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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 47 (Muhammad) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 11)



Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 11]: Opponents will perish in war:
Chapter 47: (Muhammad)
(Revealed at Madinah: 4 sections; 38 verses)

1. Introduction:

This chapter is entitled Muhammad, and also Qital or War. The first title is due to the fact that this chapter foretells that the condition of those who believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad will be improved. They were in a very helpless condition at the time of its revelation, having .ed from their homes for the safety of their lives, and being threatened by a powerful enemy in their new home. The other title is due to the fact that this chapter shows that the punishment with which the disbelievers were threatened would be brought about by war, in which their ringleaders would perish; others would be made prisoners or vanquished and brought low. War is also a prelude to the spiritual awakening which is to be brought about by Islam a second time.

Opening with the statement that the exertions of those who prevent people from accepting the Truth will be utterly fruitless, the first section goes on to say that this will be accomplished by war. The second section is mainly devoted to the same subject, and further states that Makkah will be subjugated. The third section refers to those who regarded this, the most righteous war in history, as a calamity. The fourth section states that a separation will occur between the truly faithful and the hypocrites.

The revelation of this chapter belongs to a period when war with the Quraish had not yet begun but when circumstances had arisen which showed war to be inevitable. Portions of the chapter may have been revealed during the Holy Prophet’s flight from Makkah, but, as a whole, it must be assigned to the first year of the Flight, and therefore it is to be placed before the battle of Badr. The Ha Mim group of Makkan chapters is here followed by three Madinah chapters, the 47th, 48th and 49th, which show that all difficulties will be overcome by the help of God, and Islam will triumph in the world.

2. Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1 Those who disbelieve and turn (men) from Allah’s way, He will destroy their works.a

2 And those who believe and do good, and believe in that which has been revealed to Muhammad — and it is the Truth from their Lord — He will remove their evil from them and improve their condition.a

3 That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah set forth their descriptions for men.a

4 So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens.a That (shall be so). And if Allah please, He would certainly exact retribution from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others.b And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never allow their deeds to perish.

5 He will guide them and improve their condition.

6 And make them enter the Garden, which He has made known to them.a

7 O you who believe, if you help Allah, He will help you and make firm your feet.

8 And those who disbelieve, for them is destruction, and He will destroy their works.

9 That is because they hate that which Allah reveals, so He has rendered their deeds fruitless.

10 Have they not travelled in the land and seen what was the end of those before them? Allah destroyed them. And for the disbelievers is the like thereof.

11 That is because Allah is the Patron of those who believe, and because the disbelievers have no patron.

3. Commentary:

1a. Adalla-hu is synonymous with ahlaka-hu or ada‘a-hu (T, LL), the first meaning he destroyed him or caused him to perish, and the second he wasted it or made it ineffective.

The significance is that their endeavours to uproot Truth will be brought to naught. This chapter was revealed at a time when the enemies of Islam were at the height of their power, and had apparently uprooted Islam from Makkah, and were preparing to give it a death-blow at Madinah. [Back to verse 1]

2a. This is another prophecy, a counterpart of the one contained in the previous verse. The Muslims, whose condition, it is announced here, will be bettered, were in a most helpless condition at the time. The majority of them had just fled from their homes, almost penniless, to save their lives and to settle down at Madinah where, however, they were not left alone, the enemy being determined to crush them by force. [Back to verse 2]

3a. Amthal is the plural of mathal, which means a description, condition, state or case, or a description by way of comparison, i.e., a parable (LL). V. 1 tells us of the condition of those who tried to uproot Truth, stating that their endeavours will be brought to naught, while v. 2 speaks of those who accept the Truth and states that their material as well as moral condition will be bettered. These are the conditions or descriptions referred to in v. 3. [Back to verse 3]

4a. The word athkhana occurring in this passage has been fully explained in 8:67a. This passage mentions the only case in which prisoners of war can be taken, and thus condemns the practice of slavery, according to which men could be seized anywhere and sold into slavery. Here we are told that prisoners of war can only be taken after meeting an enemy in regular battle, and even in that case they must be set free, either as a favour or after taking ransom. It was the former of these alternatives that the Holy Prophet adopted in most cases; for instance, in the case of the prisoners of the Bani Musaliq, in which a hundred families were set at liberty, and in the case of Hawazin, in which fully six thousand prisoners of war were released merely as an act of favour. Only in the case of the seventy prisoners taken at Badr is there mention of redemption having been taken, but this was when Islam was very weak and the powerful enemy was determined to crush it. [Back to verse 4]

4b. Intasara min-hu signifies he exacted retribution from him (LA), or he exacted his due completely from him (T-LL). The meaning is that, if Allah had pleased, He could have punished the enemies of Islam otherwise than by war, but as He means to punish them by the hands of the Muslims, therefore battles must be fought. [Back to verse 4]

6a. The Garden of the next life is made known to the righteous in this life by making them taste of the spiritual blessings of good deeds in this very life. That a paradise is granted to the righteous in this very life is mentioned frequently in the Holy Qur’an. It should be noted, however, as stated elsewhere, too, that triumph over those who would annihilate Truth is also spoken of as a garden in this life. [Back to verse 6]



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Section 2: Oppressors shall be brought low

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Chapter 46: Al-Ahqaf (The Sandhills)

Chapter 48: Al-Fath (The Victory)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 47 (Muhammad) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 11)

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