The scholars of Tafsir differ over whether the promise contained in these Ayat referred to the battle of Badr or Uhud. The First View
There are two opinions about this, one of them saying that Allah's statement,
((Remember) when you said to the believers) (3:124), is related to His statement,
(And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr) (3:123).
This was reported from Al-Hasan Al-Basri, `Amr Ash-Sha`bi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and several others, Ibn Jarir also agreed with this opinion. `Abbad bin Mansur said that Al-Hasan said that Allah's statement,
((Remember) when you said to the believers, "Is it not enough for you that your Lord should help you with three thousand angels'') (3:124), is about the battle of Badr; Ibn Abi Hatim also recorded this statement.
Ibn Abi Hatim then reported that `Amr Ash-Sha`bi said, "On the day of Badr, the Muslims received information that Kurz bin Jabir (a prominent tribe chief) was aiding the idolaters, and this news was hard on them, so Allah revealed;
("Is it not enough for you that your Lord (Allah) should help you with three thousand angels sent down''), until,
(having marks (of distinction)) (3:124,125).
The news of the defeat of the idolaters (at Badr) reached Kurz and he did not reinforce them, and thus, Allah did not reinforce the Muslims with the five (thousands of angels).''
As for Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, he said, "Allah supported the Muslims with one thousand (angels), then the number reached three thousand, then five thousand.'' If one asks, according to this opinion, how can we combine between this Ayah and Allah's statement about Badr,
((Remember) when you sought help of your Lord and He answered you (saying): "I will help you with a thousand angels, each behind the other (following one another) in succession.'') (8:9), until,
(Verily! Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise) We say that the one thousand mentioned here does not contradict the three thousand mentioned in the above Ayah (3:124). The word "in succession'' means they follow each other and thus indicates that thousands more will follow them. The two Ayat above (8:9 and 3:124) are similar in meaning and it appears that they both were about the battle of Badr, because the angels did fight in the battle of Badr, as the evidence indicates. Allah knows best. Allah's statement,
(But if you hold on to patience and have Taqwa,) (3:125) means, if you observe patience while fighting the enemy, all the while fearing Me and obeying My command. Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi` and As-Suddi said that Allah's statement,
(and they will come rushing) means, they (angels) will rush to you instantaneously. Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah means, "All at once''. It is also said that it means, before their anger subsides (against the disbelievers). The Second View
The second opinion stipulates that the promise mentioned here (concerning the angels participating in battle) is related to Allah's statement,
(And (remember) when you left your household in the morning to post the believers at their stations for the battle) of Uhud. However, we should add, the angels did not come to the aid of Muslims at Uhud, because Allah made it conditional,
(But if you hold on to patience and have Taqwa) (3: 125).
The Muslims were not patient at Uhud. Rather, they ran away and, consequently, did not receive the support of even one angel.
(your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having marks), of distinction.
Abu Ishaq As-Subay`i said; from Harithah bin Mudarrib said that `Ali bin Abi Talib said, "The angels were distinguished by wearing white wool at Badr.'' The angels also had special markings distinguishing their horses.
(Allah made it not but as a message of good news for you and as an assurance to your hearts) (3:126).
This Ayah means, "Allah sent down angels and told you about their descent to encourage you and to comfort and reassure your hearts. You should know that victory only comes from Allah and that if He willed, He would have defeated your enemy without you having to fight them.'' For instance, Allah said after commanding the believers to fight,
(But if it had been Allah's will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight) in order to test some of you with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. He will guide them and set right their state. And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them) (47:4-6).
This is why Allah said here,
(Allah made it not but as a message of good news for you and as an assurance to your hearts. And there is no victory except from Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise) (3:126).
This Ayah means, "Allah is the Almighty Whose power can never be undermined, and He has the perfect wisdom in His decrees and in all His decisions.'' Allah said,
(That He might cut off a part of those who disbelieve,) (3:127) meaning, out of His wisdom, He commands you to perform Jihad and to fight.
Allah then mentions the various consequences of performing Jihad against the disbelievers. For instance, Allah said,
(That He might cut off a part...) meaning, to cause a part of a nation to perish,
(of those who disbelieve, or expose them to infamy,) by disgracing them and forcing them to return with only their rage, having failed in their aim to harm you. This is why Allah said next,
(or expose them to infamy, so that they retire) to go back to their land,
(frustrated) without achieving their aims.
Allah then mentions a statement that testifies that the decision in this life and the Hereafter is for Him Alone without partners. (3:127)
(Not for you is the decision) (3:128)
meaning, "The matter is all in My Hand.'' Allah also said,
(your duty is only to convey (the Message) and on Us is the reckoning.) (13:40), and,
(Not upon you is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills.) (2:272), and,
(Verily, you guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills) (28: 56).
Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Allah's statement,
(3:128... Not for you is the decision;), means, "No part of the decision regarding My servants is yours, except what I command you.'' Allah then mentions the rest of the consequences of Jihad,
(whether He pardons them) concerning the acts of disbelief that they commit, thus delivering them from misguidance to the guidance.
