(Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the Earth,) (3:190), referring to the sky in its height and spaciousness, the earth in its expanse and density, the tremendous features they have of rotating planets, seas, mountains, deserts, trees, plants, fruits, animals, metals and various beneficial colors, scents, tastes and elements.
(And in the alternation of night and day), as one follows and takes from the length of the other. For instance, at times one of them becomes longer than the other, shorter than the other at times and equal to the other at other times, and the same is repeated again and again, and all this occurs by the decision of the Almighty, Most Wise. This is why Allah said,
(there are indeed signs for men of understanding), referring to the intelligent and sound minds that contemplate about the true reality of things, unlike the deaf and mute who do not have sound comprehension. Allah said about the latter type,
(And how many a sign in the heavens and the earth they pass by, while they are averse therefrom. And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him) (12:105,106).
Allah then describes those who have good minds,
(Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides) (3:191).
Al-Bukhari recorded that `Imran bin Husayn said that, the Messenger of Allah said,
(Pray while standing, and if you can't, pray while sitting, and if you cannot do even that, then pray lying on your side.) These people remember Allah in all situations, in their heart and speech,
(and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the Earth), contemplating about signs in the sky and earth that testify to the might, ability, knowledge, wisdom, will and mercy of the Creator. Allah criticizes those who do not contemplate about His creation, which testifies to His existence, Attributes, Shari`ah, His decree and Ayat. Allah said,
(And how many a sign in the heavens and the Earth they pass by, while they are averse therefrom. And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners unto Him) (12:105,106).
Allah also praises His believing servants,
(Those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth), supplicating;
("Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose,'')
You did not create all this in jest and play. Rather, You created it in truth, so that You recompense those who do evil in kind, and reward those who do righteous deeds with what is better.
The faithful believers praise Allah and deny that He does anything in jest and without purpose, saying,
("glory to You,''), for You would never create anything without purpose,
("Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.''), meaning, "O You Who created the creation in truth and justice, Who is far from any shortcomings, or doing things without purpose or with jest, save us from the torment of the Fire with Your power and strength. Direct us to perform the deeds that make You pleased with us. Guide us to righteous work from which You admit us into the delightful Paradise, and save us from Your painful torment.''
They next supplicate,
("Our Lord! Verily, whom You admit to the Fire, indeed, You have disgraced him;), by humiliating and disgracing him before all people on the Day of Gathering,
("and never will the wrongdoers find any helpers.''), on the Day of Judgment, who would save them from You. Therefore, there is no escaping whatever fate You decided for them.
("Our Lord! Verily, we have heard the call of one calling to faith,''), a caller who calls to faith, referring to the Messenger of Allah,
(`Believe in your Lord,' and we have believed), accepted his call and followed him.
("Our Lord! Forgive us our sins''), on account of our faith and obeying Your Prophet
("Forgive us our sins''), and cover them,
("and expiate from us our evil deeds''), between us and You, in private,
("and make us die along with Al-Abrar.''), join us with the righteous people.
("Our Lord! Grant us what You promised unto us through Your Messengers'') for our faith in Your Messengers, or, and this explanation is better; grant us what You promised us by the words of Your Messengers,
("and disgrace us not on the Day of Resurrection,''), before all creation,
("for You never break (Your) Promise.''), for surely, the promise that You conveyed to Your Messengers, which includes us being resurrected before You, shall certainly come to pass.
It was the Prophet's tradition to recite the ten Ayat at the end of )Surah) Al `Imran when he woke up at night for (voluntary) prayer. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "I slept one night at the house of my aunt, Maymunah. The Messenger of Allah spoke with his wife for a while and then went to sleep. When it was the third part of the night, he stood up, looked at the sky and recited,
(Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding) (3:190).
The Prophet then stood up, performed ablution, used Siwak (to clean his teeth) and prayed eleven units of prayer. When Bilal said the Adhan, the Prophet prayed two units of prayer, went out (to the Masjid) and led the people in the Dawn prayer.'' This was also collected by Muslim.
Ibn Marduwyah recorded that `Ata' said, "I, Ibn `Umar and `Ubayd bin `Umayr went to `A'ishah and entered her room, and there was a screen between us and her. She said, `O `Ubayd! What prevents you from visiting us' He said, `What the poet said, `Visit every once in a while, and you will be loved more.' Ibn `Umar said, `Tell us about the most unusual thing you witnessed from the Messenger of Allah.' She cried and said, `All his matters were amazing. On night, he came close to me until his skin touched my skin and said, `Let me worship my Lord.' I said, `By Allah I love your being close to me. I also love that you worship your Lord.' He used the water-skin and performed ablution, but did not use too much water. He then stood up in prayer and cried until his beard became wet. He prostrated and cried until he made the ground wet. He then laid down on his side and cried. When Bilal came to alert the Prophet for the Dawn prayer, he said, `O Messenger of Allah! What makes you cry, while Allah has forgiven you your previous and latter sins' He said,
(O Bilal! What prevents me from crying, when this night, this Ayah was revealed to me,)
(Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.)
