Verses from Surah Al-Noor [14 – 22]

[14]And, were it not for Allah’s grace and mercy upon you in this world and the Next, surely a grievous chastisement would have touched you for that into which you plunged.

[15] When you were receiving it on your tongues27 and were speaking with your mouths28 that of which you had no knowledge and reckoned it insignificant, while it was grave in the sight of Allah.29

Commentary

27. `A’isha herself read the present-day textual “talaqqawnahu” as “taliqunahu” – and she knew well what was revealed in her connection – meaning, “when you continued to receive (the false story).” However, the consensus is over “talaqqawnahu” (Ibn Jarir, Kashshaf). And the meaning is, you were freely passing it on from tongue to tongue (Kashshaf).

28. All words come from the tongue, so what’s the meaning of the words “When you received it on your tongues?” The answer is, the slanderers never let their slander cross through to their minds. They took it easy, without thinking about the significance of what they were saying, passing it on as casually as received, from tongue to tongue (Kashshaf, reworded).

29.A hadith points to the mischief of the tongue. The Prophet (saws) said in a report preserved in the Sahihayn: “Verily, a man speaks out a word that angers Allah, while he attaches no importance to it, but he is thrown thereby into the Fire” (Ibn Kathir).

[16] Why was it not that when you heard it, you said, ‘It is not proper for us that we should speak of this. Glory to You (our Lord),30 this is a great slander.’

Commentary

30. Originally, Subha-naka (Glory to You) was said at every moment when great wonders hidden in Allah’s creation became apparent. Subsequently, with usage, it came to be spelled at anything wonderful or strange thing happening (Zamakhshari).

(17) Allah exhorts you that you should ever return to the like thereof, if you are believers.31

[18] And Allah makes clear to you the verses, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

Commentary

31.The Prophet has added his own emphasis to the Qur’anic prohibition against attacking people’s honor. He said in a hadith of Ahmad, “Do not cause pain to Allah’s slaves nor taunt them. And do not seek to know their hidden affairs. For, he who sought to know the hidden affairs of his brother Muslim, has Allah after his hidden affairs, until He humiliates him in his own house” (Ibn Kathir).

[19] Surely those who love that indecency32 should spread among the believers, shall have a painful chastisement in this world and the Next.33 Allah knows and you know not.

[20] And, but for the grace of Allah upon you and His mercy, and that Allah is All-clement, All-Merciful, (you were lost).

Commentary

32. Majid comments: “The word ‘Al-Fahishah’ in this context does not signify the act of lewdness but the dissemination of scandals and gossip, the wide-spread social vice – the word of scandal repeated and reiterated at hundreds of (places).”

Mawdudi however sees that the implication can be expanded. He writes: “The words used in the verse embrace all the various forms that might be used to spread moral corruption and lewd behavior including those means employed to awaken sexual passion, be they poetry, song, fiction, picture, plays and drama.”

33.That is, if they continued living and died unrepentant (Qurtubi).

Asad adds: “The Qur’anic warning against slander and, by obvious implication, against any attempt at seeking out other people’s faults finds a clear echo in several well-authenticated sayings of the Prophet: ‘Beware of all guesswork [about one another], for, behold, all [such] guesswork is most deceptive (akdhab al-hadith); and do not spy upon one another, and do not try to bare [other people’s] failings’ (Muwatta’).”

[21] Believers! Follow not Shaytan’s footsteps. Whoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan (should know that) verily he (only) enjoins indecency and the reprehensible. And, were it not for Allah’s grace upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have ever purified (himself),34 but rather Allah purifies whom He will, and Allah is All-hearing, All-knowing.

Commentary

34. That is, as Ibn `Abbas understood, none of you would have, all by himself, been led to any good nor saved from any harm, without Allah showing the way (Ibn Jarir).

Imam Razi explains that the term “zaki” is applicable to a person who has obtained a high degree of Allah’s Pleasure (rida). Hence one says, “the crop has attained its fullest growth.”

[22] And let not those of virtue35 among you and wealth swear against expending on the kin, the poor, and the emigrants in Allah’s cause.36They ought to pardon and overlook. Do you not wish that that Allah should forgive you?37 And Allah is All-forgiving, All-kind.

Commentary

35. Imam Razi points out (and Alusi seems to agree) that the term “fadl” of “ulu al-fadl” can allude either to this worldly “fadl” or the next-worldly. If we assume that it refers to this worldly “fadl” then, it cannot be rendered as “wealth” or “bounty” because that is already mentioned in “sa`ah” (abundance or wealth). Therefore, it can only be understood as spiritual “grace” or “virtue” of this and the next world. This description fitted well Abu Bakr who was a person of spiritual virtue far more excellent than any other after the Prophet.

36. This was revealed in reference to Abu Bakr swearing over Mistah’s part in the slander on `A’isha. He used to support him materially because he was a cousin to him through his aunt, and because he was a poor immigrant, and one who had participated in the battle of Badr. He swore that he would no more support him financially after the incident. Allah (swt) revealed this verse. Dahhak has said that there were a few others also, from among the Ansar, who had sworn like Abu Bakr (Ibn Jarir, Razi, IbnKathir). But the second opinion – about the Ansar – does not seem very sound (Qurtubi).

37. When Abu Bakr heard of this revelation he said, “Indeed, I wish to be forgiven” (Ibn Jarir).

The Prophet expressed the substance of this verse in his words by saying, “He who doesn’t show mercy, is not shown mercy” (Qurtubi).

(To be continued)