Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said: "When the Ayah
(And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever) (24:4) was revealed, Sa`d bin `Ubadah (may Allah be pleased with him) -- the leader of the Ansar -- said, `Is this how it was revealed, O Messenger of Allah' The Messenger of Allah said:
(O Ansar, did you hear what your leader said) They said, `O Messenger of Allah, do not blame him, for he is a jealous man. By Allah, he never married a woman who was not a virgin, and he never divorced a woman but none of us would dare to marry her because he is so jealous.' Sa`d said, `By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, I know that it (the Ayah) is true and is from Allah, but I am surprised. If I found some wicked man lying down with my wife, should I not disturb him until I have brought four witnesses By Allah, he would have finished what he was doing before I could bring them!' A little while later, Hilal bin Umayyah -- one of the three whose repentance had been accepted -- came back from his lands at night and found a man with his wife. He saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears, but he did not disturb him until the morning. In the morning he went to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Messenger of Allah, I came to my wife at night and found a man with her, and I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.' The Messenger of Allah did not like what he had said and got very upset. The Ansar gathered around him and said, `We were being tested by what Sa`d bin Ubadah said, and now the Messenger of Allah will punish Hilal bin Umayyah and declare his testimony before people to be unacceptable.' Hilal said: `By Allah, I hope that Allah will make for me a way out from this problem.' Hilal said, `O Messenger of Allah, I see how upset you are by what I have said, but Allah knows that I am telling the truth.' By Allah, the Messenger of Allah wanted to have him flogged, but then Allah sent revelation to His Messenger . When the revelation came upon him, they knew about it from the change in his face, so they would leave him alone until the revelation was finished. Allah revealed the Ayah:
(And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies by Allah...,) Then the revelation was finished and the Messenger of Allah said,
(Rejoice, O Hilal, for Allah has made a way out for you.) Hilal said, `I had been hoping for this from my Lord, may He be glorified.' The Messenger of Allah said:
(Send for her.) So they sent for her and she came. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah to them both, and reminded them that the punishment of the Hereafter is more severe than the punishment in this world. Hilal said, `By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, I have spoken the truth about her.' She said, `He is lying.' The Messenger of Allah said,
(Make them both swear the Li`an.) So Hilal was told, `Testify.' So he testified four times by Allah that he was one of those who speak the truth. When he came to the fifth testimony, he was told, `O Hilal, have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.' He said, `By Allah, Allah will not punish me for it, just as He has not caused me to be flogged for it.' So he testified for the fifth time that the curse of Allah would be upon him if he was telling a lie. Then it was said to his wife, `Testify four times by Allah that he is telling a lie.' And when his wife reached the fifth testimony, she was told, `Have Taqwa of Allah, for the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter, and this will mean that the punishment will be inevitable for you.' She hesitated for a while, and was about to admit her guilt, then she said: `By Allah, I will not expose my people to shame, and she swore the fifth oath that the wrath of Allah would be upon her if he was telling the truth.' Then the Messenger of Allah separated them, and decreed that her child should not be attributed to any father, nor should the child be accused, and whoever accused her or her child, they would be subject to punishment. He also decreed that ﴿Hilal﴾ was not obliged to house her or feed her, because they had not been separated by divorce, nor had he died and left her a widow. He said,
(If she gives birth to a red-haired child (with skinny thighs) and thin legs, then he is Hilal's child, but if she gives birth to a curly-haired child with thick legs and plump buttocks, then this is what she is accused of.) She subsequently gave birth to a child who was curly-haired with thick legs and plump buttocks, and the Messenger of Allah said,
(Were it not for the oath that she swore, I would deal with her.)'' `Ikrimah said, "The child grew up to become the governor of Egypt, and he was given his mother's name and was not attributed to any father.'' Abu Dawud recorded a similar but briefer report. This Hadith has corroborating reports in the books of Sahih and elsewhere, with many chains of narration, including the report narrated by Al-Bukhari from Ibn `Abbas, that Hilal bin Umayyah accused his wife before the Prophet with Sharik bin Sahma'. The Prophet said,
(Evidence or the punishment on your back.) He said, "O Messenger of Allah, if any one of us saw a man with his wife, how could he go and get evidence'' The Prophet again said,
(Evidence otherwise the punishment on your back.) Hilal said, "By the One Who sent you with the truth! I am telling the truth and Allah will reveal something that will protect my back from the punishment. '' Then Jibril came down and brought the revelation,
(And for those who accuse their wives,) Then he recited until he reached:
(that he is one of those who speak the truth) (24:6). When the revelation had finished, the Prophet sent for them both. Hilal came and gave his testimony, and the Prophet said,
(Allah knows that one of you is lying. Will one of you repent) Then she stood up and gave her testimony, and when she reached the fifth oath, they stopped her and said, "If you swear the fifth oath and you are lying, the curse of Allah will be inevitable.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "She hesitated and kept quiet until we thought that she had changed her mind, then she said, `I will not dishonor my people today', and she went ahead. Then the Messenger of Allah said,
