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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 3 (Al-‘Imran - The Family of Amran) > Section 13 (Verses 121 to 129)



Section/Ruku 13 [Verses 121 to 129]: The Battle of Uhud:
Chapter 3: (Al-‘Imran: The Family of Amran)
(Revealed at Madinah: 20 sections; 200 verses)

1. Translation:

121 And when thou didst go forth early in the morning from thy family, to assign to the believers their positions for the battle. And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

122 When two partiesa from among you thought of showing cowardice, and Allah was the Guardian of them both. And in Allah should the believers trust.b

123 And Allah certainly helped you at Badr when you were weak. So keep your duty to Allah that you may give thanks.

124 When thou didst say to the believers: Does it not suffice you that your Lord should help you with three thousand angels sent down?a

125 Yea, if you are steadfast and keep your duty, and they come upon you in a headlong manner, your Lord will assist you with five thousand of havoc-making angels.a

126 And Allah made it only as good news for you, and that your hearts might be at ease thereby. And help comes only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise,

127 That He may cut off a part of those who disbelieve or abase them so that they should return in failure.a

128 Thou hast no concern in the matter whether He turns to them (mercifully) or chastises them; surely they are wrongdoers.a

129 And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. He forgives whom He pleases and chastises whom He pleases. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

2. Commentary:

121a. It is to the events of the battle of Uhud that this and the following sections are devoted. In the third year of the Hijrah Abu Sufyan marched against Madinah. The Prophet at first intended to stay within the town, but afterwards marched into the open field with a thousand men, one-third of whom, under the leadership of ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the great hypocrite leader, left him and returned to Madinah. The enemy were first completely routed, but fifty Muslim archers, who were placed in a strong position to cut off the retreat of the enemy, made a mistake, and in order to join in the pursuit left their position. The enemy fell back upon the Muslims who were now in disorder and had lost their naturally fortified position, and after inflicting some loss upon them, left the field secure from the pursuit of the Muslim force. It was not a victory for the Quraish, who thought it safe to go back when they found the Muslims involved in their own troubles.

They could not take a single prisoner of war, nor had they the courage to attack Madinah, which they did two years later with a very strong force. [Back to verse 121]

122a. The two tribes of the Banu Salimah, and the Banu Harithah are meant (B. 64:18). [Back to verse 122]

122b. This shows that they did not actually show cowardice. The desertion of the Muslim force by ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy with his three hundred men made some of the Muslims also entertain the idea of deserting the army on account of superior enemy forces, but they did not actually desert it. [Back to verse 122]

124a. The enemy numbered only one thousand where one thousand angels are stated to have been sent (8:9). Now when the enemy was three thousand strong, the Muslims were promised the help of three thousand angels. The fulfilment of this promise is referred to in v. 152. What was the object of the coming of the angels? The matter is fully explained in the 8th chapter in connection with the promise of the coming of angels in the battle of Badr. As here, it is first stated there that the promise was given only “as good news, and that your hearts might be at ease thereby, and victory is only from Allah” (8:10). The verse that follows makes the object clearer: “When He made slumber fall on you as a security from Him, and sent down upon you water from the clouds that He might thereby purify you and take away from you the uncleanness of the devil, and that He might fortify your hearts and making firm (your) feet thereby”. Hence the object was to strengthen the Muslims by improving their position in the field of battle and by strengthening their hearts, and this is expressed still more clearly further on: “When thy Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve” (8:12). The believers being thus strengthened while terror was cast into the enemy’s heart, the object of sending the angels was achieved, and the small Muslim force was able to defeat a powerful enemy that outnumbered them by three to one. [Back to verse 124]

125a. The word used in the original is musawwim and not musawwam, and it is from sawwama ‘ala al-qaum meaning he urged his horse against the people and made havoc among them. Hence musawwim is one who makes havoc. The assistance of the angels stated in this verse refers to a third occasion, when the enemy came “in a headlong manner”, all the tribes uniting with the Quraish to crush the Muslims. This happened in the battle of Ahzab, or the Allies, when the Quraish, whose number was very likely about five thousand, with the help of strong allied forces — the total strength being near twenty thousand — suddenly attacked Madinah. The dispersal of such a large army when the Muslims were only about fourteen hundred was no doubt due to Divine help, sent through angelic hosts. [Back to verse 125]

127a. Notwithstanding that the object of the disbelievers in their war on the Muslims was their extirpation, the latter are told that the Divine object in punishing the disbelievers by war was not to extirpate them, but to cut off their ringleaders and chiefs. The word taraf signifies a part or a portion of a thing (R), and hence it is applied to a company of men, and also to leading men. LL translates atraf al-ard as meaning the exalted or the noble and the learned men of the earth. When the leaders of mischief were cut off, the rest would be disappointed of attaining the object of extirpating Islam, and persecution would cease. The verses that follow corroborate this conclusion. The enemy’s description as having returned in failure in this battle shows clearly that they were not successful or victorious in the battle. Their great general Khalid became a convert to Islam on his way to Makkah. [Back to verse 127]

128a. “Ibn ‘Umar said that he heard the Messenger of Allah saying, when he raised his head after ruku in the last rak‘ah of the morning prayer: ‘O Allah, curse such and such people ...’ So Allah revealed to him, Thou hast no concern in the matter ... Surely they are wrongdoers” (B. 64:22). As a mortal the Prophet might have sometimes desired a severe punishment for his enemies; but he is told that it was not his concern, for Allah might as well forgive them, even though they deserved punishment. The all-comprehensiveness of the Divine mercy expressed in this verse is unapproached in sacred literature. [Back to verse 128]


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Chapter 2: Al-Baqarah (The Cow)

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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 3 (Al-‘Imran - The Family of Amran) > Section 13 (Verses 121 to 129)

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