In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)


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  • In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)


  • Surah 83 The Stinters - al Mutaffifoon

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

     

    Woe to the stinters who, when others measure for them, exact in full, but who, when they measure or weigh for others, defraud them Do such men not think that they will be raised to life on a great day, the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation? No indeed; the record of the transgressors is in Sijjeen Would that you knew what Sijjeen is! It is a sealed book. Woe on that day to the disbelievers who deny the Day of Judgement. None denies it but the guilty aggressors, the evil-doers, who, when Our revelations are recited to them, cry "Fables of the ancients!" No indeed; their own deeds have cast a layer of rust over their hearts. No indeed; on that day they shall be shut out from their Lord they shall roast in Hell, and a voice will say to them "This is (the reality) which you denied!" But the record of the righteous is in Illiyun. Would that you knew what Illiyun is! It is a sealed book, witnessed only by those who are closest to Allah. The righteous shall surely dwell in bliss. Reclining upon soft couches they will look around them In their faces you shall mark the glow of joy. They shall be given to drink of a pure-drink, securely seded, with a seal of musk, for this let the strivers emulously strive. It is a drink mixed with the waters of Tassneem a fountain at which the favoured will drink. The evil-doers scoff at the faithful and wink at one another as they pass by them. When they go back to their folk they speak of them with jests, and when they see them they say: "These are erring men!" Yet they have not been assigned the mission of being their guardians. So on that day the faithful will mock the disbelievers, as they recline upon their couches and look around them. Shall not the disbelievers be rewarded according to their deeds.

     

    Commentary:

    The surah describes the conditions the Islamic call was facing in Makka. Its other objective is to awaken the hearts of men and draw their attention to the new event which would cause the life of the Arabs, and mankind in general, to take a new turn The event in question is the arrival of Heaven's message to earth. The general state of affairs in Arabian society is portrayed at the outset, as the surah threatens the stinters with a woe which will befall them on the great day, "the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation". The reason for such a threat is revealed at the end, when the surah gives a sketch of the manners of the evildoers, their attitude towards the believers, their scoffing at them, winking to one another as they pass by and their assertion that the believers "are erring men".

    The surah may be divided into four parts The first opens with a declaration of war against the stinters: Woe to the stinters who, when others measure for them, exact infull, but who, when they measure or weigh for others, defraud them. Do such men not think that they will be raised to life on a great day, the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation?

    The second part warns the transgressors and denounces them in strong terms. It threatens them with woe and ruin and establishes their guilt and aggression It explains the reasons for their blindness and describes the punishment on the Day of Judgement

    No indeed; the record of the transgressors is in Sijjeen. Would that you knew what Sijjeen is! It is a sealed book. Woe on that day to the disbelievers who deny the Day of Judgement. None denies it out the guilty aggressors, the evil-doers, who, when Our revelations are recited to them, cry: 'Fables of the ancients! ' No indeed; their own deeds have cast a layer of rust over their hearts. No indeed; on that day they shall be shut out from their hearts. No indeed; on that day they shall be shut out from their Lord. They shall roast in Hell, and a voice will say to them: 'this is (the reality) which you denied.

    The third part gives an account of the righteous It describes their high rank, the bliss they will enjoy, the delight showing in their faces, and the pure drink they will have while they recline on their soft couches, and look all around them. It is a delightful image of happiness

    But the record of the righteous is in Illiyun. Would that you knew what Illiyun is! It is a sealed book, witnessed only by those who are closest to Allah. The righteous shall surely dwell in bliss. Reclining upon soft couches they will look around them. In their faces you shall mark the glow of joy. They shall be given to drink of a pure drink, securely sealed, with a seal of musk - for this let the strivers emulously strive. It is a drink mixed with the waters of Tassneem, a fountain al which the favoured will drink.

    The last part of the surah describes what the transgressors mete out to the righteous in this world of conceit and hollow vanity: harsh treatment, ridicule and bad manners. Juxtaposed are descriptions of the ultimate situation of each group, the transgressors and the righteous, in the world of truth and immortality:

    The evil-doers scoff at the faithful, and wink at one another as they pass by them. When they go back to their folk they speak of them with jests, and when they see them they say: ' These are erring men! ' Yet they have not been assigned the mission of being their guardians. So on that day the faithful will mock the disbelievers, as they recline upon their couches and look around them. Shall not the disbelievers be rewarded according to their deeds?

    The surah depicts a social environment, and is also an account of the Islamic way of dealing with the world as it exists and with the human mind. This is what we shall attempt to explain as we consider the surah in detail.

