al-Hujurat)]
Imam al-Qurtubi said: "Gheebah is a major sin and falling into it necessitates (Wajib) turning to Allah in repentance from it." [Tafseer al-Qurtubi (Soorah al-Hujurat)]
Opposing Gheebah is one of the best forms of Jihad, because it deals with striving to control and correct oneself from evil desires. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "The Mujahid is the one who strives to control his ego (nafs) in obedience to Allah." [Ahmad See as-Saheehah of Shaikh al-Albanee no: 549] and: "The best Jihad is that you strive to control your ego and your desires for the sake of Allah." [al-Hilyah of Abu Na'im-see as-Saheehah of Shaikh al-Albanee no: 1496]
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) guaranteed Paradise for him, who guards his tongue (from backbiting, lying, slander, etc.) saying: "Whoever gives me surety to safeguard what is between his jaws (i.e. tongue) and what is between his legs (private parts), I guarantee for him (entrance into) Paradise." Therefore, Imam Ash-Shafi'ee said: "If a person wishes to say something then he should think before he starts talking. If there is good, then he should speak, otherwise he should not."
(a) Complaint: It is allowed to make Gheebah while complaining to a ruler or judge or seeking a ruling from a scholar. The evidence of this is the saying of Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha), she relates that Hind, the mother of Mu'awiyah said to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): "Abu Sufyan (her husband) is a miser. Am I allowed to take from his money secretly?" The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said to her, "You and your sons may take what is sufficient reasonably and fairly." [Saheeh al-Bukharee 3/13]
(b) Consultations and Evidence: Giving advice particularly in matrimonial and business affairs, as was the case when Mu'awiyah and Abu'l-Jaham asked for the hand of Fatimah bint Qays in marriage, she consulted the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) about them. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) told her: "As for Abu'l Jaham, he does not drop his stick from his shoulder (indicating his strictness with his wives) and as for Mu'awiyah, he is poor, and has no money." [Saheeh Muslim vol: 2 no: 3297]
(c) Identification of Innovation and the Innovators: It is permissible to mention the sin of the one who commits sins openly, like criminals and innovators. "When a man asked permission to enter upon the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). When the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saw him, he said: "What an evil brother of his tribe! And what an evil son of his tribe!" When that man sat down, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) behaved with him in a nice and polite manner and was completely at ease with him. When that person had left, Aa'ishah said (to the Prophet). "O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! When you saw that man, you said so-and-so about him, then you showed him a kind and polite behavior, and you enjoyed his company?"Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "O Aa'ishah! Have you ever seen me speaking a bad and dirty language? (Remember that) the worst people in Allah's sight on the Day of Resurrection will be those whom the people leave (undisturbed) to be away from their evil (deeds)." [Saheeh al-Bukharee 8/59] Imaam Bukharee derived from this Hadeeth that it is permissible to speak about wrongdoers..."
"Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 12]
After warning the believer
against the destructive sins of Nicknaming, Gheebah, and Suspicion, Allah
mentions His two Divine Names and Attributes, At-Tawwab (oft-forgiving) and
Raheem (most-Merciful). This calls for repentance, because "All of Adam's
descendants are subjected to error, but the best of them are those who often
repent." [at-Tirmidhee and Ibn Majah] The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) said: "If (it were that) you did not
commit sins, Allah would cause you not to exist and replace you by another
people who would sin and ask Allah's forgiveness, and He would pardon the
VERSE 13: "O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has Taqwa (God-consciousness, fearing Allah). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 13]
The beginning of human race: Allah addresses all mankind and mentions that He created all humans from one soul; Adam u. From him, He created his wife, Hawa (Eve), and through them the human race grew and spread. Therefore, all humans are of the same category, rank and status, everybody is alike in the Sight of Allah.
Nations, tribes and groups are only for acquaintance and knowing family relations. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Learn enough about your lineages to know about your blood relatives and treat them accordingly." [(Saheeh) Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee (no. 1612)]
Division of man into nations and tribes is also an expression of Allah's unique Attribute; 'al-Khaliq' 'the Creator', that He created infinite number of people with distinct features extending from one soul. Allah explained that these differences of color and language are a sign of His Greatness and Power, He said: "And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the difference of your languages and colors. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge." [Soorah al-Rum (30): 22]
The main concern of this verse is to demonstrate equality and brotherhood. Imaam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) says: "This is the wisdom behind revealing this verse after the verses, which prevent one from Gheebah (backbiting), Spying, Nicknaming, etc. so that everybody might contemplate that in regards to their lineage, they are all equal."
