Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Night Prayer (Qiyaam Al-Layl)

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What is Qiyaam Al-Layl?

Qiyaam' means 'standing' and 'Qiyaam al-Layl' means 'standing in night.' In the Islamic terminology, both terms refer to 'the voluntary night prayer, whose time extends from after 'Ishaa’ (evening) prayer until dawn.' Qiyaam al-Layl is also known as Tahajjud.
 
A widespread misconception is that Tahajjud is a different night prayer than Qiyaam. The true is that there is only one voluntary night prayer known by different names. 
 
The excellence of night prayer:
 
Numerous Prophetic narrations and Quranic verses mention the excellence of night prayer and the merit of those who perform it regularly. Allah The Almighty, Says (what means): "O you who wraps himself [in clothing], arise [to pray] the night, except for a littlehalf of it – or subtract from it a littleor add to it, and recite the Quran with measured recitation."[Quran 73: 1-4]
 
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Allah, Our Lord, descends (in a manner befitting His Majesty) to the nearest heaven to us of this universe during the last third of the night and says: ‘Is there anyone to call upon Me so that I shall respond to him (fulfill his prayer). Is there anyone to ask of Me that I may grant his request. Is there anyone to seek My forgiveness so that I shall pardon him (and forgive his sins)’. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “The most beloved deeds to Allah are the most constant, even if they were little” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim], and she, may Allah be pleased with her, said in another narration: “Do not ever stop praying Qiyaam. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, never ceased praying it. When he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, was sick or weak, he prayed sitting.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, in another Hadeeth, said: "The closest one can be to Allaah The Almighty, is during the last third of the night. If one can remember Allah The Almighty, at this time let him do so." [At-Tirmithi, An-Nasaa'i and Al-Haaqim]
 
The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, also said: “You should pray Qiyaam al-Layl, for it is the habit of the righteous people who came before you, and it will bring you closer to your Lord, expiate for bad deeds, prevent sin, and expel disease from the body.”[At-Tirmithi and Ahmad]

Mu'ath Ibn Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said to him: May I show you the gates of goodness?' (They are) “Fasting is screen from Hell, charity extinguishes the sins as water extinguishes fire, standing in prayer by a slave of Allah during the last third part of a night.” Then the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, recited this verse (what means):They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration…" (Quran 32: 16) [Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi]

Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “The best of prayer after those prescribed (i.e. obligatory prayer) is that in the depth of night.” [Muslim]

Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, also reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: May Allah have mercy on a man who wakes up at night, prays, and wakes his wife to pray; and if she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah have mercy on a woman who wakes up at night, prays, and wakes her husband to pray; and if he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face.” [Abu Daawood]

Abdullaah Ibn Bashr, may Allah be pleased with him, reported Allah's Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying: “Whoever prays night prayer reciting ten verses, he will not be recorded among the negligent. Whoever prays night prayer reciting one hundred verses, he will be recorded among the devout. And whoever prays night prayer reciting one thousand verses, he will be recorded among those with a multitude of good deeds.”[Abu Daawood]
 
Again, the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Verily, there is one hour during the (entire) night when any Muslim (submitting to the Will of Allah the Almighty) may call upon Allah and request anything of Him, regardless of whether the matter be worldly or of the hereafter. Allah, theAlmighty, will grant and fulfill the request. This is the case every night." [Muslim]
 
Those who regularly perform the night prayers are the righteous and are more deserving of Allah's bounty and mercy. Allah Says (what means): "Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and springs,accepting what their Lord has given them. Indeed, they were before that doers of good.They used to sleep but little of the night,and in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness." [Quran 51: 15-18]
 
Allah Says that those who do not possess these qualities cannot be treated as equal to those who possess them. He The Almighty Says (what means): "Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, "Are those who know equal to those who do not know?" Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.''[Quran 39: 9]
 
 
The following acts are Sunnah (recommended) for the one who wishes to perform the night prayers. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the prayers. Abu Ad-Dardaa', may Allah be pleased with him, related that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the morning comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord."[An-Nasaa'i and Ibn Maajah]
 
Upon waking, one should wipe one's face, use a Miswaak (toothstick), and make this supplication: "There is no god but You, Glory be to You, I seek forgiveness from You for my sins, and I ask for Your mercy. O Allah, increase my knowledge and let my heart not swerve after You have guided me, and bestow mercy upon me from Yourself. All praise be to Allah who has given us back life after our death and unto Him is the resurrection."
 
Then, one should recite the last ten verses of chapter 'Al-'Imraan', then one should say, "O Allah, to You belongs the praise. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and what is therein. And to You belongs the praise. You are the truth and Your promise is true. And the meeting with You is true. And the paradise is true. And the Fire is true. And the prophets are true. And Muhammad is true. And the Hour is true. O Allah, to You have I submitted. And in You have I believed. And in You have I put my trust. And to You have I turned. And by You I argue. And to You do I turn for my decisions. Forgive me of my former and latter sins, and those done in private and those done in public. You are Allah, there is no god besides You."
 
One should begin the night prayer with two quick Rak'ahs and then may pray whatever he wishes after that. 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "When the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick Rak'ahs." [Muslim]
 
 
The night prayer may be performed in the early part of the night, the middle part of the night, or the latter part of the night, but after the obligatory 'Ishaa' (evening) prayer.
 
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, described the prayer of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, as: "If we wanted to see him praying during the night, we could see him praying. If we wanted to see him sleeping during the night, we could see him sleeping. And sometimes he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would fast for so many days that we thought he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would not leave fasting throughout that month. And sometimes he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would not fast (for so many days) that we thought he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would not fast during that month." [Al-Bukhari, Ahmad and An-Nasaa' i]
 
Commenting on this subject, Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: "There was no specific time in which the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would perform his night prayer, but he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would do whatever was easiest for him."
 
 
It is best to delay this prayer to the last third portion of the night. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: 'Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?"
'Amr Ibn Abasah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that he heard the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, say: "The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah, the Exalted One, at that time then do so." [Al-Haakim, At-Tirmithi and An-Nasaa'i]
 
The number of Rak'ahs (units of prayer) to be performed during night prayer:
 
The night prayer does not entail a specific number of Rak'ahs which must be performed nor is there any maximum limit which has to be performed. It would be fulfilled even if one just prayed one Rak'ah of Witr after the obligatory night prayer.
 
Samurah Ibn Jundub, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The Messenger of Allah ordered us to pray during the night, a little or a lot, and to make the last of the prayer the Witr prayer." [At-Tabaraani and Al-Bazzaar]
 
 
One may choose between praying them all together or to separate them. 'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, never prayed more than eleven Rak'ahs, during Ramadan or otherwise. He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would pray four Rak'ahs, and don't ask about how excellent they were or how lengthy they were. Then, he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would pray four Rak'ahs, and don't ask about how excellent they were or how lengthy they were. Then, he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would pray three Rak'ahs. I asked: 'O Messenger of Allah, do you sleep before praying Witr?' He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: 'O 'Aa'ishah, my eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep."' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
'Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "The prayer of the Messenger of Allah during the night would be ten Rak'ahs and then he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would make Witr with one Rak'ah."
 

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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Rescue is in Asking

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Offering Da’wah is a great responsibility that requires not only knowledge, but wideness and kindness as well. Offering Da’wah to new Muslims is a greater responsibility since it is difficult for recent reverts, who often have little information about Islam, to realize whether or not their guides are truly versed in the teachings of the religion. This makes for a precarious situation when they are seeking the accurate information needed to guide them on their journey.

Women and religious knowledge

There is no doubt that Muslim women play a vital role in the propagation and spreading of the proper understanding of Islam, through Da’wah. Da’wah amongst women began in the first days of Islam, with Khadeejah, the Prophet’s wife, may Allah be pleased with her, who used her resources to help spread the message of Islam. Sumayyah, the first martyr in Islam, may Allah be pleased with her, also provides an honorable example of a woman dedicated to furthering the religion.

But how many Muslim women have the proper understanding or even the accurate general knowledge of their religion? How many Muslim women possess the capabilities needed to offer Da’wah?

Stories I heard from my American Muslim friends both amused and distressed me as I learned how they suffered at the beginning of their journey to Islam, because their Muslim-born female friends did not have the proper knowledge to offer advice.

One of my Muslim American friends told me that when she was a recent convert to Islam, her husband was not a Muslim yet. Two days after she pronounced the shahaadah, some Muslim sisters went to visit her at home to help her have better understanding of her new religion. It is really absurd to hear that the first thing they advised her to do was to ask her non-Muslim husband for divorce because he is not a Muslim. They told her that it is forbidden in Islam to have a non-Muslim husband and that she should be separated from him as soon as possible and that otherwise she would be committing adultery. In truth, the statements have shocked my friend to the bone, but her firm belief that marriage relationships, particularly hers which is a remarkable story of love, children, and attachment, is too precious to be discarded as easily as those rash, thoughtless Fatawas suggest. Hence she felt that she needs to turn the matter inside out enlisting the jurisprudential expertise of high caliber, authentic scholars.

