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The Necessity of Writing Transactions That Take Effect Later on

This Ayah is the longest in the Glorious Qur'an. Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir recorded that Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that he was told that the Ayah most recently revealed from above the Throne -- the last Ayah to be revealed in the Qur'an -- was the Ayah about debts.

Allah's statement,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِذَا تَدَايَنتُم بِدَيۡنٍ إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلٍ۬ مُّسَمًّ۬ى فَٱڪۡتُبُوهُ‌ۚ

(O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down) directs Allah's believing servants to record their business transactions when their term is delayed, to preserve the terms and timing of these transactions, and the memory of witnesses, as mentioned at the end of the Ayah,

﴿ ذَٲلِكُمۡ أَقۡسَطُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ وَأَقۡوَمُ لِلشَّہَـٰدَةِ وَأَدۡنَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَرۡتَابُوٓاْ‌ۖ

(that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves.)

The Two Sahihs recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah's Messenger came to Al-Madinah, while the people were in the habit of paying in advance for fruits to be delivered within one or two years. The Messenger of Allah said,

« مَنْ أَسْلَفَ، فَلْيُسْلِفْ فِي كَيْلٍ مَعْلُومٍ، وَوَزْنٍ مَعْلُومٍ، إِلَى أَجَلٍ مَعْلُوم »

(Whoever pays money in advance (for dates to be delivered later) should pay it for known specified measure and weight (of the dates) for a specified date. )

Allah's statement,

﴿ فَٱڪۡتُبُوهُ‌ۚ

(write it down) is a command from Him to record such transactions to endorse and preserve their terms. Ibn Jurayj said, "Whoever borrowed should write the terms, and whoever bought should have witnesses.'' Abu Sa`id, Ash-Sha`bi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Al-Hasan, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn Zayd said that recording such transactions was necessary before, but was then abrogated by Allah's statement,

﴿ فَإِنۡ أَمِنَ بَعۡضُكُم بَعۡضً۬ا فَلۡيُؤَدِّ ٱلَّذِى ٱؤۡتُمِنَ أَمَـٰنَتَهُ ۥ

(Then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully).)

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلۡيَكۡتُب بَّيۡنَكُمۡ ڪَاتِبُۢ بِٱلۡعَدۡلِ‌ۚ

(Let a scribe write it down in justice between you) and in truth. Therefore, the scribe is not allowed to cheat any party of the contract and is to only record what the parties of the contract agreed to, without addition or deletion. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ كَاتِبٌ أَن يَكۡتُبَ ڪَمَا عَلَّمَهُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ فَلۡيَڪۡتُبۡ

(Let not the scribe refuse to write, as Allah has taught him, so let him write) means, "Those who know how to write should not refrain from writing transaction contracts when asked to do so.'' Further, let writing such contracts be a type of charity from the scribe for those who are not lettered, just as Allah taught him what he knew not. Therefore, let him write, just as the Hadith stated,

« إِنَّ مِنَ الصَّدَقَةِ أَنْ تُعِينَ صَانِعًا، أَوْ تَصْنَعَ لِأَخْرَق »

(It is a type of charity to help a worker and to do something for a feeble person.)

In another Hadith, the Prophet said,

« مَنْ كَتَمَ عِلْمًا يَعْلَمُهُ، أُلْجِمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِلِجَامٍ مِنْ نَار »

(Whoever kept knowledge to himself will be restrained by a bridle made of fire on the Day of Resurrection.) Mujahid and `Ata' said that if asked to do so, "The scribe is required to record.''

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلۡيُمۡلِلِ ٱلَّذِى عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡحَقُّ وَلۡيَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ رَبَّهُ ۥ

(Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must have Taqwa of Allah, his Lord) indicates that the debtor should dictate to the scribe what he owes, so let him fear Allah,

﴿ وَلَا يَبۡخَسۡ مِنۡهُ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا‌ۚ

(And diminish not anything of what he owes,) meaning, not hide any portion of what he owes.

