24 - An Nur (The light)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 24.1

Al-Jalalayn

This is, a sūra which We have revealed and prescribed (read faradnāhā, or [the intensive form] farradnāhā, on account of the large number of prescriptions contained in it) and wherein We have revealed manifest signs, [signs] containing clear indications, that perhaps you might remember (tadhakkarūna: the second tā’ [of tatadhakkarūna] has been assimilated with the dhāl), that you might be admonished.

Al-Tustari

[This is] a sūra which We have revealed and prescribed"That is, We compiled it and expounded within it what is lawful and unlawful.His words, Exalted is He:

Ibn Al Kathir

The Importance of Surat An-Nur

سُورَةٌ أَنزَلْنَـهَا

(A Surah which We have sent down) Here Allah is pointing out the high esteem in which He holds this Surah, which is not to say that other Surahs are not important.

وَفَرَضْنَـهَا

(and which We have enjoined,) Mujahid and Qatadah said, "This means: We have explained what is lawful and unlawful, commands and prohibitions, and the prescribed punishments.'' Al-Bukhari said, "Those who read it: Faradnaha, say that it means: "We have enjoined them upon you and those who come after you.''

وَأَنزَلْنَا فِيهَآ ءَايَـتٍ بَيِّنَـتٍ

(and in it We have revealed manifest Ayat,) means, clearly explained,

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

(that you may remember.)

The Explanation of the Prescribed Punishment for Zina (Illicit Sex)

Then Allah says:

الزَّانِيَةُ وَالزَّانِى فَاجْلِدُواْ كُلَّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا مِاْئَةَ جَلْدَةٍ

(The Zaniyah and the Zani, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.) This honorable Ayah contains the ruling on the law of retaliation for the person who commits illegal sex, and details of the punishment. Such a person will either be unmarried, meaning that he has never been married, or he will be married, meaning that he has had intercourse within the bounds of a lawful marriage, and he is free, adult and of sound mind. As for the virgin who is unwedded, the prescribed punishment is one hundred stripes, as stated in this Ayah. In addition to this he is to be banished from his homeland for one year, as was recorded in the Two Sahihs from Abu Hurayrah and Zayd bin Khalid Al-Juhani in the Hadith about the two bedouins who came to the Messenger of Allah. One of them said, "O Messenger of Allah, this son of mine was employed by this man, and committed Zina with his wife. I paid a ransom with him on behalf of my son one hundred sheep and a slave-girl, but when I asked the people of knowledge, they said that my son should be given one hundred stripes and banished for a year, and that this man's wife should be stoned to death.'' The Messenger of Allah said:

«وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَأَقْضِيَنَّ بَيْنَكُمَا بِكِتَابِ اللهِ تَعَالى، الْوَلِيدَةُ وَالْغَنَمُ رَدٌّ عَلَيْكَ، وَعَلى ابْنِكَ جَلْدُ مِائَةٍ وَتَغْرِيبُ عَامٍ، وَاغْدُ يَا أُنَيْسُ لِرَجُلٍ مِنْ أَسْلَمَ إِلَى امْرَأَةِ هذَا،فَإِنِ اعْتَرَفَتْ فَارْجُمْهَا»

(By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, I will judge between you both according to the Book of Allah. Take back the slave-girl and sheep, and your son is to be given one hundred stripes and banished for one year. O Unays -- he said to a man from the tribe of Aslam -- go to this man's wife, and if she confesses, then stone her to death.) Unays went to her and she confessed, so he stoned her to death. This indicates that if the person who is guilty of illegal sex is a virgin and unmarried, he should be banished in addition to being given one hundred stripes. But if married, meaning he has had intercourse within the bounds of lawful marriage, and he is free, adult and of sound mind, then he should be stoned to death. Imam Malik recorded that `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, stood up and praised and glorified Allah, then he said; "O people! Allah sent Muhammad with the truth, and revealed to him the Book. One of the things that was revealed to him was the Ayah of stoning to death, which we have recited and understood. The Messenger of Allah carried out the punishment of stoning and after him we did so, but I am afraid that as time goes by, some will say that they did not find the Ayah of stoning in the Book of Allah, and they will go astray because they abandoned one of the obligations revealed by Allah. Stoning is something that is prescribed in the Book of Allah for the person -- man or woman -- who commits illegal sex, if he or she is married, if decisive evidence is produced, or if pregnancy results from that, or if they confess to it.'' It was also recorded in the Two Sahihs in the lengthy Hadith of Malik, from which we have quoted briefly only the portion that is relevant to the current discussion.