After lots of efforts, my friend was able to find the contact info of a prominent Muslim scholar who told her that she was legally allowed to stay with her non-Muslim husband for a few months before considering the divorce option. Great was the joy my friend experienced from knowing that her marriage will not be destroyed that she felt that two months are enough time for her to help her husband revert. [Note: For the Islamic ruling on a wife who converted to Islam while her husband did not, please refer to Fatwa 156049]

My friend was supposed to use, in the best and effective way possible, this time in talking to her husband about the different aspects of her adopted religion, the new commitments and obligations this new affiliation places on her, and to cater to the questions that he is sure to raise, hoping that through these measures, and before that, by the aid of Allah the Almighty, her husband’s heart will incline towards believing in Islam as well. And guess what? No sooner had the first month passed, than her husband reverted to Islam, and today five years later, he is an active member in his Muslim community.

First Things First

Another Muslim American friend who converted to Islam three years ago told me that the Muslim women in her area confused her with their advices when she first became Muslim to the point that she was crying every night. “I was myself ignorant about Islam and then discovered how ignorant they were,” she said adding, “I was confused and depressed to the point that I cried every night:

“One sister told me that I should say, ‘La Ilaha Illallah, Muhammad Rasoolullah” (there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) a hundred times every night before sleeping. Another one gave me a list of supplications and told me to read them ten times a night,” said another American Muslim friend, adding, “It was hard for me in my first days of Islam to learn the basics of my new religion and to recite the Quran in my prayers. I could not imagine how I would be able to make an extra hundred Duaas a day?

A third woman told me that a Muslim woman told her that every time she has intercourse with her husband, she must wash the sheets seven times.

Once, her husband saw her going back and forth to the laundry room more than ten times and became confused as to what she was doing. “He asked me what I was doing,” said my American friend. “When I told him that I had to wash the sheets seven times, he was astonished and he explained to me that this was not true.

I was really confused,” one sister was telling me “that I should put my hands over my stomach in Salah, as another told me that this was wrong and that I should perform Salah with my hands down at my sides.

A Pakistani sister told me it is forbidden in Islam to sweep at night, and that if I wanted to go to heaven, I should never hold the broom at night,” said another American friend. “I was really scared of brooms after that, especially at night,” she added.

New Muslim women face such misguidance and misinformation from the Muslim-born women on the issue of scholars’ differences. Sadly, some Muslim sisters do not understand that the difference of opinions in the subsidiary issues (furu’) is not intended to constrain people but to provide different paths. Hence, they ask the new Muslim sisters to follow them, believing that all of the opinions are obligatory.

In the end, you find yourself confused by the many opinions of women who do not know the difference between the obligatory (fard), the Sunnah (the practices of the Prophet), and the recommended (mustahab),” remarked another revert.

I am not sure if all Muslim women converting to Islam face these kinds of problems, but one thing of which I am positive is that the single women are more vulnerable to these kind of experiences than married ones, who have Muslim husbands to help them.

A major factor behind this problem is that some Muslim women do not have the capability to offer Da’wah to others because their own store of general Islamic knowledge is lacking. One additional cause of the problem is that some Muslim women confuse Islamic priorities. For, unfortunately, they cannot recognize the difference between religion and traditions.

The Rescue is in Asking

The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, warned against offering fatwa on issues of which we are not fully apprised. It is not a shame to admit that we do not know, for we are not supposed to have an answer for every question.

Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “A group of Companions were on a journey and one of them got injured. Later, the injured man had a wet dream. He consulted his companions. Can I perform Tayammum (dry ablution)? They said, No, not if you have water. So he performed Ghusl and died from complications caused by his coming into contact with water. When they later came to the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, they informed him of the incident. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, was upset and commented angrily, “They killed him. May Allah kill them. Why don't you ask if you do not know? The rescue from ignorance is in asking questions. The man could have wrapped his wound with something, wiped over the wrapping and washed the rest of his body. (Abu Dawood)

Before we begin to educate others, we should educate ourselves first.

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What Is The Understanding Of ‘I Have Been Commanded To Fight…’ Hadith

Kaleef K. Karim

This is a part two on this Hadith report (below) which is often quoted out of its historical context. In the previous piece, which can be seen here: “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained“, we showed evidence that the Hadith was never understood by the Prophet nor his companions of carrying out forced conversion of polytheist Makkans:

“I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.” (Fath al-Bari, volume 1, page 95) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003] volume 4, page 377)”

When we analysed the report in its historical context, we saw that the Prophet (p) gave amnesty and forgave the polytheists for the wrong they had done to the Muslims and their non-Muslim ally, Banu Khuza’a.

The polytheists Makkans with Banu Bakr attacked and murdered members of Banu Khuza’a, an ally of Prophet Muhammed. Previous to this incident, the Quraysh agreed to a treaty two years back promising not to break the treaty they agreed too with the Muslims. Soon after, the Quraysh with Banu Bakr attacked and murdered members of Muhammed’s ally, the Banu Khuza’a tribe. This led to the conquest of Makkah.

In this article, we will show further evidence from the Hadith itself and classical to contemporary commentaries that forced conversion did not take place because the very report that is used refutes this. Let’s now turn to the reports:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been ordered to fight the people until they say: ‘La ilaha illallah’. So when they say that, their blood and their wealth are safe from me, except for a right, and their reckoning is for Allah.” Then he recited: So remind them – ‘YOU ARE ONLY ONE WHO REMINDS. YOU ARE NOT A DICTATOR OVER THEM’ (Quran 88:21-22). (Jami at-Tirmidhi volume 5, Book 44, Hadith 3341 (Eng. Tran., Sahih, Darussalam))

This is also reported in Sahih Muslim:

“It is narrated on the authority of Jabir that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded that I should fight against people till they declare that there is no god but Allah, and when they profess it that there is no god but Allah, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah, and then he (the Holy Prophet) recited (this verse of the Holy Qur’an):” THOU ART NOT OVER THEM A WARDEN” (lxxxviii (88), 22).” (Sahih Muslim Book 1, Hadith 32 http://sunnah.com/muslim/1/35 )

Pay close attention to both reports where the following is said:

“YOU ARE ONLY ONE WHO REMINDS. YOU ARE NOT A DICTATOR OVER THEM’ (Quran 88:21-22).”

And:

“then he (the Holy Prophet) RECITED (this verse of the Holy Qur’an):” THOU ART NOT OVER THEM A WARDEN” (lxxxviii (88), 22).”

The Prophet (p) is literally quoting word for word Quran 88:21-22. So what is the significance of these words some may ask? Well, since we know for a fact that he quoted those words in the same sentence of fighting the idolaters, the verse shows that the Prophet (p) forbade forced conversion. He commanded his companions not to forcefully convert anyone.

Classical to contemporary scholars all agree that this verse was revealed to the Prophet (p) that forcing someone to convert to Islam is categorically forbidden (Haram). Let’s read S. 88:21-22,

“21. So remind them (O Muhammad, YOU ARE ONLY A ONE WHO REMINDS.

22. You are NOT a dictator over them.” Q. 88:21-22 Hilali & Khan Translation

 

The Quranic verse 88:21-22 is clear that the Prophet (p) was not sent to force anyone to Islam. Some missionaries not handling the fact that the Prophet (p) was sent only to preach, and not force anyone’s will, they claim that Surah 88:22 was abrogated by Surah 9:5 (“Sword verse”).

If this verse was abrogated by Surah 9:5, then the question needs to be answered as to why the Prophet (p) uttered Surah 88:21-22 on the occasion of Surah 9:5? If it was abrogated, why would he insist his companions not to force anyone to accept Islam on the occasion of when Q. 9:5 was revealed? To the contrary, this shows that Prophet (p) did not see Q. 88:21-22 abrogated, but rather a command that is to be followed until the day of judgement.

Furthermore, another way for some missionaries to try to bypass this clear command of Surah 88:21-22, that forced conversion is Haram (forbidden), they try to present the following verses after S. 88:22,

“21. So remind them (O Muhammad), you are only a one who reminds.

22. You are not a dictator over them.

23. Save the one who turns away and disbelieves

24. Then Allah will punish him with the greatest punishment.

25. Verily, to Us will be their return;

26. Then verily, for Us will be their reckoning.” S. 88:21-26 Hilali-Khan Translation

 

Some of these missionary critics do acknowledge and admit here that forced conversion is not allowed, but they say since the individuals at Prophet Muhammed’s lifetime rejected Islam, he is somehow allowed to murder them since he is “Allah’s agent of judgement” sent to harm non-believers for refusing to accept Islam, they claim. This kind of deceptive interpretation goes against the very text of Quran and a classical exegesis. Sadly this type of deceptive interpretation by missionaries is rampant online.