After explaining the wisdom behind the division of mankind into tribes and groups, the next verse diverts the readers attention to the only factor which can elevate man in the Sight of Allah and that is 'Taqwa.' Those who fear Allah and obey Him are far superior to those who are arrogant and disobedient. Allah says: "Not equal are the blind and those who see, nor are (equal) those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) and do righteous good deeds, and those who do evil! Little do you remember." [ (40): 58]
Paradise and eternal bliss becomes the right of those who acquire Taqwa, Allah says: "And whosoever believes in Allah and performs righteous good deeds, He will admit him into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) to dwell therein forever. Allah has indeed granted for him an excellent provision" [al-Talaaq 65:11] Kufr, arrogance and oppression all lead to Hell-Fire regardless of who performs them, Allah says: "But those who disbelieved (in the Oneness of Allah (Islamic Monotheism) and denied Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they will be the dwellers of the Fire, to dwell therein forever. And worst indeed is that destination." [Soorah al-Taghaabun (64): 10]
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) exposed the insignificance of racism in his Khutbah (sermon) on the Day of 'Fath-e-Makkah' (victory of Makkah) and categorized humans into two, on the basis of righteousness and Taqwa, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Allah has dispelled from you the effects of Jahiliyyah (ignorance) and the practice of Jahiliyyah to boast around with people upon one's lineage. (Know) Men are only of two types, either righteous, who have high ranks with Allah, or the sinful, who are disgraced in the Sight of Allah." (And then he recited the above verse Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 13) [Ibn Abi Hatim] Thus, pride in one's lineage is against the teachings of Islam, and Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) discouraged all such practices.
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "All of you are the children of Adam (alaihi as-salaam), and Adam himself was created from clay. Refrain from boasting upon one's lineage. (Otherwise) you will be lighter than the heap of dust and marine birds in the Sight of Allah."
It is mentioned in Musnad Ahmad that Allah's' Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was never pleased by any person or any thing, except a man with Taqwa. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab… except due to Taqwa." [al-Silsilat al-Saheeh, (2700) Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Asaakir and Ibn Sa'd]
To enforce the effect of brotherhood in his Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu) (Companions of Allah's Messenger), he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) would often address them saying, 'Ya Banee Adam!' 'O descendants of Adam' and likewise is the approach of the Qur'aan in several verses.
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) strictly abhorred racial discrimination. Abu Dharr (radhi allahu anhu) said: "There was an argument between me and one of my brothers whose mother was non-Arab. I insulted him about his mother, and he complained about me to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). I met the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and he said, "O Abu Dharr, you are a man who still has Jahiliyyah (ignorance) in him." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim (3139)]
It is related in a long Hadeeth of Saheeh Muslim that Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Allah does not look at your faces and wealth, rather He consider your hearts and deeds." And he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said to Abu Dharr: "Remember! You have no virtue over any brown or black (man) But yes! If you increase in Taqwa then you are a virtuous man." [Musnad Ahmad] Thus, Islam gives equal rights to all, rich and poor, noble and ignoble and there is no superiority of anyone over anybody else in Islam, except in terms of Taqwa. And this is the basis of Islamic society.
In this world, there are other things, which may grant loftiness to a person or a group of people, like wealth, power, lineage, etc. But the true greatness, which counts, is the greatness in the Sight of Allah and its basis is Taqwa.
Allah then closes the verse with two of His Great Names, All Knowing, All Aware, which encourage the believers to do righteous deeds and fear Him, because He knows and is All-Aware about the true nature of man.
"The Bedouins say: "We have believed." Say to them: "You have not yet believe', say instead, 'We have accepted Islam' for true belief has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger you will not lose any of your (good) deeds for verily, Allah is Most Forgiving, and Most Merciful."
[Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 14]
Allah revealed this
verse reprimanding a tribe of Bedouins, who had newly converted to Islam, for
a dishonest action. They used to request charity from the people of Makkah
while claiming to be Mu'mins (true believers) like the early Muslims, who
fought and suffered along with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
in Makkah. But Allah mentions in this verse that Eemaan had not truly
established itself in their hearts, and therefore revealed to His Messenger to
warn them saying, they were only Muslims who had merely accepted Islam, and
not Mumins (true believers). They would have to work harder to prove their
devotion and faithfulness to Islam, until then they should judge their actions
genuinely and accept it with sincerity.
