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Loyalty to the Prophet; and his wives are Mothers of the Believers

Allah tells us how His Messenger is merciful and sincere towards his Ummah, and how he is closer to them than they are to themselves. His judgment or ruling takes precedence over their own choices for themselves, as Allah says:

﴿ فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُواْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ حَرَجً۬ا مِّمَّا قَضَيۡتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسۡلِيمً۬ا

(But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept with full submission.) (4:65) In the Sahih it says:

« وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ نَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِين »

(By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, none of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his own self, his wealth, his children and all the people.) It was also reported in the Sahih that `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, you are dearer to me than everything except myself.'' He said,

« لَا، يَا عُمَرُ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ نَفْسِك »

(No, O `Umar, not until I am dearer to you than yourself.) `Umar said: "O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, now you are dearer to me than everything, even myself.'' He said,

« الْآنَ يَا عُمَر »

(Now, O `Umar (you have got it right).) Allah says in this Ayah:

﴿ ٱلنَّبِىُّ أَوۡلَىٰ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ مِنۡ أَنفُسِہِمۡ‌ۖ

(The Prophet is closer to the believers than themselves,) Concerning this Ayah, Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet said:

« مَا مِنْ مُؤْمِنٍ إِلَّا وَأَنَا أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ، اقْرَؤُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ:
﴿ ٱلنَّبِىُّ أَوۡلَىٰ بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ مِنۡ أَنفُسِہِمۡ‌ۖ

(There is no believer except I am the closest of all people to him in this world and in the Hereafter. Recite, if you wish: (The Prophet is closer to the believers than themselves.)

فَأَيُّمَا مُؤْمِنٍ تَرَكَ مَالًا فَلْيَرِثْهُ عُصْبَتُهُ مَنْ كَانُوا، وَإِنْ تَرَكَ دَيْنًا أَوْ ضِيَاعًا فَلْيَأْتِنِي فَأَنَا مَوْلَاه »

If any believer leaves behind any wealth, let his own relatives inherit it, but if he leaves behind any debt or orphans, bring them to me and I will take care of them.) This was recorded only by Al-Bukhari, and he also recorded it in the Book of Loans.

﴿ وَأَزۡوَٲجُهُ ۥۤ أُمَّهَـٰتُہُمۡ‌ۗ

(and his wives are their mothers.) means, they are unlawful for marriage. In terms of honor, respect and veneration, it is not permissible for them to be alone with them, and the prohibition of marriage to them does not extend to their daughters and sisters, according to scholarly consensus.

﴿ وَأُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَرۡحَامِ بَعۡضُہُمۡ أَوۡلَىٰ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ فِى ڪِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَٱلۡمُهَـٰجِرِينَ

(And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the decree of Allah than the believers and the Muhajirin,) This is an abrogation of the rule that existed previously, whereby they could inherit from one another by virtue of the oath of brotherhood among them. Ibn `Abbas and others said: "A Muhajir would inherit from an Ansari even though they were not related by blood, because of the brotherhood established between them by the Messenger of Allah.'' This was also stated by Sa`id bin Jubayr and others among scholars of the earlier and later generations.

﴿ إِلَّآ أَن تَفۡعَلُوٓاْ إِلَىٰٓ أَوۡلِيَآٮِٕكُم مَّعۡرُوفً۬ا‌ۚ

(except that you do kindness to those brothers.) means, the idea of inheriting from one another has gone, but there remains the duty to offer support and kindness, to uphold ties of brotherhood and to offer good advice.

﴿ كَانَ ذَٲلِكَ فِى ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ مَسۡطُورً۬ا

(This has been written in the Book.) This ruling, which is that those who are blood relatives have closer personal ties to one another, is a ruling which Allah has decreed and which is written in the First Book which cannot be altered or changed. This is the view of Mujahid and others. (This is the case) even though Allah legislated something different at certain times, and there is wisdom behind this, for He knew that this would be abrogated and the original ruling that was instituted an eternity ago would prevail, and this is His universal and legislative decree. And Allah knows best.