Since we know that Surah 88:21-22 was uttered on the occasion of Surah 9:5, on the conquest of Makkah, where is the evidence of polytheists being put to death for rejecting Islam? It does not exist. We know from the earliest sources of Islam that the polytheists were fought against as a result of them breaking a treaty and murdering members of the non-Muslim tribe Banu Khuza’a, who at the time were an ally of the Muslims. As a result of Banu Bakr and Quraysh attacking and murdering Muhammed’s non-Muslim ally the Banu Khuza’a, the conquest of Makkah took place. We have written a detailed article on this matter, please click on the following article: “The Hadith ‘…Fight Until They Say There Is No god But Allah’ Explained“. They were fought against because they broke the treaty and killing innocent people, not their beliefs.

I would like to add another important information about Surah 88:21-22 – the chapter as a whole is regarded by the companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) and the majority of scholars to have been revealed in Makkah. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

The Muslims did not raise their hand against the Quraysh, let alone try to kill them. The Muslims were a minority in Makkah, they were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and even killed. This is a historical fact. This lasted for over ten years, this is when the Muslims fled to Madinah to find safe sanctuary. Even there they were pursued and persecuted because they denied, and rejected polytheism. We have documented many incidents when the Muslims arrived in Madinah, they were persecuted by the Quraysh as soon as they arrived: “Did Quraysh Persecute Muslims When They Fled To Madinah?“. So the idea perpetuated by some that the Prophet (p) was ordered to kill those who rejected Islam is false since we know that the whole chapter 88 of the Quran was revealed in Makkah and no fighting ever took place in Makkah, while they were a minority. And since no fighting or forceful conversion did not take place, then by default the command would also be the same when the Prophet (p) uttered the same words of Q. 88:22 on the conquest of Makkah. Besides the Quranic verse (S. 88:21-22), the earliest sources of Islam on the conquest of Makkah also refute this oft-repeated myth about forced conversion.

In view of the immediate context of S. 88:21-26, one sees that the passage is ordering that Prophet Muhammed, and his companions (p) are not allowed to force anyone to Islam. And those who have been presented with the truth and reject it, they will be dealt with on the day of judgement by God. The punishment that is described against those who reject the truth is from God, the words,

“Allah will punish him…” – Quran 88:24

These words couldn’t get any clearer. That the one who punishes is God Himself. Let’s now show some evidence from classical to contemporary exegesis.

Muslim and Non-Muslim Exegesis on Quran 88:21-22

Reverend E. M. Wherry was a notorious Christian missionary who in his writings does not hide his hatred towards Islam and Muhammed, he says the following:

“(21, 22) See note on chap. Ii. 119.”
A Comprehensive Commentary On The Quran – Comprising Sale’s Translation And Preliminary Discourse,With Additional Notes And Emendations Together With A Complete Index To The Text, Preliminary Discourse And Notes, [London – Kegan Paul,, Trench, Trubner, & Co. Ltd. Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road., 1886] by The Rev. E. M. Wherry, M. A., Vol. IV (vol. 4), page 248- 249)

E. M. Wherry directs us to look for chapter 2, verse 119 for the explanation of Surah 88:22, and here he clearly admits that conversion to Islam was through “persuasion”:

“(119) We have sent there … a preacher. This is Muhammad’s claim concerning himself. He ever sets himself forth as a preacher, yet as a messenger of God, an apostle, by whom the Quran was to be conveyed to and enforced upon the world. The power by which it was to be enforced, AT THE TIME THIS PASSAGE WAS WRITTEN, WAS PERSUASION. The pains consequent on unbelief were the pains of hell-fire. …” (A Comprehensive Commentary On The Quran Comprising Sale’s Translation And Preliminary Discourse, With Additional Notes And Emendations – Together with A Complete Inter To The Cert, Preliminary Discourse And Notes, [LONDON. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Limited Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road, 1896] by the Rev. E. M. Wherry, M. A., vol. I (vol. 1), page 333)

Notice E. M. Wherry saying the “pains” of unbelief is dealt with in “hell-fire”.

The 20th-century scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi says that the Prophet (p) was not appointed to force the will of the deniers (unbelievers):

“8 That is, “If a person does not listen to reason, he may not. YOU HAVE NOT BEEN APPOINTED TO FORCE THE WILL OF THE DENIERS. Your only task is to distinguish the right from the wrong for the people and warn them of the consequences of following the wrong way; so this is the task you should continue to perform.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – online source http://englishtafsir.com/Quran/88/index.html )

Classical scholar Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD) commenting on Q. 88:21-22, he says that one cannot force a person to “faith” i.e., forcing someone to believe in Islam is prohibited:

THE MESSENGER IS ONLY CHARGED WITH DELIVERING THE MESSAGE
Allah says,

‘So remind them — you are only one who reminds. You are not a Musaytir over them’ meaning, “O Muhammad! REMIND THE PEOPLE with what you have been sent with to them.”

YOUR DUTY IS ONLY TO CONVEY (THE MESSAGE) and on Us is the reckoning.’ (13:40) Then Allah says,

‘You are not a Musaytir over them.’ Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and others said, “You are not a dictator over them.” This means that you CANNOT create faith in their hearts. Ibn Zayd said, “YOU ARE NOT THE ONE WHO CAN FORCE THEM TO HAVE FAITH.’

The Threat for Whoever turns away from the Truth
Concerning Allah’s statement,

(Save the one who turns away and disbelieves.) meaning, he turns away from acting upon its pillars, and he disbelieves in the truth with his heart and his tongue. This is similar to Allah’s statement,

(So he neither believed nor prayed! But on the contrary, he belied and turn away!) (75:31-32) Thus, Allah says,
(Then ALLAH WILL PUNISH HIM with the greatest punishment.) Allah then says,
(VERILY, TO US WILL BE THEIR RETURN) meaning, their place of return and their resort.
(Then verily, for Us will be their reckoning.) meaning, `WE WILL RECKON THEIR DEEDS FOR THEM AND REQUITE THEM FOR THOSE DEEDS.’ If they did good, they will receive good, and if they did evil, they will receive evil. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Ghashiyah.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathird (Abridged) – (Surat At-Taghabun to the end of the Qur’an) [Abridged by A group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri., Darussalam., Second Edition, 2003], volume 10, page 463 – 465)

Muhammad b. al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi (d. 146/763) [14]:

“‘(Remind them) admonish them, (for thou art but a remembrancer) YOU ARE BUT A WARNER BY MEANS OF THE QUR’AN; it is also said that this means: you are only an admonisher by the Qur’an and through Allah. Thou art not’ O Muhammad ‘at all a warder over them’ you are NOT imposed on them such that you force them to accept faith. … (ALLAH WILL PUNISH HIM) IN THE HEREAFTER (WITH DIREST PUNISHMENT) I.E. WITH THE PUNISHMENT OF THE FIRE. (Lo! unto Us is their return) in the HEREAFTER. (And Ours their reckoning) their steadfastness in the life of the world and reward and punishment in the Hereafter’. ” (Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas on Surah 88:21-22 online source, http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=88&tAyahNo=22&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2 )

 

A Thematic Commentary on the Qurʼan – Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali (1917 – 1996):

SURAH 88
Al-Ghashiyah
(The Overwhelming Event)

The Surah opens with a reverberating question: ‘Have you heard of the overwhelming event?’ (1). The title of this Surah, al-Ghashiyah (The Overwhelming Event), DENOTES THE DAY OF RESURRECTION because it is a day when people’s minds will be overwhelmed. The Surah then continues to provoke fear and hope through promises and threats, before it calls on the Arab mind to look around its environment and observe the camels and the mountains and the stretching horizons. The Arabs were directed to conclude that only One God was deserving of worship and that the idols they had inherited should be abandoned.

The Surah closes by defining the mission of the Muslim community, namely to ENLIGHTEN AND REMIND. As people forget or overlook the purpose of their existence, Muslims are expected to take up the task of confronting ungodliness and evil in the world. They draw their power and strength from the Qur’an, the book that had brought them honor and respect, but which they have now all but neglected.

The Surah threatens the wrong-doers with misery, describing their faces: ‘On that day there shall be downcast faces, worn out, haggard’ (2-3). They will drink seething water and eat food of no benefit to them. As for the believers, they will be in a different world altogether. ‘There shall be radiant faces, of men pleased with their labors, residing in a LOFTY PARADISE’ (8-10). Paradise is a place that is free of idle talk or vain chatter, because such behaviour does not befit wise and pious people.

