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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 2 (Verses 10 to 20)


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Section/Ruku 2 [Verses 10 to 20]: Unity the basis of all religions:
Chapter 3: (Al-‘Imran: The Family of Amran)
(Revealed at Madinah: 20 sections; 200 verses)

1. Translation:

10 Those who disbelieve, neither their wealth nor their children will avail them aught against Allah. And they will be fuel for fire
a

11 As was the case of the people of Pharaoh, and those before them! They rejected Our messages, so Allah destroyed them on account of their sins.a And Allah is Severe in requiting (evil).

12 Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place.a

13 Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts (which) met together in encounter — one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other disbelieving, whom they saw twice as many as themselves with the sight of the eye.a And Allah strengthens with His aid whom He pleases. There is a lesson in this for those who have eyes.

14 Fair-seeming to men is made the love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well-bred horses and cattle and tilth. This is the provision of the life of this world. And Allah — with Him is the good goal (of life).a

15 Say: Shall I tell you of what is better than these? For those who guard against evil are Gardens with their Lord, in which rivers flow, to abide in them, and pure companions and Allah’s goodly pleasure.a And Allah is Seer of the servants.

16 Those who say: Our Lord, we believe, so forgive our sins and save us from the chastisement of the fire.

17 The patient and the truthful, and the obedient, and those who spend and those who ask Divine protection in the morning times.a

18 Allah bears witness that there is no god but He, and (so do) the angels and those possessed of knowledge,a maintaining justice.b There is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.

19 Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam.a And those who were given the Book differed only after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the messages of Allah — Allah indeed is Quick at reckoning.

20 But if they dispute with thee say: I submit myself entirely to Allah and (so does) he who follows me. And say to those who have been given the Book and the Unlearned (people): Do you submit yourselves?a If they submit, then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, thy duty is only to deliver the message. And Allah is Seer of the servants.

2. Commentary:

10a. Vv. 10–12 contain a clear prophecy of the vanquishment of the opponents of the Prophet. Though the Quraish had suffered a crushing defeat in the battle of Badr, they could yet muster heavy forces against the Muslims, who were few in numbers. The Muslims were still too weak and in danger of being annihilated by their opponents. They were actually attacked twice again, once in the battle of Uƒud and again in the battle of the Allies, with heavy forces which would have crushed the Muslims if they had not received Divine help. [Back to verse 10]

11a. Dhanb is originally the taking the tail of a thing, and it is applied to every act of which the consequence is disagreeable or unwholesome (R). According to LL, dhanb means a sin, a crime, a fault, a transgression, or an act of disobedience. It is said to differ from ithm in being either intentional or committed through inadvertence, whereas ithm is particularly intentional (LL). It will thus be seen that dhanb is a word which carries a wide significance, and is applicable to all shortcomings resulting from inattention, incapacity, or perversity, and even to defects or imperfections of which the result may be disagreeable. It covers all shades of shortcomings, from the grossest transgressions of the wicked to those defects and imperfections of which even the righteous cannot be free. [Back to verse 11]

12a. This is one of the passages in which the punishment of this life, which is vanquishment, is spoken of in the same breath with the punishment of the Hereafter, which is hell. [Back to verse 12]

13a. The reference here is to the battle of Badr. The meaning is that the Muslims saw the disbelievers to be twice as many as themselves. The statement does not contradict that made in 8:44: “And when He showed them to you, when you met, as few in your eyes, and He made you to appear few in their eyes”. The actual strength of the two parties was: Quraish about 1,000, Muslims 313. The statement made in this verse is that the Muslims saw the disbelievers to be twice as many as themselves. Therefore they were still fewer in the eyes of the Muslims as compared with their actual strength, and this is what is stated in 8:44. As to why they were shown to the Muslims to be twice as many as themselves, 8:66 helps us to understand: “so if there be of you a hundred steadfast, they shall overcome two hundred; and if there be of you a thousand, they shall overcome two thousand”. The part of the enemy not seen by the Muslims was behind a hillock.