(Wait until she gives birth, and if she gives birth to a child whose eyes look as if they are ringed with kohl and who has plump buttocks and thick legs, then he is the child of Sharik bin Sahma'.) She gave birth to a child who matched this description, and the Prophet said,
(Were it not for the Book of Allah, I would deal with her.) This version was recorded only by Al-Bukhari, but the event has been narrated with additional chains of narration from Ibn `Abbas and others. Imam Ahmad recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said: During the governorship of Ibn Az-Zubayr I was asked about the couple who engage in Li`an, and whether they should be separated, and I did not know the answer. I got up and went to the house of Ibn `Umar, and said, "O Abu `Abdur-Rahman, should the couple who engage in Li`an be separated'' He said, "Subhan Allah, the first one to ask about this was so-and-so the son of so-and-so. He said, `O Messenger of Allah, what do you think of a man who sees his wife committing an immoral sin If he speaks he will be speaking about something very serious, and if he keeps quiet he will be keeping quiet about something very serious.' (The Prophet ) kept quiet and did not answer him. Later on, he came to him and said, `What I asked you about is something with which I myself being tested with.' Then Allah revealed the Ayat,
(And for those who accuse their wives,) until he reached:
(That the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth.) He started to advise the man and remind him about Allah, and told him that the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter. The man said: `By the One Who sent you with the truth, I was not telling you a lie.' Then the Prophet turned to the woman and advised the woman and reminded her about Allah, and told her that the punishment of this world is easier than the punishment of the Hereafter. The woman said, `By the One Who sent you with the truth, he is lying.' So ﴿the Prophet ﴾ started with the man, who swore four times by Allah that he was one of those who speak the truth, and swore the fifth oath that the curse of Allah would be upon him if he were lying. Then he turned to the woman, who swore four times by Allah that he was lying, and swore the fifth oath that the wrath of Allah would be upon her if he was telling the truth. Then he separated them.'' It was also recorded by An-Nasa'i in his Tafsir, and by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the Two Sahihs.
(11. Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin, and as for him among them who had the greater share therein, his will be a great torment.)
The next ten Ayat were all revealed concerning `A'ishah, the mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her) when the people of slander and falsehood among the hypocrites made their accusations against her and spread lies about her. Allah became jealous on her behalf and on behalf of His Prophet, and revealed her innocence to protect the honor of the Messenger of Allah . He said:
(Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.) meaning they were not one or two, but a group. Foremost among this group was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, the leader of the hypocrites, who fabricated the lie and whispered it to others, until some of the Muslims started to believe it, and others thought it might be possible and began to talk about it. This is how matters remained for almost a month, until Qur'an was revealed. This is reported in Sahih Hadiths. Imam Ahmad recorded that Az-Zuhri said: Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr, `Alqamah bin Waqqas and `Ubaydullah bin `Abdullah bin `Utbah bin Mas`ud told me about the story of `A'ishah, the wife of the Prophet, when the people of the slander said what they said about her, and Allah declared her innocence. Each of them told something about the story, and some of them knew more details than others or had memorized more than others. I learned the story from each of them, who had heard it from `A'ishah herself, and what one told me confirmed what the others said. They mentioned that `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet, said: "When the Messenger of Allah wanted to go on a journey, he would cast lots among his wives, and the one whose lot was drawn would go with him.'' `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, "So he drew lots among us with regard to a campaign he was going out on, and mine was drawn, so I went out with the Messenger of Allah. This was after the commandment of Hijab had been revealed, so I traveled in my howdah and stayed in it when we camped. We traveled until the Messenger of Allah completed his campaign, then we returned. As we were approaching Al-Madinah, we paused for a while, then they announced that the journey was to be resumed. When I heard this, I walked quickly away from the army to answer the call of nature, then I came back to my howdah. Then I put my hand to my chest and noticed that a necklace of mine that was made of onyx and cornelian had broken, so I went back and looked for it, and was delayed because of that. In the meantime, the people who used to lift my howdah onto my camel came along and put it on the camel, thinking that I was inside. In those times women were more slender and not so heavy, they only ate mouthfuls of food. So the people did not think anything of the howdah being so light when they lifted it up, as I was a young woman. They set off, and I found my necklace after the army had moved on. Then I came back to the place where we had stopped, and I saw no one to call or answer. So I went to the place where I had been, thinking that the people would miss me and come back for me. While I was sitting there, I fell asleep. Safwan bin Al-Mu`attal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani had rested during the night behind the army. Then he set out just before daybreak and reached the place where I was in the morning, where he saw the outline of a person sleeping. He came to me and recognized me when he saw me, as he had seen me before Hijab was made obligatory for me. When he saw me and said `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,' I woke up, and covered my face with my Jilbab (outer garment). By Allah, he did not speak a word to me and I did not hear him say anything except `Truly, to Allah we belong, and truly, to Him we shall return,' until he brought his camel and made it kneel so that I could ride upon it, then he set out leading the camel until we caught up with the army at Zuhr time.
