Allah reminds His believing servants with what He has endowed them with by sending Muhammad as a Messenger to them, reciting to them Allah's clear Ayat and purifying and cleansing them from the worst types of behavior, the ills of the souls and the acts of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era). The Messenger also takes them away from the darkness (of disbelief) to the light (of faith) and teaches them the Book, the Qur'an, and the Hikmah (i.e., the wisdom), which is his Sunnah. He also teaches them what they knew not. During the time of Jahiliyyah, they used to utter foolish statements. Later on, and with the blessing of the Prophet's Message and the goodness of his prophecy, they were elevated to the status of the Awliya' (loyal friends of Allah) and the rank of the scholars. Hence, they acquired the deepest knowledge among the people, the most pious hearts, and the most truthful tongues. Allah said:
(Indeed, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses (the Qur'an), and purifying them (from sins).) (3:164)
Allah also criticized those who did not give this bounty its due consideration, when He said:
(Have you not seen those who have changed the favors of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad) and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction) (14:28)
Ibn `Abbas commented, "Allah's favor means Muhammad.'' Therefore, Allah has commanded the believers to affirm this favor and to appreciate it by thanking and remembering Him:
(Therefore, remember Me. I will remember you, and be grateful to Me, and never be ungrateful to Me.)
Mujahid said that Allah's statement:
(Similarly (to complete My favor on you), We have sent among you a Messenger (Muhammad) of your own,)
means: Therefore, remember Me in gratitude to My favor.
Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented about Allah's statement:
(Therefore remember Me. I will remember you), "Remember Me regarding what I have commanded you and I will remember you regarding what I have compelled Myself to do for your benefit (i.e., His rewards and forgiveness).''
An authentic Hadith states:
(Allah the Exalted said, `Whoever mentions Me to himself, then I will mention him to Myself; and whoever mentions Me in a gathering, I will mention him in a better gathering.)'
Imam Ahmad reported that Anas narrated that Allah's Messenger said:
(Allah the Exalted said, `O son of Adam! If you mention Me to yourself, I will mention you to Myself. If you mention Me in a gathering, I will mention you in a gathering of the angels (or said in a better gathering). If you draw closer to Me by a hand span, I will draw closer to you by forearm's length. If you draw closer to Me by a forearm's length, I will draw closer to you by an arm's length. And if you come to Me walking, I will come to you running).
Its chain is Sahih, it was recorded by Al-Bukhari. Allah said:
(...and be grateful to Me (for My countless favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.)
In this Ayah, Allah commands that He be thanked and appreciated, and promises even more rewards for thanking Him. Allah said in another Ayah:
(And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: "If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e., disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe.)
Abu Raja' Al-`Utaridi said: `Imran bin Husayn came by us once wearing a nice silken garment that we never saw him wear before or afterwards. He said, "Allah's Messenger said:
(Those whom Allah has favored with a bounty, then Allah likes to see the effect of His bounty on His creation), or he said, "on His servant'' - according to Ruh (one of the narrators of the Hadith).
(153. O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient).) (154. And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, "They are dead.'' Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.)
After Allah commanded that He be appreciated, He ordained patience and prayer. It is a fact that the servant is either enjoying a bounty that he should be thankful for, or suffering a calamity that he should meet with patience. A Hadith states:
(Amazing is the believer, for whatever Allah decrees for him, it is better for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with a hardship, he is patient with it and this is better for him.)
Allah has stated that the best tools to help ease the effects of the afflictions are patience and prayer. Earlier we mentioned Allah's statement:
(And seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi`in) i.e., the true believers in Allah﴾) (2:45)
There are several types of Sabr ـ patience: one for avoiding the prohibitions and sins, one for acts of worship and obedience. The second type carries more rewards than the first type. There is a third type of patience required in the face of the afflictions and hardships, which is mandatory, like repentance.
`Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "Sabr has two parts: patience for the sake of Allah concerning what He is pleased with (i.e., acts of worship and obedience), even if it is hard on the heart and the body, and patience when avoiding what He dislikes, even if it is desired. Those who acquire these qualities will be among the patient persons whom Allah shall greet (when they meet Him in the Hereafter; refer to Surat Al-Ahzab 33:44), Allah willing.''
(And say not of those who are killed in the way of Allah, "They are dead.'' Nay, they are living,) indicates that the martyrs are alive and receiving their sustenance.