﴿ فَإِن كَانَ ٱلَّذِى عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡحَقُّ سَفِيهًا

(But if the debtor is of poor understanding) and is not allowed to decide on such matters, because he used to waste money, for instance,

﴿ أَوۡ ضَعِيفًا

(Or weak), such as being too young or insane,

﴿ أَوۡ لَا يَسۡتَطِيعُ أَن يُمِلَّ هُوَ

(Or is unable to dictate for himself) because of a disease, or ignorance about such matters,

﴿ فَلۡيُمۡلِلۡ وَلِيُّهُ ۥ بِٱلۡعَدۡلِ‌ۚ

(then let his guardian dictate in justice.)

Witnesses Should Attend the Dictation of Contracts

Allah said,

﴿ وَٱسۡتَشۡہِدُواْ شَہِيدَيۡنِ مِن رِّجَالِڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(And get two witnesses out of your own men) requiring witnesses to attend the dictation of contracts to further preserve the contents,

﴿ فَإِن لَّمۡ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيۡنِ فَرَجُلٌ۬ وَٱمۡرَأَتَانِ

(And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women) this requirement is only for contracts that directly or indirectly involve money. Allah requires that two women take the place of one man as witness, because of the woman's shortcomings, as the Prophet described. Muslim recorded in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« يَا مَعْشَرَ النِّسَاءِ تَصَدَّقْنَ وَأَكْثِرْنَ الْاسْتِغْفَارَ، فَإِنِّي رَأَيْتُكُنَّ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّار »

(O women! Give away charity and ask for forgiveness, for I saw that you comprise the majority of the people of the Fire.)

One eloquent woman said, "O Messenger of Allah! Why do we comprise the majority of the people of the Fire'' He said,

« تُكْثِرْنَ اللَّعْنَ، وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ، وَمَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْ نَاقِصَاتِ عَقْلٍ وَدِينٍ، أَغْلَبَ لِذِي لُبَ مِنْكُن »

(You curse a lot and you do not appreciate your mate. I have never seen those who have shortcoming in mind and religion controlling those who have sound minds, other than you.) She said, "O Messenger of Allah! What is this shortcoming in mind and religion'' He said,

« أَمَّا نُقْصَانُ عَقْلِهَا، فَشَهَادَةُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَعْدِلُ شَهَادَةَ رَجُلٍ، فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الْعَقْلِ، وَتَمْكُثُ اللَّيَالِي لَا تُصَلِّي وَتُفْطِرُ فِي رَمَضَانَ، فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الدِّين »

(As for the shortcoming in her mind, the testimony of two women equals the testimony of one man, and this is the shortcoming in the mind. As for the shortcoming in the religion, woman remains for nights at a time when she does not pray and breaks the fast in Ramadan)

Allah's statement,

﴿ مِمَّن تَرۡضَوۡنَ مِنَ ٱلشُّہَدَآءِ

(such as you agree for witnesses) requires competency in the witnesses. Further, Allah's statement,

﴿ أَن تَضِلَّ إِحۡدَٮٰهُمَا

(so that if one of them errs) refers to the two women witnesses; whenever one of them forgets a part of the testimony,

﴿ فَتُذَڪِّرَ إِحۡدَٮٰهُمَا ٱلۡأُخۡرَىٰ‌ۚ

(the other can remind her) meaning, the other woman's testimony mends the shortcoming of forgetfulness in the first woman.

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ ٱلشُّہَدَآءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُواْ‌ۚ

(And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called) means, when people are called to be witnesses, they should agree, as Qatadah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas stated. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ كَاتِبٌ أَن يَكۡتُبَ ڪَمَا عَلَّمَهُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ فَلۡيَڪۡتُبۡ

(Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him,

« أَمَّا نُقْصَانُ عَقْلِهَا، فَشَهَادَةُ امْرَأَتَيْنِ تَعْدِلُ شَهَادَةَ رَجُلٍ، فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الْعَقْلِ، وَتَمْكُثُ اللَّيَالِي لَا تُصَلِّي وَتُفْطِرُ فِي رَمَضَانَ، فَهَذَا نُقْصَانُ الدِّين »

(As for the shortcoming in her mind, the testimony of two women equals the testimony of one man, and this is the shortcoming in the mind. As for the shortcoming in the religion, woman remains for nights at a time when she does not pray and breaks the fast in Ramadan)

Allah's statement,

﴿ مِمَّن تَرۡضَوۡنَ مِنَ ٱلشُّہَدَآءِ

(such as you agree for witnesses) requires competency in the witnesses. Further, Allah's statement,

﴿ أَن تَضِلَّ إِحۡدَٮٰهُمَا

(so that if one of them errs) refers to the two women witnesses; whenever one of them forgets a part of the testimony,

﴿ فَتُذَڪِّرَ إِحۡدَٮٰهُمَا ٱلۡأُخۡرَىٰ‌ۚ

(the other can remind her) meaning, the other woman's testimony mends the shortcoming of forgetfulness in the first woman.

