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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 16 (Verses 149 to 155)


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Section/Ruku 16 [Verses 149 to 155]: Causes of misfortune in Uhud Battle:
Chapter 3: (Al-‘Imran: The Family of Amran)
(Revealed at Madinah: 20 sections; 200 verses)

1. Translation:

149 O you who believe, if you obey those who disbelieve, they will make you turn back upon your heels, so you will turn back losers.
a

150 Nay, Allah is your Patron, and He is the Best of the helpers.

151 We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelievea because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority, and their abode is the Fire. And evil is the abode of the wrongdoers.

152 And Allah certainly made good His promise to youa when you slew them by His permission, until you became weak-hearted and disputed about the affair and disobeyed after He had shown you that which you loved.b Of you were some who desired this world, and of you were some who desired the Hereafter.c Then He turned you away from them that He might try you; and He has indeed pardoned you.d And Allah is Gracious to the believers.

153 When you went away far, and paid no heed to anyone, and the Messenger was calling you in your rear.a So He gave you (another) grief for (your) first grief that you might not grieve at what escaped you, nor (at) what befell you. And Allah is Aware of what you do.

154 Then after grief He sent down security on you, slumber overcoming a party of you,a while (there was) another party whom their own souls had rendered anxious — they entertained about Allah thoughts of ignorance quite unjustly.b They said: Have we any hand in the affair?c Say: The affair is wholly (in the hands) of Allah. They hide within their souls that which they would not reveal to thee. They say: Had we any hand in the affair, we would not have been slain here.d Say: Had you remained in your houses, those for whom slaughter was ordained would have gone forth to the places where they would be slain.e And (this happened) that Allah might test what was in your breasts and that He might purge what was in your hearts. And Allah is Knower of what is in the breasts.f

155 Those of you who turned back on the day when the two armies met, only the devil sought to cause them to make a slip on account of some deeds they had done, and certainly Allah has pardoned them. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing.mdol.a

2. Commentary:
t
149a. The war was carried on only with the object of making the Muslims renounce their religion, and hence they could not think of accepting the disbelievers as their rulers. [Back to verse 149]

151a. Notwithstanding the great disproportion in numbers, the Muslims being less than one-fourth of their opponents, being at the same time not so well equipped as their foes, and in spite of the disorder into which the Muslim forces had fallen, the enemy had to flee, leaving the Muslims in the field, not even making a show of attacking Madinah, which was quite defenceless. This clearly shows that they were terror-stricken even after they had inflicted some loss upon the Muslims, considering it safer to go back to Makkah while the Muslims were yet occupied with their own troubles and were unable to pursue them. [Back to verse 151]

152a. The promise is contained in v. 124: “When thou didst say to the believers: Does it not suffice you that your Lord should help you with three thousand angels?” [Back to verse 152]

152b. It clearly shows that the Muslims had obtained a victory at Uhud, later incidents depriving them of the fruits of that victory. Though apparently all the fighters are spoken of here as becoming weak-hearted, the reference is only to that group of archers who disobeyed the Prophet’s orders, as the words that follow show: Of you were some who desired this world. Nor did any of the Muslims show any weak-heartedness in fighting against the enemy. The weak-heartedness of a part of the archers who were placed in an important position to cut off the enemy’s retreat consisted in their disobeying the clear orders of the Prophet: “If you see us overcoming the enemy leave not your position, and if you see the enemy overcoming us, leave not your position”, the Prophet had told the archers. But they fell a prey to the love of the world and left their position to get a share in the booty when they saw the enemy fleeing before the Muslim onrush. [Back to verse 152]

152c. These were the two parties of the body of archers. When the enemy was apparently routed, some of these archers were led by the love of plunder to leave their position, while their chief, ‘Abd Allah ibn Jubair, with only some ten men, stuck to their post. Muslims were required to fight in Allah’s way, and if any Muslim fought for plunder, he fought for the love of this world and not in Allah’s way. [Back to verse 152]

152d. The enemy, who was being pursued, turned against the pursuers on seeing the important position of the archers vacated, and the result was that the Muslims who were now in disorder on account of the pursuit found themselves helpless against the enemy who turned back on them, and some of them who were cut off from the main body took to flight. We are, however, here told that God pardoned them as their flight was the result of circumstances which were beyond their control. ‘Uthman is said to have been one of them. [Back to verse 152]

153a. It refers to the Prophet’s call, at whom the Muslims now saw that the attack of the enemy was directed. So they did not grieve for losing an opportunity of pursuing the enemy, but for the dangerous position in which they saw the Prophet. This is, in fact, plainly stated in what follows: “that you might not grieve at what escaped you,” i.e. the booty which they would have had by pursuing the fleeing enemy, “nor at what befell you,” i.e., the loss which they themselves suffered. Athaba sometimes conveys the idea of giving one thing instead of another, the giving of a substitute (LL). They forgot their own grief when they saw that it was the Prophet at whom the attack was directed now. [Back to verse 153]

154a. Nu‘as means slight sleep; it is said that nu‘as here implies calm and quiet (R). It must have happened when the enemy departed. The slumber was a sign of security, for no army could have gone to rest while yet in the field of battle if it had the least anxiety as to its security. [Back to verse 154]

154b. The persons spoken of here are the disaffected who took no part in fighting. They now gave vent to their hidden rancour against the Muslims. The evil thoughts which the hypocrites entertained about Allah were that Allah had not helped the Muslims. [Back to verse 154]

154c. The hypocrites sided with the minority whose counsel was that the Muslims should not fight the enemy in the open field and should remain besieged in Madinah. The majority was, however, in favour of going out and meeting the enemy where it had encamped. The Prophet decided that the majority vote must be accepted. Hence the hypocrites’ murmuring as to why their counsel was not accepted. [Back to verse 154]

154d. Their contention was that the disaster would not have befallen the Muslims if their advice as to remaining within the town had been accepted. They took no part in fighting but they spoke of the loss of the Muslims as their own loss. [Back to verse 154]

154e. Remaining in the houses here signifies meeting the enemy while remaining in Madinah. By those for whom slaughter was ordained are meant the martyrs of Uhud. The murmurings of the hypocrites are met with the reply that even if the Muslims had defended themselves by remaining in Madinah, those who laid down their lives in the field of Uhud would have laid them down in Madinah as well. Death was moreover a thing ordained. [Back to verse 154]

154f. This explains Allah’s testing what is in the hearts. He knows it, and His testing it means making it manifest to others. The attitude of the hypocrites was made manifest by the fighting in Uhud. It would have remained hidden if the battle had been fought in Madinah. [Back to verse 154]

155a. The persons spoken of here are those who were unable to join the main Muslim army and .ed to Madinah, or in some other direction. However pressed they may have been, it was not right on their part to leave the field of battle. Here it is spoken of as a slip on their part; it did not amount to intentional disobedience and God granted them a free pardon. [Back to verse 155]

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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 16 (Verses 149 to 155) )


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