    Woe to the stinters who, when others measure for them, exact in full, but who, when they measure or weigh for others, defraud them. Do such men not think that they will be raised to life on a great day, the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation? The surah opens with Allah's declaration of war against the stinters "Woe to the stinters". The Arabic term used for "woe" implies destruction and ruin. The implication is the same whether we consider this verse as a statement of a future eventuality or a curse, for a curse made by Allah has the same effect as that of a statement of what is going to happen. The next two verses explain the meaning of the "stinters" or defrauders as intended in the surah. They are those "who when others measure for them, exact in full, but who, when they measure or weigh for others, defraud them." They are those who want their merchandise complete and intact when they buy, but they do not give the right amount when they sell. The following three verses wonder at the defrauders, who behave as if they will not have to account for what they gain in this life.

    Do such men not think that they will be raised to life on a great day, the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation?

    The fact that the behaviour of the defrauders is tackled in this manner in a Makkan revelation is very interesting. Makkan surahs generally concentrate on the fundamentals, such as the assertion of the unity of Allah, the supremacy of His will and His dominion over the universe and over mankind, and the assertion of the truth of revelation and prophethood, the truth of the Day of Judgement, the reckoning and the reward. The Makkan revelations also endeavour to form and develop the moral sense and relate it to the fundamentals of faith. The tackling of a specific issue of morality, such as the stinting of weights and measures, or business dealings in general, is a later concern; it is characteristic of Medinan revelations, which regulate the life of the community in an Islamic state. The fact that this Makkan surah makes the issue of stinting its focal point therefore deserves to be considered carefully.

    The first point to note is that in Makka the nobility were very rich, were unscrupulous and exercised complete monopoly of trade in their business concerns. They organised the export and import trade using caravans which traveled to Yemen in winter and to Syria in summer. They had their seasonal trade fairs such as the Okaz Fair which was held in the pilgrimage season. The fairs were for business dealings as well as literary activities.

    The text suggests that the defrauders against whom war was declared belonged to the nobility and wielded much power and influence which enabled them to force others to succumb to their wishes. The Arabic expression connotes that for some unspecified reason they were able to impose their will and exact in full. The meaning implied is not that they exacted their full due; for this would not justify the declaration of war against them. What is meant is that they obtained by sheer force what they had no right to demand. But when it was their turn to weigh or measure for others, they exercised their power by giving them less than their due.

    Indeed this warning, coming so early in the Makkan period, gives an idea of the nature of the religion of Islam. It points out that Islam embraces all sides of life and aims to establish a firm moral code which accords with the basic principles of the Divine teachings. At the time when this surah was revealed the Muslim community was still weak. The followers of Islam had not yet won power in order to organise society and the life of the community according to Islamic principles. Yet Islam demonstrated its opposition to those acts of flagrant injustice and unethical dealings. It declared war against the stinters and threatened them with woe and destruction at the time when they were the powerful rulers of Makka. It declared its uncompromising stand against the injustice suffered by the masses whom it has never sought to lull into a state of lethargy and apathy. This gives us an insight into the real motives behind the stubborn opposition to Islam by the masters of Makka. They were undoubtedly keenly aware that what Muhammad (peace be on him) was calling for was not merely a matter of personal conviction which demanded no more than a verbal assertion of the unity of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad, and a form of prayers addressed to Allah and not to idols. They realised that the new faith would establish a way of life which would cause the very basis of their positions and interests to crumble. They were fully aware that the new religion, by its very nature, did not admit any partnership or compromise with any worldly concepts, alien to its Divine basis, and that it posed a mighty threat to all the base earthly values of Ignorance. This is why they launched their offensive, which continued in full force both before and after the Muslim emigration. It was an offensive launched to defend their way of life in its entirety, not only a set of concepts which have no effect beyond individual acceptance and personal conviction.

    Those who attempt in any age or land to prevent it from organising and ruling human life also realise these essential facts. They know very well that the pure and straightforward Islamic way of life endangers their unjust order, interests, hollow structure and deviant practices. Indeed the tyrannical stinters (whatever form their stinting takes and wherever it is, in money and finance, or in the area of rights and duties) are those who fear most the ascendancy of Islam and the implementation of its just methods.