Muslim reported in his Sahih:
(The souls of the martyrs are inside green birds and move about in Paradise wherever they wish. Then, they take refuge in lamps that are hanging under the Throne (of Allah). Your Lord looked at them and asked them, `What do you wish for' They said, `What more could we wish for while You have favored us with what You have not favored any other of your creation' He repeated the question again. When they realize that they will be asked (until they answer), they said, `We wish that You send us back to the earthly life, so that we fight in Your cause until we are killed in Your cause again,' (because of what they enjoy of the rewards of martyrdom). The Lord then said, `I have written that they will not be returned to it (earthly life) again.)
Imam Ahmad reported that `Abdur-Rahman bin Ka`b bin Malik narrated from his father that Allah's Messenger said:
(The believer's soul is a bird that feeds on the trees of Paradise until Allah sends it back to its body when the person is resurrected.)
This Hadith includes all the believers in its general meaning. Thus, the fact that the Qur'an mentions the martyrs in particular in the above Ayah serves to honor, glorify and favor them (although the other believers share the rewards they enjoy).
(155. And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).) (156. Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'') (157. They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.)
Allah informs us that He tests and tries His servants, just as He said in another Ayah:
(And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and As-Sabirin (the patient), and We shall test your facts (i.e., the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).) (47:31)
Hence, He tests them with the bounty sometimes and sometimes with the afflictions of fear and hunger. Allah said in another Ayah:
(So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear.) (16:112)
The frightened and the hungry persons show the effects of the affliction outwardly and this is why Allah has used here the word `Libas' (cover or clothes) of fear and hunger. In the Ayat above, Allah used the words:
(with something of fear, hunger,) meaning, a little of each. Then (Allah said),
(loss of wealth,) meaning, some of the wealth will be destroyed,
(lives) meaning, losing friends, relatives and loved ones to death,
(and fruits,) meaning, the gardens and the farms will not produce the usual or expected amounts. This is why Allah said next:
(but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).)
He then explained whom He meant by `the patient' whom He praised:
(Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'') meaning, those who recite this statement to comfort themselves in the face of their loss, know that they belong to Allah and that He does what He wills with His servants. They also know that nothing and no deed, even if it was the weight of an atom, will be lost with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. These facts thus compel them to admit that they are Allah's servants and that their return will be to Him in the Hereafter.
This is why Allah said:
(They are those on whom are the Salawat (i. e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy,) meaning, Allah's praise and mercy will be with them. Sa`id bin Jubayr added, "Meaning, safety from the torment.''
(and it is they who are the guided ones.) `Umar bin Al-Khattab commented: "What righteous things, and what a great heights.
(They are those on whom are the Salawat from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy) are the two righteous things.
(and it is they who are the guided ones) are the heights.''
The heights means more rewards, and these people will be awarded their rewards and more.
There are several Ahadith that mention the rewards of admitting that the return is to Allah by saying:
("Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'') when afflictions strike. For instance, Imam Ahmad reported that Umm Salamah narrated: Once, Abu Salamah came back after he was with Allah's Messenger and said: I heard Allah's Messenger recite a statement that made me delighted. He said:
(No Muslim is struck with an affliction and then says Istirja` when the affliction strikes, and then says: `O Allah! Reward me for my loss and give me what is better than it,' but Allah will do just that.) Umm Salamah said: So I memorized these words. When Abu Salamah died I said Istirja` and said: "O Allah! Compensate me for my loss and give me what is better than it.'' I then thought about it and said, "Who is better than Abu Salamah'' When my `Iddah (the period of time before the widow or divorced woman can remarry) finished, Allah's Messenger asked for permission to see me while I was dyeing a skin that I had. I washed my hands, gave him permission to enter and handed him a pillow, and he sat on it. He then asked me for marriage and when he finished his speech, I said, "O Messenger of Allah! It is not because I do not want you, but I am very jealous and I fear that you might experience some wrong mannerism from me for which Allah would punish me. I am old and have children.'' He said:
(As for the jealousy that you mentioned, Allah the Exalted will remove it from you. As for your being old as you mentioned, I have suffered what you have suffered. And for your having children, they are my children too.) She said, "I have surrendered to Allah's Messenger.'' Allah's Messenger married her and Umm Salamah said later, "Allah compensated me with who is better than Abu Salamah: Allah's Messenger.'' Muslim reported a shorter version of this Hadith.
(158. Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or `Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House to perform Tawaf between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower).
