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“Know that the Messenger of Allah is among you”

Sūrat al-Hujurāt | Verse by Verse

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وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ فِيكُمْ رَسُولَ اللَّـهِ ۚ لَوْ يُطِيعُكُمْ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ لَعَنِتُّمْ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّـهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ

“Know,” you who believe in Allāh and His Messenger[1] “that the Messenger of Allāh is among you,” so honour him, respect him and show him due propriety. Obey him because he knows better what is good for you and is more compassionate to you than you are to yourselves.[2] Fear Allāh lest you spread lies and falsehood because Allāh may well inform him of it and keep him firm on the truth[3] “If he were to follow your wishes in many things,” without due deliberation and consideration[4] “you would suffer for it,” by making things difficult for yourselves, perhaps even falling into sin. “However,” you should remain resolute in following him because[5] “Allāh has given you love of faith” in Him and His Messenger so you willingly obey Him and hence receive His blessings. This is something only Allāh can do[6] “and made it beautiful to your hearts,” such that you can appreciate the beauty of Islām in its entirety, and this in turn will lead you love it more, and to increase in your love of Allāh and His Messenger “and He has made disbelief, deviance and disobedience hateful to you. It is people such as these who are rightly guided.”

“Know that the Messenger of Allāh is among you”

This is a statement of fact but the goal is to highlight the consequences of this, to make us think of what Allāh wants from us by His saying this as it cannot be a statement without purpose.[7] This is a common style in the Qurʾān, for example when talking about the ḥaram:

فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا

“There are clear signs in it; it is the place where Abraham stood to pray; whoever enters it is safe.”[8]

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“Whoever enters it is safe,” is a statement of fact, but it is stated with a specific goal in mind which is that those living there should make it a place of safety and security.

So, by highlighting that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is amongst them, what does Allāh want from us as a result?

Highlighted here is that having the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) amongst them is a great honour for them.[9] Allāh has blessed the Companions by choosing them to be the people who would accompany His final Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), have the opportunity to look upon his blessed face, believe in him, support and defend him.

Ibn Masʿūd said, ‘Allāh looked at the hearts of the servants and He found that the heart of Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was the best among them, so He chose him for Himself and He sent him with His message. Then He looked at the hearts of His servants after Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), and He found that the hearts of his Companions were the best among them. He made them the ministers of His Prophet, fighting for the sake of His religion. Therefore, whatever the Muslims view as good is good in the sight of Allāh, and whatever they view as evil is evil in the sight of Allāh.’[10]

Therefore, to have an expectation somehow that He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) should accede to the wishes of other people; that he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) should somehow obey other people is to demean him and disrespect him.[11] It is to go against the very purpose of Allāh sending him to mankind and, in fact, it goes against the point being made in the very first verses of the Sūrah. Therefore, this āyah really acts as a conclusion to the thread that has been running throughout the opening verses of obedience to Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).

Also highlighted is that because Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), the best of all creation, is amongst them, he must be honoured, respected and have due propriety shown to him. He is to be obeyed because, in his capacity as the Messenger of Allāh, he knows better what is good for you and is more compassionate to you than you are to yourselves. This is like His saying,

النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ ۗ

“The Prophet is closer to the believers than they are to themselves, while his wives are their mothers.”[12]

“If he were to follow your wishes in many things, you would suffer for it”

The word ʿanata used in this āyah means to find things difficult and hard,[13] or it can mean sin as well.[14] What is being emphasised here is that, contrary to their expectations, were the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to follow them in their desires, rather than things being better, they would actually end up worse; they would end up in difficulty in the long run, and possibly fall into sin.

For example, were he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to have acted on the words of al-Walīd, war could have erupted and innocent blood shed.[15]

In a similar vein, Allāh says,

وَلَوِ اتَّبَعَ الْحَقُّ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ لَفَسَدَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ

“But if the truth were in accordance to their desires, the heavens, the earth and everyone in them would disintegrate.”[16]

Truth remains the truth, whether we like it or not, whether it conforms to what we think is right or not. In fact, the opposite is often true: what we think is good could actually be bad and vice-versa.

