|Volume 4: Surah Baqarah, Verses 244-252|
And fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is Hearing, Knowing (244). Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so He will multiply it for him manifold, and Allah holds and extends and to Him you shall be returned (245). Did you not see the chiefs of the children of Israel after Musa, when they said to a prophet of theirs: "Raise up for us a king (that) we may fight in the way of Allah.' He said: "May it not be that if fighting is ordained for you, you would not fight? " They said: "And what reason have we that we should not fight in the way of Allah, and we have indeed been turned out of our homes and our children. "
But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned back, except a few of them, and Allah knows the unjust (246). And their prophet said to them: "Surely Allah has raised Talut to be a king over you. " They said: "How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to kingship than he, and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth? " He said: "Surely Allah has chosen him over you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants His Kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing (247). And their prophet said to them: "Surely the sign of his kingship is, that there shall come to You the Ark in which there is tranquility from your Lord and residue of the relics of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun have left, the angels bearing it: most surely there is a sign in this for those who believe " (248). So when Talut departed with the forces, he said:
"Surely Allah will try you with a stream; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much (of it) as fills his hand," but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it. So when he had crossed it. he and those who believed with him, they said - "We have today no power against Goliath and his forces. " Those who thought that they would meet their Lord said: "How often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah's permission, and Allah is with the patient ones " (249). And when they went out against Goliath and his forces they said: "Our Lord, pour down upon us patience, and make out feet firm and help us against the unbelieving people " (250). So they routed them by Allah's permission and Dawud slew Goliath, and Allah gave him kingship and wisdom, and taught him of what He pleased. And were it not for Allah's repelling some men with others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder: but Allah is Gracious to the creatures (251). These are the signs of' Allah: We recite them to you with truth: and most surely you are (one) of' the apostles (252).
All these verses were obviously revealed together. The connection between the obligation of fighting, the exhortation of a goodly loan to Allah and the moral of the story of Talut, Dawud and Goliath needs no explanation. The import of the verses is to show how fighting in the way of Allah strengthens the collective life, what the spirit is by which a nation goes forward in its worldly and religious life, and what gives it its real happiness and felicity. Allah declares that jihad is obligatory for the Muslims, calls them to spend in His way, by contributing in preparation for war so that their military power increases and they are ready for their enemies. This spending has been called " lending to Allah" because it is done in His way. Also, it very forcefully exhorts the hearers to spend in His way to gain nearness to Him. Then comes the story of Talut, Dawud and Goliath, so that the believers who are told to fight should take lessons from it. The moral is that the kingdom and victory belong to faith and piety, even if its adherents be small in number: and defeat and destruction is the fare of hypocrisy and sin, even if its followers be numerous. See how the Israelites lived in disgrace and servitude as long as they remained inert and idle, and were too lazy to do anything to improve their condition. But when they stood up to fight in the way of Allah and sought help from the word of truth, Allah helped them to vanquish their enemy, even though only a few of them were really truthful. Look at the majority of them turning back when fighting was prescribed for them, and objecting to the appointment of Talut, and drinking from the stream, and saying that they had no strength to fight against Goliath and his armies. In spite of all these shortcomings Allah made them victorious; they vanquished their enemy by the permission of Allah; Dawud slew Goliath and kingdom was established in them. They were given a new life and their power and sovereignty came back to them. It was not but because of a word which faith and piety made them utter when they stood before Goliath and his forces: "Our Lord, pour down upon us patience and make our feet firm and help us against the unbelieving people." Thus should the believers follow in the footsteps of the good people of previous nations, because they shall have the upper hand if they are believers.
QUR'AN: And fight in the way of Allah:
It makes fighting obligatory and compulsory. Here and everywhere in the Qur'an, the order of fighting has the stipulation, "in the way of Allah". It is to forestall any possible misunderstanding that this important religious duty was ordained to establish the worldly domination of the Muslims over other nations and to spread the kingdom of the Muslim's as many modern Muslim scholars think. The proviso, "in the way of Allah", shows that this order was given to spread the domination of religion, by which the people could prosper in both worlds.
QUR'AN: And know that Allah is Hearing, Knowing:
It is a warning to the believers - they should not utter a single word against any order given by Allah and His apostle, nor should they dislike in their hearts any such order as the hypocrites do. They should not be like the Israelites when they first objected about Talut, saying, "How can he hold kingship over us . . .", and then said, "We have today no power against Goliath and his forces", and retreated and turned away when fighting was prescribed for them, and drank from the stream after Talut had forbidden them to do so.
QUR'AN: Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so that He will multiply it for him manifold:
The meaning of loan is well-known. Allah has named what is spent in His way as a loan to Himself, to exhort people to spend, and because it is done in His way, and also because it will surely be returned to them manifold.
The style has been changed from the imperative mood of previous verse (And fight in the way of Allah) to the interrogative here (Who is it that will lend?) to refresh and enliven the mind of the audience - an order is always received with a feeling of helplessness, but not so an invitation and exhortation.
QUR'AN: And Allah holds and extends and to Him you shall be returned:
"al-Qabd" is to hold a thing towards oneself. al-bast is its opposite. "al-Bast" is a rendering of al-bast - `Sin' of which has been changed to 'Suad' because it is joined to `T' ( b ) which is pronounced with a full voice, and Suad also has a full voice.