Imam Ahmad reported that `Urwah said that he asked `A'ishah about what Allah stated:
(Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah (two mountains in Makkah) are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or `Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House (the Ka`bah at Makkah) to perform the going (Tawaf) between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah).) "By Allah! It is not a sin if someone did not perform Tawaf around them.'' `A'ishah said, "Worst is that which you said, O my nephew! If this is the meaning of it, it should have read, `It is not a sin if one did not perform Tawaf around them.' Rather, the Ayah was revealed regarding the Ansar, who before Islam, used to assume Ihlal (or Ihram for Hajj) in the area of Mushallal for their idol Manat that they used to worship. Those who assumed Ihlal for Manat, used to hesitate to perform Tawaf (going) between Mounts As-Safa and Al-Marwah. So they (during the Islamic era) asked Allah's Messenger about it, saying, `O Messenger of Allah! During the time of Jahiliyyah, we used to hesitate to perform Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah.' Allah then revealed:
(Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or `Umrah of the House to perform the going (Tawaf) between them.)'' `A'ishah then said, " Allah's Messenger has made it the Sunnah to perform Tawaf between them (As-Safa and Al-Marwah), and thus, no one should abandon performing Tawaf between them.'' This Hadith is reported in the Sahihayn.
In another narration, Imam Az-Zuhri reported that `Urwah said: Later on I (`Urwah) told Abu Bakr bin `Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Harith bin Hisham (of `A'ishah's statement) and he said, "I have not heard of such information. However, I heard learned men saying that all the people, except those whom `A'ishah mentioned, said, `Our Tawaf between these two hills is a practice of Jahiliyyah. ' Some others among the Ansar said, `We were commanded to perform Tawaf of the Ka`bah, but not between As-Safa and Al-Marwah.' So Allah revealed:
(Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah.)'' Abu Bakr bin `Abdur-Rahman then said, "It seems that this verse was revealed concerning the two groups.'' Al-Bukhari collected a similar narration by Anas.
Ash-Sha`bi said, "Isaf (an idol) was on As-Safa while Na'ilah (an idol) was on Al-Marwah, and they used to touch (or kiss) them. After Islam came, they were hesitant about performing Tawaf between them. Thereafter, the Ayah (2:158 above) was revealed.''
Muslim recorded a long Hadith in his Sahih from Jabir, in which Allah's Messenger finished the Tawaf around the House, and then went back to the Rukn (pillar, i.e., the Black Stone) and kissed it. He then went out from the door near As-Safa while reciting:
(Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah.) The Prophet then said, (I start with what Allah has commanded me to start with ﴿meaning start the Sa`i (i.e., fast walking) from the As-Safa﴾). In another narration of An-Nasa'i, the Prophet said, (Start with what Allah has started with (i.e., As-Safa).)
Imam Ahmad reported that Habibah bint Abu Tajrah said, "I saw Allah's Messenger performing Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah, while the people were in front of him and he was behind them walking in Sa`i. I saw his garment twisted around his knees because of the fast walking in Sa`i (he was performing) and he was reciting:
(Perform Sa`i, for Allah has prescribed Sa`i on you.)'''
This Hadith was used as a proof for the fact that Sa`i is a Rukn of Hajj. It was also said that Sa`i is Wajib, and not a Rukn of Hajj and that if one does not perform it by mistake or by intention, he could expiate the shortcoming with Damm. Allah has stated that Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah is among the symbols of Allah, meaning, among the acts that Allah legislated during the Hajj for Prophet Ibrahim.
Earlier we mentioned the Hadith by Ibn `Abbas that the origin of Tawaf comes from the Tawaf of Hajar (Prophet Ibrahim's wife), between As-Safa and Al-Marwah seeking water for her son (Isma`il) Ibrahim had left them in Makkah, where there was no habitation for her. When Hajar feared that her son would die, she stood up and begged Allah for His help and kept going back and forth in that blessed area between As-Safa and Al-Marwah. She was humble, fearful, frightened and meek before Allah. Allah answered her prayers, relieved her of her loneliness, ended her dilemma and made the well of Zamzam bring forth its water for her, which is:
(A tasty (or nutritional) food and a remedy for the illness.)
Therefore, whoever performs Sa`i between As-Safa and Al-Marwah should remember his meekness, humbleness and need for Allah to guide his heart, lead his affairs to success and forgive his sins. He should also want Allah to eliminate his shortcomings and errors and to guide him to the straight path. He should ask Allah to keep him firm on this path until he meets death, and to change his situation from that of sin and errors to that of perfection and being forgiven, --- the same providence which was provided to Hajar.
Allah then states:
(And whoever does good voluntarily.)
It was said that the Ayah describes performing Tawaf more than seven times, it was also said that it refers to voluntary `Umrah or Hajj. It was also said that it means volunteering to do good works in general, as Ar-Razi has stated. The third opinion was attributed to Al-Hasan Al-Basri. Allah knows best.