(Woe to he who recites it but does not contemplate it.).''
(195. So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), "Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female. You are (members) one of another, so those who emigrated and were driven out from their homes, and suffered harm in My cause, and who fought and were killed (in My cause), verily, I will expiate from them their evil deeds and admit them into Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); a reward from Allah, and with Allah is the best of rewards.'')
(So their Lord accepted of them), answered their invocation. Sa`id bin Mansur recorded that Salamah, a man from the family of Umm Salamah said, "Umm Salamah said, `O Messenger of Allah! Allah does not mention women in connection with Hijrah (Migration).' Allah sent down the Ayah,
(So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), "Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female.)
The Ansar say that Umm Salamah was the first woman to migrate to them.'' Al-Hakim collected this Hadith in his Mustadrak, and said, "It is Sahih according to the criteria of Al-Bukhari but they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not collect it''.
("Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female,) explains the type of answer Allah gave them, stating that no deed of any person is ever lost with Him. Rather, He will completely reward each person for his or her good deeds. Allah's statement,
(You are (members) one of another) means, you are all equal in relation to gaining My reward. Therefore,
(those who emigrated), by leaving the land of Shirk and migrating to the land of faith, leaving behind their loved ones, brethren, friends and neighbors,
(and were driven out from their homes), when the Mushriks tormented them and forced them to migrate,
(and suffered harm in My cause), for their only wrong, to the people, was that they believed in Allah Alone. In similar Ayat, Allah said,
(and have driven out the Messenger and yourselves because you believe in Allah your Lord!) (60:1), and,
(And they had no fault except that they believed in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise!) (85:8). Allah's statement,
(and who fought and were killed (in My cause),) (3:195) refers to the highest rank there is, that one fights in the cause of Allah and dies in the process, with his face covered in dust and blood. It is recorded in the Sahih that a man said,
('O Messenger of Allah! If I was killed in Allah's cause, observing patience, awaiting Allah's reward, attacking, not retreating, would Allah forgive my sins' The Prophet said, `Yes.' The Prophet then asked the man, `What did you ask' When the man repeated the question, the Prophet said, `Yes, except for the debt, for Jibril conveyed this to me right now'.)
This is why Allah said here,
(verily, I will expiate from them their evil deeds and admit them into Gardens under which rivers flow), within Paradise, where there are rivers of various drinks: milk, honey, wine and fresh water. There is what no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard and no heart has ever imagined (of delights in Paradise). Allah's statement,
(a reward from Allah) testifies to His might, for the Mighty and Most Great only gives tremendous rewards. Allah's statement,
(and with Allah is the best of rewards.'') for those who perform good deeds.
(196. Let not the free disposal (and affluence) of the disbelievers throughout the land deceive you.) (197. A brief enjoyment; then their ultimate abode is Hell; and worst indeed is that place for rest.) (198. But, for those who have Taqwa of their Lord, are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); therein are they to dwell, an entertainment from Allah; and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar (the most righteous).)
Allah said, do not look at the disbelievers, who are enjoying various delights and joys. Soon, they will loose all this and be tied to their evil works, for verily, we are only giving them time, which deceives them, when all they have is,
(A brief enjoyment; then their ultimate abode is Hell; and worst indeed is that place for rest.)
This Ayah is similar to several other Ayat, such as,
(None disputes in the Ayat of Allah but those who disbelieve. So, let not their ability of going about here and there through the land deceive you!) (40:4),
(Verily, those who invent a lie against Allah, will never be successful. (A brief) enjoyment in this world! and then unto Us will be their return, then We shall make them taste the severest torment because they used to disbelieve.) (10:69, 70),
(We let them enjoy for a little while, then in the end We shall oblige them to (enter) a great torment.) (31:24),
(So, give a respite to the disbelievers; deal gently with them for a while.) (86:17), and,
(Is he whom We have promised an excellent promise (Paradise) which he will find true -like him whom We have made to enjoy the luxuries of the life of (this) world, then on the Day of Resurrection, he will be among those brought up (to be punished in the Hell-fire)) (28:61).