(or punishes them;) in this life and the Hereafter because of their disbelief and errors,
(verily, they are the wrongdoers), and thus, they deserve such a fate.(3:128 end)
Al-Bukhari recorded that, Salim bin `Abdullah said that his father said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying - when he raised his head from bowing in the second unit of the Fajr prayer - "O Allah! Curse so-and-so,'' after saying; Sami` Allahu Liman Hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal-Hamd. Thereafter, Allah revealed this Ayah,
(Not for you is the decision;) This was also recorded by An-Nasa'i. Imam Ahmad recorded that Salim bin `Abdullah said that his father said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(O Allah! Curse so-and-so. O Allah! Curse Al-Harith bin Hisham. O Allah! Curse Suhayl bin `Amr. O Allah! Curse Safwan bin Umayyah.)
Thereafter, this Ayah was revealed;
(Not for you is the decision; whether He turns in mercy to (pardon) them or punishes them; verily, they are the wrongdoers) (3:128).
All these persons were pardoned (after they embraced Islam later on).
Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that when Allah's Messenger would supplicate against or for someone, he would do so when he was finished bowing and saying; Sami` Allahu Liman Hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal-Hamd. He would then say, (the Qunut)
(O Allah! Save Al-Walid bin Al-Walid, Salamah bin Hisham, `Ayyash bin Abi Rabi`ah and the weak and the helpless people among the faithful believers. O Allah! Be hard on the tribe of Mudar and let them suffer from years of famine like that of the time of Yusuf. )
He would say this supplication aloud. He sometimes would supplicate during the Dawn prayer, "O Allah! Curse so-and-so (persons),'' mentioning some Arab tribes. Thereafter, Allah revealed,
(Not for you is the decision.)
Al-Bukhari recorded that Hamid and Thabit said that, Anas bin Malik said that the Prophet was injured during the battle of Uhud and said,
(How can a people achieve success after having injured their Prophet)
(Not for you is the decision,) was revealed.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that, the Prophet's front tooth was broken during the battle of Uhud and he also sustained injuries on his forehead until blood dripped on his face. The Prophet said,
(How can a people achieve success after having done this to their Prophet who is calling them to their Lord, the Exalted and Most Honored) Allah revealed,
(Not for you is the decision; whether He turns in mercy to (pardons) them or punishes them; verily, they are the wrongdoers.) Muslim also collected this Hadith.
Allah then said,
(And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the Earth.) (3:129), everything is indeed the property of Allah and all are servants in His Hand.
(He forgives whom He wills, and punishes whom He wills.) for His is the decision and none can resist His decision. Allah is never asked about what He does, while they will be asked,
(and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)
(130. O you who believe! Do not consume Riba doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful.) (131. And fear the Fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers.) (132. And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.) (133. And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the Muttaqin (the pious).) (134. Those who spend (in Allah's cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves the Muhsinin (the good-doers).) (135. And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (immoral sin) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; and none can forgive sins but Allah, and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.) (136. For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (of good).)
Allah prohibits His believing servants from dealing in Riba and from requiring interest on their capital, just as they used to do during the time of Jahiliyyah. For instance, when the time to pay a loan comes, the creditor would say to the debtor, "Either pay now, or the loan will incur interest.'' If the debtor asks for deferment of the loan, the creditor would require interest and this would occur year after year until the little capital becomes multiplied many times. Allah also commands His servants to have Taqwa of Him so that they may achieve success in this life and the Hereafter. Allah also threatens them with the Fire and warns them against it, saying,
(And fear the Fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers. And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy.) (3:131,132).
Allah encourages His servants to perform righteous deeds and to rush to accomplish the acts of obedience. Allah said,
(And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the Muttaqin (the pious)) (3:133)
Just as the Fire was prepared for the disbelievers. It was reported that the meaning of Allah's statement,
(as wide as the heavens and the earth) draws the attention to the spaciousness of Paradise. For instance, Allah said in another Ayah, while describing the couches of Paradise,
(lined with silk brocade) (55:54), so what about their outer covering It was also said that Paradise is as wide as its length, because it is a dome under the Throne. The width and length of a dome or a circle are the same in distance. This is supported by what is found in the Sahih;
(When you ask Allah for Paradise, ask Him for Al-Firdaws which is the highest and best part of Paradise. From it originate the rivers of Paradise, and above it is the Throne of the Most Beneficent (Allah).)
This Ayah (3:133 above) is similar to Allah's statement in Surat Al-Hadid,
(Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heaven and the Earth) (57:21).
Al-Bazzar recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and asked him, about Allah's statement,
(Paradise as wide as the heavens and the Earth) (3:133); "Where is the Fire then'' The Prophet said,
(When the night comes, it overtakes everything, so where is the day) The man said, "Where Allah wants it to be.'' The Prophet said,
(Similarly, the Fire is where Allah wants it to be.) This Hadith has two possible meanings. First, when we do not see the night during the day, this does not mean that the day is not somewhere else, even though we cannot see it. Such is the case with Hell-fire, for it is where Allah wants it to be. The second meaning is that when the day overcomes this part of the world, the night overtakes the other part. Such is the case with Paradise, for it is in the utmost heights above the heavens and under the Throne. The width of Paradise is, as Allah stated,
(whereof is as the width of the heaven and the Earth) (57:21).
