The Quran

Commentaries for 2.156

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.156 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
but then He said: (but give) O Muhammad (glad tidings to the steadfast, who say, when a misfortune) like the ones I have mentioned (striketh them: lo! We are Allah's) we are the slaves of Allah (and lo! Unto Him we are returning) after we die; and if we are not pleased with His decree, He will not be pleased with our works.
2.156 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
those who, when they are struck by an affliction, a calamity, say, ‘Surely we belong to God, we are His possession and servants, with whom He does as He pleases; and to Him we will return’, in the Hereafter, whereupon He will requite us: in one hadīth [it is said that], ‘whoever pronounces the istirjā‘ [sc. the formula ‘surely we belong to God and to Him we will return’] when an affliction befalls him, God will reward him and compensate him with what is better’. Similarly, it is said that on one occasion when his lamp blew out, the Prophet (s) uttered the istirjā‘, whereupon ‘Ā’isha said to him, saying: ‘But, it is just a lamp’, to which he replied, ‘Whatever bothers a believer is an affliction [of sorts]’: this is reported by Abū Dāwūd in his [section on] mursal reports.
2.156 Kashani - Kashani
[those who, when they are struck by an affliction,] say, 'Surely we belong to God, that is, they have submitted to, and are certain of, the fact that they are My possession of whom I have free disposal, and to Him we will return', in other words, they have been annihilated in Me and witnessed their destruction in Me by Me.
2.155-157 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Believer is Patient with the Affliction and thus gains a Reward
Allah informs us that He tests and tries His servants, just as He said in another Ayah:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّى نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَـهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّـبِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَـرَكُمْ
(And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and As-Sabirin (the patient), and We shall test your facts (i.e., the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).) (47:31)
Hence, He tests them with the bounty sometimes and sometimes with the afflictions of fear and hunger. Allah said in another Ayah:
فَأَذَاقَهَا اللَّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ
(So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear.) (16:112)
The frightened and the hungry persons show the effects of the affliction outwardly and this is why Allah has used here the word `Libas' (cover or clothes) of fear and hunger. In the Ayat above, Allah used the words:
بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوفْ وَالْجُوعِ
(with something of fear, hunger,) meaning, a little of each. Then (Allah said),
وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الاٌّمَوَالِ
(loss of wealth,) meaning, some of the wealth will be destroyed,
وَالاٌّنفُسِ
(lives) meaning, losing friends, relatives and loved ones to death,
وَالثَّمَرَتِ
(and fruits,) meaning, the gardens and the farms will not produce the usual or expected amounts. This is why Allah said next:
وَبَشِّرِ الصَّـبِرِينَ
(but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).)
He then explained whom He meant by `the patient' whom He praised:
الَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّـآ إِلَيْهِ رَجِعونَ
(Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'') meaning, those who recite this statement to comfort themselves in the face of their loss, know that they belong to Allah and that He does what He wills with His servants. They also know that nothing and no deed, even if it was the weight of an atom, will be lost with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. These facts thus compel them to admit that they are Allah's servants and that their return will be to Him in the Hereafter.
This is why Allah said: t
أُولَـئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَتٌ مِّن رَّبْهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ
(They are those on whom are the Salawat (i. e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy,) meaning, Allah's praise and mercy will be with them. Sa`id bin Jubayr added, "Meaning, safety from the torment.''
وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ
(and it is they who are the guided ones.) `Umar bin Al-Khattab commented: "What righteous things, and what a great heights.
أُولَـئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَتٌ مِّن رَّبْهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ
(They are those on whom are the Salawat from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy) are the two righteous things.
وَأُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ
(and it is they who are the guided ones) are the heights.''
The heights means more rewards, and these people will be awarded their rewards and more.
The Virtue of asserting that We all belong to Allah, during Afflictions
There are several Ahadith that mention the rewards of admitting that the return is to Allah by saying:
إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّـآ إِلَيْهِ رَجِعونَ
("Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.'') when afflictions strike. For instance, Imam Ahmad reported that Umm Salamah narrated: Once, Abu Salamah came back after he was with Allah's Messenger and said: I heard Allah's Messenger recite a statement that made me delighted. He said:
«لَا يُصِيبُ أَحَدًا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مُصِيبَةٌ فَيَسْتَرْجِعُ عِنْدَ مُصِيبَتِهِ ثُمَّ يقُولُ: اللَّهُمَّ أْجُرْنِي فِي مُصِيبَتِي وأَخْلِفْ لِي خَيْرًا مِنْهَا، إِلَّا فَعَلَ ذلِكَ بِه»
(No Muslim is struck with an affliction and then says Istirja` when the affliction strikes, and then says: `O Allah! Reward me for my loss and give me what is better than it,' but Allah will do just that.) Umm Salamah said: So I memorized these words. When Abu Salamah died I said Istirja` and said: "O Allah! Compensate me for my loss and give me what is better than it.'' I then thought about it and said, "Who is better than Abu Salamah'' When my `Iddah (the period of time before the widow or divorced woman can remarry) finished, Allah's Messenger asked for permission to see me while I was dyeing a skin that I had. I washed my hands, gave him permission to enter and handed him a pillow, and he sat on it. He then asked me for marriage and when he finished his speech, I said, "O Messenger of Allah! It is not because I do not want you, but I am very jealous and I fear that you might experience some wrong mannerism from me for which Allah would punish me. I am old and have children.'' He said:
«أمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ الْغَيْرَةِ فَسَوْفَ يُذْهِبُهَا اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَنْكِ، وَأَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ السِّنِّ فَقَدْ أَصَابَنِي مِثْلُ الَّذِي أَصَابَكِ، وَأَمَّا مَا ذَكَرْتِ مِنَ الْعِيَالِ فَإِنَّمَا عِيَالُكِ عِيَالِي»
(As for the jealousy that you mentioned, Allah the Exalted will remove it from you. As for your being old as you mentioned, I have suffered what you have suffered. And for your having children, they are my children too.) She said, "I have surrendered to Allah's Messenger.'' Allah's Messenger married her and Umm Salamah said later, "Allah compensated me with who is better than Abu Salamah: Allah's Messenger.'' Muslim reported a shorter version of this Hadith.