After Allah mentioned the condition of the disbelievers in this life and their destination to the Fire, He said,
(But, for those who have Taqwa of their Lord, are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise); therein are they to dwell, an entertainment from Allah,) (3:198), for certainly,
(and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar.)
Ibn Jarir recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' used to say, "Death is better for every believer. Death is better for every disbeliever, and those who do not believe me should read Allah's statements,
(and that which is with Allah is the best for Al-Abrar), and,
(And let not the disbelievers think that Our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase in sinfulness. And for them is a disgraceful torment.) (3:178).''
(199. And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah. They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allah is swift in account.) (200. O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu, and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful.)
Allah states that some of the People of the Book truly believe in Him and in what was sent down to Muhammad, along with believing in the previously revealed Books, and they are obedient to Him and humble themselves before Allah.
(They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price) (3:199), for they do not hide what they know of the glad tidings about the description of Muhammad, his Prophethood, and the description of his Ummah. Indeed, these are the best people among the People of the Book, whether they were Jews or Christians. Allah said in Surat Al-Qasas,
(Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it (the Qur'an). And when it is recited to them, they say: "We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we were Muslims. These will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient,) (28:52-54). Allah said,
(Those to whom We gave the Book, recite it (follow it) as it should be recited (i.e. followed), they are the ones who believe therein.) (2:121),
(And of the people of Musa there is a community who lead with truth and establish justice therewith.) (7:159),
(Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer.) (3:113), and,
(Say: "Believe in it (the Qur'an) or do not believe (in it). Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration.'' And they say: "Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.'' And they fall down on their faces weeping and it increases their humility.) (17:107-109).
These qualities exist in some of the Jews, but only a few of them. For instance, less than ten Jewish rabbis embraced the Islamic faith, such as `Abdullah bin Salam. Many among the Christians, on the other hand, embraced the Islamic faith. Allah said,
(Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: "We are Christians.'') (5:82), until,
(So because of what they said, Allah rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever) (5:85). In this Ayah,
(for them is a reward with their Lord) (3:199).
When Ja`far bin Abi Talib recited Surah Maryam )chapter 19( to An-Najashi, King of Ethiopia, in the presence of Christian priests and patriarchs, he and they cried until their beards became wet from crying. The Two Sahihs record that when An-Najashi died, the Prophet conveyed the news to his Companions and said,
(A brother of yours from Ethiopia has passed, come to offer the funeral prayer.) He went out with the Companions to the Musalla lined them up in rows, and after that led the prayer.
Ibn Abi Najih narrated that Mujahid said that,
(And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture), refers to those among them who embraced Islam. `Abbad bin Mansur said that he asked Al-Hasan Al-Basri about Allah's statement,
(And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture, those who believe in Allah).
Al-Hasan said, "They are the People of the Book, before Muhammad was sent, who believed in Muhammad and recognized Islam. Allah gave them a double reward, for the faith that they had before Muhammad, and for believing in Muhammad (after he was sent as Prophet).'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded both of these statements. The Two Sahihs record that Abu Musa said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Three persons will acquire a double reward. )
He mentioned among them,
(A person from among the People of the Book who believed in his Prophet and in me.)
(They do not sell the verses of Allah for a small price), means, they do not hide the knowledge that they have, as the cursed ones among them have done. Rather, they share the knowledge without a price, and this is why Allah said,
(for them is a reward with their Lord. surely, Allah is Swift in account.)
Mujahid commented on the verse,
((Surely, Allah is) swift in account), "He is swift in reckoning,'' as Ibn Abi Hatim and others have recorded from him.
(O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu) (3:200).
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "The believers are commanded to be patient in the religion that Allah chose for them, Islam. They are not allowed to abandon it in times of comfort or hardship, ease or calamity, until they die as Muslims. They are also commanded to endure against their enemies, those who hid the truth about their religion.'' Similar explanation given by several other scholars among the Salaf.
As for Murabatah, it is to endure in acts of worship and perseverance. It also means to await prayer after prayer, as Ibn `Abbas, Sahl bin Hanif and Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi stated. Ibn Abi Hatim collected a Hadith that was also collected by Muslim and An-Nasa'i from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,
(Should I tell you about actions with which Allah forgives sins and raises the grade Performing perfect ablution in unfavorable conditions, the many steps one takes to the Masajid, and awaiting prayer after the prayer, for this is the Ribat, this is the Ribat, this is the Ribat.)
They also say that the Murabatah in the above Ayah refers to battles against the enemy, and manning Muslim outposts to protect them from enemy incursions inside Muslim territory. There are several Hadiths that encourage Murabatah and mention its rewards. Al-Bukhari recorded that Sahl bin Sa`d As-Sa`idi said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(A Day of Ribat in the cause of Allah is better than this life and all that is in it.)
