The Quran

Commentaries for 2.272

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.272 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah gave dispensation to give alms to the poor among the idolaters and the people of the Book. Asma' the daughter of Abu Bakr, or Asma' the daughter of Abu'l-Nadir asked the Prophet: O Messenger of Allah! Is it permissible to give alms to our relatives who do not follow our Religion? Allah answered His Prophet by saying: (The guiding of them is not thy duty (O Muhammad)) it is not your duty to guide to Religion the poor from among the people of the Book, (but Allah guideth whomever He will) to His religion. (And whatsoever good thing) wealth (ye spend) on the poor, (it is for yourselves) its reward is for yourselves, (when ye spend) on the poor do (not) do so (save in search of Allah's Countenance) except in seeking Allah's pleasure; (and whatsoever good thing) wealth (ye spend) on the poor among the folk of the Platform, (it will be repaid to you in full) the reward of it will be saved for you in the Hereafter, (and ye will not be wronged) your reward shall not be diminished and your sins will not be increased.
2.272 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
When the Prophet (s) was prohibited from giving voluntary alms to idolaters [as an incentive] for them to embrace Islam, the following was revealed: You are not responsible for guiding them, that is to say, for people, that they should embrace Islam, [you are responsible] only for conveying the Message [to them]; but God guides, with His guidance, whomever He will, to embrace Islam. And whatever good, property, you expend is for yourselves, since the reward is for you; for then you are expending, desiring only God’s Face (this clause is the predicate, denoting a prohibition), that is to say, His reward and not any other transient object of this world, and whatever good you expend, its requital, shall be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged, you will not suffer any diminishment of it (both [of the last two] sentences emphasise the first one).
2.272 Kashani - Kashani
You are not responsible for guiding them, to the three types of expenditure mentioned that are free of reminder, injury, making a show, contemplating the expenditure and its being out of vile [sources]. In other words, you are not responsible for making them guided, rather your responsibility is solely to deliver the [means to] guidance; but God guides whomever He will. And whatever good you expend it is for yourselves, and so why remind people [of the favour] and harm themḍ for then you are expending desiring only God's Face, so what is with you that you act arrogantly in this with people and how can you make a show of itḍ And whatever good you expend, shall be repaid to you in full, none other than you will have a share of it. So in reality do not expend except upon yourselves and not others so that as a result of this [expenditure] nothing of yours is diminished. Why then do you seek to expend of what is vile. Thus the three [types of expenditure] belong to the three categories of expenditure mentioned and by providing similes of the purpose behind them this is a way of warning against the [potential] ruin [that can result] from them.
2.272-274 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Giving Charity to Polytheists
Abu `Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa'i recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that they, "Disliked giving charity to their polytheist relatives, but were later on allowed to give it to them when they inquired about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed,
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِى مَن يَشَآءُ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلاًّنفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَآءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
(Not upon you (Muhammad ) is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves, when you spend not except seeking Allah's Face. And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.)
Allah's statement,
وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلاًّنفُسِكُمْ
(And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves) is similar to His other statement,
مَّنْ عَمِلَ صَـلِحاً فَلِنَفْسِهِ
(Whosoever does righteous good deed, it is for (the benefit of) his ownself.)
There are many other similar Ayat in the Qur'an.
Allah said next,
وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَآءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ
(When you spend not except seeking Allah's Face. )
Al-Hasan Al-Basri commented, "Whenever the believer spends, including what he spends on himself, he seeks Allah's Face with it.'' `Ata' Al-Khurasani said that the Ayah means, "You give away charity for the sake of Allah. Therefore, you will not be asked about the deeds or wickedness of those who receive it.'' This is a sound meaning indicating that when one spends in charity for Allah's sake, then his reward will be with Allah. He will not be asked if the charity unintentionally reached righteous, evil, deserving or undeserving persons, for he will be rewarded for his good intention. The proof to this statement is the Ayah,
وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ
(And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.)