This sentence mentions three attributes of Allah: He holds, He extends and to Him all are to return. It is to remind the Muslims that whatever they spend, lending it to Him shall not be in vain, nor should they be surprised at how it will be increased manifold. Because Allah holds and extends - He decreases whatever He pleases and increases whatever He pleases; and they are to return to Him, and then He will repay them the said loan a goodly repayment.
QUR'AN: Did you not see the chiefs of the children of Israel...in the way of Allah:
al-Mala' is said to mean a group of people having the same opinion. It is derived from al-mal' (= to fill), because it fills the eyes by its greatness and prestige. The request, "Raise up for us a king (that) we may fight in the way of Allah", implies that the king, Goliath by name, had subjugated them and treated them so badly that they had lost all traces of a free life, like their homes and children. It happened after Allah had saved them from the people of Pharaoh by raising among them Musa and making him their head, and after the rule of the successors of Musa had come to an end. Then the hardship increased to such an extent that their slumbering self-respect was awakened by the shock of it, and their elders went to a prophet of theirs asking him to raise for them a king to remove their internal differences and unite their power which had became ineffective because of disunity, so that they could fight under his command, in the way of Allah.
QUR'AN: He said: "May it not be that if fighting is ordained for you, you would not fight?":
The Israelites had asked their prophet to raise for them a king, so that they could fight under him in the way of Allah. But it was not in the power of the prophet; it was the prerogative of Allah. That is why the prophet attributed the appointment and the order of fighting to Allah. But he did not mention the divine name clearly. In their reply he questioned them about their possible disobedience, and he knew by divine revelation that they would surely disobey. Therefore, he did not mention the name of Allah clearly, but only indicated that the authority is from Him and of Him only. How did he indicate it? By using the word "written" (lit. translation: "if fighting is written on you") and writing, in the meaning of ordaining, is done only by Allah.
Although, the prophet knew that they would not obey the command of Allah, he put this matter in the form of a question, so that the proof might be completed against them by their protests of sincerity, as their reply showed.
QUR'AN: They said: 'And what reason have we that we should not fight in the way of Allah, and we have indeed been turned out of our homes and our children':
Their dispersal from their homes meant that they could not manage their affairs as they had been sent away from their ancestral abode. Thus "turned out of our homes" alludes to their inability to look after their homes and to benefit from them. It is this meaning that justifies the use of this verb, "turned out of " in connection with children.
QUR'AN: But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned hack, except a few of them, and Allah knows the unjust: It is an offshoot of their prophet's question (May it not be that. . . you would not fight?) and their reply (And what reason have we that we should not fight ?). The words, "And Allah knows the unjust ", show that the question of the prophet was based on divine revelation that they would surely turn away from fighting.
QUR'AN: And their prophet said to them: "Surely Allah has raised Talut . . . he has not been granted an abundance of wealth?":
The announcement, "Allah has raised" was a reminder to them that they were mistaken in asking the prophet to raise a king for them so that they would fight. The prophet attributed this raising to Allah to teach them that it was a prerogative of Allah.
The declaration about Talut prompted them to protest. In their eyes, Talut had two defects, which made him unfit for kingship. The first "disqualification" was alluded to in their words narrated by Allah: "How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to kingship than he". They did not think it necessary to elaborate why they were more deserving; it means that it was an obvious thing. The fact is that the house of prophethood and the house of kingship were well-known among the Israelites - the two houses were highly respected because of these two graces of Allah. And Talut was from neither. That is why they objected that they - the people of the house of kingship or both kingship and prophethood - had a greater right to kingship than Talut; Allah had put kingship in their family, how could they accept its transfer to someone else?
This objection was a result of their belief that Allah cannot abrogate or change any of His orders; they said: the hand of Allah is tied up. (Their hands be shackled!) Their prophet replied to this objection when he said: "Surely Allah has chosen him over you. "
The second "disqualification" is described in their words, "and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth". Talut was a poor man. Their prophet replied to it by saying: "and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique".
QUR'AN: He said: "Surely Allah has chosen him over you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique ":
al-Istifa' and al-istisfa' means to choose. Its root is as-safw (clearness, choice) ; al-bastah is expansion and power. These sentences are the replies to their objections: -
Objection 1: They had a greater right of kingship than Talut because they were from the chosen family.
Reply : It was a distinction given to their family by Allah. Now that Allah has chosen someone else, he has a greater right than they; and now his family will have precedence over theirs and he has become nobler and higher in rank than they. The superiority follows the choice of Allah.
Objection 2: "and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth".
Reply: Kingship is establishment of supreme authority over a group of people. Its only purpose is to unite the people under one will and join them together by creating a relationship with all of them. Everyone shall progress on the road of perfection without colliding with one another. No one shall be given preference without justice; no one shall be kept behind without justice. In short, kingship was created so that the ruler should manage the society in such a way that every member might reach his deserved perfection. To achieve that object, the king must have two qualities: (1) Knowledge of all that is good for his people and all that is bad; (2) Physical strength to implement and enforce what he thinks is good for the people.