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“You may dislike something although it is good for you; or like something although it is bad for you. Allāh knows and you do not.”[17]

فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا

“If you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something in which Allāh has put much good.”[18]

Twisting the truth so that it fits artificial constructs invented by people, or trying to appease people such as the disbelievers can only ever end in corruption and destruction, it can only ever end in loss.

This āyah also shows us that, contrary to what certain people claim, if we follow our own opinions, things will get difficult, but not so if we follow the Sharīʿah. The very nature of Islām is that it is a religion of ease:

يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ

“Allāh intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.”[19]

يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ ۚ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا

“Allāh wants to lighten your burden; man was created weak.”[20]

Every ruling is in its correct place, every ruling is best and most suited for mankind:

إِنَّ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا

“This Qurʾān does show the straightest way. It gives the faithful who do right the good news that they will have a great reward.”[21]

It is a known fact that the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) always resisted any tendency toward religious excessiveness, and would direct people to the path of moderation and ease. He once asked his Companion, ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr, “Have I heard right that you fast every day and stand in prayer all night?” ʿAbdullah replied, ‘Messenger of Allāh, yes.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Do not do that. Fast sometimes, and eat and drink other times. Stand in prayer, but sleep as well. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you.”[22]

He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would exemplify his own guidance when he said, “Give glad tidings and do not make people averse; make matters easy and do not make them difficult.”[23] This meaning is supported by the ḥadīth reported on the authority of ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “This religion is powerful so walk through it gently.”[24]

As a final point of note, Qatādah pointed out that this āyah was being said to the Companions of Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) who were the best of this ummah. So what then of us who are lesser than them, have less knowledge and understanding of the religion and whose opinions are generally weaker? So beware, he said, of giving into mere opinion[25] as a means of overriding the Sharīʿah.

“However, Allāh has given you love of faith and made it beautiful to your hearts”

Allāh has gifted the true believer two things: love of īmān and appreciation of its beauty which in turn will lead to loving it even more.[26]

It is the combination of these two things that lead a person to choose Islām, to willingly obey Him and want to follow it.[27]

فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

“By your Lord, they will not be true believers until they let you decide between them in all matters of dispute, and find no resistance in their souls to your decisions, accepting them totally.”[28]

Allāh’s gifting His servant with these two is a sign that He loves him. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh, Most High, gives the world to those He loves and to those He does not love, but He only gives religion to those He loves. Whoever is given the religion, then Allāh has loved him.”[29]

Allāh tells us in numerous places that it is He who choses those who deserve guidance and those who are to be left to themselves,

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَآمَنَ مَن فِي الْأَرْضِ كُلُّهُمْ جَمِيعًا ۚ أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

“Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. So would you compel people to believe?”[30]

This is why the believers will say on the Last Day, recognising Allāh’s grace

وَقَالُوا الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي هَدَانَا لِهَـٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَهْتَدِيَ لَوْلَا أَنْ هَدَانَا اللَّـهُ

“Praise be to Allāh who guided us to this: had Allāh not guided us, We would never have found the way.”[31]

Loving īmān includes loving those who have īmān for the sake of Allāh, since He loves the believers. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh will say on the Day of Rising, ‘Where are those who love one another for My sake? Today I shall give them shade in My shade on a Day when there is no shade but My shade.’”[32]

Faith and Islām is beautiful, it should be beautiful in our hearts. If we fail to realise this beauty then there is a defect in our īmān which we need to pinpoint and rectify. Similarly, we look at the people of īmān through the lens of faith; a righteous practising brother or sister in our eyes is beautiful because he or she possesses that true inner beauty.

A person who is like this will taste the sweetness of faith. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

ثَلاَثٌ مَنْ كُنَّ فِيهِ وَجَدَ حَلاَوَةَ الإِيمَانِ أَنْ يَكُونَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا سِوَاهُمَا، وَأَنْ يُحِبَّ الْمَرْءَ لاَ يُحِبُّهُ إِلاَّ لِلَّهِ، وَأَنْ يَكْرَهَ أَنْ يَعُودَ فِي الْكُفْرِ كَمَا يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يُقْذَفَ فِي النَّارِ ‏”‏‏

“There are three qualities, whoever has them will taste the sweetness of faith: that Allāh and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anyone else; that he loves a person only for the sake of Allāh; and that he abhors renegading to disbelief as much as he would hate being thrown into the Fire.”[33]

“And He has made disbelief, deviance and disobedience hateful to you.”

