Verses from Surah al-Mu’minun (72 – 77)
 Or do you ask them for tribute? But your Lord’s tribute is better,85 and He is the best of providers.
85. As Allah said elsewhere (34: 47), “Say, ‘Whatever I have asked of the wage is yours. My wage is upon Allah alone.’”
And (42: 23), “Say,‘I do not ask for it any wage, except for kin-love’” (Ibn Kathir).
Zamakhshari points out – with Razi seconding him – that two terms have been used here: kharj and kharaaj. It is said that kharj is used for that donation that is voluntarily made, whereas kharaaj for that which a man is forced to hand out. However, by implication, the word kharj lends the meaning of “a little sum,” while kharaaj of “a great reward.”
Mawdudi elaborates: “Before embarking on his mission as the Message-bearer of Islam, he (the Prophet) was a fairly prosperous trader. After becoming involved in Islam, he began to face want and privation. Before he was designated as God’s Messenger, he was held in high esteem by his people. Thereafter, however, he was subjected to both verbal abuse and physical hurt, and even his life was at risk. In the past, he had lived a happy life with his family, but thanks to his mission, he became engaged in a struggle which left him little time for rest or peace. Moreover, the cause that he was [espousing] yielded no advantage to him directly. On the contrary, it antagonized virtually every element of his people so much so that his own kith and kin seemed bent on the utmost hostility towards him. In view of all this, who in the right mind would say that the work of the Prophet (peace be on him) was that of a self-seeker?
“Self-seekers are wont to come forward as champions of tribal and national chauvinism. They use their ability and craftiness in a manner that enables them to assume the leadership of their people. Self-seekers are never advocates of unpopular causes; they are never the proponents of an idea that would frontally challenge the chauvinistic biases and prejudices of their people, let alone espouse an idea that negates the very foundation on which the tribal pre-eminence of the Makkan unbelievers rested.”
 Indeed, you are inviting them to a Straight Path.86
86. Majid writes, “A fact apparent even to the Prophet’s modern critics. “Mohammad’s bearing towards his followers, no less than towards his opponents, exhibits the assurance of being the vicegerent of God and the exponent of His will.” (Muir, p.126)
 But surely those who do not believe in the Hereafter, are deviating from the Path.87
87. Ibn Kathir repeats an earlier quoted report from Imam Ahmad that reflects the truth about the Prophet’s followers of this day.
Ibn `Abbas says that two angels came to the Prophet in his dream. One of them stood near the head, while another at the feet. Said he at the feet to the one at the head, “Strike a similitude for him and his followers.” The other said, “His example and that of his followers is like a people in journey who ended at the head of a place promising destruction. They did not have enough provision to either carry on further, or to return back. While they were in that fix, there came to them a man in an expensive cloak. He asked them, ‘Do you think you will follow me if I showed you a garden thick and green and an overflowing pond?’ They answered, ‘Of course, yes.’ So he led them to a thick green garden with an overflowing pond. They ate and drank to fatness. At that point, he asked them, ‘Did I not find you in that place in that (dire) situation, and I took a promise from you that if you followed me, I would lead you to a thick green garden and an overflowing pond?’ They said, ‘Surely, you did.’ He asked, ‘Now, right ahead of you is a garden thicker than this and a pond overflowing better than this one. So, follow me.’ So, a group said, ‘By God, he spoke the truth and we shall follow him.’ But another group said, ‘We are satisfied with this and shall remain here.’”
Another report from Abu Ya`la says, “I am holding you by your clothes saying ‘Away from the Fire!Away from the Fire!’ But you overcome me falling into it like the insects fall into it. It is possible that I might release you of your clothes, while I precede you at the Pond. So you will come to me in groups and individually. I would know you from your looks and by your names, just like a man know his camel among a herd. You will be taken to the left and the right. So I will plead to the Lord of the worlds, ‘My people, O my Lord!My people, O my Lord!’ It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! You do not know what they did after you. They turned back on their heels.’ I will know one of you on the Day of Judgment carrying a goat bleating, (and the man) pleading to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgment carrying a camel growling and appealing to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgment carrying a horse neighing and appealing to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’ And, I will know one of you appear on the Day of Judgment carrying a leather bottle pleading to me, ‘O Muhammad, O Muhammad,’ and I replying, ‘I have no power for you against Allah. I have already conveyed the message.’”