Allah points this out in the words, "and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique". So far as wealth is concerned, to count it among the necessities of kingship is foolishness.
Then He concisely put all these arguments in one sentence: "and Allah grants His Kingdom to whom He pleases". The kingdom belongs to Allah alone; nobody has any right in it, except what Allah bestows from it on any one. Even then it really belong to Allah only - see how the word "kingdom" is qualified here by possessive pronoun "His". When you keep this reality in view, you will know that Allah has full authority to do in His kingdom as He pleases and as He wills. Nobody has any right to say `why' or `how'. One cannot ask why Allah did this or that, because He is the Real cause; nor can one enquire how and by which means He did it, because Allah is the Perfect cause and He does not need any supplementary causes. Therefore, the Israelites should not have asked why He transferred the kingdom from one family to another, or why He gave it to someone who had neither a big family nor abundant wealth.
It is true that Allah bestows His bounty and grace as He wishes and upon whom He pleases. Still, it is not done at random or without reason. When we say, "Allah does what He wishes and gives His kingdom to whom He pleases" we do not mean that Allah does not have any object in view in His actions. Nor do we say that He acts haphazardly; that if there occurs any benefit from it, well and good, and if not, then what does it matter; after all, the kingdom is His, He may do whatever He pleases. What we actually mean is this : Allah is the final and real cause of every creation, with matter and without matter. Benefit and usefulness also, like all other things, are His creation. In view of this, Allah, in His actions, cannot be governed by any aim and object, as we are; when He does a work (and whatever He does is good) or creates a thing (and whatever He creates is beautiful), His action is beneficial to His creatures. But He is not subservient to any benefit.
The above explanation serves to resolve the apparent contradiction in this verse: The authoritative declaration, "Allah grants His kingdom to whom He pleases", seemingly cannot be reconciled with the reasons given earlier, "He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique". Had there been any discordance between His absolute power to do as He pleases, and His actions being full of benefit and reason, the two arguments could not be advanced side by side, let alone be complementary to each other.
The last sentence of the verse, "and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing", makes it even more clear. "Ample-giving" shows that He cannot be restricted by anyone or anything in bestowing His bounties or in any other action. "Knowing" shows that all His actions are done by His true knowledge which is never wrong. In other words, He does whatever He pleases, and He never does but what is beneficial.
"Wasi' " (translated here as "Ample-giving") is the active participle of al-wus'ah and as-sa'ah which is the capacity of a body to accommodate another body, like the capacity of a water pot to hold water, that of a box for things packed in it, and that of a house to accommodate its residents. Then it was borrowed for riches: but not for every wealth and not in all conditions; it is used for riches when the possibility of spending and giving is taken into consideration. It is as though the wealth has the capacity to be spent and given. It is this meaning in which Allah is called al-wasi, that is, the Possessor of wealth who has power to give whatever He pleases.
QUR'AN: And their prophet said to them: "Surely the sign of his kingship is that there shall come to you the Ark in which there s tranquillity":
"at-Tabut"( translated here as "Ark") means chest. It is on the paradigm of fa'lut from at-tawb (to return). A chest is given this name because man returns to it every now and then.
MEANING OF "AS-SAKINAH"
as-Sakinah (tranquillity) is derived from as-sukun which is opposite of movement. as-sakinah is used for tranquillity of the heart. When a man is of stable mind and is not perturbed in taking a firm decision, he is said to have as-sakinah. It is a virtue of a wise man who has a strong will. Allah has made it a characteristic of al-iman (faith) in its higher degree, and has counted it as one of His most valuable gifts.
Man, according to his nature, bases his action on reasoning. He arranges logical premises, analyses the benefits of a particular action, and sees how it will effect the bliss of his life and bring the good of the society as a whole. Then he decides what to do and what not to do.
When man goes forward on the path of nature in the process of his reasoning, and his only aim is to gain real benefit and happiness in life, then his thinking is accompanied by peace of mind and tranquility of heart without any nervousness and perturbation. On the other hand, if he clings in his life to the world and follows his low desires, he becomes confused, and his thought and will-power are distorted by his unhealthy vision. As a result, he goes astray from the path of truth: or remains undecided, confused and irresolute in his decisions and cannot perform any difficult and dangerous task which requires strong will-power and firm feet.
A believing man, because of his belief in Allah. relies on a firm support and an unshaken pillar of strength. He bases his life on true knowledge where doubt and confusion cannot intrude: sets forth in his actions in the light of divine commandments which he is sure are the most perfect guide. He knows that his affairs are not in his own hands: he is, therefore, not afraid of any possible loss: and if any harm comes to him, he is not sorry about it. He is not puzzled when he has to distinguish good from evil.
But a disbeliever has no guardian to look after his affairs. His good and evil are in his own hands. He wanders in the darkness of confusion, undecidedness and uncertainty, because his thoughts are permeated by low desires, specters of unreality, and unhealthy feelings.
. . .and Allah is the Guardian of the believers (3:68).
That is because Allah is the Guardian of those who believe, and because the unbelievers have no guardian for them (47:11).
Allah is the Guardian of those who believe; He brings them out of darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are the Satans who take them out of the light into the darkness (2:257).