﴿ وَإِذۡ أَخَذۡنَا مِنَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مِيثَـٰقَهُمۡ وَمِنكَ وَمِن نُّوحٍ۬ وَإِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ٱبۡنِ مَرۡيَمَ‌ۖ وَأَخَذۡنَا مِنۡهُم مِّيثَـٰقًا غَلِيظً۬ا لِّيَسۡـَٔلَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ عَن صِدۡقِهِمۡ‌ۚ وَأَعَدَّ لِلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ عَذَابًا أَلِيمً۬ا

(7. And when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and `Isa son of Maryam. We took from them a strong covenant.) (8. That He may ask the truthful about their truth. And He has prepared for the disbelievers a painful torment.)

The Covenant of the Prophets

Allah tells us about the five Mighty Messengers with strong resolve and the other Prophets, how He took a covenant from them to establish the religion of Allah and convey His Message, and to cooperate and support one another, as Allah says:

﴿ وَإِذۡ أَخَذَ ٱللَّهُ مِيثَـٰقَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ لَمَآ ءَاتَيۡتُڪُم مِّن ڪِتَـٰبٍ۬ وَحِكۡمَةٍ۬ ثُمَّ جَآءَڪُمۡ رَسُولٌ۬ مُّصَدِّقٌ۬ لِّمَا مَعَكُمۡ لَتُؤۡمِنُنَّ بِهِۦ وَلَتَنصُرُنَّهُ ۥ‌ۚ قَالَ ءَأَقۡرَرۡتُمۡ وَأَخَذۡتُمۡ عَلَىٰ ذَٲلِكُمۡ إِصۡرِى‌ۖ قَالُوٓاْ أَقۡرَرۡنَا‌ۚ قَالَ فَٱشۡہَدُواْ وَأَنَا۟ مَعَكُم مِّنَ ٱلشَّـٰهِدِينَ

(And when Allah took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: "Take whatever I gave you from the Book and Hikmah, and afterwards there will come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you; you must, then, believe in him and help him.'' Allah said: "Do you agree, and will you take up My covenant'' They said: "We agree.'' He said: "Then bear witness; and I am with you among the witnesses.'') (3:81) This covenant was taken from them after their missions started. Elsewhere in the Qur'an, Allah mentions five by name, and these are the Mighty Messengers with strong resolve. They are also mentioned by name in this Ayah and in the Ayah:

﴿ شَرَعَ لَكُم مِّنَ ٱلدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِۦ نُوحً۬ا وَٱلَّذِىٓ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ وَمَا وَصَّيۡنَا بِهِۦۤ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰٓ‌ۖ أَنۡ أَقِيمُواْ ٱلدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُواْ فِيهِ‌ۚ

(He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nuh, and that which We have revealed to you, and that which We ordained for Ibrahim, Musa and `Isa saying you should establish religion and make no divisions in it.) (42:13) This is the covenant which Allah took from them, as He says:

﴿ وَإِذۡ أَخَذۡنَا مِنَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مِيثَـٰقَهُمۡ وَمِنكَ وَمِن نُّوحٍ۬ وَإِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَى ٱبۡنِ مَرۡيَمَ‌ۖ

(And when We took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you, and from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and `Isa son of Maryam.) This Ayah begins with the last Prophet, as a token of respect, may the blessings of Allah be upon him, then the names of the other Prophets are given in order, may the blessings of Allah be upon them. Ibn `Abbas said: "The strong covenant is Al-`Ahd (the covenant).

﴿ لِّيَسۡـَٔلَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ عَن صِدۡقِهِمۡ‌ۚ

(That He may ask the truthful about their truth.) Mujahid said: "This refers to, those who convey the Message from the Messengers.''

﴿ وَأَعَدَّ لِلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ

(And He has prepared for the disbelievers) i.e., among their nations,

﴿ عَذَابًا أَلِيمً۬ا

(a painful torment.) i.e., agonizing. We bear witness that the Messengers did indeed convey the Message of their Lord and advised their nations, and that they clearly showed them the truth in which there is no confusion, doubt or ambiguity, even though they were rejected by the ignorant, stubborn and rebellious wrongdoers. What the Messengers brought is the truth, and whoever opposes them is misguided. As the people of Paradise will say:

﴿ لَقَدۡ جَآءَتۡ رُسُلُ رَبِّنَا بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۖ

(Indeed, the Messengers of our Lord did come with the truth.) (7:43)

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَةَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذۡ جَآءَتۡكُمۡ جُنُودٌ۬ فَأَرۡسَلۡنَا عَلَيۡہِمۡ رِيحً۬ا وَجُنُودً۬ا لَّمۡ تَرَوۡهَا‌ۚ وَڪَانَ ٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ بَصِيرًا إِذۡ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوۡقِكُمۡ وَمِنۡ أَسۡفَلَ مِنكُمۡ وَإِذۡ زَاغَتِ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ ٱلۡحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۟

(9. O you who believe! Remember Allah's favor to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces that you saw not. And Allah is Ever All-Seer of what you do.) (10. When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah.)