    The representatives of the two Medinan tribes, Aws and Khazraj, who pledged their support and loyalty to the Prophet were also aware of all this. Ibn Ishaaq, the Prophet's biographer, wrote:

    Assim ibn Umar ibn Qataadah told me that when the Medinan Muslims came to give their pledge to the Prophet, Al-Abbas ibn Ubaadah Al Ansari, who belonged to the clan of Salim ibn Awf, addressed them and said: "You Khazraj! Do you know what your pledge to this man really means?" They answered 'Yes, we do'. His rejoinder was, 'You are pledging to fight the rest of mankind, white and black alike! So it would be better to leave him alone now if you think you would give him up to his enemies in the event of your sustaining material losses or losing your leaders. If you do such a thing you will bring upon yourselves great humiliation both in this life and in the life hereafter. But if you feel that you will honour your pledges despite any sacrifice in money or men, then go ahead, because this will be best for you here and in the hereafter!' They said, 'We offer our loyalty and support and declare our readiness to sustain any sacrifice, material or personal!' Turning to the Prophet, they asked him, 'What will be our reward if we honour our pledges?' He said, 'Heaven'. They said, 'Give us your hand'. He did and they gave him their pledges of support.

    These supporters, like the Makkan tyrants, were keenly aware of the nature of Islam. They realised that it stands for absolute justice and fairness in the social order it seeks to create. It accepts no tyranny, oppression, conceit, injustice or exploitation. Hence it faces the combined forces of all forms of despotism, arrogance and exploitation.

    Do such men not think that they will be raised to life on a great day, the day when all mankind shall stand before the Lord of all creation?

    Their attitude is singularly strange. The mere idea of being raised to life again on that great day, when all mankind shall stand as ordinary individuals in front of the Lord of the Universe, awaiting His just judgement, without support from any quarter, should be enough to make them change course. But they persist, as if the thought of being raised to life after death has never crossed their minds.

    They are called "stinters" in the first part of the surah; in the second they are described as "transgressors". The surah proceeds to describe the standing of this group with Allah, their situation in this life, and what awaits them on the great day.

    No indeed; the record of the transgressors is in Sijjeen. Would that you knew what Sijjeen is! It is a sealed book. Woe on that day to the disbelievers who deny the Day of Judgement. None denies it but the guilty aggressors, the evil-doers, who, when Our revelations are recited to them, cry: 'Fables of the ancients!' No indeed! their own deeds have cast a layer of rust over their hearts. No indeed; on that day they shall be shut out from their Lord. They shall roast in Hell, and a voice will say to them: 'This is (the reality) which you denied!'

    They think they will not be raised to life after death, so the Qur'an rebukes them and affirms that a record of their actions is kept. The location of that record is specified as an additional confirmation of the fact, albeit a location unknown to man. They are threatened with woe and ruin on that day when their sealed book shall be reviewed: No indeed; the record of the transgressors is in Sijjeen. Would that you knew what Sijjeen is! It is a sealed book. Woe on that day to the disbelievers.

    The transgressors, as the Arabic term here connotes, are those who indulge excessively in sin. Their book is the record of their deeds. We do not know the nature of this book and we are not required to know. The whole matter belongs, in point of fact, to the realm of which we know nothing except what we are told by Allah, the Lord of that realm. This statement, that there is a record in Sijjeen of the transgressors' deeds, is followed by the familiar Qur'anic form of expression associated with connotation of greatness, "Would that you knew what Sijjeen is!" Thus, the addressee is made to feel that the whole matter is too great for his complete understanding.

    The surah then gives further description of the transgressors' record: "It is a sealed book". There is no possibility of addition or omission until it is thrown open on that great day. When this takes place, "woe on that day to the disbelievers. " Then we are given information about the subject of disbelief, and the true character of the disbelievers who deny the Day of Judgement. None denies it but the guilty aggressors, the evil-doers, who, when Our revelations are recited to them, cry: 'Fables of the ancients!'

    So, aggression and bad deeds lead the perpetrator to deny the Day of Judgement and to take a rude and ill-mannered attitude towards the Qur'an, describing it as "Fables of the ancients!" This description by the disbelievers is, of course, based on the fact that the Qur'an contains some historical accounts of former nations. These accounts are related as a lesson for later generations as they demonstrate with much clarity the working of the Divine rules to which all nations and generations are subject. They are strongly rebuked and reprobated for their rudeness and disbelief. These connotations, carried by the Arabic term "Kalla" (translated here as "No indeed"), are coupled with an assertion that their allegations are unfounded. We are then given an insight into the motives of their insolence and disbelief and the reasons for their inability to see the obvious truth or respond to it "their own deeds have cast a layer of rust over their hearts". Indeed the hearts of those who indulge in sin become dull, as if they are veiled with a thick curtain which keeps them in total darkness, unable to see the light. Thus they gradually lose their sensitivity and become lifeless. It has been transmitted by Ibn Jareer, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nassai and Ibn Majah that the Prophet said:

