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The Story of `Uzayr

Allah's statement,

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ فِى رَبِّهِۦۤ

(Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord) means, "Have you seen anyone like the person who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord'' Then, Allah connected the Ayah,

﴿ أَوۡ كَٱلَّذِى مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرۡيَةٍ۬ وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا

(Or like the one who passed by a town in ruin up to its roofs) to the Ayah above by using `or'.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Ali bin Abi Talib said that the Ayah )2:259) meant `Uzayr. Ibn Jarir also reported it, and this explanation was also reported by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim from Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Sulayman bin Buraydah.

Mujahid bin Jabr said that the Ayah refers to a man from the Children of Israel, and the village was Jerusalem, after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it and killed its people.

﴿ وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ

(in ruin) means, it became empty of people. Allah's statement,

﴿ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا

(up to its roofs) indicates that the roofs and walls (of the village) fell to the ground. `Uzayr stood contemplating about what had happened to that city, after a great civilization used to inhabit it. He said,

﴿ أَنَّىٰ يُحۡىِۦ هَـٰذِهِ ٱللَّهُ بَعۡدَ مَوۡتِهَا‌ۖ

(Oh! How will Allah ever bring it to life after its death) because of the utter destruction he saw and the implausibility of its returning to what it used to be. Allah said,

﴿ فَأَمَاتَهُ ٱللَّهُ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۥ‌ۖ

(So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again).)

The city was rebuilt seventy years after the man (`Uzayr) died, and its inhabitants increased and the Children of Israel moved back to it. When Allah resurrected `Uzayr after he died, the first organ that He resurrected were his eyes, so that he could witness what Allah does with him, how He brings life back to his body. When his resurrection was complete, Allah said to him, meaning through the angel,

﴿ ڪَمۡ لَبِثۡتَ‌ۖ قَالَ لَبِثۡتُ يَوۡمًا أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٍ۬‌ۖ

("How long did you remain (dead)'' He (the man) said: "(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a day.'')

The scholars said that since the man died in the early part of the day and Allah resurrected him in the latter part of the day, when he saw that the sun was still apparent, he thought that it was the sun of that very day. He said,

﴿ أَوۡ بَعۡضَ يَوۡمٍ۬‌ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثۡتَ مِاْئَةَ عَامٍ۬ فَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمۡ يَتَسَنَّهۡ‌ۖ

("Or part of a day. '' He said: "Nay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change.'')

He had grapes, figs and juice, and he found them as he left them; neither did the juice spoil nor the figs become bitter nor the grapes rot.

﴿ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ

(And look at your donkey!), "How Allah brings it back to life while you are watching.''

﴿ وَلِنَجۡعَلَكَ ءَايَةً۬ لِّلنَّاسِ‌ۖ

(And thus We have made of you a sign for the people) that Resurrection occurs.

﴿ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَى ٱلۡعِظَامِ ڪَيۡفَ نُنشِزُهَا

(Look at the bones, how We Nunshizuha) meaning, collect them and put them back together. In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim, recorded that Kharijah bin Zayd bin Thabit said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah read this Ayah,

﴿ ڪَيۡفَ نُنشِزُهَا

(how We Nunshizuha.) Al-Hakim said; "Its chain is Sahih and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.'' The Ayah was also read,

﴿ نُنشِزُهَا

"Nunshiruha'' meaning, bring them back to life, as Mujahid stated.

﴿ ثُمَّ نَكۡسُوهَا لَحۡمً۬ا‌ۚ

(And clothe them with flesh. )

As-Suddi said, " `Uzayr observed the bones of his donkey, which were scattered all around him to his right and left, and Allah sent a wind that collected the bones from all over the area. Allah then brought every bone to its place, until they formed a full donkey made of fleshless bones. Allah then covered these bones with flesh, nerves, veins and skin. Allah sent an angel who blew life in the donkeys' nostrils, and the donkey started to bray by Allah's leave.'' All this occurred while `Uzayr was watching, and this is when he proclaimed,

﴿ قَالَ أَعۡلَمُ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬

(He said, "I know (now) that Allah is able to do all things,'') meaning, "I know that, and I did witness it with my own eyes. Therefore, I am the most knowledgeable in this matter among the people of my time.''

﴿ وَإِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ رَبِّ أَرِنِى ڪَيۡفَ تُحۡىِ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ‌ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمۡ تُؤۡمِن‌ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطۡمَٮِٕنَّ قَلۡبِى‌ۖ قَالَ فَخُذۡ أَرۡبَعَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱلطَّيۡرِ فَصُرۡهُنَّ إِلَيۡكَ ثُمَّ ٱجۡعَلۡ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ جَبَلٍ۬ مِّنۡہُنَّ جُزۡءً۬ا ثُمَّ ٱدۡعُهُنَّ يَأۡتِينَكَ سَعۡيً۬ا‌ۚ وَٱعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ۬

(260. And (remember) when Ibrahim said, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He (Ibrahim) said: "Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.'' He said: "Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.'')