The Campaign of the Confederates (Al-Ahzab)

Allah tells us of the blessings and favors He bestowed upon His believing servants when He diverted their enemies and defeated them in the year when they gathered together and plotted. That was the year of Al-Khandaq, in Shawwal of the year 5 AH according to the well-known correct view. Musa bin `Uqbah and others said that it was in the year 4 AH. The reason why the Confederates came was that a group of the leaders of the Jews of Banu Nadir, whom the Messenger of Allah had expelled from Al-Madinah to Khaybar, including Sallam bin Abu Al-Huqayq, Sallam bin Mishkam and Kinanah bin Ar-Rabi`, went to Makkah where they met with the leaders of Quraysh and incited them to make war against the Prophet. They promised that they would give them help and support, and Quraysh agreed to that. Then they went to the Ghatafan tribe with the same call, and they responded too. The Quraysh came out with their company of men from various tribes and their followers, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb. The Ghatafan were led by `Uyaynah bin Hisn bin Badr. In all they numbered nearly ten thousand. When the Messenger of Allah heard that they had set out, he commanded the Muslims to dig a ditch (Khandaq) around Al-Madinah from the east. This was on the advice of Salman Al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him. So the Muslims did this, working hard, and the Messenger of Allah worked with them, carrying earth away and digging, in the process of which there occurred many miracles and clear signs. The idolaters came and made camp to the north of Al-Madinah, near Uhud, and some of them camped on the high ground overlooking Al-Madinah, as Allah says:

﴿ إِذۡ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوۡقِكُمۡ وَمِنۡ أَسۡفَلَ مِنكُمۡ

(When they came upon you from above you and from below you,) The Messenger of Allah came out with the believers, who numbered nearly three thousand, or it was said that they numbered seven hundred. They had their backs towards (the mountain of) Sal` and were facing the enemy, and the ditch, in which there was no water, was between the two groups, preventing the cavalry and infantry from reaching them. The women and children were in the strongholds of Al-Madinah. Banu Qurayzah, who were a group among the Jews, had a fortress in the south-east of Al-Madinah, and they had made a treaty with the Prophet and were under his protection. They numbered nearly eight hundred fighters. Huyay bin Akhtab An-Nadari went to them and kept trying to persuade them until they broke the treaty and went over to the side of the Confederates against the Messenger of Allah. The crisis deepened and things got worse, as Allah says:

﴿ هُنَالِكَ ٱبۡتُلِىَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَزُلۡزِلُواْ زِلۡزَالاً۬ شَدِيدً۬ا

(There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.) (33: 11) They besieged the Prophet and his Companions for almost a month, but they did not reach them and there was no fighting between them, except for when `Amr bin `Abd Wadd Al-`Amiri, who was one of the most famous and bravest horsemen of the Jahiliyyah, came with some other horsemen, and crossed the ditch to the Muslim side. The Messenger of Allah called for the Muslim cavalry, and it was said that no one came forward. Then he called `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who came forward and they fought in single combat until Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, killed him, and this was a sign of imminent victory. Then Allah sent an intensely cold wind with strong gusts against the Confederates, and they were left with no tents or anything else; they could not light any fires or do anything, and so they departed, disappointed and defeated, as Allah says:

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱذۡكُرُواْ نِعۡمَةَ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ إِذۡ جَآءَتۡكُمۡ جُنُودٌ۬ فَأَرۡسَلۡنَا عَلَيۡہِمۡ رِيحً۬ا وَجُنُودً۬ا

(O you who believe! Remember Allah's favor to you, when there came against you hosts, and We sent against them a wind and forces) Mujahid said: "This was the easterly wind.'' This view is supported by another Hadith:

« نُصِرْتُ بِالصَّبَا، وَأُهْلِكَتْ عَادٌ بِالدَّبُور »

(I was given victory by the easterly wind, and `Ad were destroyed by the westerly wind.)