Kufr: disbelief; fusūq: major sins and ʿiṣyān: sins in general.[34]

Allāh is taking us – step by step – through some of His greatest favours,[35] and here a third gift is highlighted. Another sign of true īmān is to hate everything that opposes it and would debilitate it. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The strongest handhold of faith is to love for Allāh’s sake and to hate for Allāh’s sake.”[36]

Does this mean we end up oppressing and being unjust to those who have the quality of disbelief? Of course not, but we neither do we approve of their disbelief.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ للهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالقِسْطِ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَئَانُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُواْ اللهَ إِنَّ اللهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“You who believe!  Stand devoutly for Allāh as witnesses of justice, and do not let your animosity for some people prevent you from being fair.  Be fair, as it is closer to piety, and observe your duty to Allāh. Allāh is all-informed of what you do!”[37]

Because of this, the believer feels happy at good and is saddened by evil. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The believer is someone who is delighted by good deeds and saddened by evil deeds.”[38]

Also implied here is that those who refuse to obey and follow the Messenger do so because traces of kufr and fusūq and sin remain in them.[39]

We also learn that if the Sharīʿah has blocked the avenues to a certain act, but our desires and wants are calling us to that, we must not do it.[40]

To follow whatever we want, and not be concerned with what the Sharīʿah wants, is from the traits of pre-Islamic ignorance (Jāhiliyya) and from lingering traces of kufr, fusūq and ʿiṣyān. [41]

“It is people such as these who are rightly guided,” those who have these qualities, and what great qualities – they are walking the path of truth. We have a switch here from second to third person (iltifāt),[42] and is used here to highlight the great status of such people.

This āyah closes the thread of discussion started at the beginning of this sūrah: i.e. for all of these reasons do not put yourself before Allāh and His Messenger, do not speak before they speak, do not put your opinion above theirs, do not behave presumptuously with them and do not allow your own desires to take precedence over their guidance.[43]

فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَنِعْمَةً ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“A great favour from Allāh and a blessing,” both words are in the indefinite to emphasise the greatness of the favour and blessing. Every blessing from Allāh is pure grace, and every punishment is pure justice. “Allāh is All-Knowing,” He knows best who deserves guidance and who is to be left to his own devices.[44]

يَعْلَمُ خَائِنَةَ الْأَعْيُنِ وَمَا تُخْفِي الصُّدُورُ

“Allāh is aware of the most furtive of glances, and of all that the hearts conceal”[45]

“All-Wise,” in His words, actions, legislation and decree. Everything is in its correct place.[46]

These great blessings come from Allāh Himself.

وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّـهِ

“Whatever good things you possess come from Allāh.”[47]

Sometimes we fail to appreciate this fact. Allāh has graced us with īmān and Islām and by doing do, He has given us the key to Paradise. This, in turn, requires gratitude (shukr) from us.[48]

وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّـهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

“Be grateful to Allāh if it is Him that you worship.”[49]

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ

“Remember that your Lord declared, ‘If you are grateful, I will give you more, but if you are thankless, My punishment is severe indeed.’”[50]

مَّا يَفْعَلُ اللَّـهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنتُمْ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ شَاكِرًا عَلِيمًا

“Why would Allāh make you suffer torment if you are grateful and believe in Him?”[51]

Sahl b. ʿAbdullāh said, ‘Shukr is to strive in obedience and avoiding disobedience in secret and open.’ Shiblī said, ‘Shukr is to be humble and to upkeep the performance of good deeds, to oppose lusts and desires and to strive in obedience, and to be constantly aware of the Lord of the heavens and earth.’ Dhū’l-Nūn said, “Shukr for the One above you is through obedience, for those of the same level as you it is to repay a kindness with a kindness, and for those beneath you it is to be kind and charitable to them.”[52]

The last two Names are mentioned as they suit the context and also pre-emptively answer a question that may arise: why has Allāh given this person hidāyah but not that person?[53] The answer being: Allāh is all-knowing and all-wise.