There are people who are doomed because of what happened to me, and the one who had the greater share therein was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. When we came back to Al-Madinah, I was ill for a month, and the people were talking about what the people of the slander were saying, and I knew nothing about it. What upset me when I was ill was that I did not see the kindness I used to see on the part of the Messenger of Allah. When I was ill; he would just come in and say,
(How is that (lady)) That is what upset me. I did not feel that there was anything wrong until I went out after I felt better, and Umm Mistah went out with me, walking towards Al-Manasi`, which is where we used to go to relieve ourselves, and we would not go out for that purpose except at night. This was before we had lavatories close to our houses; our habit was similar to that of the early Arabs in that we went out into the deserts to relieve ourselves, because we considered it troublesome and harmful to have lavatories in our houses. So I went out with Umm Mistah, who was the daughter of Abu Ruhm bin Al-Muttalib bin `Abd Manaf, and her mother was the daughter of Sakhr bin `Amir, the paternal aunt of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Her son was Mistah bin Uthathah bin `Abbad bin Al-Muttalib. When we finished what we had to do, the daughter of Abu Ruhm Umm Mistah and I came back towards my house. Umm Mistah stumbled over her apron and said, `May Mistah be ruined!' I said to her, `What a bad thing you have said! Are you abusing a man who was present at Badr' She said, `Good grief, have you not heard what he said' I said, `What did he say' So she told me what the people of the slander were saying, which made me even more ill. When I returned home, the Messenger of Allah came in to me and greeted me, then he said,
(How is that (lady)) I said to him, `Will you give me permission to go to my parents' At that time I wanted to confirm the news by hearing it from them. The Messenger of Allah gave me permission, so I went to my parents and asked my mother, `O my mother, what are the people talking about' My mother said, `Calm down, for by Allah, there is no beautiful woman who is loved by her husband and has co-wives but those co-wives would find fault with her.' I said, `Subhan Allah! Are the people really talking about that' I wept throughout the whole night until morning. My tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all, and morning came while I was still weeping. Because the revelation had ceased, the Messenger of Allah called `Ali bin Abi Talib and Usamah bin Zayd, and consulted with them about divorcing his wife. As for Usamah bin Zayd, he told the Messenger of Allah about what he knew of his wife's innocence and his fondness for her. He said, `O Messenger of Allah, she is your wife, and we do not know anything about her but good.' But `Ali bin Abi Talib said, `O Messenger of Allah, Allah has not imposed restrictions on you, and there are plenty of other women besides her. If you ask her servant girl, she will tell you the truth.' So the Messenger of Allah called Barirah and said,
(O Barirah, have you ever seen anything that might make you suspicious about `A'ishah) Barirah said to him, `By the One Who sent you with the truth, I have never seen anything for which I could blame her, apart from the fact that she is a young girl who sometimes falls asleep and leaves her family's dough unprotected so that the domestic goats come and eat it.' So then the Messenger of Allah got up and (addressed the people) and asked who could sort out `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul for him. While he was standing on the Minbar, the Messenger of Allah said,
(O Muslims, who will help me against a man who has hurt me by slandering my family By Allah, I know nothing about my family but good, and the people are blaming a man of whom I know nothing except good, and he has never entered upon my family except with me.) Sa`d bin Mu`adh Al-Ansari stood up and said, `O Messenger of Allah, by Allah I will deal with him for you. If he is from (the tribe of) Al-Aws, then I will cut off his head, and if he is from our brothers of (the tribe of) Al-Khazraj, tell us what to do and we will do it.' Then Sa`d bin `Ubadah stood up. He was the leader of Al-Khazraj, and he was a righteous man, but he was overwhelmed with tribal chauvinism. He said to Sa`d bin Mu`adh, `By Allah, you will not kill him and you will never be able to kill him.' Then Usayd bin Hudayr, who was the cousin of Sa`d bin Mu`adh, stood up and said to Sa`d bin `Ubadah, `You are lying! By Allah, we will kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on behalf of the hypocrites!' Then the two groups, Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj, started to get angry and were about to come to blows, with the Messenger of Allah standing there on the Minbar, trying to calm them down until they became quiet, then the Messenger of Allah also fell silent. On that day I kept on weeping so much, my tears never ceased and I did not sleep at all. My parents thought that my liver would burst from all that weeping. While they were sitting with me and I was weeping, a woman of the Ansar asked for permission to see me. I let her in, and she sat and wept with me. While we were in that state, the Messenger of Allah came in, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since the rumors began, and a month had passed by without any revelation coming to him concerning my case. The Messenger of Allah recited the Tashahhud when he sat down, then he said,