Do not feel pity for Them when carrying out the Prescribed Punishment

وَلاَ تَأْخُذْكُمْ بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِى دِينِ اللَّهِ

(Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah,) Meaning, with a ruling prescribed by Allah. So the meaning of the Ayah is: "Do not feel too sorry for them where the laws of Allah are established.'' This does not mean that we should not naturally feel pity when carrying out the punishment. What is prohibited here is the kind of pity that may make the judge ignore the punishment altogether. This is what is not permitted for the judge. Mujahid said,

وَلاَ تَأْخُذْكُمْ بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِى دِينِ اللَّهِ

(Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah,) "If the matter is taken to the ruling authority, the punishment has to be carried out and cannot be stopped.'' This was also narrated from Sa`id bin Jubayr and `Ata' bin Abi Rabah. It was recorded in a Hadith:

«تَعَافَوُا الْحُدُودَ فِيمَا بَيْنَكُمْ، فَمَا بَلَغَنِي مِنْ حَدَ فَقَدْ وَجَبَ»

(Compromise with the matter of prescribed punishment mutually sorting it out among yourselves, for once a matter where the prescribed punishment is required reaches me, I am obliged to carry it out.) Allah's saying:

إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ

(if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. ) means, then do that, carry out the punishments on those who commit illegal sex, and strike them hard without causing any wound, so that he and others like him will be deterred by the terror of that. In Al-Musnad, it was recorded that one of the Companions said, "O Messenger of Allah, when I slaughter a sheep I feel pity for it.'' He said,

«وَلَكَ فِي ذلِكَ أَجْرٌ»

(You be rewarded for that.)

Carry out the Prescribed Punishment in Public

وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَآئِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

(And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.) This is more humiliating for the people who are guilty of illegal sex, if they are flogged in front of the people. This is because it is more effective as a deterrent and it conveys the sense of scandal and rebuke. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said,

وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَآئِفَةٌ مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

(And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.) "Publicly.''

Kashf Al-Asrar

A surah that We have sent down and made obligatory; and We sent down in it clear signs that perhaps you will remember.

A dervish was asked, "What is the evidence for God's being?"

He replied, "Morning takes away the need for a lamp." When the sun rises, a lamp is not re- quired. The whole cosmos is the evidence, it needs someone to look. The whole cosmos is fragrant herbs, it needs someone to smell. The whole cosmos is the antidote, it needs someone bitten by a snake. The whole cosmos is the signs and banners of His power, the marks and denotations of His wisdom, the proof of His unity and solitariness.

O chevalier! If one day you see the sun of recognition shining from the sphere of magnifi- cence, and if the eyes of your aspiration see the signs and banners of the exalted majesticness, then this world, which had taken you as its prey, will be made into a shoe and nailed to the hoof of your aspiration's steed. The afterworld, which had been your shackle, will be made into a ring for the ears of your presence's servants. Then you will be brought, like a king, into the special court of majesty, in a seat of truthfulness, at an Omnipotent King [54:55].

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

In all these sentences the emphasis is on "We", which implies that it is Allah Who has revealed this and none else; therefore, "You should not treat these instructions lightly like the word of an ordinary preacher. You should note it well that these have been sent down by One Who controls your lives and destinies and from Whom you can never escape even after your death.

The second sentence emphasizes that the instructions sent down in this Surah are not of the nature of advice which you may accept or reject at will. These are mandatory Commandments which must be obeyed. If you are a believer and a true Muslim you are obliged to act upon them.

The third sentence states that the instructions given in this Surah are free front any ambiguity and are couched in clear and plain words. Therefore, you cannot put up the excuse that you could not act upon them as you did not understand them.

This is the 'Preamble' of this blessed Message after which the specific Commandments follow. The cone of the preamble itself indicates the great importance which Allah has attached to the Commandments contained in Surah An-Nur. The preamble of no other Surah containing Commandments is so forceful as this.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his own narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying ((Here is) a surah which We have revealed): '((Here is) a surah which We have revealed) He says: We sent Gabriel with it (and enjoined) We exposited in it the lawful and the unlawful, (and wherein We have revealed plain tokens) containing commands and prohibitions, obligations and legal punishments, (that haply ye may take heed) that you may take admonition in the commands and prohibitions, so do not suspend the application of legal punishments.