Similarly, we see many other places in the Qurʾān where questions are pre-empted and answered, for example

وَلَوْ بَسَطَ اللَّـهُ الرِّزْقَ لِعِبَادِهِ لَبَغَوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَـٰكِن يُنَزِّلُ بِقَدَرٍ مَّا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ

“If Allāh was to grant His plentiful provision to all His creatures, they would act insolently on earth, but He sends down in due measure whatever He wills for He is well-aware of His servants and watchful over them.”[54]

The fact that He is well-aware and watchful over His servants answers the question as to why He gives plentiful provision to some and not others.

Points of Benefit

  1. The blessing of having Allāh’s Messenger amongst them
  2. The humility of the Messenger prevented him from speaking out on this issue, so Allāh did it.
  3. The excellence of the Companions since He chose them to accompany His Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
  4. The Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is to be honoured, loved, respected and followed.
  5. To treat the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) as any other person is disrespectful
  6. To follow the Sharīʿah is to follow the path of ease and moderation
  7. Allāh guides and misguides
  8. The great blessing of īmān and guidance
  9. Allāh knows all and is all-wise
  10. Truth does not change on whim
  11. Allāh knows best what is good for us, not us.
  12. Allāh has gifted the believer with īmān and the ability to appreciate the beauty of Islām
  13. The believers freely and willingly follow the path of Truth
  14. Loving īmān includes loving those who have īmān
  15. Faith and Islām is beautiful
  16. The true believer hates disbelief and deviance
  17. The true believer is not unjust to those who are on disbelief and deviance
  18. The believer delights in good deeds and is saddened by evil
  19. Those who refuse to obey Allāh and His Messenger do so because traces of kufr and deviance remain in him
  20. The believer must be grateful to Allāh for His gifts

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Ṭabarī

[2] Ibn Kathīr

[3] Ṭabarī, Qurṭubī

[4] Qurṭubī

[5] Baqāʿī

[6] Ibn al-Qayyim

[7] ʿAdawī

[8] Āli ʿImran 3:97

[9] Baqāʿī, Ibn ʿĀshūr

[10] Aḥmad #3589

[11] Baqāʿi

[12] al-Aḥzāb 33:6

[13] Ṭabarī

[14] Qurṭubī

[15] Ṭabarī, Qurṭubī

[16] al-Muʾminūn 23:71

[17] al-Baqarah 2:216

[18] al-Nisāʾ 4:19

[19] al-Baqarah 2:185

[20] al-Nisāʾ 4:28

[21] al-Isrāʾ 17:9

[22] Bukhārī #127

[23] Muslim

[24] Aḥmad #13052

[25] Ṭabarī

[26] Ibn al-Qayyim

[27] Qurṭubī

[28] al-Nisāʾ 4:65

[29] Aḥmad

[30] Yūnus 10:99

[31] al-Aʿrāf 7:43

[32] Bukhārī

[33] Bukhārī and Muslim

[34] Ibn Kathīr

[35] Ibn Kathīr

[36] Aḥmad

[37] al-Māʾidah 5:8

[38] Tirmidhī #2165

[39] Ibn ʿĀshūr

[40] Ibn ʿĀshūr

[41] Ibn ʿĀshūr

[42] Abū Ḥayyān

[43] Ibn al-Qayyim

[44] Ibn Kathīr

[45] Ghāfir 40:19

[46] Ṭabarī, Ibn Kathīr

[47] al-Naḥl 16:53

[48] Baqāʿī

[49] al-Baqarah 2:172

[50] Ibrāhīm 14:7

[51] al-Nisāʾ 4:147

[52] Qurṭubī

[53] ʿAdawī

[54] al-Shūrā 42:27

About Shaikh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He currently studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and, previously, Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Electronic Engineering. He currently works as a Software Engineer and is the chairman of WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community, especially with his Masjid and working with youth. He has translated a number of books such as 'The Criterion between the Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytan,' and 'Relief from Distress (the Dua of Yunus 'alayhī al-Salām),' both by Ibn Taymiyyah as well as many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah al-Fatihah called ‘The Spiritual Cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe on a variety of topics covering aqidah, fiqh, hadith, tafsir and Arabic Language. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.

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