(Thereafter, O `A'ishah, I have been told such and such a thing about you, and if you are innocent, then Allah will reveal your innocence, but if you have committed a sin, then seek Allah's forgiveness and turn in repentance to Him, for when a servant confesses his sin and repents to Allah, He accepts his repentance.) When the Messenger of Allah finished what he had to say, my tears stopped completely and I not longer felt even one drop. Then I said to my father, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.' He said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.' So I said to my mother, `Answer the Messenger of Allah on my behalf.' She said, `I do not know what I should say to the Messenger of Allah.' So even though I was just a young girl who had not memorized much of the Qur'an, I said: `By Allah, I know that you have heard so much of this story that it has become planted in your minds and you believe it. So now if I tell you that I am innocent -- and Allah knows that I am innocent -- you will not believe me; but if I admit something to you -- and Allah knows that I am innocent -- you will believe me. By Allah, I cannot find any example to give you except for that which the Prophet Yusuf's father said,
(So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe) (12:18). Then I turned my face away and lay down on my bed. By Allah, at that point I knew I was innocent and that Allah would prove my innocence because I was innocent, but by Allah, I did not think that Allah would reveal Qur'an that would be forever recited concerning my situation, because I thought of myself as too insignificant for Allah to reveal anything concerning me. But I hoped that the Messenger of Allah would see a dream in which Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah did not move from where he was sitting and no one left the house before Allah sent down revelation to His Prophet, and he was overtaken by the state that always overtook him when the revelation came upon him, until drops of sweat like pearls would run down him, even on a winter's day; this was because of the heaviness of the words which were being revealed to him. When that state passed -- and the Messenger of Allah was smiling -- the first thing he said was,
(Be glad O `A'ishah, Allah has declared your innocence.) My mother said to me, `Get up and go to him.' I said, `By Allah, I will not go to him and I will not give praise to anyone except Allah, may He be glorified, for He is the One Who has proven my innocence.' So Allah revealed:
(Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.), until the ten Ayat. Allah revealed these Ayat concerning my innocence. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) who used to spend on Mistah bin Uthathah because he was a close relative and because he was poor, said, `By Allah, I will never spend anything on him again after what he has said about `A'ishah. 'Then Allah revealed,
(And let not those among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give to their kinsmen.) until His saying:
(Do you not love that Allah should forgive you And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful) (24:22). So Abu Bakr said, `By Allah, certainly I love that Allah should forgive me.' So he resumed spending on Mistah as he had spent on him before, and he said, `By Allah, I shall never stop spending on him.' The Messenger of Allah asked Zaynab bint Jahsh about my situation, and said,
(O Zaynab, what do you know and what have you seen) She said, `O Messenger of Allah, may Allah protect my hearing and my sight. By Allah, I know nothing but good.' She is the one who used to compete with me among the wives of the Prophet, but Allah protected her (from telling lies) because of her piety. But her sister Hamnah bint Jahsh kept on fighting on her behalf, so she was doomed along with those who were doomed.'' Ibn Shihab said, "This is as much as we know about this group of people.'' It was also by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahihs from the Hadith of Az-Zuhri, and by Ibn Ishaq also from Az-Zuhri. He also said: "Yahya bin `Abbad bin `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr told me from his father, from `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) and `Abdullah bin Abi Bakr bin Muhammad bin `Amr bin Hazm Al-Ansari told me from `Amrah, from `A'ishah, (a report) similar to that quoted above. And Allah knows best. Allah's saying:
(Verily, those who brought forth the slander) means, the lies, falsehood and fabrications.
