Welcome to our weekly program "Path towards Enlightenment" in which we present you a fluent and easy-to-understand explanation of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an.
Today we start Surah number 33 which was revealed in Medina in 5 AH and has 73 ayahs. It is called Surah al-Ahzab, which is the plural of Hizb and means parties or confederation, since the pagan Arabs along and the Israelite tribes around Medina in tandem with the hypocrites amongst the Muslims, had ganged up together against Islam. The subsequent battle in which the Muslims triumphed, thanks to the exceptional bravery of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (PBUH), is known as Battle of Ahzab and also as the Battle of the Ditch, since Prophet Mohammad (Blessings of God upon him and his progeny) on the command of God, following the suggestion of his Iranian companion, Salman Farsi, had dug a “khandaq”, which means a ditch, at the most vulnerable side of Medina to prevent the confederates from entering the city. On the whole, seventeen ayahs of this Surah are about the Battle of Ahzab. Other matters mentioned in this Surah are ‘injurious assimilation’, divorce in the Age of Ignorance, the importance of veiling of women, paying proper attention to Resurrection, and the spotless purity of the Prophet’s Infallible Ahl al-Bayt or progeny, whose core is the Prophet’s Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra, her husband Imam Ali and the couple’s two sons Imam Hasan and Husain (Peace be upon them). Let us first listen to and read ayahs 1 to 3 of this Surah.
“O Prophet! Be wary of Allah and do not obey the faithless and the hypocrites. Indeed Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
“And follow that which is revealed to you from your Lord. Indeed Allah is well aware of what you do.”
“And put your trust in Allah; Allah suffices as Trustee.”
The reason for the revelation of these ayahs is that some hardcore pagan Arabs of Mecca, such as Abu Sufyan, came to Medina after the Battle of Ohad and told the Prophet that if doesn’t denounce their deities and idols as false, they will leave him alone with his religion and not mount any attack.
In response, God commanded the Prophet to be careful about such deceitful moves and not to compromise with the enemies of Islam. It is evident the avowed enemies of Islam and humanity never give up their plotting, and in such a case, it is only Who suffices as Trustee. This ayah teaches us that one of the most dangerous precipices on the way of leaders of truth is the collusive suggestions of their enemies. This is a great trial for them. The pagan Arabs of Mecca and the hypocrites amongst the Muslims in Medina, several times tried to tempt the Prophet by their collusive suggestions, but as the Messenger of God he was firm and steadfast. Thus, the initial ayahs of Surah Ahzab put an end to their evil plot. These ayahs broadly give the Prophet some important commands, the first of which is in the field of piety and virtuousness which is essential for all good programmes. The essence of piety is one’s innate sense of responsibility and as long as this sense of responsibility does not exist, man will not go after any constructive programme. Piety is the motive of guidance. It is true that the last stage of piety is achieved after perfecting faith in accordance with the commandment of Allah, but its primary stage is found before all of these issues, since if a person does not have the sense of responsibility in him, he will not respond to the invitation of the Prophets, nor heed their words of guidance.
The next divine command to the Prophet is about the negation of obeying the disbelievers and hypocrites. If Allah orders us to desist from heeding their suggestions, it is according to His infinite Knowledge and Wisdom; because He knows how painful afflictions and numerous harms are hidden in collusion with the faithless.
From these ayahs we learn that:
Any collusion with the deceitful suggestions of the enemies is harmful and betrays lack of firm faith and piety.
Both the hypocrites in our midst and our open enemies share the same goal of undermining us, so we should be careful.
For a true believer it is the satisfaction of God that matters, and not the satisfaction of unbelievers.
Our ultimate trust is God Almighty.
Now we listen to and read ayah 4of Surah Ahzab:
“Allah has not put two hearts within any man, nor has He made your wives whom you repudiate by ẓihār1 your mothers, nor has he made your adopted sons your sons. These are mere utterances of your mouths. But Allah speaks the truth and He guides to the way.”
The previous ayahs prohibited the holy Prophet and the faithful from following unbelievers. This ayah refers to some examples of disbelievers’ superstitions and distortion of facts, and means to say: God does not confirm such wrongful deeds, so keep away from them. The heart and nature of man both incline to one thing, and whatever a person says or acts against it is his own personal hypocrisy, not the will of Allah. One of the improper and absurd beliefs of the Arabs during the era of paganism was that whenever a person was upset or angry with his wife, he said to her: from now onward you are like my mother. This meant his marriage was annulled and he will cease to have any conjugal relationship with her. The fact of the matter is that a wife can never become mother of any husband. Among the other superstitions that the pagans believed is that whenever they adopted a child as their son, they considered him their real son and they attached all rights for him. He inherited the foster parents they inherited from him in turn.
Islam campaigned against such absurd practices of the pagan Arabs, who found no difference between a biological son or an adopted son. Continuation of the ayah refers to one general principle and says: one cannot change the reality by mere words. For example, if a man says my wife is like my mother this will not change the reality, or if someone adopts a child he will never become the real child.
From this ayah we learn that:
In one heart, two contradictory friendships cannot be placed. One cannot be faithful to God, but in practice pursues the path of unbelievers, unless the person is a hypocrite.
The relationship between parents and children is a biological factor and is thus not severed even after death.
The criterion of righteousness and wrongfulness in social and family laws is the God’s Revelation. This means the customs that are not in harmony with divine laws, should be put aside.