Surely We have made the Satans to be the guardians of those who do not believe (7:27).
It is only the Satan that frightens his friends . . . (3:175).
The Satan threatens you with poverty and enjoins you to be niggardly, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Himself and abundance . . . (2:268).
...and whoever takes the Satan for a guardian rather than Allah, he indeed shall suffer a manifest lost. He gives them promises and excites vain desires in them; and the Satan does not promise them aught but (in) deception . . . (it is) a promise of Allah, true (indeed) ; and who is truer of word than Allah? (4:119-122).
Now surely the friends of Allah - they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve (10:62).
These verses, as you see, put all fear, grief, perturbation and deception on the side of disbelief; and the opposite virtues on the side of faith.
Even more clear is the verse:
Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth? (6:122).
It shows that the disbeliever gropes about awkwardly in his journey of life because he has fallen in utter darkness and cannot see any thing. But the believer has a divine light by which he sees his path and knows what is good for him and what is bad. It is because Allah has bestowed upon him a fresh and new life in addition to this material life which he shares with the disbelievers. That new life accompanies this light which illuminates its path. Allah says: 0 you who believe! Fear Allah and believe in His Apostle: He will give you two portions of His mercy, and make for you a light with which you will walk, and forgive you . . . (57:28).
Again He says: You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has written (impressed) faith, and whom He has strengthened with a spirit from Him (58:22).
It shows that this new life is from a spirit from Allah, and is accompanied by a firm faith deeply impressed into their hearts. These believers are strengthened by a spirit from Allah, which confirms the faith into their hearts, gives a new life to their bodies and creates a brilliant light to lead them forward.
It is easy to see that the import of this verse is similar to that of verse 4 of chap. 48: He it is who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they might have more of faith added to their faith - and Allah's are the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
"Tranquility" in this verse corresponds with the "spirit" in the previous one; and "having more of faith added to their faith" of this one corresponds with "impressing the faith into their hearts" of the previous one. This conformity becomes more obvious when we look at the sentence, "and Allah's are the hosts of the heavens and the earth", because the Qur'an often uses the term "hosts" for the angels and the spirit.
Similar in the meaning are the verses: . . . then Allah sent down His tranquility on His Apostle and on the believers, and made them keep the word of guarding (against evil), and they were entitled to it and worthy of it (48:26) ; and So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see . . . (9:40).
From the above discussion, it may be inferred that as-sakinah is a divine spirit, or accompanies a divine spirit, by divine command; it creates tranquility in heart, firmness of purpose and peace of mind. This does not involve us in far-fetched interpretations which would remove the word from its real meaning. And the traditions on this subject should be interpreted in this light.
QUR'AN: And residue of the relics of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun have left, the angels bearing it...:
"al-Al" of a man means those of his family who are most closely related to him; and, when used without any condition, it includes also the man himself. Therefore, the phrase here means Musa, Harun and their most closely related family-members. "The angels bearing it" shows the state of the Ark. The words of Allah, "most surely there is a sign in this for those who believe", like the words at the beginning of the verse, prove that they had asked their prophet for a proof of the truth of what he had told them, "Surely Allah has raised Talut to be a king over you. "
QUR'AN: So when Talut departed with the forces . . . they drank from it:
"al-Fasl" here means to depart from a place; the same is the meaning of the word in 12:94, "And when the caravan had departed." Sometimes it means "to cut", that is, to separate two things, as Allah says: And He is the best of separators (between truth and falsehood) (6:57). Thus, the verb is used sometimes transitively and at other times intransitively.
The word "al-jund" signifies a dense concentration of something. The army is called al-jund, because people are densely concentrated in it. In this verse, the word is used in plural, and it shows that their number was very great - and this was after the people had "turned back except a few of them" (2:246).
The whole talk is a comment on the condition of the Israelites and how they "fulfilled" the covenant made with Allah. All together they pleaded that a king be raised for them, and made a very strong covenant to fight under him, and they were so numerous that when they all turned back except a few of them, those few were "forces"; and those forces also were of no avail because they drank from the stream; thus, what was left, was a residue of the residue, and among them were also those who had taken a handful of water, and as a result were overcome by cowardice and hypocrisy. And then Allah declares how a handful of believers, who were forbearing in the way of Allah, were given victory over the huge armies of Goliath.
"al-Ibtila' is to test; "al-nahar " is the place in which a stream flows; "al-ightiraf " and al-gharf is to raise a thing in the hand and get it, for example, raising water in the hand to drink it.
The position of the exceptional clause in this verse requires special attention: Allah will try you with a stream; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much (of it) as fills the hand. It would appear at the first glance that the words, "except he who takes with his hand . . ." should have come after the sentence, "whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me". But the fact is that this is not related at all with those who would drink from the stream. The Qur'an mentions that those who would drink were not from Talut, and that is that. Then it changes the word "drink" to "taste" and says, "and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me". Only then comes the exceptional clause. Had this clause been put after the first sentence, "whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me", it would have signified that he who took only a handful of water was of Talut. This in its turn would have meant that the whole army from the beginning was of Talut, and then those who drank from the stream were cut off from him. But the present sequence, in which two categories have been mentioned - one of those who would drink and the other of those who would not drink - shows that the real position of the soldiers of the army was at that time undecided and unknown. It was only after the test of the stream that the reality was to be known. Those who would drink from it would be known to be not of Talut; and those who would not even taste of it would be known to be of Talut. After these two separate sentences comes the exceptional clause, which removes those who would take a handful of water from the first group - but it does not put them in the second one. If there were only the first sentence, the exceptional clause would have given the meaning that by taking a handful of water one would not be cut off from Talut, that is, would remain of him. But now that two separate categories have expressly been mentioned, removal from one group does not automatically mean inclusion in the other.