    When a man commits a sin, it throws a black spot over his heart. If he repents, his heart is polished; but if he persists in his practice, the stains increase.

    at-Tirmidhi described this tradition of the Prophet as authentic. an Nassai's version differs in wording but not in import. His version may be translated as follows:

    When a man commits a sin, a black spot is formed on his heart. If he desists, prays for forgiveness and repents, his heart will be polished; but if he persists, the spot grows bigger until it has covered his whole heart.

    This is what Allah refers to when he says: "No indeed, their own deeds have cast a layer of rust over their hearts." Explaining this verse, Imam Al-Hassan Al-Basri said: "It is a case of one sin on top of another until the heart is blinded and dies."

    Thus we have learnt the situation of the transgressing disbelievers, as well as their motives for transgression and disbelief. Then we are told what will happen to them on that great day, a destiny which befits their evil deeds and denial of the truth: No indeed! on that day they shall be shut out from their Lord. They shall roast in Hell, and a voice will say to them: 'This is (the reality) which you denied!

    Because their sins have cast a thick veil over their hearts, they are unable in this life to feel the presence of Allah, and it is only appropriate that they will not be allowed to see His glorious face. They will be deprived of this great happiness, which is bestowed only on those whose hearts and souls are so clean and transparent that they deserve to be with their Lord, without any form of separation or isolation.

    Such people are described in surah 75 'The Resurrection': On that day there shall be joyous faces, looking towards their Lord. (Al-Qur'an 75:23)

    This separation from their Lord is the greatest and most agonising punishment and deprivation. It is a miserable end of a man whose very humanity is derived from only one source, namely his contact with Allah, his benevolent Lord. When man is torn away from this source of nobleness he loses all his qualities as a human being and sinks to a level which makes him deserve to be thrown in Hell. "They shall roast in Hell." On top of that, there is something much worse and much more agonising, namely, rebuke. "And a voice will say to them," This is (the reality) which you denied!"

    Then follows an account of the other group, the righteous. This is given in the customary Qur'anic manner of providing two elaborately contrasting images, so that a detailed comparison may be drawn:

    But the record of the righteous is in Illiyun. Would that you knew what Illiyun is! It is a sealed book, witnessed only by those who are closest to Allah. The righteous shall surely dwell in bliss. Reclining upon soft couches they will look around them. In their faces you shall mark the glow of joy. They shall be given to drink of a pure drink, securely sealed, with a seal of musk, for this let the strivers emulously strive. It is a drink mixed with the waters of Tassneem, a fountain at which the favoured will drink.

    This section of the surah starts with the Arabic term 'kalla' which connotes strong reproach and a firm command to the transgressors to desist from their denial of the truth. It then proceeds to speak about the righteous. Since the record of the transgressors is in Sijjeen, that of the righteous is in Illiyun. The term "righteous" refers to the obedient who do good. They are the exact opposite of the transgressors, who indulge in every excess. The name "Illiyun" connotes elevation and sublimity, which suggests that "Sijjeen " is associated with baseness and ignominy. The name is followed by the form of exclamation often used in the Qur'an to cast shades of mystery and grandeur: "Would that you knew what Illiyun is!"

    The surah then states that the record of the righteous is "a sealed book, witnessed only by those who are closest to Allah." We have already stated what is meant by "a sealed book". We are told here that the angels closest to Allah do see this book and witness it. This statement gives the feeling that the record of the righteous is associated with nobility, purity and sublimity. The angels closest to Allah look at it and enjoy its description of noble deeds and glorious characteristics. The whole image is provided as an evidence of the honour the righteous receive.

    There follows an account of the situation in which the righteous find themselves. We are told of the bliss they enjoy on that great day: "The righteous shall surely dwell in bliss". This contrasts with Hell, in which the transgressors dwell. "Reclining upon soft couches they will look around them". This means that they are given a place of honour. They look wherever they wish. They do not have to look down, out of humility; and they suffer nothing which distracts their attention. In their bliss, the righteous live in mental and physical comfort. Their faces are radiant with unmistakable joy;

    In their faces you shall mark the glow of joy. They shall be given to drink of a pure drink, securely sealed, with a seal of musk.