(are a group) means, a gang among you.
(Consider it not a bad thing for you.) O family of Abu Bakr,
(Nay, it is good for you.) means, in this world and the Hereafter, honorable mention in this world and raised status in the Hereafter. Allah demonstrated the esteem with which He regarded the family of Abu Bakr when He defended `A'ishah the Mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her) by revealing her innocence in the Qur'an,
(Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it...) (41:42). Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) entered upon her when she was dying, he said to her, "Rejoice, for you are the wife of the Messenger of Allah and he used to love you; he did not marry any virgin other than you, and your innocence was revealed from heaven.''
(Unto every man among them will be paid that which he had earned of the sin,) means, each of those who spoke about this matter and accused the Mother of the believers `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) of any immoral action, will have a great share of punishment.
(and as for him among them who had the greater share therein,) It was said that this referred to the one who initiated the rumors, or that it was the one who collected rumors and spread them among the people.
(his will be a great torment.) means, for that. He was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, may Allah disfigure him and curse him.
(12. Why then, did not the believers, men and women, when you heard it, think good of their own people and say: "This is an obvious lie'') (13. Why did they not produce four witnesses against him Since they have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah, they are the liars.)
Here Allah disciplines the believers with regard to the matter of `A'ishah, because some of them spread this evil talk and the slander that had been mentioned. So Allah says:
(Why then, when you heard it,) meaning, the talk which accused the Mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her)
(the believers, men and women, think good of their own people) means, why did they not compare what was said to themselves -- if it was not befitting for them then it was even less appropriate for the Mother of the believers, and she was more likely to be innocent. Or it was said that this was revealed about Abu Ayyub Khalid bin Zayd Al-Ansari and his wife (may Allah be pleased with them). Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar narrated, "The wife of Abu Ayyub Khalid bin Zayd Al-Ansari, Umm Ayyub, said to him, `O Abu Ayyub, have you heard what the people are saying about `A'ishah' He said, `Yes, and it is all lies. Would you do that, O Umm Ayyub' She said, `No, by Allah, I would not do that.' He said, `And by Allah, `A'ishah is better than you.' When the Qur'an was revealed, Allah mentioned those who spoke about the evil deed among the people of the slander,
(Verily, those who brought forth the slander are a group among you.) (24:1) This refers to Hassan and his companions who said what they said. Then Allah said,
(Why then, did not the believers, men, when you heard it, think...) means, as Abu Ayyub and his wife did.'' Allah's saying:
(the believers, men think...) meaning, `why did they not think good, because the Mother of the believers is his wife and is closer to him.' This is concerned with innermost feelings;
(and say:) means, with their tongues, verbally,
("This (charge) is an obvious lie'') means, a clear untruth told about the Mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her. What happened should not have been the cause of suspicion. The fact that the Mother of the believers came openly, riding on the camel of Safwan bin Al-Mu`attal at midday, with the entire army watching and the Messenger of Allah among them, should have made it clear that there was no cause for suspicion. If there had been anything suspicious about the matter, they would not have come openly in this manner in front of so many witnesses; they would have come secretly. On this basis, what the people of the slander said accusing the Mother of the believers was an utter lie, false speech and evil foolish talk, by which people who indulged in it lost out. Allah said:
(Why did they not produce four witnesses against him) meaning, to prove that what they were saying was true.
(Since they have not produced witnesses! Then with Allah they are the liars.)Allah has ruled that they are indeed wicked liars.
(14. Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter, a great torment would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken.) (15. When you were propagating it with your tongues, and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge, you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.)
(Had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy unto you in this world and in the Hereafter,) This is addressed to those who were indulging in discussing the matter of `A'ishah, informing them that Allah has accepted their repentance in this world, and forgiven them because of their faith in the Hereafter.
(would have touched you for that whereof you had spoken.) with regard to the slander.