In short, the position of the exceptional clause shows the existence of three groups: those who were not of Talut, those who were of him, and the takers of handful of water. After crossing the stream, two later groups remained with Talut. That is why there appeared so much difference in their states; one group was forbearing, the other was restless ; one had full confidence in Allah, the other was perturbed and troubled.
QUR'AN: So when he had crossed it . . . Allah is with the patient ones:
"al-Fi'ah" means a group of people. A glance at the verses is sufficient to show that those who said, "We have today no power against Goliath and his forces", were those who had taken a handful of water; and those who replied them were those who had not tasted of it. "Those who thought that they would meet their Lord" : The "thought" here means "certainty ", that is, "those who were sure . . .". Also, it may be an allegorical style to show that in their humility they did not believe themselves worthy of meeting their Lord. They did not say, "It is possible for a small party to vanquish a numerous host." Instead they said, "How often has a small party vanquished . . .". Thus they put forward a fact as their argument (instead of a theoretical possibility) to make the reply more convincing.
QUR'AN: And when they went out . . . against the unbelieving people:
"al-Buruz" is to appear. From it is derived "al-baraz" which means to appear or set forth for battle. "al-Ifragh" means to pour a liquid material in a mould. In this invocation, they beg Allah to pour down upon them patience according to their capacity. It is a very fine allegory. "Make our feet firm" is another allegorical expression which signifies determination, steadiness and firmness in front of the enemy, so that they do not flee from him.
QUR'AN: So they put them to flight . . . taught him of what He pleased:
"al-Hazm" means to repel, to drive back.
QUR'AN: And were it not for Allah's repelling some men with others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder; but Allah is Gracious to the creatures:
It is obvious that the disorder of the earth means the disorder among those who are on the earth, that is, the disorder in human society. If society's disorder brings in its wake disorder on the earth's surface, it would also have to be included in the meaning of this verse, not because of itself but because of its being a result of society's disorder.
This verse hints at a philosophical reality, which is as follows:
The felicity and good of the human species is incomplete if there is no society and no mutual assistance. This factor depends on unity, to a certain degree, in society, so that various individuals may join together to form a single group. The group together becomes a single unit; metaphorically speaking, it becomes as though it has a single body and a single soul. It acts and reacts like a single individual. Social unity, and the place in which it occurs, that is, the assembly of human individuals, is just like unity in creation, and the place in which it occurs, that is, the universe. We know that unity in this system of creation results from the action and reaction occurring in the components of the universe. The various creative causes struggle with each other, repel, or are repelled by opposing forces, and it is as a result of this constant action and reaction that various parts of this system remain connected with each other. Otherwise, the universe would have ceased to exist.
Likewise, the system of human society is based on action and reaction, on repulsion and overpowering; otherwise the various members of society could not remain bound with each other, and society would have ceased to exist; in short the felicity of the species would have vanished. If we suppose that there is no repelling each other, in this meaning, (i.e., overpowering others and making them obey the victor's will), every individual member will do what he thinks fit, even if it goes against the interest of the other members (whether those interests are lawful is not our concern at this juncture); and those other members will have no means to prevent him from that course of action. Thus the unity of the members will cease to exist and society will be finished. We have described this subject fully under verse 2:213; where it was explained that the basic factor upon which society is founded is the human instinct of subjugating others for one's own benefit; and mutual assistance and civilization is a side product of this instinct, it is a secondary cause.
This repulsion and overpowering is an overwhelming factor in human society. Man tries to make others do what he wants, and to repel them from what he does not like. It is seen in war as well as in peace, in comfort as well as in discomfort, in ease as well as in hardship. Man does it instinctively; he becomes conscious of it only when someone opposes his will, and then he begins the process of the said repulsion as he thinks necessary. That repulsion has degrees of strength and weakness. War is one of those degrees.
This natural instinct is seen in action when a believer repulses his oppressor in defense of his lawful rights; and it is also seen when someone uses it to protect his unlawful gains. Nature bestows its bounties on the believers and the unbelievers alike. It is not that a believer has a nature separate from that of the unbeliever. If this trait of repelling and overpowering were not present in human nature, no body would have defended anything, whether it be a lawful right or an unlawful gain.
It is this natural trait from which man gains so many benefits - first, society is founded on it, then he makes others follow his own will, and through it he keeps what he has gained, lawfully or otherwise, and it is through it that he tries to get back what has been taken from him unjustly: and lastly it is through this trait that he makes the truth live after it has died, and tries to keep society on the path of eternal bliss. In short, it is a natural factor from which man derives many more benefits than harm.