Believers should use their minds to increase understanding of the world and that which lies beyond its physical presence. ‘Would they not reflect on how camels were created and how the heavens were raised on high?’ (17-18). It is an open invitation to mankind to reflect on all aspects of the universe and all its phenomena and creatures. Very few of the early Muslim scholars can escape the criticism that they were too infatuated with the study of Hellenistic Greek philosophy rather than devoting their attention to the study of the Qur’anic philosophy of matter.

The Surah then makes a most profound statement which encapsulates the essence of the mission of Islam. It says:

‘Therefore, admonish, for you are but a warner; you have no power them’ (21-22).

THIS IS A CLEAR AFFIRMATION THAT MUSLIMS ARE NOT DIRECTED TO ESTABLISH TYRANNICAL, colonialist community steeped in greed, but a community that liberates the human mind and DIRECTS MANKIND TOWARDS PERFECTION. A Muslim state is not established for the benefit of one particular race or ethnic group; rather, it is the outcome of sincere and honest endeavour to please God Almighty.

Virtue in today’s world has been stifled as evil, injustice, and vice find protection and promotion. There has never been a greater need for a believing authority to rise to protect the good, establish justice, and work for faith and reform. Whatever the outcome, THE FINAL RETURN SHALL BE TO GOD ALMIGHTY: ‘TO US IS THEIR RETURN, AND WE WILL BRING THEM TO ACCOUNT’ (25-26). “(A Thematic Commentary on the Qurʼan, [Translated from the Arabic by Ashur A. Shamis – Revised by Zaynab Alawiye – The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1421 AH/2000AC] by Shaykh Muḥammad Ghazali page 717 – 718)

An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Quran:

“Verily, the creation of the sky, earth, mountains, and animals indicate that there is a plan and purpose for the creation of man and the world. The Prophet’s mission is to make people acquainted with the goal of that creation, with his admonishments and lead them to the path of development and nearness to Allah. Of course, the path of development is paved when they do it willingly and without any outer forces, otherwise it is meaningless. THE PROPHET (S) CANNOT FORCE THEM TO OBEY ALLAH AND EVEN IF HE COULD, IT WOULD BE USELESS.

Some have supposed that this instruction has been abrogated when the verses of the command for Holy War were revealed.

WHAT A GREAT MISTAKE! The Prophet’s mission for publicity of Islam and admonition began from the early days of his prophecy and continued until the last moments of his life. It has been continuing since then; at first by his sinless successors and then by the Islamic scholars. This responsibility will never stop. The lack of obligation on the people, in accepting Islam, is also a permanent principle.

However, Holy War is different. The goal is mainly to stand AGAINST TRANSGRESSORS and remove the hindrances from the path of true believers.

This matter is somewhat similar to that of Surah Nisa, No.4, verse 80 which says:

“…But IF ANY TURN AWAY, WE HAVE NOT SENT THEE TO WATCH OVER THEIR (EVIL DEEDS)”.

It is the same in Surah An’am, No. 6, verse 107 and Surah Shura, No. 42, verse 48.

The term /musaytir/ is based on /satr/ ‘a line of a book or writing’ and means ‘a person who arranges the lines of a book’ or ‘one who has absolute authority over a thing or a person and writes down its manner of action, or makes him do something by force’.

In the next verse, as an exception, it says:

“But whoever turns back and disbelieves.”

Opinions are divided about the commentary of this ‘exception’: The first idea says that the exception is from the object of the verb /fathakkir/ to ‘give admonition’. Accepting this, it means ‘you do not need to give admonition to the enemies who reject Allah and do not take your advice’.
This is similar to what is said in Surah Zukhruf, No. 43, verse 83:

SO LEAVE THEM TO BABBLE AND PLAY (WITH VANITIES) until they meet that Day of theirs, which they have been promised”.

The second idea denotes that if the sentence is considered as a conditional sentence, there is something omitted in the sentence and hence the meaning is,

‘Do thou give admonition, because admonishment is useful for all, unless they are enemies of Allah’.
It is similar to what is said in Surah A’1a, No. 87, verse 9:

“Therefore give admonition in case the admonition profits (the hearer)”.

The third idea says that the exception is from the pronoun /’alayhim/ in verse 22, then it would mean: ‘Thou art NOT one to manage (men’s) affair, except in so far as you receive authority to do so against those who reject Allah and do wrong with you.’

This commentary seems more agreeable.

The ‘exception’ may be unrelated; if so, the meaning is: ‘But those who turn back and reject Allah, He has authority over them, or He will punish them with a mighty punishment’.

‘Mighty punishment’ is the punishment IN THE HEREAFTER and is compared with the punishment in the present life as it is said in Surah Zumar, No. 39, verse 26:

“So GOD GAVE THEM A TASTE OF HUMILIATION in the present life, but greater is the punishment of the HEREAFTER.”
It is probable that the purpose of the ‘mighty punishment’ is a definite intensive PUNISHMENT IN HELL for some SINNERS IN THE HEREAFTER, because the punishment of all evildoers will not be the same in HELL.

At the end of the Surah, it says with a threatening tone that:

“Surely to Us will be their Return;”

“Then surely upon Us will be the taking of their account.”

This is, in fact, a kind of consoling for the Prophet (S) in order for him not to be upset about their obstinacy and to keep his responsibility in view. It is also a threat for all those who are obstinate in understanding who it is that will reckon with them.

Thus, Surah Ghashiyah which began by SPEAKING ABOUT THE HEREAFTER, ENDS BY SPEAKING ABOUT THE HEREAFTER also, but in between, ‘monotheism’ and ‘prophecy’, are discussed which is the basis of Resurrection.
Meanwhile, in the beginning verses, a portion of the severe punishments for the evildoers, and then a great part of the rewards of the good-doers are mentioned. By the way, PEOPLE ARE FREE EITHER TO BELIEVE AND FOLLOW THE WAY OR NOT, but they are warned that their return will certainly be to Allah and it is He Who will take care of their account.

Therefore, IT CLEARLY STATES THAT THE HOLY PROPHET (S) IS SENT TO TEACH AND DIRECT PEOPLE ON THE WAY AND HE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PEOPLE’S REJECTIONS AND CORRUPTIONS. All prophets of Allah have been commissioned in like manner.” (An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Quran [The Scientific and Religious Research Center Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali Public Library – Translator Sayyid Abbas Sadr-‘ameli], compiled by a group of Muslim scholars, under the direction of Allamah Al-Hajj Sayyid Kamal Faqih Imani, volume 19, page 301 – 303, online source http://islamicmobility.com/pdf/An_Enlightening_Com_intothe_Light_ofthe_Holy_Quran_vol19.pdf )

The Holy Quran – Commentary – Tafsir by Agha Mehdi Pooya states that there is no “compulsion in religion”. He comments further that the Prophet Muhammed is not a compeller and it is “Allah who will punish”:

“[Pooya/Ali Commentary 88:21-22]
The Prophet of Allah is sent to teach, preach and guide the people, but not to force people to adopt the right path. Musaytir has been used here in the sense of an enforced or compeller who forces or coerces in order to make any one carry out commands against one’s will under duress. As has been said in Baqarah: 256, there is NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION, so the Prophet of Allah is NOT A COMPELLER in this sense, otherwise as the vicegerent of Allah he has the authority to execute His divine legislative will. It is Allah who will punish the transgressors. …” The Holy Quran – Commentary – Tafsir by Ayatullah Agha Mehdi Pooya & S. V. Mir Ahmed Ali (Surah 71 to 114), page 81)

Scholar Yusuf Ali (1872 – 1952) states that the Prophet (p) was not sent to force people’s will and that “punishment belongs to Allah alone”:

“6107 The Prophet of Allah is sent to teach and direct people on the way. HE IS NOT SENT TO FORCE THEIR WILL, or to punish them, except insofar as he may receive authority to do so. Punishment belongs to Allah alone. And Punishment is certain in the Hereafter, when true values will be restored.” (The Meaning of The Noble Qur’an [Edition 2006] by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 449 http://www.ulc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/English-Quran-With-Commentaries.pdf)

Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an – Qutb says that the job of the Prophet (p) was to remind people of the Message of Islam and no other role. And his task was not to convert people by force, as such is forbidden (Haram) in Islam:

“The Prophet’s Mission
Having dealt first with the hereafter, and pointed out some apparent aspects of the universe, the surah now addresses the Prophet, (peace be upon him), laying down the nature of his mission and limits of his role. It then concludes with a final reminder to mankind: “Therefore exhort them; your task is only to exhort. You are not their overseer. But he who turns his back and disbelieves, God shall inflict on him the greatest suffering. To Us they shall surely return, when We shall bring them to account.” (Verses 21-26)

Remind them, then, of the hereafter and the universe, and all there is in each of them. YOUR SPECIFIC TASK IS TO REMIND PEOPLE, AND YOU HAVE NO OTHER ROLE. This is indeed your mission for which you have been suitably equipped. “You are not their overseer.” (Verse 22) You have no control over their hearts and you cannot compel them to adopt the faith. Men’s hearts are in the hands of God, the Merciful. Jihad, which means striving for God’s cause and which was later made a duty of the Prophet and all Muslims, DID NOT AIM AT CONVERTING PEOPLE TO ISLAM BY FORCE. Its only aim was to remove all hindrances in the way of the Islamic message, so that it could be delivered freely, and people would not be prevented from listening to it or be persecuted for doing so. This is the role the Prophet can fulfil: to remove the obstacles which prevent him from delivering his message.