The Fire, on the other hand, is in the lowest of lows. Therefore, Paradise being as wide as the heavens and Earth does not contradict the fact that the Fire exists wherever Allah wills it to be.
Allah said, while describing the people of Paradise,
(Those who spend (in Allah's cause) in prosperity and in adversity) (3:134), in hard times and easy times, while active (or enthusiastic) and otherwise, healthy or ill, and in all conditions, just as Allah said in another Ayah,
(Those who spend their wealth (in Allah's cause) by night and day, in secret and in public) (2:274) These believers are never distracted from obeying Allah, spending on what pleases Him, being kind to His servants and their relatives, and other acts of righteousness. Allah said,
(who repress anger, and who pardon men;) (3:134) for when they are angry, they control their anger and do act upon it. Rather, they even forgive those who hurt them. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
(The strong person is not he who is able to physically overcome people. The strong person is he who overcomes his rage when he is angry.)
This Hadith is also recorded in the Two Sahihs. Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(He who gives time to a debtor or forgives him, then Allah will save him from the heat of Jahannam (Hell-fire). Behold! The deeds of Paradise are difficult to reach, for they are on top of a hill, while the deeds of the Fire are easy to find in the lowlands. The happy person is he who is saved from the tests. Verily, there is no dose of anything better to Allah than a dose of rage that the servant controls, and whenever the servant of Allah controls it, he will be internally filled with faith.)
This Hadith was recorded by Imam Ahmad, its chain of narration is good, it does not contain any disparaged narrators, and the meaning is good.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Sahl bin Mu`adh bin Anas said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Whoever controlled rage while able to act upon it, then Allah will call him while all creation is a witness, until He gives him the choice of any of the Huris (fair females with wide, lovely eyes - as mates for the pious) he wishes.)
Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah collected this Hadith, which At-Tirmidhi said was "Hasan Gharib''.
Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(There is not a dose of anything that the servant takes which is better than a dose of control of rage that he feels, when he does it seeking Allah's Face.) Ibn Jarir and Ibn Majah also collected this Hadith.
(who repress anger) meaning, they do not satisfy their rage upon people. Rather, they refrain from harming them and await their rewards with Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored. Allah then said,
(and who pardon men;) They forgive those who treat them with injustice. Therefore, they do not hold any ill feelings about anyone in their hearts, and this is the most excellent conduct in this regard. This is why Allah said,
(verily, Allah loves the Muhsinin (the good-doers)).
This good conduct is a type of Ihsan (excellence in the religion). There is a Hadith that reads,
(I swear regarding three matters: no charity shall ever decrease the wealth; whenever one forgives people, then Allah will magnify his honor; and he who is humble for Allah, then Allah will raise his rank.)
(And those who, when they have committed Fahishah or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins) (3:135).
Therefore, if they commit an error they follow it with repentance and ask forgiveness. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
(A man once committed an error and said, `O Lord! I committed an error, so forgive me.' Allah said, `My servant committed an error and knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the error. I have forgiven My servant.' The man committed another error and said, `O Lord! I committed an error, so forgive me.' Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the sin. I have forgiven My servant.' The man committed another error and said, `O Lord! I committed an error, so forgive me.' Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the error. I have forgiven my servant.' He then committed another error and said, `O Lord! I committed an error, so forgive me.' Allah said, `My servant knew that he has a Lord Who forgives or punishes for the error. Bear witness that I have forgiven My servant, so let him do whatever he likes.') A similar narration was collected in the Sahih.
`Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "I was told that when the Ayah,
(And those who, when they have committed Fahishah or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins,) was revealed, Iblis (Shayatan) cried.'' Allah's statement,
(and none can forgive sins but Allah), means that none except Allah forgives sins. Allah said,
(And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know), for they repent from their error, return to Allah before death, do not insist on error, and if they err again, they repent from it. Allah said here,
(while they know) Mujahid and `Abdullah bin `Ubayd bin `Umayr commented, "Whoever repents, then Allah will forgive him.'' Similarly, Allah said,
(Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants) (9:104), and,
(And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (4: 110) and there are several examples similar to this Ayah.
Next, Allah said after this description,
(For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord) (3:136), as a reward for these qualities,
(forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise)) carrying all kinds of drinks,
(wherein they shall abide forever) and ever,
(How excellent is this reward for the doers) Allah praises Paradise in this part of the Ayah.
(137. Many similar ways (and mishaps of life) were faced ﴿by nations (believers and disbelievers) that have passed away﴾ before you, so travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied.) (138. This is a plain statement for mankind, a guidance and instruction for the Muttaqin.) (139. So do not become weak, nor be sad, and you will be triumphant if you are indeed believers.) (140. If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the others. And so are the days, that We give to men by turns, that Allah may know (test) those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the wrongdoers.) (141. And that Allah may test those who believe and destroy the disbelievers.). (142. Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah knows (tests) those of you who performed Jihad and knows (tests) those who are patient) (143. You did indeed wish for death before you met it. Now you have seen it openly with your own eyes.)