"Perhaps" it is these things which are referred to in this sentence: And were it not for Allah's repelling some men with others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder. The next sentence supports this interpretation: And Allah is Gracious to the creatures.
There are some interpretations which are not so appropriate: Some commentators have said: The repulsion mentioned here means the repelling of the unbelievers by the believers, as the context shows. Also, another verse may be quoted in its support: And had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered (22:40).
Comment : The meaning in itself is correct as far as it goes; but it is not the whole meaning. What the verse means by the good of the earth, is a comprehensive and continuous good which keeps society alive; not any particular good which appears for a short time and then disappears, like in the story of Talut and in some other events.
Others have said: This verse refers to the fact that Allah saves the sinner from perdition and destruction, because of the righteous one. Many traditions from both Sunni and Shiite chains of narrators mention this fact : A tradition of Jabir is recorded in Majma'u 'l-bayan and ad-Durru 'l-manthur, that he said "The Apostle of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: `Verily Allah, because of the good of a Muslim man, makes good his child and the child of his child, and the people of his house, and of the houses around it; and they remain in the protection of Allah so long as he remains in them."'
Another tradition, in al-Kafi and at-Tafsir of al-'Ayyashi, quotes as-Sadiq (a.s.) as saying: "Verily Allah, repels (the misfortune) from that of our Shi `ahs who does not pray, because of the one who prays, and if they all unite on neglecting the prayer, all of them would perish. And verily, Allah repels from that of our Shi'ahs who does not pay zakat, because of the one who pays it, and if they all unite on its non-payment, all would perish. And verily, Allah repels from that of our Shi'ahs who does not perform hajj, because of the one who performs it, and if they all unite on neglecting the hajj, all would perish."
Comment : The two verses mentioned earlier obviously do not fit the meaning of these two traditions; although it may be said that these traditions give examples as to how Allah repels some people by some others.
Someone has said: The verse means that Allah repels the oppressors with other oppressors.
Comment : Its absurdity is to obvious.
QUR'AN: These are the signs . . . you are (one) of the apostles:
This verse is a sort of epilogue to conclude the story. Also the last sentence, "and most surely you are (one) of the apostles", creates a clear connection with the next verse.
'Abdu'r-Razzaq and Ibn Jarir have narrated from Zayd ibn Aslam that he said: "When the verse was revealed: Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so He will multiply it..., Abu 'a-Dardah came to the Prophet and said: 'O Prophet of Allah! Do I not see our Lord asking a loan from us from the same which He has given us for ourselves?! And verily I have two plots of lands, one in the higher region, and the other in the lower one; and verily I dedicate the better one as sadaqah (alms).' And the Prophet used to say: 'How many pampered clusters of dates Abu 'a-Dardah has got in the Garden!"' (ad-Durru 'l-manthur)
The author says: This tradition has been narrated through numerous chains.
as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "When the verse was revealed: Whoever brings good deed, he shall have better than it (27:89), the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) said: 'O Allah! Increase for me.' So, Allah sent down the verse: Whoever brings a good dead, he shall have ten like it (6:160). The Messenger of Allah (again) said: 'O Allah! Increase for me.' Then Allah revealed, Who is it that will lend to Allah a goodly loan, so He will multiply it for him manifold. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah knew that "many" from Allah cannot be counted and has no limit. (al-Ma'ani)
The author says: at-Tabarsi in Majma'u 'l-bayan and al-'Ayyashi in his at-Tafsir have narrated a similar tradition. And a tradition nearly like it has been narrated from Sunni chains also.
The words of the Imam, "Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah knew": The end of the verse hints at it, "and Allah holds and extends", because no limit can be put on the bounty of Allah; He has said: And the bounty of your Lord is not confined (17:20).
A tradition of Abu 'l-Hasan (a.s.) recorded in at-Tafsir of al-'Ayyashi says that this verse is about the gift for the Imam.
The author says: A similar tradition is narrated from as-Sadiq (a.s.) in al-Kafi, it gives an example of a general rule.
Majma'u 'l-bayan says about the words of Allah, "when they said to a prophet of theirs" that the prophet was Ushmu'il who is Isma'il in Arabic.
The author says: Sunni traditions also confirm it. And Ushmu'il is Samuel of the Bible.
al-Qummi narrated from his father from an-Nadr ibn Suwayd from Yahya al-Halabi from Harun ibn Kharijah from Abu Ja'far (as.) saying: "Verily, the Israelites, after the death of Musa, indulged in sins, and changed the religion of God, and acted arrogantly against the commandments of God; and there was a prophet among them, who ordered them (to do good) and forbade them (evil), but they did not obey him. (And it is narrated that he was the prophet, Armiah1 - may the peace of Allah be upon our prophet and him!) Thereupon, Allah gave Goliath mastery over them; and he was a Coptic.2 He humiliated them, and killed their men, and turned them out of their homes and their properties, and kept their women as slave girls. Therefore, they resorted to their prophet and said:
'Ask Allah to raise up for us a king, so that we may fight in the way of Allah. And there was the prophethood in one house of the children of Israel and kingship and rulership in another house. And Allah had not kept the prophethood and kingship in one house; that is why they asked their prophet to 'raise for us a king, so that we may fight in the way of Allah.' Thereupon their prophet said to them: 'May it not be that if fighting is ordained for you, you would not fight?' They said: 'And what reasons have we that we should not fight in the way of Allah, and we have indeed been turned out of our homes and our children.' And it happened as Allah said: But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned back, except a few of them; and Allah knows the unjust. And their prophet said to them: `Surely Allah has raised Talut to be a king over you.