Muslim recorded that Salman Al-Farisi said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Ribat for a day and a night is better than fasting the days of a month and its Qiyam (voluntary prayer at night). If one dies in Ribat, his regular righteous deeds that he used to perform will keep being added to his account, and he will receive his provision, and will be saved from the trials of the grave.)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Fadalah bin `Ubayd said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(Every dead person will have his record of deeds sealed, except for whoever dies while in Ribat in the cause of Allah, for his work will keep increasing until the Day of Resurrection, and he will be safe from the trial of the grave.)
This is the same narration collected by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi, who said, "Hasan Sahih''. Ibn Hibban also collected this Hadith in his Sahih. fAt-Tirmidhi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(Two eyes shall not be touched by the Fire: an eye that cried for fear from Allah and an eye that spent the night guarding in Allah's cause.)
Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Let the servant of the Dinar, the servant of the Dirham and the servant of the Khamisah (of clothes) perish, as he is pleased if these things are given to him, and if not, he is displeased. Let such a person perish and be humiliated, and if he is pierced with a thorn, let him not find anyone to take it out for him. Paradise is for him who holds the reins of his horse, striving in Allah's cause, with his hair unkempt and feet covered with dust: if he is appointed to the vanguard, he is perfectly satisfied with his post of guarding, and if he is appointed in the rearguard, he accepts his post with satisfaction; if he asks for permission he is not permitted, and if he intercedes, his intercession is not accepted.)
Ibn Jarir recorded that Zayd bin Aslam said, "Abu `Ubaydah wrote to `Umar bin Al-Khattab and mentioned to him that the Romans were mobilizing their forces. `Umar wrote back, `Allah will soon turn whatever hardship a believing servant suffers, to ease, and no hardship shall ever overcome two types of ease. Allah says in His Book,
(O you who believe! Endure and be more patient, and Rabitu, and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful)' (3:200)."
Al-Hafiz Ibn `Asakir mentioned in the biography of `Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, that Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abi Sakinah said, "While in the area of Tarsus, `Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak dictated this poem to me when I was greeting him goodbye. He sent the poem with me to Al-Fudayl bin `Iyad in the year one hundred and seventy, `O he who worships in the vicinity of the Two Holy Masjids! If you but see us, you will realize that you are only jesting in worship. He who brings wetness to his cheek with his tears, should know that our necks are being wet by our blood. He who tires his horses without purpose, know that our horses are getting tired in battle. Scent of perfume is yours, while our scent is the glimmer of spears and the stench of dust )in battle(. We were narrated about in the speech of our Prophet, an authentic statement that never lies. That the dust that erupts by Allah's horses and which fills the nostrils of a man shall never be combined with the smoke of a raging Fire. This, the Book of Allah speaks among us that the martyr is not dead, and the truth in Allah's Book cannot be denied.' I met Al-Fudayl Ibn `Iyad in the Sacred Masjid and gave him the letter. When he read it, his eyes became tearful and he said, `Abu `Abdur-Rahman (`Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak) has said the truth and offered sincere advice to me.' He then asked me, `Do you write the Hadith' I said, `Yes.' He said, `Write this Hadith as reward for delivering the letter of Abu `Abdur-Rahman to me. He then dictated, `Mansur bin Al-Mu`tamir narrated to us that Abu Salih narrated from Abu Hurayrah that a man asked, `O Messenger of Allah! Teach me a good deed that will earn me the reward of the Mujahidin in Allah's cause.' The Prophet said,
(Are you able to pray continuously and fast without breaking the fast) The man said, `O Messenger of Allah! I cannot bear it.' The Prophet said,
(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! Even if you were able to do it, you will not achieve the grade of the Mujahidin in Allah's cause. Did you not know that the horse of the Mujahid earns rewards for him as long as it lives.)
Allah said next,
(and have Taqwa of Allah), concerning all your affairs and situations. For instance, the Prophet said to Mu`adh when he sent him to Yemen,
(Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you may be, follow the evil deed with a good deed and it will erase it, and deal with people in a good manner.)
Allah said next,
(so that you may be successful.), in this life and the Hereafter. Ibn Jarir recorded that Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi said that, Allah's statement,
(and have Taqwa of Allah, so that you may be successful.) means, "Fear Me concerning what is between you and Me, so that you may acquire success when you meet Me tomorrow.''
The Tafsir of Surah Al `Imran ends here, all praise is due to Allah, and we ask Him that we die while on the path of the Qur'an and Sunnah, Amin.