﴿ وَجُنُودً۬ا لَّمۡ تَرَوۡهَا‌ۚ

(and forces that you saw not.) This refers to the angels who shook them and cast fear and terror into their hearts. The chief of each tribe said, "O Banu so-and-so, to me!'' So they gathered around him, and he said, "Let us save ourselves,'' when Allah cast fear and terror into their hearts. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded that Ibrahim At-Taymi said that his father said: "We were with Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, may Allah be pleased with him, and a man said to him: `If I had met the Messenger of Allah I would have fought alongside him and I would have striven my utmost.' Hudhayfah said to him: `Would you really have done that I was present with the Messenger of Allah during (the campaign) against the Confederates on a very cold and windy night, and the Messenger of Allah said:

« أَلَا رَجُلٌ يَأْتِي بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ يَكُونُ مَعِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة »

(Is there any man who will bring me news of the people He will be with me on the Day of Resurrection.) None of us answered him, and he repeated it a second and a third time. Then he said:

« يَاحُذَيْفَةُ قُمْ فَأْتِنَا بِخَبَرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْم »

(O Hudhayfah, get up and bring us news of the people.) When he called me by name, I had no choice but to get up. He said,

« ائْتِنِي بِخَبَرِ الْقَوْمِ وَلاَ تَذْعَرْهُمْ عَلَي »

(Bring us news of the people, but do not alarm them.) So I went, walking as if I were walking among pigeons, until I came to them. I saw Abu Sufyan warming his back by the fire, and I put an arrow in my bow, wanting to shoot it at him, then I remembered what the Messenger of Allah said,

« وَلاَ تَذْعَرْهُمْ عَلَي »

(Do not alarm them.) If I shot the arrow, I would have hit him. So I came back, again walking as if I were walking among pigeons, and I came to the Messenger of Allah. After my returning I began to feel very cold. I told the Messenger of Allah and he gave me to wear a spare cloak of his which he used to pray in. I slept until morning came, and when morning came, the Messenger of Allah said,

« قُمْ يَا نَوْمَان »

(Get up, O sleepy one!)'''

﴿ إِذۡ جَآءُوكُم مِّن فَوۡقِكُمۡ

(When they came upon you from above you) refers to the Confederates,

﴿ وَمِنۡ أَسۡفَلَ مِنكُمۡ

(and from below you.) We have already noted the report from Abu Hudhayfah that these were Banu Qurayzah.

﴿ وَإِذۡ زَاغَتِ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ ٱلۡحَنَاجِرَ

(and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats,) means, from intense fear and terror.

﴿ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۟

(and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) Ibn Jarir said: "Some of those who were with the Messenger of Allah , had doubts and thought that the outcome would be against the believers, and that Allah would allow that to happen.'' Muhammad bin Ishaq said concerning the Ayah:

﴿ وَإِذۡ زَاغَتِ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَبَلَغَتِ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ ٱلۡحَنَاجِرَ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۟

(when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) "The believers had all kinds of doubts, and hypocrisy emerged to such an extent that Mu`attib bin Qushayr, the brother of Banu `Amr bin `Awf said: `Muhammad was promising us that we would win the treasure of Chosroes and Caesar, but one of us cannot even go and relieve himself.''' Al-Hasan said concerning the Ayah:

﴿ وَتَظُنُّونَ بِٱللَّهِ ٱلظُّنُونَا۟

(and you were harboring doubts about Allah.) "There were different kinds of thoughts; the hypocrites thought that Muhammad and his Companions would be eliminated, while the believers were certain that what Allah and His Messenger promised was true, and that He would cause the religion to prevail even if the idolaters hated it.'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Sa`id, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "On the day of Al-Khandaq, we said: `O Messenger of Allah, is there anything we should say, for our hearts have reached our throats' He said:

« نَعَمْ، قُولُوا: اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِنَا وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِنَا »

(Yes, say: O Allah, cover our weak points and calm our fears.) Then (Allah) struck the faces of the enemy with the wind, and defeated them with the wind. This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal from Abu `Amir Al-`Aqadi.