The battle of Badr is here stated to be a sign of the truth of the Prophet, not only because of the prophecies of victory contained in the Qur’an, but also because of the clear prophecy in Isaiah, where, after speaking of a future scene in the land of Arabia (Isa. 21:13), the prophet goes on to say: “The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail. And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished” (Isa. 21:14–17). Kedar was the son of Ishmael (Gen. 25:13), and the word is used freely in the Bible for the Arab tribe that sprang from him (Ps.120:5; Isa. 42:11; 60:7, etc.). There is only one person in history whose flight has become a memorable fact as the beginning of an Era. It was Muhammad (on whom be peace) who, attended by one faithful companion, fled from the drawn swords of the guard that surrounded his house, and it was after one year from his Flight that the glory of Kedar departed in the battle of Badr which took place in the second year of the Flight. The battle of Badr was thus a sign for the Jews and the Christians as well because of the fulfilment of prophecies in the Bible. The second year after the Flight had not yet come to a close when the power of Kedar was broken at Badr. [Back to verse 13]

14a. This verse contrasts the yearnings of the men of the world with those of the faithful. We are here told that, though the enjoyments of this life have their attractions, yet the desire to be with Allah is the goal which the true believer sets before himself. It is by “hoarded treasures of gold and silver” that the Christian nations have been led away from God. [Back to verse 14]

15a. For the companions in paradise see 2:25d. Of the blessings of paradise is Allah’s goodly pleasure, which is elsewhere said to be the greatest of all the blessings of paradise (9:72). The addition of this word here shows that the blessings of paradise are spiritual. [Back to verse 15]

17a. For the meaning of istighfar, see 2:286a. As shown there istighfar is really a prayer to attain to sinlessness. That this is the real significance is shown by its use here. The righteous servants of God are here spoken of as possessing the great qualifications of steadfastness, truthfulness, obedience to God, spending in Allah’s way, and finally as mustaghfirin or resorting to istighfar, which shows that it is one of the highest stages to which the spiritual pilgrim aspires. [Back to verse 17]

18a. Allah bears witness to His Unity through nature, which is His handiwork, and also by His word made known through revelation. The angels bear witness by their working within man, whose nature bears testimony to Divine Unity. Those who have a true knowledge of the holy scriptures of any religion also bear testimony to the great truth of the Unity of Allah. The Unity of Allah is, in fact, the common principle which is recognised by all religions. Thus the whole creation, the nature of man, and the broad and common principles of all religions are all at one in declaring the Divine Unity, whereas the Trinity of the Christian faith is but a solitary doctrine which does not find any support either in physical nature or in the nature of man or in the religion of humanity. [Back to verse 18]

18b. The words maintaining justice may qualify Allah as being the true Maintainer of justice. But considering what is said in the next verse as to the injustice of those to whom knowledge was given, it is more likely that the words qualify those possessed of knowledge, the meaning being that every possessor of knowledge, to whatever religion he may belong, bears witness to the grand truth of Divine Unity if he maintains justice in bearing witness. [Back to verse 18]

19a. An explanation of what Islam is has already been given in 2:112a. According to the Holy Qur’an, Islam was the religion of all the prophets. It is particularly mentioned as the religion of Abraham several times, and on one occasion the Israelite prophets who followed Moses are spoken of as the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah), alladhina aslamu (5:44). Not only is Islam the religion of every prophet, but, according to the Holy Qur’an, it is also the natural religion of man, as in 30:30 it is described as being “the nature made by Allah in which He has created men”. This is corroborated by a saying of the Prophet: “Every child is born in Islam: it is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian” (B. 23:179).

The word Islam does not only signify submission, it also signifies entering into peace, from aslama, meaning he entered into peace. In fact, the idea of peace is the dominant idea in Islam, and the goal to which Islam leads is called the abode of peace (10:25). [Back to verse 19]

20a. By the Unlearned people are meant the Arabs; see 2:78a. [Back to verse 20]

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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 2 (Verses 10 to 20)


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