The notion that the Prophet’s mission is confined to reminding people and delivering God’s message is often repeated and stressed in the Qur’an. There are several reasons for this emphasis, the first of which is to relieve the Prophet of the heavy burden of directing the course of the Islamic message once he has conveyed it.
He must leave it to God to decide its course. The urgency of the human yearning to win victory for the truth and to get people to benefit from its absolute goodness is so keen that such repetition is required to make the advocates of this message distinguish their own desires and ambitions from their mission. When this distinction is clear, they proceed in fulfilment of their duty, regardless of the response and consequence. THUS ADVOCATES OF ISLAM DO NOT WORRY THEMSELVES OVER WHO HAS ACCEPTED THE FAITH AND WHO HAS NOT. They are not charged with this burden, which becomes particularly heavy at times of adversity, when a favourable response becomes a rarity and enemies abound. “But he who turns his back and disbelieves, God shall inflict on him the greatest suffering.” (Verses 23-24) They will no doubt return to God, and He will inevitably administer their retribution. Such is the final and decisive note on which the surah ends: “To Us they shall surely return, when We shall bring them to account.” (Verses 25-26)

The definition of the Prophet’s role and the role of every subsequent advocate of Islam is thus completed. They have only to remind and the reckoning will be made by God. It must be stressed, however, that the process of reminding includes the removal of hindrances so that people are free to listen to the divine message. This is the aim of jihad as it is understood from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s history. It is a process which neither admits negligence NOR PERMITS AGGRESSION. (In The Shade Of The Qur’an (“Fi Dhilal Al Qur’an”) by Sayyid Qutb Vol XVIII (vol. 18), page 143 – 144)

The Tafsir Anwarul Bayan by scholar Muhammad Aashiq Elahi Muhajir Madani (1924/1925 – 2001) writes that the responsibility of the Prophet Muhammed (p) was only to preach the Message and “not force people to believe (in Islam)”:

“…because of his overwhelming concern for his Ummah, the Holy Prophet used to become extremely grieved when people REFUSED TO ACCEPT ISLAM. Therefore, Allah said to him, ‘So give advice, for you are an advisor. You have not been appointed as a warder over them’ i.e., YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IS ONLY TO PREACH THE MESSAGE AND NOT FORCE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE. Whoever believed after the message reached him, shall be successful.“ (Illuminating Discourses On The Quran (“Tafsir Anwarul Bayan”) [Translation Edited by Mufti Afzal Hussain Elias. – Revised by Maulana Arshad Fakhri based on Ma’ariful Quran. – Darul Ishaat, Urdu Bazar, Karachi. First Edition, 2005] by Muhammad Aashiq Elahi Muhajir Madani, volume 5, page 390)

Maarif ul Quran – Mufti Mohammad Shafi (1897 – 1976) writes that it is God Almighty who guides the “unbelievers”, and Prophet Muhammed (p) is only a “preacher”:

“In conclusion of the Chapter, the Messenger of Allah is comforted thus:
… ‘You are not a taskmaster set up over them, … 88:22’
THE HOLY PROPHET IS TOLD THAT HE IS ONLY A PREACHER, and as such he must keep on preaching. He should not worry beyond that. IT IS FOR ALLAH TO CALL THE UNBELIEVERS TO HIM to render account of their deeds and actions…” (Maarif ul Quran: Quran Translation and Commentary [Translated by Maulana Ahmed Khalil Aziz. Revised by Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani] by Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi, volume 8, page 777)

 

Asrar At-Tanzil – Scholar Amir Muhammad Akram A’wan:

“Propagator

A propagator must have these four qualities: (1) Must work tirelessly like… and be content with whatever food is available. (2) Posses lofty determination and courage like the sky (3) Be as firm as the mountains and finally (4) Should be as furnishing and humble as the earth, without a trace of arrogance. Each action must be aimed at benefitting mankind; by way of delivering the oppressed as well as checking the oppressor.

So O’ PROPHET YOU MAY SIMPLY ADVISE PEOPLE as advising them is your responsibility. YOU DO NOT FORCE THEM INTO BELIEVING. It is Allah’s domain to severely punish those who turn away from your advice and Din and opt for infidelity. Undoubtedly they have to return to Us one day and We will Personally take them to account.” (Holy Quran – Translation & Commentary – Asrar At-Tanzil [Idarah-e Naqshbandiah Owaisiah, Dar al-Irfan Munara, Distt, Chakwal. First edition, 2004] by Amir Muhammad Akram A’wan, volume 5, page 481)

The giant 14th Century Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292 – 1350 AD) in the book “Hidayatul Hayara Fi Ajwibatul Yahood wa al-Nasara” he writes on Surah al-Tawbah, specifically on the occasion of this Hadith report under discussion. He writes that the Prophet Muhammed (p) never forced anyone to accept Islam:

“When God sent His Apostle (p), most of the followers of these religions responded to him and to his successsors, voluntarily and willingly. NOBODY WAS COMPELLED TO DO SO. THE APOSTLE FOUGHT ONLY THOSE WHO FOUGHT AND WAGED WAR AGAINST HIM. He did not fight those who made peace with him, neither did he fight those who were under the pledge of truce. He was obeying the bidding of God Most Sublime were he said:

‘Let there be no compulsion in Religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects Evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks, and God heareth and knowth all things ‘ (al-Baqarah: 256).

THE APOSTLE DID NOT COMPEL ANYONE TO ADOPT ISLAM. The above quoted verse from the Qur’an negates compulsion in the sense of prohibition that is: do not compel a soul to embrace the Religion. The verse (Sura) was revealed to admonish some of the men among the companions whose children embraced Judaism and Christianity before the advent of Islam, and where with the advent of Islam, their fathers embraced the religion of Muhammad and attempted to compel their children to follow their lead. God Most Exalted prohibited the fathers from resorting to compulsion to inspire their children to embrace Islam out of their choice. … To him who ponders over the biography of the Prophet (p) it becomes clear that he did not compel anyone to embrace his religion, and that he only fought those who fought him. He did not fight those who made truce with him as long as they kept and honoured the truce. He never broke a promise, for God Most High bid him to fulfil his promises to them as long as they kept theirs. A propos, God Most Exalted said:

‘How can there be a league before God and His apostle, with the pagans, except thoe with whom ye made a treaty near the Sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them for God doth love the righteous’ (AL-TAWBAH: 7).

… Likewise, when the Prophet Muhammad made truce with (the tribe of) Quraysh holding for ten years, HE DID NOT START ANY FIGHT WITH THEM; BUT WHEN THEY VIOLATED THE MUTUAL AGREEMENT AND RAISED ARMS AGAINST HIM, HE FOUGHT BACK… he stopped the fight when they retreated and went off. The point is that he did not compel anyone at all to embrace his religion; but people embraced his RELIGION VOLUNTARILY and willingly. When most of the people earth realized the True Guidance, and that he is genuinely the Apostle of God, they embraced his call. (Guidance To The Uncertain In Reply To The Jews And The Nazarenes (‘Hidayatul Hayara Fi Ajwibatul Yahud wa al-Nasara’) – [Translated by Abdelhay El-Masry, Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah] by Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziah, page 25 – 27)

Conclusion:

With the above evidence shown, we see that the Hadith that is used by proponents, claiming that report shows Muhammed ordered his followers to forcefully convert idolaters is not true. The very same report used by critics, the Prophet commands his followers not to force anyone to believe in Islam, he uses word for word Surah 88:21-22, which as we have seen all scholars agree that forced conversion is not allowed in Islam. The verse ordered Muslims not to convert anyone to Islam by force. As such act, forcing someone’s will is categorically forbidden (Haram) in Islam.

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Related articles:

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(2) – “Muhammed A Mercy: Analysing Dogs Killed In Madinah

(3) – “What Happened To The Captive Women In Awtas Incident?

(4) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?

(5) – “‘Those Who Wage War And Make Mischief’ – Quran 5:33

(6) – “Did Jews Get Expelled From Arabia?

(7) – “Does Biblical Law Force Rape Victim To Marry Rapist?