Islam and Eemaan: This verse explains that Islam and Eemaan are two distinct entities and Eemaan is more exalted than Islam. Islam and Eemaan are two synonyms if they are mentioned together, both have separate meanings, and when they are mentioned separate, each means the other. Allah distinguished between Eemaan and Islam, when he addressed the Bedouins. He, the Most Merciful, notified that they were Muslims and not unbelievers, but they had not completely comprehended the higher level of Eemaan, as is clear from the last part of the verse. "But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not decrease anything in rewards for your deeds. Verily, Allah is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
If the Bedouins were hypocrites or unbelievers, they would have not been rewarded for their obedience to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The case described here is that the complete and true Eemaan is not yet present in their hearts. However, they are not outside of Islam.
The distinction between Islam and Eemaan is also manifest from the Hadeeth of Jibreel (alaihi as-salaam), when he asked Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), 'What is Islam?' He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) replied: "Al-Islam implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakaat, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you can (bear the expense of) the journey." Jibreel (alaihi as-salaam) further asked: "Inform me about Eemaan (faith)." He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) replied: "That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil."
Jibreel (alaihi as-salaam) asked: "Inform me about al-Ihsan (performance of good deeds)." He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He, surely sees you." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim] Thus, Jibreel (alaihi as-salaam) started with the less exalted rank (Islam) to the higher exalted position (Eemaan) and then to the highest position (Ihsan). [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
Also, in a Hadeeth reported by Bukharee and Muslim, Saad (radhi allahu anhu) reported: 'The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) bestowed some gifts upon a group of people and I was sitting among them. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) left out a person and did not give him anything.
I thought that he was the best of the group. So I stood up before the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! What about so and so? By Allah, I find him to be a believer." The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) answered: "He may be (just) a Muslim." I kept quite for a short while but then I could not restrain myself and again said to him: 'O Messenger of Allah! What about so and so? By Allah, I find him to be a believer.' He said: "He may be (just) a Muslim." I remained quite and what I knew about the man made me speak again: 'O Messenger of Allah! What about so and so? By Allah, I find him to be a believer.' The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) answered: "He may be a Muslim. I often bestow something upon a person whereas someone else is dearer to me than he, because of the fear that he may fall headlong into the Fire." Thus, we find Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) differentiating between a Mu'min (true believer) and a Muslim.
What can be derived from the above is that for a person to be called a Mumin (believer), he must fulfill the conditions and obligations of Eemaan. If he is lacking in them, then he does not deserve to be called a true believer (Mumin). But he has not left the fold of Islam. Instead, he has moved from the lofty level of being called a 'believer (Mumin)' to the level of being a 'Muslim.'
This point is to be kept in mind when one reads Ahaadeeth like: "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim] In other words, no one is a true and complete believer (meeting all the requirements and necessary components of Eemaan) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.
Morals in Islam: This verse also teaches Islamic Morals of avoiding arrogance and false praise. The Bedouins claimed true faith while they were only new Muslims who had recently accepted Islam and it was not appropriate on their part to claim the status of those true believers who had struggled along with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "He who claims for himself qualities which he does not have is not of us. Let him prepare his seat in Hell." [Saheeh al-Bukharee] Allah hates false praise.
Islam encourages modesty and humbleness and considers it to be a necessary element of Eemaan. On one occasion, Allah's Messenger passed by a man from the Ansar who was criticizing his brother of Haya (self respect, modesty). He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said to him: "Leave him alone because Haya is an integral part of Eemaan." [Saheeh al-Bukharee 1/23] At another occasion he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Modesty and Eemaan are companions, when one is taken away, the other follows." [al-Bayhaqee] He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also explained: "Whoever is humble for Allah's sake will be honored by Allah." [al-Bayhaqee]
Even excessive praise for others, whether it be in their presence or absence is also detested in Islam because it produces a feeling of pride. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "When you see those who shower too much praise upon others throw dust on their faces." [Saheeh Muslim (vol: 4, no: 7143)]
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), who is the best and most pious of all mankind did not like this even for himself, when some people said to him: "O Messenger of Allah, you are the best and the son of the best among us, and our master and the son of our master." He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) addressed him saying: "O people! Make your request straightforward and let not Shaytaan lure you into saying the wrong things. I am only the slave of Allah, and His Messenger. I do not like you to elevate me above my rank in which Allah, the Exalted, has praised me." [Musnad Ahmad]
praising the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is prohibited.