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ ٱلشُّہَدَآءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُواْ‌ۚ

(And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called) means, when people are called to be witnesses, they should agree, as Qatadah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas stated. Similarly, Allah said,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ كَاتِبٌ أَن يَكۡتُبَ ڪَمَا عَلَّمَهُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۚ فَلۡيَڪۡتُبۡ

(Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write.)

Some say that this Ayah indicates that agreeing to become a witness is Fard Kifayah (required on at least a part of the Muslim Ummah). However, the majority of the scholars say that the Ayah,

﴿ وَلَا يَأۡبَ ٱلشُّہَدَآءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُواْ‌ۚ

(And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called) is referring to testifying to what the witnesses actually witnessed, thus befitting their description of being `witnesses'. Therefore, when the witness is called to testify to what he witnessed, he is required to give testimony, unless this obligation was already fulfilled, in which case such testimony becomes Fard Kifayah. Mujahid and Abu Mijlaz said, "If you are called to be a witness, then you have the choice to agree. If you witnessed and were called to testify, then come forward.'' It was reported that Ibn `Abbas and Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that the obligation includes both cases, agreeing to be a witness and testifying to what one witnessed.

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا تَسۡـَٔمُوٓاْ أَن تَكۡتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوۡ ڪَبِيرًا إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلِهِۦ‌ۚ

(You should not become weary to write it (your contract), whether it be small or large, for its fixed term) perfects this direction from Allah by commanding that the debt be written, whether the amount is large or small. Allah said,

﴿ وَلَا تَسۡـَٔمُوٓاْ

(You should not become weary) meaning, do not be discouraged against writing transactions and their terms, whether the amount involved is large or small. Allah's statement,

﴿ ذَٲلِكُمۡ أَقۡسَطُ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ وَأَقۡوَمُ لِلشَّہَـٰدَةِ وَأَدۡنَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَرۡتَابُوٓاْ‌ۖ

(that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves) means, writing transactions that will be fulfillled at a later date is more just with Allah meaning better and more convenient in order to preserve the terms of the contract. Therefore, recording such agreements helps the witnesses, when they see their handwriting - or signatures - later on and thus remember what they witnessed, for it is possible that the witnesses might forget what they witnessed.

﴿ وَأَدۡنَىٰٓ أَلَّا تَرۡتَابُوٓاْ‌ۖ

(And more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves) meaning, this helps repel any doubt. Since if you need to refer to the contract that you wrote and the doubt will end.

Allah's statement,

﴿ إِلَّآ أَن تَكُونَ تِجَـٰرَةً حَاضِرَةً۬ تُدِيرُونَهَا بَيۡنَڪُمۡ فَلَيۡسَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكۡتُبُوهَا‌ۗ

(save when it is a present trade which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, then there is no sin on you if you do not write it down) indicates that if the transaction will be fulfilled immediately, then there is no harm if it is not recorded.

As for requiring witnesses to be present in trading transactions, Allah said,

﴿ وَأَشۡهِدُوٓاْ إِذَا تَبَايَعۡتُمۡ‌ۚ

(But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract.)

However, this command was abrogated by,

﴿ فَإِنۡ أَمِنَ بَعۡضُكُم بَعۡضً۬ا فَلۡيُؤَدِّ ٱلَّذِى ٱؤۡتُمِنَ أَمَـٰنَتَهُ ۥ

(Then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully).)