(8) – “2 Samuel 13:14 And Deuteronomy 21:14

(9) – “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period Of Islam“

(10) – “The Truth About Jizyah

References:

[1] Shaykh Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi:
“Period of Revelation
The whole subject matter of the Surah indicates that this too is ONE OF THE EARLIEST SURAHS TO BE REVEALED; but this was the period when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had started preaching his message publicly, and the people of MAKKAH were hearing it and ignoring it carelessly and thoughtlessly.” (Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi – Tafhim al-Qur’an – The Meaning of the Qur’an – online source http://englishtafsir.com/Quran/88/index.html)
[2] Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi:
“Surat-ul-Ghashia
The Enveloping. LXXXVIII
(MAKKAN, 1 Section and 26 verses) (Tafsir-Ul-Qur’an – Translation and Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an [Published By Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazaar Karachi: Pakistan. First edition, 1991] by Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, volume 4, page 495)
[3] Maulana Muhammad Ali:
“The Overwhelming Event, whose mention in the first verse supplies a name to this chapter, is the doom of the opponents in this life and their punishment in the Hereafter. The DATE OF REVELATION IS PLACED ABOUT THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE PROPHET’S CALL.” (The Holy Quran Arabic Text with English Translation, Commentary and comprehensive Introduction [Year 2002 Edition] by Maulana Muhammad Ali, page 1206)
[4] Ibn Kathir:
“The Tafsir Of Surat AL-GHASHIYAH
(Chapter – 88)
Which was REVEALED IN MAKKAH”. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) – (Surat At-Taghabun to the end of the Qur’an) [Abridged by A group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri., Darussalam., Second Edition, 2003], volume 10, page 455)
[5] The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary:
“CHAPTER 88
Al-Ghashiyah
(Revealed BEFORE HIJRAH)
Dated of Revelation and Context
The Surah, like the preceding one, was revealed early at MECCA. Eminent early Muslims scholars such as Ibn Abbas and Ibn Zubair hold this view. The famous German orientalist Noldeke places it in the fourth year of the Call. …” (The Holy Qur’an – Arabic Text With English Translation & Short Commentary [Published by Islam International Publications Limited, Present edition (UK), 2002] by Malik Ghulam Farid, page 1257)
[6] Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi:
“Surah Al-Ghashiyah
(The Overwhelming Event)
THIS SURAH IS MAKKI, and it has 26 verses. (Maarif ul Quran: Quran Translation and Commentary [Translated by Maulana Ahmed Khalil Aziz. Revised by Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani] by Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi, volume 8, page 772)
[7] The Qur’an With Annotated Interpretation in Modern English – Ali Unal:
“REVEALED IN MAKKAH, this surah of 26 verses derives its name from the word AL-GHASHIYAH (the overwhelming, meaning the Resurrection Day) in the first verse. It draws attention to the hardships and punishment the unbelievers will suffer in the Hereafter, and the bliss with which the believers will be favored. It also calls on us to reflect on some manifestations and evidence of God’s Power and Wisdom.” ((The Qur’an With Annotated Interpretation in Modern English by Ali Unal, page 1161)
[8] An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Quran:
“Surah Ghashiyah, Chapter 88
(The Overwhelming Event) Number of Verses: 26
Contents of Surah Ghashiyah
This Surah is ONE OF THE MECCAN SURAHS which contains mainly the following three themes: The first subject is the ‘Resurrection’ and the contrast between the destinies of the Good and the Evil in the ‘Hereafter’. The second subject is ‘Monotheism’ with reference to the creation of the sky, the earth, and the mountains. Man should consider these wonderful matters as admonishments. The third subject is ‘Prophecy’ and some of the duties that the holy Prophet (S) was required to perform. On the whole, the Surah strengthens the idea for the basis of religion and faith, as well as all MECCAN SURAHS do.” (An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Quran [The Scientific and Religious Research Center Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali Public Library – Translator Sayyid Abbas Sadr-‘ameli], compiled by a group of Muslim scholars, under the direction of Allamah Al-Hajj Sayyid Kamal Faqih Imani, volume 19, page 288 – 289, online source http://islamicmobility.com/pdf/An_Enlightening_Com_intothe_Light_ofthe_Holy_Quran_vol19.pdf )
[9] So Qur’an al-Karim:
“Al-Ghashiyah – 88 – 1037 – MAKKI” (So Qur’an al-Karim – Ago so Kiya pema ana iron ko basa a iranon sa pilimpinas – iniranon i: Sheik AbdulAziz Guroalim Saromantang [King Fahd Complex For The printing Of the Holy Qur’an, Madinah, K. S. A.], page 1067)
[10] Professor Shah Farid-ul-Haque:
“Surah Number 88: Al-Ghashiyah (The Overwhelming)
REVEALED AT: MAKKAH
Total verses: 26” (Al-Quran-ul-Kareem (English Translation) Kanz-ul-Eeman – An English Translation from ‘Kanz-Ul-Eeman’ – English Text Translation by Professor Shah Farid-ul-Haque, page 207, online source http://www.nooremadinah.net/Al-Quran/EnglishTranslation/Download/QuranEnglishTranslation.pdf )
[11] Scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali:
“Introduction And Summary To Surrah 88 – Al-Ghashiyah
This is a late surah of the EARLY MAKKAN PERIOD, perhaps close in date to S. 53. Its subject matter is the contrast between the destinies of the Good and the Evil in the Hereafter – on the day when the true balance will be restored The signs of Allah even in this life should remind us of the day of account, for Allah is good, and his creation is for a just purpose. (The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an [Amana Publications, 2004] by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, page 1639)
[12] Asrar At-Tanzil – Shaykh Amir Muhammad Akram A’wan:
“Surah al Ghathiah
(The Enveloping)
REVEALED AT MAKKAH, it has twenty six Ayat and only one section.” (Holy Quran – Translation & Commentary – Asrar At-Tanzil [Idarah-e Naqshbandiah Owaisiah, Dar al-Irfan Munara, Distt, Chakwal. First edition, 2004] by Amir Muhammad Akram A’wan, volume 5, page 479)
[13] Dr. Muhammad Asad:
“REVEALED most probably about the MIDDLE OF THE MECCA PERIOD, this surah derives its title from the participial noun al-ghashiyah in the first verse.” (The Message of The Quran Translated and Explained by Dr. Muhammad Asad [Leopold Weiss], page 862, online source https://asadullahali.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/the-message-of-the-quran.pdf )
[14] Professor Asma Afsaruddin says that the companion Ibn Abass is not the author of this exegesis “Tanwir min Miqbas ibn Abbas”. The professor points out that the original author of this exegesis is Muhammad b. al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi (d.146/763):
“1 The work attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas is titled Tanwir al-miqbas min tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas; the EXTANT VERSION HAS BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO MUHAMMAD B. AL-SA’IB AL-KALBI (d.146/763). For a discussion of this work’s probable authorship, see Andrew Rippin 1994, 38–83 and more recently, Harald Motzki 2006, 147–63.” (The Hermeneutics Of Inter-Faith Relations: Retrieving Moderation And Pluraism As Universal Principles In Qur’anic Exegesis [Journal of Religious Ethics Inc., 2009] by Asma Afsaruddin, page 333 (footnote 1))

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

A person must stop doing Bid‘ah for repentance to be accepted


Question

What is the ruling on Bid‘ah (religious innovation) and the person who does Bid‘ah?.

 

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

Innovations in religion are impermissible. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that every Bid‘ah (religious innovation) leads to going astray. [Muslim]

The repentance of a person who does Bid‘ah is not accepted until he stops doing the Bid‘ah. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said that Allah The Almighty does not accept the repentance of a person who does Bid‘ah until he stops doing the Bid‘ah. [At-Tabaraani in Al-Kabeer] Al-Albaani graded this Hadeeth as Saheeh (Authentic).

The ruling that applies to the person who does Bid‘ah differs according to the type of Bid‘ah he does and whether or not it results in disbelief, in order to know how to deal with such a person and the ruling on the permissibility of praying behind (when he is leading the congregational prayer) and whether or not to abandon this person.

Allah Knows best.


Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb
 

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Social evils that are destroying Muslim communities - I

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The role of the individual in Islam is not limited to fulfilling the five pillars. The Muslim in an Islamic community has a greater responsibility than is usually understood. All of a Muslim's activities in life are included as acts of worship depending upon the intention underlying them. Nothing is required from a Muslim beyond service to Allah The Almighty, and nothing is accepted from him, which is not a service. Every individual's responsibilities fall into two parts: his responsibility to adhere to the teachings of Islam and his responsibility to enjoin good and forbid evil – which is social reform. There is a reason why enjoining good and forbidding wrong comes first, even before faith. It emphasizes the Muslim's duty and implies faith can only be realized by certain actions, which maintains a relationship between the individual and society.