﴿ هُنَالِكَ ٱبۡتُلِىَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ وَزُلۡزِلُواْ زِلۡزَالاً۬ شَدِيدً۬ا وَإِذۡ يَقُولُ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِہِم مَّرَضٌ۬ مَّا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا غُرُورً۬ا وَإِذۡ قَالَت طَّآٮِٕفَةٌ۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ يَـٰٓأَهۡلَ يَثۡرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمۡ فَٱرۡجِعُواْ‌ۚ وَيَسۡتَـٔۡذِنُ فَرِيقٌ۬ مِّنۡہُمُ ٱلنَّبِىَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوۡرَةٌ۬ وَمَا هِىَ بِعَوۡرَةٍ‌ۖ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارً۬ا

(11. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.) (12. And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: "Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!'') (13. And when a party of them said: "O people of Yathrib! There is no position for you. Therefore go back!'' And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet saying: "Truly, our homes lie open.'' And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.)

How the Believers were tested, and the Position of the Hypocrites during the Battle of Al-Khandaq

Allah tells us what happened when the Confederates surrounded Al-Madinah and the Muslims were besieged and found themselves in straitened circumstances, with the Messenger of Allah in their midst. They were tried and tested, and were shaken with a mighty shaking. At this time hypocrisy emerged, and those in whose hearts was a disease spoke about what they really felt.

﴿ وَإِذۡ يَقُولُ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِہِم مَّرَضٌ۬ مَّا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا غُرُورً۬ا

(And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said: "Allah and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!'') Their hypocrisy became apparent, while the one in whose heart was doubt became weak, and he expressed the ideas that were in his heart because of the weakness of his faith and the difficulty of the situation. And other people said, as Allah tells us:

﴿ وَإِذۡ قَالَت طَّآٮِٕفَةٌ۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ يَـٰٓأَهۡلَ يَثۡرِبَ

(And when a party of them said: "O people of Yathrib...'') meaning Al-Madinah, as it was reported in the Sahih:

« أُرِيتُ فِي الْمَنَامِ دَارَ هِجْرَتِكُمْ، أَرْضٌ بَيْنَ حَرَّتَيْنِ، فَذَهَبَ وَهَلِي أَنَّهَا هَجَرُ فَإِذَا هِيَ يَثْرِب »

(I was shown in a dream the place to which you will migrate, a land between two lava fields. At first I thought it was Hajar, but it turned out to be Yathrib.) According to another narration:

« الْمَدِينَة »

(Al-Madinah.) It was said that the origin of its name Yathrib was that a man settled there from (the people of) Al-`Amaliq whose name was Yathrib bin `Ubayd bin Mahlayil bin `Aws bin `Amlaq bin Lawudh bin Iram bin Sam bin Nuh. This was the view of As-Suhayli. He said: "And it was narrated from some of them that he said, `It is given eleven names in the Tawrah: Al-Madinah, Tabah, Tayyibah, Al-Miskinah, Al-Jabirah, Al-Muhibbah, Al-Mahbubah, Al-Qasimah, Al-Majburah, Al-`Adhra' and Al-Marhumah.''' r

﴿ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمۡ

(There is no position for you.) means, `here, with the Prophet , you cannot stand guard,'

﴿ فَٱرۡجِعُواْ‌ۚ

(Therefore go back) means, `to your houses and dwellings'.

﴿ وَيَسۡتَـٔۡذِنُ فَرِيقٌ۬ مِّنۡہُمُ ٱلنَّبِىَّ

(And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet) Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him said, "These were Banu Harithah, who said, `We fear for our homes, that they may be robbed.''' This was also stated by others. Ibn Ishaq mentioned that the one who said this was `Aws bin Qayzi. They were using as an excuse to go back to their houses the claim that they were lying open and had nothing to protect them from the enemy, so they were afraid for their homes. But Allah said:

﴿ وَمَا هِىَ بِعَوۡرَةٍ‌ۖ

(And they lay not open.) meaning, it is not as they claim.

﴿ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارً۬ا

(They but wished to flee.) means, they wanted to run away from the battlefield.