Or, it could be that having witnesses in such cases is only recommended and not obligatory, as evident from the Hadith that Khuzaymah bin Thabit Al-Ansari narrated which Imam Ahmad collected. `Umarah bin Khuzaymah Al-Ansari said that his uncle, who was among the Prophet's Companions, told him that the Prophet was making a deal for a horse with a Bedouin man. The Prophet asked the Bedouin to follow him so that he could pay him the price of the horse. The Prophet went ahead of the Bedouin. The Bedouin met several men who tried to buy his horse, not knowing if the Prophet was actually determined to buy it. Some people offered more money for the horse than the Prophet had. The Bedouin man said to the Prophet, "If you want to buy this horse, then buy it or I will sell it to someone else.'' When he heard the Bedouin man's words, the Prophet stood up and said, "Have I not bought that horse from you'' The Bedouin said, "By Allah! I have not sold it to you.'' The Prophet said, "Rather, I did buy it from you.'' The people gathered around the Prophet and the Bedouin while they were disputing, and the Bedouin said, "Bring forth a witness who testifies that I sold you the horse.'' Meanwhile, the Muslims who came said to the Bedouin, "Woe to you! The Prophet only says the truth.'' When Khuzaymah bin Thabit came and heard the dispute between the Prophet and the Bedouin who was saying, "Bring forth a witness who testifies that I sold you the horse, '' Khuzaymah said, "I bear witness that you sold him the horse.'' The Prophet said to Khuzaymah, "What is the basis of your testimony'' Khuzaymah said, "That I entrusted you, O Messenger of Allah!'' Therefore, the Messenger made Khuzaymah's testimony equal to the testimony of two men. This was also recorded by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا يُضَآرَّ كَاتِبٌ۬ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ۬‌ۚ

(Let neither scribe nor witness suffer (or cause) any harm) also indicates that the scribe and the witness must not cause any harm, such as, when the scribe writes other than what he is being dictated, or the witness testifies to other than what he heard or conceals his testimony. This is the explanation of Al-Hasan and Qatadah.''

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَإِن تَفۡعَلُواْ فَإِنَّهُ ۥ فُسُوقُۢ بِڪُمۡ‌ۗ

(But if you do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you) means, "If you defy what you were commanded and commit what you were prohibited, then it is because of the sin that resides and remains with you; sin that you never release or rid yourselves from.''

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ

(So have Taqwa of Allah) means, fear Him, remember His watch over you, implement His command and avoid what He prohibited,

﴿ وَيُعَلِّمُڪُمُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ

(And Allah teaches you.) Similarly, Allah said,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِن تَتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّكُمۡ فُرۡقَانً۬ا

(O you who believe! If you have Taqwa of Allah, He will grant you Furqan )(a criterion to judge between right and wrong)() )8:29(, and,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَءَامِنُواْ بِرَسُولِهِۦ يُؤۡتِكُمۡ كِفۡلَيۡنِ مِن رَّحۡمَتِهِۦ وَيَجۡعَل لَّڪُمۡ نُورً۬ا تَمۡشُونَ بِهِۦ

(O you who believe! Have Taqwa of Allah, and believe in His Messenger, He will give you a double portion of His mercy, and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight)))57:28(.

Allah said;

﴿ وَٱللَّهُ بِڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمٌ۬

(And Allah is the All-Knower of everything) stating that Allah has perfect knowledge in all matters and in their benefits or repercussions, and nothing escapes His perfect watch, for His knowledge encompasses everything in existence.

﴿ وَإِن كُنتُمۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬ وَلَمۡ تَجِدُواْ كَاتِبً۬ا فَرِهَـٰنٌ۬ مَّقۡبُوضَةٌ۬‌ۖ فَإِنۡ أَمِنَ بَعۡضُكُم بَعۡضً۬ا فَلۡيُؤَدِّ ٱلَّذِى ٱؤۡتُمِنَ أَمَـٰنَتَهُ ۥ وَلۡيَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ رَبَّهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَلَا تَكۡتُمُواْ ٱلشَّهَـٰدَةَ‌ۚ وَمَن يَڪۡتُمۡهَا فَإِنَّهُ ۥۤ ءَاثِمٌ۬ قَلۡبُهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ۬

(283. And if you are on a journey and cannot find a scribe, then let there be a pledge taken (mortgaging), then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust, and let him have Taqwa of Allah, his Lord. And conceal not the evidence, for he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful. And Allah is All-Knower of what you do.)