Neglecting these duties leads to widespread corruption and an increase in evils that consume the core of the community, such as the following:

Indifference: Muslims are commanded to play a positive role in their community and assist in enjoining matters of virtue and preventing evil by as much as they can. Many Muslims stray away from the right path because they do not find anyone to assist them and rescue them from straying in their communities, as those around them act indifferently. One should not underestimate any input he can give in such cases and consider the story of the imprisonment of Imaam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, to see how effective a person can be if he takes the initiative and does not act indifferently. When Imaam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, was imprisoned, a thief was with him in the same cell. The thief said to him, “O Ahmad! I persevere and tolerate the punishment I receive while I am upon falsehood and being punished for a sin. Would someone like you, who is suffering as a result of being upon the truth, not persevere and endure?" Thus, this thief played an important role in comforting and consoling Imaam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy upon him, in a difficult situation.

Underestimating the harms of intermixing and neglecting to lower the gaze: If members of a particular community give free rein to their sight, do not adhere to the Hijaab (Islamic attire for women) and women wear perfume before leaving their homes, the most obvious outcome is the spread of immorality in the community. Immoral films, TV programs, obscene content on the internet and intermixing between the two sexes are other causes that have led to people committing sins and indulging in immorality. People nowadays mix with the opposite sex in universities, schools and workplaces, while Yoonus bin ‘Ubayd, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Never be in seclusion with a woman, even if you wish to teach her the Quran, and even if only you would be the one reciting."

Being ill-mannered: Many people possess three very evil qualities, namely: lying, cowardice and miserliness, and these are the worst three qualities a person can possess. There are also many other evil qualities that we must be mindful of and hold ourselves to account regarding, such as backbiting, badmouthing others and tale-bearing, while replacing them with praiseworthy qualities and morals.

The Salaf (righteous predecessors), may Allah have mercy upon them, would rebuke themselves for every word they uttered, words which would be considered very normal to people nowadays. Maalik bin Dhayghan, may Allah have mercy upon him, said,

“Rabaah bin Qays once came asking for my father after the ‘Asr prayer, but he happened to be sleeping, so we informed him of this, to which he remarked: `Who would sleep at this time of the day?` Then he left. We sent a man after him to see if he wanted us to wake my father up for him, but this man did not return until it was time to pray Maghrib. When we asked him why he returned so late, he said: `I followed him to ask him, but found that he was headed to the graveyard while rebuking himself, saying: `What business is it of yours to ask this kind of question? Why do you ask what does not concern you? What is it to you when people go to sleep? People are free to sleep any time they desire, why did you indulge in what does not concern you?...`'”
Note how lightly such a question would be taken in our time, and how strongly he rebuked himself for asking it.

Social evils that are destroying Muslim communities - II 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Acting upon the Quran – I

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: In the year of Tabook, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, addressed the people, while supporting his back against a date-palm, saying: 

Should I not tell you about the best of people and the worst of people? The best of people is a man who strives in the cause of Allah on the back of his horse, on the back of his camel, or on his feet till death comes to him. Among the worst of people is a wicked man who reads the Book of Allah (the Quran) and is inattentive to it. [Ahmad, An-Nasa’i and Al-Hakim who renders it authentic]

The best of people are those who fight in the cause of Allah and who continue to do so till death approaches them; whereas the worst of people is the wicked man who reads the Quran and acts upon nothing thereof. The wicked person is he who commits sins, be he a Muslim or a non-Muslim. It includes, in our time, the orientalists and their disciples who follow their method from among the Muslims and evil scholars, as will be shown later in the three hadiths to come. According to a scholar, one may recite the Quran and curse himself unknowingly.

He may read (what means): {Unquestionably, the curse of Allah is upon the wrongdoers.} [Quran 11:18] and he is one of the wrongdoers. He also may recite (what means): {Let us … supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us].} [Quran 3:61] and he is one of those liars.

According to Abu Sulayman Ad-Darani, may Allah have mercy upon him, the angels of Hell come to the holders of the Quran who disobey Allah Almighty before they come to the idolaters.

One of the predecessors said: “One may start reciting a Quranic soorah (chapter), thereupon the angels keep invoking Allah’s blessing upon him till he ends it; and one may start reciting a Quranic soorah, thereupon the angels keep invoking Allah’s curse upon him till he ends it.” When asked how this takes place he said: “If he makes lawful what is lawful in it and makes unlawful what is unlawful in it, they will invoke Allah’s blessing upon him, otherwise they will invoke Allah’s curse upon him.”

It is narrated on the authority of Jundub, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: “We, the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, were given faith before the Quran; and after us, there will be a people who will be given the Quran before faith: they will establish it in letter and neglect its limits and rights, saying: ‘We recite the Quran: who could recite better than us? We know (the Quran): Who has knowledge better than us?’” That will be their share. According to another narration, “Those will be the worst of people.” [Ibn Majah]

According to Qatadah, may Allah have mercy upon him, no one sits with this Quran (i.e. recites it) but that he will leave it either with increase or decrease (in success or loss). In confirmation, Allah Almighty says (what means): {And We send down of the Quran that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.} [Quran 17:82]

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said:

The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: There will appear among you a people (who will be engaged in religious service, so much that) you will look down upon your prayer, fasting and deeds, compared with theirs. They will recite the Quran, though it will not go beyond their collar-bones (because they will have practically no belief). They will deviate from the religion as an arrow goes out through the game, whereupon the archer would examine the arrowhead but see nothing, look at the bow but see nothing, and look at the feathers but see nothing. Finally he would look at the arrow shaft and doubt whether he could find anything. [At-Tirmithi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah and An-Nasa’i]

To deviate from the religion is to take only what agrees with one’s inclination and abandon everything else. That is, they will abandon the religion as fast as the arrow goes out of the game.

According to the narration of Muslim, Abu Dawood and An-Nasa’i:

Towards the end of time there will appear some young, foolish people who will use (in their claim) the best speech of all people (the Quran). They will recite the Quran, though it will not go beyond their collar-bones. They will abandon Islam as an arrow goes out through the game. So, wherever you meet them, kill them, for he who kills them shall receive a reward on the

Day of Resurrection.

This applies to him who is endowed with extensive knowledge of sharia sciences but has no faith, like the Orientalists and their disciples: they speak pleasant words characterized by scientific accuracy, objectivity and the desire to reach the fact. But they hide in its folds feelings of resentment towards Islam and the inexorable attempt to slander and ruin it with malicious ways.

It also applies to the religious innovators who follow their inclinations. They have corrupt ideas they like to prove by taking from the religion what agrees with their opinions and leaving the rest of it. In order to do so, they gather the information which supports their inclinations and religious innovations ; thereby, they appear, in the eyes of the simple and naive people, as investigating, accurate scholars, whose speech is convincing and conclusions valid.

Mu‘ath ibn Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "There will be, after you, fitnahs, in which wealth will become abundant, and the Quran will be opened (i.e. become in circulation among people), so much so, that it will be recited by the faithful believer and the hypocrite, the man and woman, the old and the young, and the slave and the free one; and one will be about to say: 'What is the matter with the people that they do not follow me, even though I recite the Quran: they seem not to follow me until I innovate for them something other than it.

So, beware of innovations, for they are falsehood; and I warn you of the deviation of the wise, for the devil may say the word of falsehood on the tongue of the wise; and a hypocrite may say a word of truth.'" They asked: "What makes us know, may Allah have mercy upon you, that the wise person is saying the word of falsehood and the hypocrite is saying the word of truth?" He said: "Nay! Avoid the wise man’s words which you disapprove of and which are questioned by people, but let not this dissuade you from him, for perchance he may retract and follow the truth once he hears it, for there is light on the truth." [Abu Dawood]

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What Does The Arabic Word Fitnah Mean?

The following article was retrieved from “discover-the-truth.com

Often times the Arabic word “fitna” (فِتْنَةٌ) in Surah 2:190-194 and Surah 8:39 gets associated by critics to mean “shirk” (disbelief). They claim when the Quran ordered early companions of Muhammed to fight against “fitna”, they assert here that they were ordered to fight non-Muslims merely because of them not believing in Islam. This claim has no foundation whatsoever when one looks at the earliest sources of Islam.