﴿ وَلَوۡ دُخِلَتۡ عَلَيۡہِم مِّنۡ أَقۡطَارِهَا ثُمَّ سُٮِٕلُواْ ٱلۡفِتۡنَةَ لَأَتَوۡهَا وَمَا تَلَبَّثُواْ بِہَآ إِلَّا يَسِيرً۬ا وَلَقَدۡ كَانُواْ عَـٰهَدُواْ ٱللَّهَ مِن قَبۡلُ لَا يُوَلُّونَ ٱلۡأَدۡبَـٰرَ‌ۚ وَكَانَ عَهۡدُ ٱللَّهِ مَسۡـُٔولاً۬ قُل لَّن يَنفَعَكُمُ ٱلۡفِرَارُ إِن فَرَرۡتُم مِّنَ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ أَوِ ٱلۡقَتۡلِ وَإِذً۬ا لَّا تُمَتَّعُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ قُلۡ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَعۡصِمُكُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ إِنۡ أَرَادَ بِكُمۡ سُوٓءًا أَوۡ أَرَادَ بِكُمۡ رَحۡمَةً۬‌ۚ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَلِيًّ۬ا وَلَا نَصِيرً۬ا

(14. And if the enemy had entered from all sides, and they had been exhorted to Al-Fitnah, they would surely have committed it and would have hesitated thereupon but little.) (15. And indeed they had already made a covenant with Allah not to turn their backs, and a covenant with Allah must be answered for.) (16. Say: "Flight will not avail you if you flee from death or killing and then you will enjoy no more than a little while!'') (17. Say: "Who is he who can protect you from Allah if He intends to harm you, or intends mercy on you'' And they will not find, besides Allah, for themselves any protector or any helper.) Allah tells us about those who said:

﴿ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوۡرَةٌ۬ وَمَا هِىَ بِعَوۡرَةٍ‌ۖ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارً۬ا

("Truly, our homes lie open.'' And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.) If the enemy had entered upon them from every side of Al-Madinah and from every direction, then demanded that they become disbelievers, they would have promptly done so. They would not have adhered to their faith or remained steadfast in it if they were faced with the slightest fear. This is how it was interpreted by Qatadah, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd and Ibn Jarir. This is a condemnation of them in the clearest terms. Then Allah reminds them of the promise they had made to Him before this fear struck them, that they would not turn their backs or flee from the battlefield.

﴿ وَكَانَ عَهۡدُ ٱللَّهِ مَسۡـُٔولاً۬

(and a covenant with Allah must be answered for.) means, Allah will inevitably ask them about that covenant. Then Allah tells them that fleeing from battle will not delay their appointed demise or make their lives any longer; on the contrary, it may be the cause of their being taken sooner, and in a sudden manner. Allah says:

﴿ وَإِذً۬ا لَّا تُمَتَّعُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬

(and then you will enjoy no more than a little while!) meaning, `after you run away and flee from battle.'

﴿ قُلۡ مَتَـٰعُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا قَلِيلٌ۬ وَٱلۡأَخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ۬ لِّمَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰ

(Say: "Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is better for him who have Taqwa'') (4:77). Then Allah says:

﴿ قُلۡ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَعۡصِمُكُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ إِنۡ أَرَادَ بِكُمۡ سُوٓءًا أَوۡ أَرَادَ بِكُمۡ رَحۡمَةً۬‌ۚ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَلِيًّ۬ا وَلَا نَصِيرً۬ا

(Say: "Who is he who can protect you from Allah if He intends to harm you, or intends mercy on you'' And they will not find, besides Allah, for themselves any protector or any helper.) meaning, they have no one else except Allah to respond to their cries.

﴿ قَدۡ يَعۡلَمُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُعَوِّقِينَ مِنكُمۡ وَٱلۡقَآٮِٕلِينَ لِإِخۡوَٲنِهِمۡ هَلُمَّ إِلَيۡنَا‌ۖ وَلَا يَأۡتُونَ ٱلۡبَأۡسَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً أَشِحَّةً عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۖ فَإِذَا جَآءَ ٱلۡخَوۡفُ رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيۡكَ تَدُورُ أَعۡيُنُهُمۡ كَٱلَّذِى يُغۡشَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ مِنَ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ‌ۖ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ ٱلۡخَوۡفُ سَلَقُوڪُم بِأَلۡسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ أَشِحَّةً عَلَى ٱلۡخَيۡرِ‌ۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ لَمۡ يُؤۡمِنُواْ فَأَحۡبَطَ ٱللَّهُ أَعۡمَـٰلَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٲلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرً۬ا

(18. Allah already knows those among you who keep back (men) from fighting (in Allah's cause), and those who say to their brethren, "Come here towards us,'' while they come not to the battle except a little,) (19. Being miserly towards you. Then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like one over whom hovers death; but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues, miserly towards good. Such have not believed. Therefore, Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah.) Allah tells us that His knowledge encompasses those who sought to tell others not to go out and who said to their brethren, meaning their companions, friend and acquaintances,