    Their drink is absolutely pure without any unwanted additions or particles of dust. Describing it as "securely sealed" with musk indicates, perhaps, that it is ready made in secured containers to be opened when a drink is needed. All this adds to the impression of the meticulous care being taken. The fact that the seal is of musk adds an element of elegance and luxury. The whole picture, however, is understood only within the limits of human experience in this world. In the Hereafter people will have different concepts, tastes and standards which will be free from all the bonds of this limited world. The description is carried further in the following two verses:

    It is a drink mixed with the waters of Tassneem, a fountain at which the favoured will drink.

    So, this pure, securely sealed drink is opened and mixed with a measure of the water of a fountain called Tassneem and described as the one from which the favoured drink. Before this last part of the description is given we have a highly significant instruction: "For this let the strivers emulously strive".

    Those stinters who defraud their fellow men pay no regard to the Day of Judgement, and, worse still, deny that such a Day of Reckoning will come. Hardened by their sins and excesses, they strive endlessly for the petty riches of this world. Each of them tries to outdo the others and gain as much as possible. Hence, he indulges in all types of injustice and vice for the sake of ephemeral luxuries which should never be an object of competition. It is the other type of luxury and honour which deserves emulous striving: "For this let the strivers emulously strive ".

    Those who strive for an object of this world, no matter how superb, grand or honourable it is, are in reality striving for something hollow, cheap and temporary. This world, in its totality, is not worth in Allah's view, one mosquito's wing. It is the hereafter which carries real weight with Him. So, it should be the goal for strenuous competition and zealous striving. It is remarkable that striving for the hereafter elevates the souls of all the strivers, while competition for worldly objects sinks their souls to low depths. As man works continuously to achieve the happiness of the hereafter, his work makes this world a happy and pure one for everybody. On the other hand, efforts made for the achievement of worldly ends turn this world into a filthy marsh, where animals devour one another and insects bite the flesh of the righteous. Striving for the hereafter does not turn the earth into a barren desert, as some transgressors imagine. Islam considers this world a farm, and the hereafter its fruits. It defines the role of the true believer as the building of this world while following the path of piety and righteousness. Islam stipulates that man must look on his task as an act of worship which fulfills the purpose of his existence as defined by Allah: "I created mankind and the jinn so that they worship me."

    The statement, "For this let the strivers emulously strive", inspires man to look far beyond this finite, little world, as he sets out to fulfill his mission as Allah's vicegerent on earth. Thus as they work on purifying the filthy marsh of this world their souls are elevated to new heights.

    Man's life on earth is limited while his future life is of limitless duration. The luxuries of this world are also limited while the happiness of Paradise is much too great for us to conceive. The elements of happiness in this life are well known to everyone, but in the next world they are on a level befitting a life which is everlasting.

    What comparison can then hold between the two spheres of competition or the two goals, even when we apply the human method of balancing losses against profits? It is, indeed, one race and a single competition: "For this let the strivers emulously strive".

    The beatitude enjoyed by the righteous is discussed at length in order to give a detailed account of the hardships, humiliation and insolence they are made to suffer by the transgressors. The final comment of the surah taunts the disbelievers as they behold the righteous enjoying their heavenly bliss:

    The evil-doers used to deride the faithful, and wink at one another as they pass by them. When they go back to their own folk they would speak of them with jests, and when they see them they would say: 'These are certainly erring men! ' Yet they have not been assigned the mission of being their guardians. So on that day the faithful will mock the disbelievers as they recline upon their couches and look around them. Shall not the disbelievers be rewarded according to their deeds.

    The images portrayed by the Qur'an of the evil-doers' derision of the faithful, their rudeness and insolence, and their description of the faithful, as "erring men" are taken directly from the real life of Makka at the time. But the same actions happen over and over again in all ages and places. Many people in our own age have witnessed similar actions, as though this surah was revealed to describe what these contemporary people have seen with their own eyes.' This proves that the attitude of the transgressors and the evil-doers to the believers hardly ever changes from one country to another or from one period of time to another.

    "The evil-doers used to deride the faithful." Notice here the use of the term "used to"! The surah takes us away from this world to the hereafter to see the righteous in their bliss while we hear what used to happen to them in this world. The believers were made to suffer ridicule and derision by the transgressors, either because they were poor or weak or because their self-respect would not allow them to return the abuse of the base evil-doers. What a contrast of attitudes: the evil doers persecute the believers and laugh at them shamelessly while the believers stick to their attitude of dignified perseverance and self respect.