2.153-157 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
After their appointment to leadership, the Believers from hereon are given such instructions and directions as are essential for training and enabling them to discharge the duties of that position of responsibility. They are first of all warned that leadership is not a bed of roses but a bed of thorns. They will be confronted with difficulties, hardships, and trials at the very outset and will have to undergo untold sufferings and losses. But if they went Through all those ordeals with fortitude and proceeded on in the way of Allah, they would be blessed with countless blessings and rewards by Him.
That is, "Fortitude and Prayer will generate in you the power which is required to bear that burden of responsibility with which you have been entrusted. Fortitude will give you that patience and courage under the afflictions, privations and temptations which you are bound to encounter and that moral strength and endurance which will be sorely needed in Allah's way, which is full of dangers. The Prayer will train you in discipline and other moral qualities which are essential for the right type of leadership.
It is forbidden to refer to those who are martyred for Allah's sake as "dead" because the very word "death" and its thought are very discouraging, and kill the spirit of self-sacrifice and the urge to fight in the way of Allah. Instead, the Muslims are told to believe that those who fall martyrs in the way of Allah in fact enjoy eternal life. And this is a reality which revitalises and keeps alive the spirit of courage and valour.
These words are to be uttered merely with the tongue, but we whould believe sincerely from the core of our hearts that "We belong to Allah and to none else." Thus, if anything is sacrificed in the way of Allah, if is spent rightly because it has gone to His service to Whom it really belonged."
"We shall certainly return to Him" :"We shall not live here for ever but shall have to leave this world one day. Thus, sooner or later we must die and go to Allah. It is, therefore, far better to fight in His way and lay down our lives for His sake than to pass our lives in self-seeking and self-worship and then die of some disease or accident."
2.155-156 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Surely We will try you with something of fear and hunger and diminution of goods and lives and fruits; yet give good tidings to the patient; those who when they are struck by an affliction say “Surely we belong to God and to Him we will return.” He tried them with blessings in order to make their gratitude manifest and He tried them by tribulation in order to make their patience manifest. He caused that which was [already] known of their state to enter into existence marked them with the record that He had decreed and established them with the attribute He [already] knew. He tried them with fear which cleared their breasts and by hunger which cleansed their bodies and by diminution of goods which purified their material blessings. Through the afflictions suffered by [their] lower selves their wages were magnified before God and through the blight of [their] fruits their compensation was doubled from God. Yet give good tidings to the patient meaning those who do not oppose His decree through what He brings to pass. It is said He asked them to fear in their seeking to avoid His punishment; then to suffer hunger in their desire for His nearness and generosity; then the dimunition of goods through almsgiving renouncing [the goods] in the hopes of something better which is obtaining knowledge of Him; and lives anfus through their submission to worship of Him; and fruits in abandoning their hope for abundant material blessings. Yet give good tidings to those who are patient in seeking the beautiful in His decree and yielding to the flow of His power. The demands of the unseen muṬālabāt al-ghayb will either be through wealth the self or near relations. Whoever devotes wealth to God will have salvation najāt. Whoever exerts [him]self for His decree will [be raised in] degrees darajāt. Whoever is patient with the misfortunes of near relations will have recompense and stations of nearness qurubāt. Whoever does not hoard the spirit from Him will have perpetual intimate communications muwāṣalāt. Those who when they are struck by an affliction face the matter with patience and even gratitude. Nay [they are] even exultant boastful. Whoever views things as property belonging to the Real sees himself as a stranger between Him and His decree for the One who brought forth creation has more right over created beings than they do themselves.
It is said that one who looks to [his] misfortunes testifies that his self belongs to God and [returns] to God. The one who looks to the One who causes the misfortunes knows that what will be is from God so he is a servant through God. What a difference between one who belongs to God and one who is through God. The one who belongs to God is patient and firm while the one who exists through God has relinquished free choice ikhtiyār and decision ḥukm. If [God] strengthens him he is strong and if He effaces him he is effaced. If He causes him to move he moves and if He causes him to stay still he is still. He is annihilated from his free choices ikhtiyārāt and is moved this way and that muṣarraf in the grip [of God].