The Khalil Supplicates to Allah to Show Him How He Resurrects the Dead

The scholars said that there are reasons behind this request by Ibrahim. For instance, when Ibrahim said to Nimrod,

﴿ رَبِّىَ ٱلَّذِى يُحۡىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ

(My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death,) he wanted to solidify his knowledge about resurrection by actually witnessing it with his eyes. Prophet Ibrahim said,

﴿ رَبِّ أَرِنِى ڪَيۡفَ تُحۡىِ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ‌ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمۡ تُؤۡمِن‌ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطۡمَٮِٕنَّ قَلۡبِى‌ۖ

("My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He (Ibrahim) said: "Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.'')

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« نَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالشَّكِّ مِنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِذْ قَالَ
﴿ رَبِّ أَرِنِى ڪَيۡفَ تُحۡىِ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ‌ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمۡ تُؤۡمِن‌ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطۡمَٮِٕنَّ قَلۡبِى‌ۖ

(We are more liable to be in doubt than Ibrahim when he said, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' Allah said, "Don't you believe'' Ibrahim said, "Yes (I believe), but (I ask) in order to be stronger in faith.'')

The Prophet's statement in the Hadith means, "We are more liable to seek certainty.''

The Answer to Al-Khalil's Request

Allah said,

﴿ قَالَ فَخُذۡ أَرۡبَعَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱلطَّيۡرِ فَصُرۡهُنَّ إِلَيۡكَ

(He said: "Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you.'')

Scholars of Tafsir disagreed over the type of birds mentioned here, although this matter in not relevant due to the fact that the Qur'an did not mention it. Allah's statement,

﴿ فَصُرۡهُنَّ إِلَيۡكَ

(cause them to incline towards you) means, cut them to pieces. This is the explanation of Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Malik, Abu Al-Aswad Ad-Dili, Wahb bin Munabbih, Al-Hasan and As-Suddi. Therefore, Ibrahim caught four birds, slaughtered them, removed the feathers, tore the birds to pieces and mixed the pieces together. He then placed parts of these mixed pieces on four or seven hills. Ibn `Abbas said, "Ibrahim kept the heads of these birds in his hand. Next, Allah commanded Ibrahim to call the birds to him, and he did as Allah commanded him. Ibrahim witnessed the feathers, blood and flesh of these birds fly to each other, and the parts flew each to their bodies, until every bird came back to life and came walking at a fast pace towards Ibrahim, so that the example that Ibrahim was witnessing would become more impressive. Each bird came to collect its head from Ibrahim's hand, and if he gave the bird another head the bird refused to accept it. When Ibrahim gave each bird its own head, the head was placed on its body by Allah's leave and power. '' This is why Allah said,

﴿ وَٱعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ۬

(And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise) and no one can overwhelm or resist Him. Whatever Allah wills, occurs without hindrance, because He is the All-Mighty, Supreme above all things, and He is Wise in His statements, actions, legislation and decrees.

`Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ma`mar said that Ayyub said that Ibn `Abbas commented on what Ibrahim said,

﴿ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَطۡمَٮِٕنَّ قَلۡبِى‌ۖ

(but to be stronger in Faith), "To me, there is no Ayah in the Qur'an that brings more hope than this Ayah.'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Muhammad bin Al-Munkadir said that `Abdullah bin `Abbas met `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As and said to him, "Which Ayah in the Qur'an carries more hope for you'' Ibn `Amr said,

﴿ قُلۡ يَـٰعِبَادِىَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسۡرَفُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِمۡ لَا تَقۡنَطُواْ

(Say: "O `Ibadi (My servants) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not.) )39:53(.

Ibn `Abbas said, "But I say that it is Allah's statement,

﴿ وَإِذۡ قَالَ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمُ رَبِّ أَرِنِى ڪَيۡفَ تُحۡىِ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ‌ۖ قَالَ أَوَلَمۡ تُؤۡمِن‌ۖ قَالَ بَلَىٰ

(And (remember) when Ibrahim said, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He (Ibrahim) said: "Yes (I believe)...)

Allah accepted Ibrahim's affirmation when he merely said, `Yes.' This Ayah refers to the doubts that attack the heart and the thoughts that Shaytan inspires.'' Al-Hakim also recorded this in Al-Mustadrak and said; "Its chain is Sahih but they did not record it.''