What is the `Mortgaging' Mentioned in the Ayah

Allah said,

﴿ وَإِن كُنتُمۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬

(And if you are on a journey) meaning, traveling and some of you borrowed some money to be paid at a later date,

﴿ وَلَمۡ تَجِدُواْ كَاتِبً۬ا

(and cannot find a scribe) who would record the debt for you. Ibn `Abbas said, "And even if they find a scribe, but did not find paper, ink or pen.'' Then,

﴿ فَرِهَـٰنٌ۬ مَّقۡبُوضَةٌ۬‌ۖ

(let there be a pledge taken (mortgaging)) given to the creditor in lieu of writing the transaction. The Two Sahihs recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah died while his shield was mortgaged with a Jew in return for thirty Wasq (approximately 180 kg) of barley, which the Prophet bought on credit as provisions for his household. In another narration, the Hadith stated that this Jew was among the Jews of Al-Madinah.

Allah said,

﴿ فَإِنۡ أَمِنَ بَعۡضُكُم بَعۡضً۬ا فَلۡيُؤَدِّ ٱلَّذِى ٱؤۡتُمِنَ أَمَـٰنَتَهُ ۥ

(then if one of you entrusts the other, let the one who is entrusted discharge his trust (faithfully).)

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded, with a sound chain of narration, that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said, "This Ayah abrogated what came before it (i.e. that which required recording the transaction and having witnesses present).'' Ash-Sha`bi said, "If you trust each other, then there is no harm if you do not write the loan or have witnesses present.'' Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلۡيَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ رَبَّهُ ۥ‌ۗ

(And let him have Taqwa of Allah) means, the debtor.

Imam Ahmad and the Sunan recorded that Qatadah said that Al-Hasan said that Samurah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« عَلَى الْيَدِ مَا أَخَذَتْ، حَتَّى تُؤَدِّيَه »

(The hand (of the debtor) will carry the burden of what it took until it gives it back.)

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا تَكۡتُمُواْ ٱلشَّهَـٰدَةَ‌ۚ

(And conceal not the evidence) means, do not hide it or refuse to announce it. Ibn `Abbas and other scholars said, "False testimony is one of the worst of the major sins, and such is the case with hiding the true testimony. This is why Allah said,

﴿ وَمَن يَڪۡتُمۡهَا فَإِنَّهُ ۥۤ ءَاثِمٌ۬ قَلۡبُهُ ۥ‌ۗ

(For he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful).

As-Suddi commented, "Meaning he is a sinner in his heart.''

This is similar to Allah's statement,

﴿ وَلَا نَكۡتُمُ شَہَـٰدَةَ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّآ إِذً۬ا لَّمِنَ ٱلۡأَثِمِينَ

(We shall not hide testimony of Allah, for then indeed we should be of the sinful) )5:106(.

Allah said,

﴿ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّٲمِينَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ شُہَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَوِ ٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ وَٱلۡأَقۡرَبِينَ‌ۚ إِن يَكُنۡ غَنِيًّا أَوۡ فَقِيرً۬ا فَٱللَّهُ أَوۡلَىٰ بِہِمَا‌ۖ فَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعۡدِلُواْ‌ۚ وَإِن تَلۡوُ ۥۤاْ أَوۡ تُعۡرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ خَبِيرً۬ا

(O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do) )4:135( and in this Ayah )2:283( He said,

﴿ وَلَا تَكۡتُمُواْ ٱلشَّهَـٰدَةَ‌ۚ وَمَن يَڪۡتُمۡهَا فَإِنَّهُ ۥۤ ءَاثِمٌ۬ قَلۡبُهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ۬

(And conceal not the evidence, for he who hides it, surely, his heart is sinful. And Allah is All-Knower of what you do.)

﴿ لِّلَّهِ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۗ وَإِن تُبۡدُواْ مَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِڪُمۡ أَوۡ تُخۡفُوهُ يُحَاسِبۡكُم بِهِ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ فَيَغۡفِرُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ

(284. To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is able to do all things.)

Would the Servants be Accountable for What They Conceal in Their Hearts

Allah states that His is the kingship of the heavens and earth and of what and whoever is on or between them, that He has perfect watch over them. No apparent matter or secret that the heart conceals is ever a secret to Him, however minor it is. Allah also states that He will hold His servants accountable for what they do and what they conceal in their hearts. In similar statements, Allah said,

﴿ قُلۡ إِن تُخۡفُواْ مَا فِى صُدُورِڪُمۡ أَوۡ تُبۡدُوهُ يَعۡلَمۡهُ ٱللَّهُ‌ۗ وَيَعۡلَمُ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬

(Say (O Muhammad) : "Whether you hide what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it, and He knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. And Allah is able to do all things) )3:29(, and,

﴿ يَعۡلَمُ ٱلسِّرَّ وَأَخۡفَى

(He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden.)