﴿ هَلُمَّ إِلَيۡنَا‌ۖ

(Come here towards us,) meaning, come to where we are in the shade and enjoying fruits. But in spite of that,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡتُونَ ٱلۡبَأۡسَ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً
أَشِحَّةً
﴿ عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۖ

(they come not to the battle except a little, being miserly towards you.) i.e., `they are mean and have no love or mercy towards you.' As-Suddi said:

﴿ أَشِحَّةً عَلَيۡكُمۡ‌ۖ

(Being miserly towards you.) means, with the booty.

﴿ فَإِذَا جَآءَ ٱلۡخَوۡفُ رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيۡكَ تَدُورُ أَعۡيُنُهُمۡ كَٱلَّذِى يُغۡشَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ مِنَ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ‌ۖ

(Then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like one over whom hovers death;) means, because of the intensity of their fear and terror; this is how afraid these cowards are of fighting.

﴿ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ ٱلۡخَوۡفُ سَلَقُوڪُم بِأَلۡسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ

(but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues,) means, when security is restored, they will speak eloquently and nicely, claiming that they were the bravest and most chivalrous of men, but they are lying. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

﴿ سَلَقُوڪُم

(they will smite you) means, "they will start to talk about you.'' Qatadah said: "But when it comes to the booty, the most miserly of people and the worst to have to share the booty with are those who say, `Give us, give us, we were there with you,' but during battle they were the most cowardly and the most likely to fail to support the truth.'' They are miserly towards good, meaning that there is no goodness in them, for they have combined cowardice with lies and little good. Allah says:

﴿ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ لَمۡ يُؤۡمِنُواْ فَأَحۡبَطَ ٱللَّهُ أَعۡمَـٰلَهُمۡ‌ۚ وَكَانَ ذَٲلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرً۬ا

(Such have not believed. Therefore Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah.)

﴿ يَحۡسَبُونَ ٱلۡأَحۡزَابَ لَمۡ يَذۡهَبُواْ‌ۖ وَإِن يَأۡتِ ٱلۡأَحۡزَابُ يَوَدُّواْ لَوۡ أَنَّهُم بَادُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَعۡرَابِ يَسۡـَٔلُونَ عَنۡ أَنۢبَآٮِٕكُمۡ‌ۖ وَلَوۡ ڪَانُواْ فِيكُم مَّا قَـٰتَلُوٓاْ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬

(20. They think that the Confederates have not yet withdrawn; and if the Confederates should come, they would wish they were in the deserts among the Bedouins, seeking news about you; and if they were to be among you, they would not fight but little.) This is another aspect of their abhorrent attribute of cowardice and fear:

﴿ يَحۡسَبُونَ ٱلۡأَحۡزَابَ لَمۡ يَذۡهَبُواْ‌ۖ

(They think that the Confederates have not yet withdrawn;) and that they are still close by and will return.

﴿ وَإِن يَأۡتِ ٱلۡأَحۡزَابُ يَوَدُّواْ لَوۡ أَنَّهُم بَادُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَعۡرَابِ يَسۡـَٔلُونَ عَنۡ أَنۢبَآٮِٕكُمۡ‌ۖ

(and if the Confederates should come, they would wish they were in the deserts among the Bedouins, seeking news about you;) means, `if the Confederates should come back, they hope that they will not be present with you in Al-Madinah, but that they will be in the desert, asking about news of you and what happened to you with your enemy.'

﴿ وَلَوۡ ڪَانُواْ فِيكُم مَّا قَـٰتَلُوٓاْ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬

(and if they were to be among you, they would not fight but little.) means, `if they are among you, they will not fight alongside you very much,' because they are so cowardly and weak, and have so little faith, but Allah knows best about them.

﴿ لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ۬ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرً۬ا وَلَمَّا رَءَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ٱلۡأَحۡزَابَ قَالُواْ هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۥ وَصَدَقَ ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۥ‌ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمۡ إِلَّآ إِيمَـٰنً۬ا وَتَسۡلِيمً۬ا

(21. Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.) (22. And when the believers saw the Confederates, they said: "This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us; and Allah and His Messenger had spoken the truth.'' And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness.)