﴿ مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٲلَهُمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنۢبَتَتۡ سَبۡعَ سَنَابِلَ فِى كُلِّ سُنۢبُلَةٍ۬ مِّاْئَةُ حَبَّةٍ۬‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يُضَـٰعِفُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(261. The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is that of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knower.)

Rewards of Spending in Allah's Cause

This is a parable that Allah made of the multiplication of rewards for those who spend in His cause, seeking His pleasure. Allah multiplies the good deed ten to seven hundred times. Allah said,

﴿ مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٲلَهُمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ

(The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah...)

Sa`id bin Jubayr commented, "Meaning spending in Allah's obedience.'' Makhul said that the Ayah means, "Spending on Jihad, on horse stalls, weapons and so forth.'' The parable in the Ayah is more impressive on the heart than merely mentioning the number seven hundred. This Ayah indicates that Allah `grows' the good deeds for its doers, just as He grows the plant for whoever sows it in fertile land. The Sunnah also mentions that the deeds are multiplied up to seven hundred folds. For instance, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Mas`ud said that a man once gave away a camel, with its bridle on, in the cause of Allah and the Messenger of Allah said,

« لَتَأْتِيَنَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِسَبْعِمِائَةِ نَاقَةٍ مَخْطُومَة »

(On the Day of Resurrection, you will have seven hundred camels with their bridles.)

Muslim and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith, and Muslim's narration reads, "A man brought a camel with its bridle on and said, `O Messenger of Allah! This is in the sake of Allah.' The Messenger said,

« لَكَ بِهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ سَبْعُمِائَةِ نَاقَة »

(You will earn seven hundred camels as reward for it on the Day of Resurrection. )

Another Hadith: Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ يُضَاعَفُ، الْحَسَنَةُ بِعَشَرِ أَمْثَالِهَا، إِلَى سَبْعِمِائَةِ ضِعْفٍ، إِلى مَا شَاءَ اللهُ، يَقُولُ اللهُ: إِلَّا الصَّوْمَ فَإِنَّهُ لِي، وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ، يَدَعُ طَعَامَهُ وَشَهْوَتَهُ مِنْ أَجْلِي، وَلِلصَّائِمِ فَرْحَتَانِ: فَرْحَةٌ عِنْدَ فِطْرِهِ وَفَرْحَةٌ عِنْدَ لِقَاءِ رَبِّهِ، وَلَخَلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ أَطْيَبُ عِنْدَ اللهِ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ، الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ، الصَّومُ جُنَّة »

(Every good deed that the son of Adam performs will be multiplied ten folds, to seven hundred folds, to many other folds, to as much as Allah wills. Allah said, "Except the fast, for it is for Me and I will reward for it. One abandons his food and desire in My sake.'' The fasting person has two times of happiness: when he breaks his fast and when he meets his Lord. Verily, the odor that comes from the mouth of whoever fasts is more pure to Allah than the scent of musk. Fasting is a shield (against sinning), fasting is a shield.) Muslim recorded this Hadith.

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ يُضَـٰعِفُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ‌ۗ

(Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills) is according to the person's sincerity in his deeds.

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ وَٲسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

(And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knower) meaning, His Favor is so wide that it encompasses much more than His creation, and He has full knowledge in whoever deserves it, or does not deserve it. All the praise and thanks are due to Allah.

﴿ ٱلَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمۡوَٲلَهُمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ثُمَّ لَا يُتۡبِعُونَ مَآ أَنفَقُواْ مَنًّ۬ا وَلَآ أَذً۬ى‌ۙ لَّهُمۡ أَجۡرُهُمۡ عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ وَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ قَوۡلٌ۬ مَّعۡرُوفٌ۬ وَمَغۡفِرَةٌ خَيۡرٌ۬ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ۬ يَتۡبَعُهَآ أَذً۬ى‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَنِىٌّ حَلِيمٌ۬ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لَا تُبۡطِلُواْ صَدَقَـٰتِكُم بِٱلۡمَنِّ وَٱلۡأَذَىٰ كَٱلَّذِى يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ ۥ رِئَآءَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَا يُؤۡمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۖ فَمَثَلُهُ ۥ كَمَثَلِ صَفۡوَانٍ عَلَيۡهِ تُرَابٌ۬ فَأَصَابَهُ ۥ وَابِلٌ۬ فَتَرَڪَهُ ۥ صَلۡدً۬ا‌ۖ لَّا يَقۡدِرُونَ عَلَىٰ شَىۡءٍ۬ مِّمَّا ڪَسَبُواْ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهۡدِى ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ

(262. Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.) (263. Kind words and forgiving of faults are better than Sadaqah (charity) followed by injury. And Allah is Rich (free of all needs) and He is Most Forbearing.) (264. O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.)