The following Hadith saying is from a Companion of prophet Muhammed (p) and he clarifies what is meant by “fitna” (فِتْنَةٌ):

“Narrated Sa`id bin Jubair:`Abdullah bin `Umar came to us and we hoped that he would narrate to us a good Hadith. But before we asked him, a man got up and said to him, “O Abu `Abdur-Rahman! Narrate to us about the battles during the time of the afflictions, as Allah says:– ‘And fight them until there is no more afflictions (i.e. no more worshipping of others besides Allah).’” (2.193) Ibn `Umar said (to the man), “Do you know what is meant by afflictions? Let your mother bereave you! Muhammad used to fight against the pagans, FOR A MUSLIM WAS PUT TO TRIAL IN HIS RELIGION (THE PAGANS WILL EITHER KILL HIM OR CHAIN HIM AS A CAPTIVE). His fighting was not like your fighting which is carried on for the sake of ruling.
Arabic:
حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ الْوَاسِطِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا خَالِدٌ، عَنْ بَيَانٍ، عَنْ وَبَرَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ، قَالَ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عُمَرَ فَرَجَوْنَا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَنَا، حَدِيثًا حَسَنًا ـ قَالَ ـ فَبَادَرَنَا إِلَيْهِ رَجُلٌ فَقَالَ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ حَدِّثْنَا عَنِ الْقِتَالِ فِي الْفِتْنَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَقُولُ ‏{‏وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ‏}‏ فَقَالَ هَلْ تَدْرِي مَا الْفِتْنَةُ ثَكِلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ، إِنَّمَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُقَاتِلُ الْمُشْرِكِينَ، وَكَانَ الدُّخُولُ فِي دِينِهِمْ فِتْنَةً، وَلَيْسَ كَقِتَالِكُمْ عَلَى الْمُلْكِ‏.‏ “ (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 88, Hadith 215 https://sunnah.com/bukhari/92/46)

That above hadith says fighting can’t be “for leadership”/supremacy. The fitna fighting was in relation to persecution and oppression. Here is a longer version:

“Narrated Nafi: During the affliction of Ibn Az-Zubair, two men came to Ibn `Umar and said, “The people are lost, and you are the son of `Umar, and the companion of the Prophet, so what forbids you from coming out?” He said, “What forbids me is that Allah has prohibited the shedding of my brother’s blood.” They both said, “Didn’t Allah say, ‘And fight then until there is no more affliction?” He said “We fought until there was no more affliction and the worship is for Allah (Alone while you want to fight until there is affliction and until the worship become for other than Allah.” … Won’t you listen to why Allah has mentioned in His Book: ‘If two groups of believers fight each other, then make peace between them, but if one of then transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then you all fight against the one that transgresses. (49.9) and:–“AND FIGHT THEM TILL THERE IS NO MORE AFFLICTION (FITNA فِتْنَةٌ).” Ibn `Umar said, “WE DID IT, DURING THE LIFETIME OF ALLAH’S MESSENGER WHEN ISLAM HAD ONLY A FEW FOLLOWERS. A MAN WOULD BE PUT TO TRIAL BECAUSE OF HIS RELIGION; HE WOULD EITHER BE KILLED OR TORTURED. BUT WHEN THE MUSLIMS INCREASED, THERE WAS NO MORE AFFLICTIONS OR OPPRESSIONS (FITNA). …
Arabic
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَهَّابِ، حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَتَاهُ رَجُلاَنِ فِي فِتْنَةِ ابْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ فَقَالاَ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ ضُيِّعُوا، وَأَنْتَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ وَصَاحِبُ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَا يَمْنَعُكَ أَنْ تَخْرُجَ فَقَالَ يَمْنَعُنِي أَنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَ دَمَ أَخِي‏.‏ فَقَالاَ أَلَمْ يَقُلِ اللَّهُ ‏{‏وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ ‏}‏ فَقَالَ قَاتَلْنَا حَتَّى لَمْ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ، وَكَانَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ، وَأَنْتُمْ تُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تُقَاتِلُوا حَتَّى تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ، وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ‏.‏ وَزَادَ عُثْمَانُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ عَنِ ابْنِ وَهْبٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي فُلاَنٌ، وَحَيْوَةُ بْنُ شُرَيْحٍ، عَنْ بَكْرِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو الْمَعَافِرِيِّ، أَنَّ بُكَيْرَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَهُ عَنْ نَافِعٍ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، أَتَى ابْنَ عُمَرَ فَقَالَ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مَا حَمَلَكَ عَلَى أَنْ تَحُجَّ عَامًا وَتَعْتَمِرَ عَامًا، وَتَتْرُكَ الْجِهَادَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ، وَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَا رَغَّبَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أَخِي بُنِيَ الإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ إِيمَانٍ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ، وَالصَّلاَةِ الْخَمْسِ، وَصِيَامِ رَمَضَانَ، وَأَدَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ، وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ‏.‏ قَالَ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَلاَ تَسْمَعُ مَا ذَكَرَ اللَّهُ فِي كِتَابِهِ ‏{‏وَإِنْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا‏}‏ ‏{‏إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ‏}‏ ‏{‏قَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ‏}‏ قَالَ فَعَلْنَا عَلَى عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَكَانَ الإِسْلاَمُ قَلِيلاً، فَكَانَ الرَّجُلُ يُفْتَنُ فِي دِينِهِ إِمَّا قَتَلُوهُ، وَإِمَّا يُعَذِّبُوهُ، حَتَّى كَثُرَ الإِسْلاَمُ فَلَمْ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ‏.‏ قَالَ فَمَا قَوْلُكَ فِي عَلِيٍّ وَعُثْمَانَ قَالَ أَمَّا عُثْمَانُ فَكَأَنَّ اللَّهَ عَفَا عَنْهُ، وَأَمَّا أَنْتُمْ فَكَرِهْتُمْ أَنْ تَعْفُوا عَنْهُ، وَأَمَّا عَلِيٌّ فَابْنُ عَمِّ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَخَتَنُهُ‏.‏ وَأَشَارَ بِيَدِهِ فَقَالَ هَذَا بَيْتُهُ حَيْثُ تَرَوْنَ‏.‏
” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 40 https://sunnah.com/urn/41950)

And:

Narrated Ibn `Umar: … Ibn `Umar said, “O son of my brother! I would rather be blamed for not fighting because of this Verse than to be blamed because of another Verse where Allah says: ‘And whoever kills a believer intentionally…” (4.93) Then that man said, “Allah says:– ‘And fight them until there is no more afflictions (worshipping other besides Allah) and the religion (i.e. worship) will be all for Allah (Alone)” (8.39) Ibn `Umar said, “We did this during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger when the number of Muslims was small, and A MAN WAS PUT TO TRIAL BECAUSE OF HIS RELIGION, THE PAGANS WOULD EITHER KILL OR CHAIN HIM; BUT WHEN THE MUSLIMS INCREASED (AND ISLAM SPREAD), THERE WAS NO PERSECUTION (FITNA).” When that man saw that Ibn `Umar did not agree to his proposal, he said, “What is your opinion regarding `Ali and `Uthman?” Ibn `Umar said, “What is my opinion regarding `Ali and `Uthman? As for `Uthman, Allah forgave him and you disliked to forgive him, and `Ali is the cousin and son-in-law of Allah’s Messenger.” Then he pointed out with his hand and said, “And that is his daughter’s (house) which you can see.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 173 https://sunnah.com/urn/43280)

And this report from Fath al-Bari:

“’And fight them until there is no more FITNAH…’
Ibn Umar said, ‘We did that during the time of The Messenger of Allah when Islam was weak and the man would be tried in religion, EITHER TORMENTED TO DEATH OR BEING IMPRISONED. When Islam became stronger and widespread, there was no more Fitnah.’ …” (Fath al-Bari volume 8, page 160) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003] volume 4 page 314)

Ibn Kathir explains that “fitnah” in Surah 8:39-41 is understood classically to mean that a Muslim is persecuted so much that he may abandon his religion. In his footnote he provides Ibn Abi Hatim (854 – 938 AD) who also has this opinion:

“’until there is no Fitnah’ the Fitnah mentioned here means, until no Muslims is PERSECUTED so that he abandons his religion.” (Ibn Abi Hatim volume 5, page 1701) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) [Abridged by A Group of Scholars Under The Supervision Of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam – Second Edition, 2003] volume 4 page 314)

When some commentaries or the above Hadith say fitna in connection with “no more worshipping of others besides Allah” in brackets, one should note here this is in reference to some Muslims who were forcefully converted to polytheism (Shirk) and thus they had to worship idols or gods of the persecutors. Thus no more shirk in the sense of them (persecutors) not being able to persecute an individual where they may fall back into polytheism due to the oppression.

Conclusion:

These Hadith reports shown proves unequivocally that fitnah requires physical persecution and oppression against Muslims before any fight can occur. It also proves that it is a fight by the weak against the oppressor and never a fight by the one in power to impose Islam on others. Therefore, “fitna” was understood by Prophet Muhammed’s companions as persecution and oppression.

Related articles:

(1) – “Most Misinterpreted Verses Of The Quran?

(2) – “Early Expeditions And Battles Of Islam

(3) – “Did Quraysh Persecute Muslims When They Fled To Madinah?

(4) – “Did Muhammad Order Or Support The Killing Of Innocents?

fitna-is-persecution


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