(...then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower.) meaning, Allah's reward is immense for the little deed, and He knows about the sufficiency of the reward. Hence, He will not award insufficient rewards to anyone. Indeed:
(Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom, but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward.) (4:40)
(159. Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the People in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allah and cursed by the cursers.) (160. Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.) (161. Verily, those who disbelieve, and die while they are disbelievers, it is they on whom is the curse of Allah and of the angels and of mankind, combined.) (162. They will abide therein (under the curse in Hell), their punishment will neither be lightened nor will they be reprieved).
These Ayat sternly warn against those who hide the clear signs that the Messengers were sent with which guide to the correct path and beneficial guidance for the hearts, after Allah has made such aspects clear for His servants through the Books that He revealed to His Messengers. Abu Al-`Aliyah said that these Ayat, "were revealed about the People of the Scripture who hid the description of Muhammad.'' Allah then states that everything curses such people for this evil act. Certainly, just as everything asks for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the sea and the bird in the air, then those who hide knowledge are cursed by Allah and by the cursers. A Hadith in the Musnad, narrated through several chains of narrators, that strengthens the overall judgment of the Hadith, states that Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah's Messenger said:
(Whoever was asked about knowledge that one has, but he hid it, then a bridle made of fire will be tied around his mouth on the Day of Resurrection.)
It is also recorded by Al-Bukhari that Abu Hurayrah said, "If it was not for an Ayah in Allah's Book, I would not have narrated a Hadith for anyone:
(Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down,)''
Mujahid said, "When the earth is struck by drought, the animals say, `This is because of the sinners among the Children of Adam. May Allah curse the sinners among the Children of Adam.'''
Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said that
(and cursed by the cursers) means that the angels and the believers will curse them. Moreover, a Hadith states that everything, including the fish in the sea, asks for forgiveness for the scholars. The Ayah (2:159 above) states that those who hide the knowledge will be cursed, (in this life and) on the Day of Resurrection, by Allah, the angels, all humanity, and those who curse (including the animals) each in its own distinct way. Allah knows best.
From this punishment, Allah excluded all who repent to Him:
(Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed).)
This Ayah refers to those who regret what they have been doing and correct their behavior and, thus, explain to the people what they have been hiding.
(These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.)
This Ayah also indicates that those who used to call to innovation, or even disbelief, and repent to Allah, then Allah will forgive them. Allah afterwards states that those who disbelieve in Him and remain in this state until they die, then:
(it is they on whom is the curse of Allah and of the angels and of mankind, combined. They will abide therein (under the curse in Hell).)
Therefore, they will suffer the eternal curse until the Day of Resurrection and after that in the fire of Jahannam, where,
(their punishment will neither be lightened)
Hence, the torment will not be decreased for them,
(nor will they be reprieved.)
The torment will not be changed or tempered for even an hour. Rather, it is continuous and eternal. We seek refuge with Allah from this evil end.
There is no disagreement that it is lawful to curse the disbelievers. `Umar bin Al-Khattab and the Imams after him used to curse the disbelievers in their Qunut (a type of supplication) during the prayer and otherwise. As for cursing a specific disbeliever, some scholars stated that it is not allowed to curse him, because we do not know how Allah will make his end. Others said that it is allowed to curse individual disbelievers. For proof, they mention the story about the man who was brought to be punished repeatedly for drinking (alcohol), a man said, "May Allah curse him! He is being brought repeatedly (to be flogged for drinking).'' Allah's Messenger said:
(Do not curse him, for he loves Allah and His Messenger).
This Hadith indicates that it is allowed to curse those who do not love Allah and His Messenger. Allah knows best.
(163. And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God ـ Allah), La ilaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.)
In this Ayah, Allah mentions that He is the only deity, and that He has no partners or equals. He is Allah, the One and Only, the Sustainer, and there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. He is the Most Gracious ـ Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful ـ Ar-Rahim. We explained the meanings of these two Names in the beginning of Surat Al-Fatihah. Shahr bin Hawshab reported that Asma' bint Yazid bin As-Sakan narrated that Allah's Messenger said:
(Allah's Greatest Name is contained in these two Ayat):
(And your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God ـ Allah), La ilaha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.) and:
(Alif-Lam-Mim. Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Haiyul-Qaiyum (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists).) (3:1, 2)''
Then Allah mentions some of the proof that He is alone as the deity, that He is the One who created the heavens and the earth and all of the various creatures between them, all of which testify to His Oneness. Allah said:
(164. Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.)