What we hear today of unrestricted praise for Allah's Messenger (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) to the extent that he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is
sometimes raised to a status which fits no one except Allah, the Exalted, is
unlawful. This includes believing Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi
wa-sallam) to be able to answer supplications or fulfill requests made to him
(after his death), etc. These attributes are unique for Allah, for He alone
answers the supplications and He alone can fulfill needs. As Allah's Messenger
(sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said in the previous Hadeeth, such acts are lure
and misguidance from the Shaytaan, who is at a constant attempt to lead humans
This prohibition however, does not forbid due praises for someone, it only rejects the excessive praise. When Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was asked: "What is your opinion about one who has done good deeds and people praised him?" He replied: "It is glad tidings for a believer." [Saheeh Muslim (vol: 4, no: 6388)]
VERSE 15: "But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, you will not lose any of your (good) deeds for verily Allah is Most Forgiving, and Most Merciful." [Soorah al-Hujurat (49): 15]
After warning them (the Bedouins) for their disliked actions, Allah then explains to them a way to repentance and atonement. Allah says if they rightfully obey Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), the reward of their previous good deed will be retained. Obedience here implies full submission to the orders of Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) mentioned in the Qur'aan and the Sunnah without negligence. And this is from the Great Mercy of Allah, the Exalted.
VERSE 16: "Verily, the believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger without harboring any doubt and they strive with their wealth and person in Allah's Path. These are the truthful."
In this verse, Allah explains the criterions of true Eemaan, the first of it being (a) belief in Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) without any doubt. This implies that the belief in Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) should be firm and unshakable. Allah, the Exalted, has strictly warned against wavering Eemaan in another verse, where He said: "Verily, those who believe then disbelieve, believe again and then disbelieve and then increase in disbelief will not be forgiven by Allah nor will He guide them to the Path." [(4): 137]
(b) Striving in Allah's Cause with wealth and person is the second criterion of true Eemaan. This requires willingness to sacrifice one's property and self for the Pleasure of Allah. Allah specifically mentioned sacrifice of one's wealth and striving with person because these two are a trial for the believer in this world and anybody who sacrifices them for Allah's Sake will be granted Paradise, Allah says: "Verily, Allah has bought the souls and wealth of the believers for Paradise." [(9): 111]
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) has explained the insignificance of this material world and the importance of sacrifice in a number of Ahaadeeth, because if the believer evaluates the pleasures of this world in their proper perspective with the rewards of Allah, he will realize the triviality of the world and it will become easy for him to sacrifice them for Allah's Sake. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "A man says: 'My property, my wealth.' Whereas the part of his property which is his consists of three things; what he eats and uses up, what he wears and makes ragged, or what he gives away (in charity) and so acquires (for himself an eternal reward). Everything else is left to others when he departs." [Saheeh Muslim (vol: 4, no: 7063)]
Hence, only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) without any doubt and sacrifice their wealth and strive with their person for Allah's Sake can claim Eemaan for themselves. These are the people who truly believe and have established their Eemaan, away from those who merely claim to believe by the tongue. [See Ibn Katheer]
VERSE 17: "Say: Are you announcing to Allah about your (belief in the) religion when Allah already knows the contents of the Heavens and the Earth? And Allah knows well all things. They consider their acceptance of Islam as a favor to you. Say: 'Do not make your Islam a favor to me. Instead it is Allah, who has done you a favor by guiding you to Eemaan, if you are earnest."
Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) reported that when Banu Asad came to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! We accepted Islam and all the Arabs fought you while we did not.' The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Verily, they have little understanding and Shaytaan controls their tongues.' Then the verse: 'They consider their acceptance of Islam as a favor on you'. was revealed.
Thus, in this verse Allah again reprimands the tribe of Banu Asad for their misconception that they had favored Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), first by not fighting against him and his followers like the Arabs did, and second by accepting Islam. Allah, the Exalted, criticized their claim and informed them that their accepting Islam was not a favor done to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), but in fact, giving them the guidance of Islam was a favor by Allah, the Exalted, to them.
Allah says: "Allah misguides whom He wishes and guides whom He wishes, for He is the Most Powerful and the Most Wise." [Soorah Ibraheem (14): 4] Thus, Islam is Allah's favor upon them and therefore they are obliged to thank Allah for this blessing. "And remember when Your Lord proclaimed, 'If you give thanks, I will give you increase in blessings, but if you deny the favors and are thankless, then I shall punish you severely." [(14): 7]
VERSE 18: "Verily, Allah knows the hidden things of the Heavens and the Earth and Allah sees whatever you do." [(49): 18]
Allah, the Exalted closes the Soorah by mentioning His Unique Attribute of knowing the Ghayb (everything hidden in the Heaven and the Earth). Thus, reminding the tribe of Banu Asad that Allah knows all motives and intentions behind their acceptance of Islam and nothing can be hidden from Him, therefore they should be honest and humble.
This verse also reminds the reader about the Immense Knowledge of Allah. Whatever man does with after learning this Soorah and knowing His Commands is known to Allah and thus, he will have to answer Him for every wrong choice he makes since the Hujjah (proof) has been established against him.