There are many other Ayat on this subject. In this Ayah )2:284(, Allah states that He has knowledge of what the hearts conceal, and consequently, He will hold the creation accountable for whatever is in their hearts. This is why when this Ayah was revealed, it was hard on the Companions, since out of their strong faith and conviction, they were afraid that such reckoning would diminish their good deeds.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "When

﴿ لِّلَّهِ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۗ وَإِن تُبۡدُواْ مَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِڪُمۡ أَوۡ تُخۡفُوهُ يُحَاسِبۡكُم بِهِ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ فَيَغۡفِرُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ

(To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is able to do all things)

was revealed to the Messenger of Allah , it was very hard for the Companions of the Messenger . The Companions came to the Messenger and fell to their knees saying, `O Messenger of Allah! We were asked to perform what we can bear of deeds: the prayer, the fast, Jihad and charity. However, this Ayah was revealed to you, and we cannot bear it.' The Messenger of Allah said,

« أَتُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَقُولُوا كَما قَالَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابَيْنِ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ: سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا؟ بَلْ قُولُوا: سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِير »

(Do you want to repeat what the People of the Two Scriptures before you said, that is, `We hear and we disobey' Rather, say, `We hear and we obey, and we seek Your forgiveness, O our Lord, and the Return is to You.)

When the people accepted this statement and their tongues recited it, Allah sent down afterwards,

﴿ ءَامَنَ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مِن رَّبِّهِۦ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ‌ۚ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتِهِۦ وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَرُسُلِهِۦ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۖ غُفۡرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ

(The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) "We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers ـ and they say, "We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).'')

When they did that, Allah abrogated the Ayah (2:284) and sent down the Ayah,

﴿ لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَا‌ۚ

(Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error.'') until the end.''

Muslim recorded it with the wording; "When they did that, Allah abrogated it (2:284) and sent down,

﴿ لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَا‌ۚ

(Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error''.)

Allah said, `I shall (accept your supplication),'

﴿ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡنَآ إِصۡرً۬ا كَمَا حَمَلۡتَهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِنَا‌ۚ

("Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians)'')

Allah said, `I shall (accept your supplication),'

﴿ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ‌ۖ

("Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. '')

Allah said, `I shall (accept your supplication),'

﴿ وَٱعۡفُ عَنَّا وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَٱرۡحَمۡنَآ‌ۚ أَنتَ مَوۡلَٮٰنَا فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ

("Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.'')

Allah said, `I shall.'''

Imam Ahmad recorded that Mujahid said, "I saw Ibn `Abbas and said to him, `O Abu Abbas! I was with Ibn `Umar, and he read this Ayah and cried.' He asked, `Which Ayah' I said,

﴿ وَإِن تُبۡدُواْ مَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِڪُمۡ أَوۡ تُخۡفُوهُ

`(And whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it.)'

Ibn `Abbas said, `When this Ayah was revealed, it was very hard on the Companions of the Messenger of Allah and worried them tremendously. They said: O Messenger of Allah! We know that we would be punished according to our statements and our actions, but as for what occurs in our hearts, we do not control what is in them.' The Messenger of Allah said,

« قُولُوا: سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا »

(Say, `We hear and we obey.') They said, `We hear and we obey.' Thereafter, this Ayah abrogated the previous Ayah,

﴿ ءَامَنَ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مِن رَّبِّهِۦ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ‌ۚ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ

(The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah), until,

﴿ لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ

(Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned.)

Therefore, they were pardoned what happens in their hearts, and were held accountable only for their actions.'''

The Group recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّ اللهَ تَجَاوَزَ لِي عَنْ أُمَّتِي مَا حَدَّثَتْ بِهِ أَنْفُسَهَا مَالَمْ تَكَلَّمْ أَوْ تَعْمَل »

(Allah has pardoned my Ummah for what they say to themselves, as long as they do not utter it or act on it.)

The Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« قَالَ اللهُ: إِذَا هَمَّ عَبْدِي بِسَيِّئَةٍ فَلَا تَكْتُبُوهَا عَلَيهِ، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا سَيِّئَةً، وَإِذَا هَمَّ بِحَسَنَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا حَسَنَةً، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا عَشْرًا »

(Allah said (to His angels), "If My servant intends to commit an evil deed, do not record it as such for him, and if he commits it, write it for him as one evil deed. If he intends to perform a good deed, but did not perform it, then write it for him as one good deed, and if he performs it, write it for him as ten good deeds.'')

﴿ ءَامَنَ ٱلرَّسُولُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مِن رَّبِّهِۦ وَٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ‌ۚ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتِهِۦ وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَرُسُلِهِۦ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۖ غُفۡرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيۡكَ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ
﴿ لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَا‌ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡنَآ إِصۡرً۬ا كَمَا حَمَلۡتَهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِنَا‌ۚ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ‌ۖ وَٱعۡفُ عَنَّا وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا وَٱرۡحَمۡنَآ‌ۚ أَنتَ مَوۡلَٮٰنَا فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ

(285. The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) "We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers ـ and they say, "We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).'') (286. Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. "Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians); our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Mawla (Patron, Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people.'') The Hadiths on the Virtue of These Two Ayat, May Allah Benefit Us by Them Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Mas`ud said that the Messenger of Allah said,

« مَنْ قَرَأَ بِالْآيَتَيْنِ مِنْ آخِرِ سُورَةِ الْبَقَرَةِ فِي لَيْلَةٍ، كَفَتَاه »

(Whoever recites the last two Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice for him.)

The rest of the six also recorded similar wording for this Hadith. The Two Sahihs recorded this Hadith using various chains of narration, and Imam Ahmad also recorded it.

Muslim recorded that `Abdullah said, "When the Messenger of Allah went on the Isra journey, he ascended to the Sidrat Al-Muntaha in the sixth heaven, where whatever ascends from the earth ends at, and whatever descends from above it ends at.

﴿ إِذۡ يَغۡشَى ٱلسِّدۡرَةَ مَا يَغۡشَىٰ

(When that covered the lote tree which did cover it!) )53:16( meaning, a mat made of gold.

The Messenger of Allah was then given three things: the five prayers, the last Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah and forgiveness for whoever did not associate anything or anyone with Allah from his Ummah.''

Earlier we mentioned the Hadith regarding the virtues of Surat Al-Fatihah from Ibn `Abbas which stated, "While the Messenger of Allah was with Jibil, he heard a noise from above. Jibil lifted his sight to the sky and said, `This is a door that was opened just now in heaven, and it was never opened before.' An angel came down through the door to the Prophet and said, `Receive the good news of two lights that you have been given and which no Prophet before you was given: the Opener of the Book (Al-Fatihah) and the last Ayat in Surat Al-Baqarah. You will not read a letter of them, but you will be granted its benefit.''' This Hadith was collected by Muslim and An-Nasa'i, and this is the wording collected by An-Nasa'i.

The Tafsir of the Last Two Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah

Allah said,

﴿ كُلٌّ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَتِهِۦ وَكُتُبِهِۦ وَرُسُلِهِۦ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ

(Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) "We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers.'')

Therefore, each of the believers believes that Allah is the One and Only and the Sustainer, there is no deity worthy of worship except Him and there is no Lord except Him. The believers also believe in all Allah's Prophets and Messengers, in the Books that were revealed from heaven to the Messengers and Prophets, who are indeed the servants of Allah. Further, the believers do not differentiate between any of the Prophets, such as, believing in some of them and rejecting others. Rather, all of Allah's Prophets and Messengers are, to the believers, truthful, righteous, and they were each guided to the path of righteousness, even when some of them bring what abrogates the Law of some others by Allah's leave. Later on, the Law of Muhammad, the Final Prophet and Messenger from Allah, abrogated all the laws of the Prophets before him. So the Last Hour will commence while Muhammad's Law remains the only valid Law, and all the while a group of his Ummah will always be on the path of truth, apparent and dominant. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۖ

(And they say, "We hear, and we obey'') means, we heard Your statement, O our Lord, comprehended and implemented it, and adhered to its implications.

﴿ غُفۡرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا

((We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord) contains a plea and supplication for Allah's forgiveness, mercy and kindness.