' Then they were enraged by this (appointment), and said: `How can he hold kingship over us, while we have a greater right to kingship then he and he has not been granted an abundance of wealth?' And the prophethood was in the house of Lawi3, and the kingship in the house of Yusuf; and Talut was from the house of Benyamin4 , the full brother of Yusuf, and was, thus, from neither the house of prophethood nor from that of kingship. Then their prophet said to them: `Surely, Allah has chosen him over you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique, and Allah grants His Kingdom to whom He pleases, and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing. ' And Talut was the greatest of them in physique, the most powerful and knowledgeable of them all, but he was a poor man. So, they vilified him because of his poverty, and said that he had not been given an abundance of wealth. Thereupon, their prophet said to them: `Surely the sign of his kingship is that there shall come to you the Ark in which there is tranquility from your Lord and residue of the relics of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun have left, the angels bearing it.' And it was the chest which was sent by Allah and Musa's mother put him in it and threw it in the river; and it was among the Israelites and they sought blessings through it. When Musa was about to die, he put inside it in the tablets, and his coat of mail and whatever signs of prophethood he had, and gave it in trust to his successor, Yusha'5 And the Ark remained in them until they made slight of it, and the children played with it in the streets. Thus, the Israelites remained with honor and dignity as long as the Ark was with them, but when they committed sins and profaned the Ark, Allah took it away from them. When they asked their prophet, Allah raised Talut as king over them, and he let them in the fight then Allah returned the Ark to them, as he said: 'Surely the sign of his kingship is that there shall come to you the Ark in which their is tranquility from your Lord and residue of the relics of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun have left, the angels bearing it.' And he (Abu Ja'far) said: "The residue is the children of the prophets." (at-Tafsir, al-Qummi)
The author says: The sentence, "And it is narrated that he was the prophet, Armiah" is another tradition, parenthetically inserted in this trandition.6
"And it happened as Allah said": It means that a majority of them turned back and only a small minority of them obeyed the order to fight. And some traditions say that this minority was sixty thousand souls. It has been narrated by al-Qummi in his at-Tafsir al-Qummi narrated from his father from al-Husayn ibn Khalid from ar-Rida, a.s.) and by al-`Ayyashi in his at-Tafsir from al-Baqir (a.s.).
"And the prophethood was in the house of Lawi and the kingship in the house of Yusuf." Some people say that the kingship was in the house of Yahudha.7 But there is an objection on it : There was no king among the Israelites before Talut, Dawud and Sulayman. So how can it be said that "before Talut" kingship was in the house of Judah? This objection is strengthened by the traditions of the Imams of Ahlu 'l-bayt that the kingship was in the house of Yusuf, because the kingship of Yusuf is accepted by all.
"The residue is the children of the Prophets": This sentence is a conjecture of the narrator. The Imam explained the words, "the family of Musa and the family of Harun" with the words. "the children of the prophets" : and the narrator fancied that it was the explanation of the word, "residue". And this view is supported by the tradition recorded in the at-Tafsir of al-`Ayyashi that as-Sadiq (a.s.) was asked about the words of Allah, "and residue of the relics of what the family of Musa and the family of Harun have left, the angels bearing it", and he replied: "The children of the prophets."
Muhammad ibn Yahya narrated from Muhammad ibn Ahmad from Muhammad ibn Khalid and al-Husayn ibn Said from anNasr ibn Suwayd from Yahya al-Halabi from Harun ibn Kharijah from Abu Basir from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) saying in a tradition, inter alia: "And Allah reports the words of Talut : 'Surely Allah will try you with a stream; whoever then drinks from it, lie is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me.' But all of them drank from it, except three hundred and thirteen men, among them were those who took a handful of water as well as those who did not drink at all. When they went out against Goliath, those who had taken handful of water said, 'We have today no power against Goliath and his forces'; and those who had not taken it said, 'low often has a small party vanquished a numerous host by Allah's permission, and Allah is with the patient ones.' " (al-Kafi)
The author says: That there remained with Talut only three hundred and thirteen men (equal in number to the Muslim "army" in the battle of Badr) is mentioned in numerous traditions from Shi'ah and Sunni chains. The details that those who said: "We have today no power . . ." were those who had taken a handful of water, and those who said, "Flow often a small party...were those who had not tasted it at all, may be inferred from the position of the exceptional clause in the verse, as we have already explained.
al-Kulayni narrated through his chains from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa'id from Fadalah ibn Ayyub from Yahya al-Halabi from 'Abdullah ibn Sulayman from Abu Ja'far (a.s.) who said about the words of Allah, surely the sign of his kingdom . . . the angels bearing it: "They bore it in the shape of a cow." (al-Kafi)
It will have been noted that we have quoted the complete chain of narrators of this tradition, although generally we do not do so in this book. We omit the chains where the traditions are in conformity with the Qur'an, because then there is no need to mention the chains of narrators. But where the tradition mentions a thing which is not in the Qur'an, and which cannot be inferred from it, then it is necessary to quote the complete chain. Still, we write in this book only those traditions which are correct according to the chains of the narrators, or are supported by the context or other associations.