    "And wink at one another as they pass by them ". They wink at one another or make certain actions intended as mockery and derision. Such behaviour betrays their baseness and bad manners. They try to make the believers feel embarrassed and helpless. "When they back to their folk they would speak of them with jests". When they have nourished their little, evil minds with such mockery and injurious actions aimed at the believers they would go back to their folk to "speak of them with jests". They feel satisfied with what they have done. Although they have sunk to the lowest depths in their behaviour, they cannot imagine how contentible they are.

    "And when they see them they would say: 'These are certainly erring men!'" This is even more singular! Nothing is more absurd than that those transgressors should speak about the right ways and the erring ways, or that they should say that the believers are erring. Transgression knows no limits. The transgressors never feel ashamed of what they do or say. Their description of the believers as "erring men" is a clear manifestation of this fact. The Qur'an does not try to defend the believers or refute this evil accusation leveled at them, because it is not worth refuting. It laughs loudly, however, at those who involve themselves impudently in something which does not concern them, "Yet they have not been assigned the mission of being their guardians!"

    No one has asked them to look after the believers, or to watch over them, or to assess their situation. So why do they give their unsolicited opinion?

    This sarcasm concludes the narration of what the transgressors do in this life. The surah relates it as if it is something of the past, and gives an image of the present, i.e. in the hereafter, when the believers rejoice in their heavenly bliss: "So, on that day the Faithful will mock the disbelievers, as they recline upon their couches and look around them". On that day the disbelievers are shut out from their Lord, suffering this isolation combined with the torture of Hell when they are told: "This is (the reality) which you denied!" At the other end the believers recline on their couches, in total beatitude, partaking of their pure drink which is secured with a seal of musk and mixed with the waters of Tassneem. As the surah gives the two images, it shows how the tables are turned; for then it is the believers who laugh at the disbelievers.

    The surah concludes with another loud, ironic question: "Shall not the disbelievers be rewarded according to their deeds? " Their "reward" is not a good one, as the term used here connotes in ordinary usage. We have just been given an image of their doom, which is described here sarcastically, as their "reward ".

    The scene of the evil-doers' ridicule of the believers merits further discussion. It is portrayed in considerable detail, in the same way as the earlier scene of the righteous in their heavenly bliss. The detailed description is highly artistic. It also has a marked psychological effect which is soothing. The Muslim minority in Makka was facing a sustained, demoralising onslaught by the polytheists, but Allah did not leave the Muslims on their own: He comforted them and urged them to persevere.

    They feel comforted by the very fact that their sufferings as a result of the harsh treatment they receive from the polytheists are outlined by Allah in detail. He sees what the believers suffer and does not ignore what He sees, although He may let the disbelievers do as they wish, only for a while. He also sees how the transgressors laugh unrepentantly at the sufferings of the faithful. Since He describes all this in the Qur'an then He must take it into account. This, in itself, is enough consolation for the believers.

    There are also those ironic remarks about the evil-doers. They may go unnoticed by the disbelievers because their indulgence in their sinful practices have made them insensitive. The highly sensitive hearts of the believers, however, are touched and comforted by them. It must be noted that the only consolation offered by Allah to the believers who were subjected to harsh treatment and painful ridicule was Heaven for the believers and Hell for the disbelievers. This, again, was the only promise the Prophet (peace be on him) made to the believers when they pledged their wealth and their lives for the cause of Islam. Victory in this life was never mentioned in the Makkan chapters of the Qur'an as a consolation or as an incentive to persevere. The Qur'an was cultivating the hearts of the believers, and preparing them to fulfil the task with which they have been entrusted.

    It was necessary that these hearts should attain a high standard of strength and self-denial so that they would give everything and suffer all hardships without looking for anything in this life. They seek only the Hereafter and to win the pleasure of Allah. They should be prepared to go through the whole journey of life suffering all sorts of hardships and deprivations without the promise of any reward in this life, not even victory for the cause of Islam .

    Such a group of people must be first established. When this happens and Allah knows that they are sincere and determined in what they have pledged themselves to do, then He will give them victory in this life. Victory will not be theirs as a personal reward. They will be given power as trustees appointed for the implementation of the Islamic way of life. They will be worthy trustees because they were neither promised nor did they look for any worldly gain. They pledged themselves truly for Allah at a time when they were unaware of any benefit that may befall them except that they would win Allah's pleasure.

    All the Qur'anic verses which speak of victory were revealed later in Medina when this was no longer an issue. Victory was given because Allah willed that successive human generations should have an actual, definite and practical example of the Islamic way of life. It was not a reward for sacrifices made or hardships suffered.

     

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