Allah's statement,

﴿ لَا يُكَلِّفُ ٱللَّهُ نَفۡسًا إِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا‌ۚ

(Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope) means, Allah does not ask a soul what is beyond its ability. This only demonstrates Allah's kindness, compassion and generosity towards His creation. This Ayah is the Ayah that abrogated the Ayah that worried the Companions, that is, Allah's statement,

﴿ وَإِن تُبۡدُواْ مَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِڪُمۡ أَوۡ تُخۡفُوهُ يُحَاسِبۡكُم بِهِ ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ

(And whether you disclose what is in yourselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it.)

This indicates that although Allah will question His servants and judge them, He will only punish for what one is able to protect himself from. As for what one cannot protect himself from, such as what one says to himself - or passing thoughts - they will not be punished for that. We should state here that to dislike the evil thoughts that cross one's mind is a part of faith. Allah said next,

﴿ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ

(He gets reward for that which he has earned) of good,

﴿ وَعَلَيۡہَا مَا ٱكۡتَسَبَتۡ‌ۗ

(And he is punished for that which he has earned) of evil, that is, concerning the acts that one is responsible for.

Allah then said, )mentioning what the believers said( while directing His servants to supplicate to Him, all the while promising them that He will answer their supplication:

﴿ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنَآ إِن نَّسِينَآ أَوۡ أَخۡطَأۡنَا‌ۚ

("Our Lord! Push us not if we forget or fall into error,'') meaning, "If we forgot an obligation or fell into a prohibition, or made an error while ignorant of its ruling.'' We mentioned the Hadith by Abu Hurayrah, that Muslim collected, wherein Allah said, "I shall (accept your supplication).'' There is also the Hadith by Ibn `Abbas that Allah said, "I did (accept your supplication).''

﴿ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحۡمِلۡ عَلَيۡنَآ إِصۡرً۬ا كَمَا حَمَلۡتَهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِنَا‌ۚ

(Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us (Jews and Christians),) means, "Even if we were able to perform them, do not require us to perform the difficult deeds as You required the previous nations before us, such as the burdens that were placed on them. You sent Your Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy, to abrogate these burdens through the Law that You revealed to him, the Hanifi (Islamic Monotheism), easy religion.'' Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said that Allah said, "I shall (accept your supplication).'' Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said that Allah said, "I did (accept your supplication).'' There is the Hadith recorded through various chains of narration that the Messenger of Allah said,

« بُعِثْتُ بِالْحَنِيفِيَّةِ السَّمْحَة »

(I was sent with the easy Hanifiyyah way.)

﴿ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ‌ۖ

(Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear) of obligations, hardships and afflictions, do not make us bear what we cannot bear of this.

﴿ رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلۡنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِۦ‌ۖ

(Our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.)

We mentioned that Allah said, "I shall (accept your supplication)'' in one narration, and, "I did (accept your supplication),'' in another narration.

﴿ وَٱعۡفُ عَنَّا

(Pardon us) meaning, between us and You regarding what You know of our shortcomings and errors.

﴿ وَٱغۡفِرۡ لَنَا

(And grant us forgiveness) concerning what is between us and Your servants. So do not expose our errors and evil deeds to them.

﴿ وَٱرۡحَمۡنَآ‌ۚ

(Have mercy on us) in what will come thereafter. Therefore, do not allow us to fall into another error. They say that those who commit error need three things: Allah's forgiveness for what is between Him and them, that He conceals these errors from His other servants, and thus does not expose them before the servants, and that He grants them immunity from further error.'' We mentioned before that Allah answered these pleas, "I shall,'' in one narration and, "I did,'' in another narration.

﴿ أَنتَ مَوۡلَٮٰنَا

(You are our Mawla) meaning, You are our supporter and helper, our trust is in You, You are sought for each and every type of help and our total reliance is on You. There is no power or strength except from You.

﴿ فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ

(And give us victory over the disbelieving people) those who rejected Your religion, denied Your Oneness, refused the Message of Your Prophet , worshipped other than You and associated others in Your worship. Give us victory and make us prevail above them in this and the Hereafter. Allah said, "I shall,'' in one narration, and, "I did,'' in the Hadith that Muslim collected from Ibn `Abbas.

Further, Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Ishaq said that whenever Mu`adh would finish reciting this Surah,

﴿ فَٱنصُرۡنَا عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡڪَـٰفِرِينَ

(And give us victory over the disbelieving people), he would say "Amin.''