al-'Ayyashi writes in his at-Tafsir a tradition from Muhammad al-Halabi that as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Dawud had four brothers; and their father was an old-aged man; and Dawud had remained behind to look after the sheep of his father. Talut departed with his forces. Dawud's father called him (and he was the youngest) and said: 'O my son! Take to your brothers this (food) which we have prepared for them, so that they may get strength to overcome their enemy.' And he (Dawud) was short of stature, dark, with very little hair, but pure of heart. So, he went away, and (by that time) the two forces had reached near to each other."
At this juncture, another tradition of Abu Basir says that he heard the Imam saying: "Then Dawud passed by a stone, and it said: 'O Dawud! Take me and kill Goliath with me, because, verily, I have been created to kill him.' So he took it and put it in his bag in which he kept the stones for his sling which he used in the herding of his sheep. On entering the army camp, he heard them greatly magnifying the affair of Goliath. So he said to them: 'Why are you so overwhelmed by his affair? By Allah! If I see him I will kill him.' Thereupon, they started talking with each other about it till he was brought before Talut. Talut asked him `O young man! How much strength do you have? And what experience have you of yourself?' Dawud said: `It happens that if a lion attacks a goat of my herd and catches it; then I overtake him, catch his head, open his jaws and rescue the goat from his mouth.' (Hearing this) Talut said: `Bring me a full-size coat of mail.' It was brought unto him and he put it in Dawud's neck, and lo! His body filled it completely. Thereupon, Talut and those Israelites who were present there were awe-struck by him; and Talut said: 'By Allah! Most probably Allah will kill him (Goliath) by him.'
"When the morning came and people gathered around Talut, and the people (of the two forces) stood against each other, Dawud said: `Show me Goliath.' When he saw him, he took the stone, and putting it in his sling, threw it towards him, and it hit him between his eyes, reaching to his brain; and (Goliath) fell down from his stead; and people cried: 'Dawud has killed Goliath.' Then the people made him their king until nobody was heard talking about Talut. And the Israelites gathered around Dawud; and Allah sent down Zabur to him, and taught him the handicraft of iron, making it soft for him; and ordered the mountains and the birds to join him in glorifying God." The Imam said: "And nobody was given a voice like him. Thereupon Dawud lived among the Israelites, hidden from them; and he was given strength to worship (God ). "
The author says: The Shi'ah and Sunni traditions unanimously say that Dawud killed Goliath by a sling.
'Ali (a.s.) said: "The tranquility which was in the Ark, was a pleasant breeze from the Garden; it had a face like that of a human being." (Majma'u 'l-bayan)
The author says: This meaning has been narrated in adDurru 'l-manthur - from Sufyan ibn 'Uyaynah and Ibn Jarir, through the chain of Salman ibn Kuhayl from `All (a.s.); - and from `Abdu 'r-Razzaq and Abu 'Ubayd and `Abd ibn Hamid and Ibn Jarir and Ibn al-Mundhir and Ibn Abi Hatim and al-Hakim (and he has said that the tradition is "correct"), and Ibn `Asakir and al-Bayhaqi (in his ad-Dala'il ), through the chain of Abu al-Ahwas from `Ali (a.s.).
al-Qummi narrated from his father from 'Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Khalid from ar-Rida (a.s.) saying: "The tranquility is a breeze from the Garden, it has a face like that of a human being." (at-Tafsir)
The author says: The same meaning has been narrated by as-Sadiq (as.) in Ma'ani 'l-akhbar and by al-'Ayyashi in his at-Tafsir from ar-Rida (a.s.).
These traditions explaining the meaning of as-sakinah (tranquility) are not mutawatir; yet, if they are accepted as correct, they may be interpreted in the following way, so as to fit the meaning of the verse of the Qur'an:
"The tranquility has a face like that of a human being." It means that it is one of the stages of spiritual perfection. At that stage, the soul remains tranquil and at peace with the commands and decrees of Allah. Such expressions, explaining a reality in an allegorical way, are found in many traditions of the Imams'. According to this interpretation, tranquility would mean the spirit of faith, and that is the meaning we have given to it earlier. And it is in this light that the following tradition of Abu 'l-Hasan (a.s.), mentioned in Ma'ani 'l-akhbar, should be seen and interpreted: "(Tranquility) is the spirit of God, which speaks; when they differed among themselves on any matter, it spoke up and informed them (of truth). . ." Obviously, it means that it is the spirit of faith and it guides the believer to the truth about which the people differ.
1. Jeremiah, in the Bible.
2. Goliath was a Philistine. The area had political connection with Egypt. Perhaps it is in this sense that he has been called a Coptic.
3. Levi, in the Bible.
4. Benjamin, in the Bible. 3. Joshua, in the Bible.
5. Joshua in the Bible
6. As mentioned in a previous tradition, the prophet was Samuel, and not Jeremiah
7. Judah in the Bible