(a great torment) This refers to those who had faith in Allah because of their repentance, such as Mistah, Hassan and Hamnah bint Jahsh the sister of Zaynab bint Jahsh. As for the hypocrites who indulged in the slander, such as `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul and his like, they are not the ones who are referred to in this Ayah, because they did not have sufficient faith and righteous deeds to balance or cancel out what they had done. By the same token, the threats that were narrated for a specific deed are bound to be carried out, if there is no repentance or sufficient righteous deeds to balance or outweigh it. Then Allah says:
(When you were propagating it with your tongues,) Mujahid and Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "Some of you were relating it to others,'' where one says, `I heard this from so-and-so, and so-and-so said such and such, and some of them mentioned such and such.' Others recited the Ayah: (إِذْ تَلِقُونَهُ بِأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ) ("When you were inventing a lie with your tongues...'') In Sahih Al-Bukhari, it is recorded that `A'ishah recited it like that. According to her, the meaning refers to lies which a person persists in telling. The first recitation is preferred and more popular, and the majority recite it that way, but the second is reported from `A'ishah, the Mother of the believers.
(and uttering with your mouths that whereof you had no knowledge,) means, you were speaking about something which you knew nothing about. Then Allah says:
(you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.) means, `you said what you said about the Mother of the believers and you thought that it was a trifling and insignificant matter, but even if she was not the wife of the Prophet, it still would not be an insignificant matter -- so how about when she is the wife of the Unlettered Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets and Leader of the Messengers ' It is a very serious matter with Allah that such a thing should be said about the wife of His Messenger! For Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, feels great fury and anger over such matters, and He would never decree such a thing for the wife of any of His Prophets. If that is the case, then how about the best of the wives of any Prophet, the wife of the best of the sons of Adam in this world and the next Allah says:
(you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.) In the Two Sahihs it is reported that:
(A man may say a word that angers Allah without realizing how far it will go, and because of that he will be thrown into Hell a distance greater than that between heaven and earth.) According to another report:
(And he may not pay any attention to it.)
(16. And why did you not, when you heard it, say: "It is not right for us to speak of this. Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie.'') (17. Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever, if you are believers.) (18. And Allah makes the Ayat plain to you, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.)
This is further discipline, in addition to the command to think well of people, i.e., if something unbefitting is mentioned about good people, then one should think well of them, and not feel towards them anything but good. Then if a person has any unsuitable thoughts about them, insinuated into his mind and imagination by Shaytan, he should not speak about that, for the Prophet said:
(Allah will excuse my Ummah for anything that occurs to their minds, so long as they do not speak about it or act upon it.) This was reported in the Two Sahihs. Allah's saying:
(And why did you not, when you heard it, say: "It is not right for us to speak of this''.) meaning, we should not talk about it or mention it to anyone.
(Glory be to You (O Allah)! This is a great lie.) means, glory be to Allah that such a thing should be said about the wife of His Prophet and close Friend . Then Allah says,
(Allah forbids you from it and warns you not to repeat the like of it forever,) meaning, Allah is forbidding you and warning you from doing anything like this again in the future. Allah says,
(if you are believers.) meaning, if you believe in Allah and His Laws, and you respect His Messenger. As for those who are described as disbelievers, a different ruling applies in their case. Then Allah says,
(And Allah makes the Ayat plain to you,) meaning, He makes clear to you the rulings of Shari`ah and His divine decrees.
(and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.) means, He knows what is right for His servants and He is Wise in His Laws and decrees.
(19. Verily, those who like that Fahishah should be circulated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.)
This is a third instance of discipline directed at those who hear evil talk, believe it to some extent, and start to spread it; they should not spread such talk or pass it on to others. Allah says:
(Verily, those who like that Fahshah should be circulated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment) meaning, those who like to see evil talk about them (the believers) appear,
(they will have a painful torment in this world) means, because of the prescribed punishment, and in the Hereafter because of the torment in Hell.
(And Allah knows and you know not.) means, return the matter to Him and you will be guided. Imam Ahmad recorded from Thawban that the Prophet said:
(Do not annoy the servants of Allah, nor abuse them, nor seek their hidden shortcomings. Whoever seeks out the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah will expose his faults and degrade him, even if he is hiding in his house.)
(20. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, and that Allah is full of kindness, Most Merciful.) (21. O you who believe! Follow not the Khutuwat of Shaytan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan, then, verily, he commands Al-Fahsha' and the evil deeds. And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins. But Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.)