The above report, says Ibn Kathir, has been doubted for its authenticity because of one of the narrators. But Nasa’i and Ibn Hibban have passed a favorable judgment about him. (The collector of Kanz al-`Ummal also declared that the narrators are trustworthy: Au.).
 And, if We showed them mercy, and removed what is upon them of affliction,88 surely, they would obstinately persist in their rebellion, wandering blindly.
88. The allusion is to the hardships of dry weather and hunger that the Makkans were then experiencing (Ibn Jarir). The Prophet had prayed against them, as reports of the Sahihayn say, that they be given the taste of seven years (of drought) like the seven years of Yusuf. Another cause of Makkan starvation was that Thumamah b. Uthaal had embraced Islam and cut off the Makkan trade routes (Ibn Kathir).
Alusi adds: According to some reports, the Prophet had prayed against them while he was still in Makkah. And then repeated his prayers (for one whole month) at Madinah. When he raised himself from the second cycle (raka`ah) bow during the Fajr Prayers, he would say, “O Allah! Rescue Walid b. Walid, Salamah b. Hisham, `Ayaash b. Rabi`ah, and other weak Muslims (detained at Makkah). O Allah, tighten Your hold on Mudar. O Allah, send upon them years like the years of Yusuf.” Sometimes he prayed in the above manner after the ruku` of the last cycle of the `Isha Prayers. Those very days Thumamah b. Uthaal (leader of the Banu Bakr tribe) was captured and brought to Madinah. After three days of hesitation, he declared his Islam and straightaway went to Makkah to perform `Umrah. When he said “LabbaykAllahummaLabbayk” in the Islamic manner, the Makkans smelt trouble. They asked him, “Have you turned a Saabi?” He replied, “Rather not. I have become a Muslim.” Then, in reply to their rude gestures, he threatened, “By Allah not a grain will reach you at Makkah without the Prophet’s leave.” The above two – the supplications and Thumaamah’s resolve – led Makkans to starvation and, according to one report, the Quraysh wrote to the Prophet, (to pray for their relief) or as another narration says, sent Abu Sufyan, which happened a little before the fall of Makkah.
 We had (earlier) seized them in punishment,89 but they did not yield to their Lord, nor did they entreat (submissively).90
89. Ibn `Abbas reports that during the drought, Abu Sufyan went to the Prophet and said, “I beseech you, by Allah, and by the rights of blood. We have been reduced to eating blood and animal hair” (which they cooked with blood: Qurtubi). Allah revealed this verse. According to another report Abu Sufyan came down to Madinah and said, “You killed our fathers with the sword and their children with hunger” (Ibn Jarir).
90. That is exactly what happened with the Makkans. The Prophet prayed for the removal of the drought, but it made no difference to their intransigence and arrogance.
An implied meaning of what Hasan said is that tribulations seem like coming from Shaytan if one does not take them in true Islamic spirit. “So, treat them as having been sent by Allah,” he said, “by humbling yourselves and seeking His forgiveness” (Ibn Jarir).
Accordingly, once Wahab b. Munabbih was imprisoned. When he came out someone said, “Shall we not sing some poetry for you, O Abu `Abdullah?” He replied, “I am at the other end of Allah’s punishment.” Allah has said, ‘We have already seized them in punishment, but they did not yield to their Lord, nor did they submissively entreat (Him).’” Then he fasted for three days. He was asked, “What was that fast for?” He replied, “Something happened to us, so something had to be done.” That is, he was imprisoned, so he had to demonstrate his submission (Ibn Kathir).
 Until, when We opened on them a door to severe chastisement, behold, they are despairing therein.91
91. The allusion is to further intensification of the dry season, accompanying hunger and starvation (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf).
(To be Continued)