The Two Sahihs recorded a Hadith by Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
«قَالَ رَجُلٌ: لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ زَانِيَةٍ، فَأَصْبَحَ النَّاسُ يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، فَقَالَ: اللَّهُمَ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ غَنِيَ، فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ اللَّيْلَةَ عَلَى غَنِيَ، قَالَ: اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى غَنِيَ، لَأَتَصَدَّقَنَّ اللَّيْلَةَ بِصَدَقَةٍ، فَخَرَجَ بِصَدَقَتِهِ فَوَضَعَهَا فِي يَدِ سَارِقٍ، فَأَصْبَحُوا يَتَحَدَّثُونَ: تُصُدِّقَ اللَّيْلَةَ عَلَى سَارِقٍ، فَقَالَ:اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ عَلَى زَانِيَةٍ، وَعَلَى غَنِيَ، وَعَلَى سَارِقٍ. فَأُتِيَ فَقِيلَ لَهُ: أَمَّا صَدَقَتُكَ فَقَدْ قُبِلَتْ، وَأَمَّا الزَّانِيَةُ فَلَعَلَّهَا أَنْ تَسْتَعِفَّ بِهَا عَنْ زِنَاهَا، وَلَعَلَّ الْغَنِيَّ يَعْتَبِرُ فَيُنْفِقُ مِمَّا أَعْطَاهُ اللهُ، وَلَعَلَّ السَّارِقَ أَنْ يَسْتَعِفَّ بِهَا عَنْ سَرِقَتِه»
(A man said, "Tonight, I shall give charity.'' He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. The next morning the people said that alms were given to an adulteress. The man said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave my alms) to an adulteress. Tonight, I shall give alms again.'' He went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich person. The next morning (the people) said, "Last night, a wealthy person was given alms.'' He said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I gave alms) to a wealthy man. Tonight, I shall again give charity.'' So he went out with his charity and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. The next morning (the people) said, "Last night, a thief was given alms.'' He said, "O Allah! All the praises are for You. (I have given alms) to an adulteress, a wealthy man and a thief.'' Then, someone came to him and said, "The alms that you gave away were accepted. As for the adulteress, the alms might make her abstain from adultery. As for the wealthy man, it might make him take a lesson and spend his wealth that Allah has given him. As for the thief, it might make him abstain from stealing.'')
Who Deserves Charity
Allah said,
لِلْفُقَرَآءِ الَّذِينَ أُحصِرُواْ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
((Charity is) for the poor, who in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel)) meaning, the migrants who migrated to Allah and His Messenger, resided in Al-Madinah and did not have resources that sufficiently provided them with their needs,
لاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ ضَرْبًا فِى الاٌّرْضِ
(And cannot Darban (move about) in the land) meaning, "They cannot travel in the land to seek means of livelihood.'' Allah said in other instances using a variation of the word Darban
وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَقْصُرُواْ مِنَ الصَّلوةِ
(And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten the Salah (the prayer)) 4:101, and,
أَن سَيَكُونُ مِنكُمْ مَّرْضَى وَءَاخَرُونَ يَضْرِبُونَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ يَبْتَغُونَ مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَءَاخَرُونَ يُقَـتِلُونَ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَاقْرَءُواْ
(He knows that there will be some among you sick, others traveling through the land, seeking of Allah's bounty, yet others fighting in Allah's cause) 73:20.
Allah then said,
يَحْسَبُهُمُ الْجَاهِلُ أَغْنِيَآءَ مِنَ التَّعَفُّفِ
(The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty) meaning, those who do not know their situation think that they are well-off, because they are modest in their clothes and speech. There is a Hadith with this meaning that the Two Sahihs recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,
«لَيْسَ الْمِسْكِينُ بِهذَا الطَّوَّافِ الَّذِي تَرُدُّهُ التَّمْرَةُ وَالتَّمْرَتَانِ، وَاللُّقْمَةُ وَاللُّقْمَتَانِ، وَالْأُكْلَةُ وَالْأُكْلَتَانِ، وَلكِنِ الْمِسْكِينُ الَّذِي لَا يَجِدُ غِنىً يُغْنِيهِ، وَلَا يُفْطَنُ لَهُ فَيُتَصَدَّقَ عَلَيْهِ، وَلَا يَسْأَلُ النَّاسَ شَيْئًا»
(The Miskin (needy) is not he who wanders about and whose need is sufficed by a date or two, a bite or two or a meal or two. Rather, the Miskin is he who neither has enough resources to sustain him, all the while people are unaware of his need so they do not give to him, nor does he ask people for anything.)
Imam Ahmad also recorded this Hadith from Ibn Mas`ud.
Allah's statement,
تَعْرِفُهُم بِسِيمَـهُمْ
(You may know them by their mark) means, "Those who have good minds discover their situation,'' just as Allah said in other instances,
سِيمَـهُمْ فِى وُجُوهِهِمْ
(The mark of them (i.e. of their faith) is on their faces) 48:29, and,
وَلَتَعْرِفَنَّهُمْ فِى لَحْنِ الْقَوْلِ
(But surely, you will know them by the tone of their speech!) 47:30. Allah's statement,
لاَ يَسْـَلُونَ النَّاسَ إِلْحَافًا
(they do not beg of people at all) means, they do not beg and, thus, do not require people to provide them with more than what they actually need. Indeed, those who ask people for help, while having what suffices for their needs, have begged.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa`id said, "My mother sent me to the Messenger of Allah to ask him for help, but when I came by him I sat down. The Prophet faced me and said to me,
«مَنِ اسْتَغْنَى أَغْنَاهُ اللهُ، وَمَنِ اسْتَعَفَّ أَعَفَّهُ اللهُ، وَمَنِ اسْتَكَفَّ كَفَاهُ اللهُ، وَمَنْ سَأَلَ وَلَهُ قِيمَةُ أُوقِيَّةٍ فَقَدْ أَلْحَف»
(Whoever felt satisfied, then Allah will enrich him. Whoever is modest, Allah will make him decent. Whoever is content, then Allah will suffice for him. Whoever asks people, while having a small amout, he will have begged the people.)
Abu Sa`id said, "I said to myself, `I have a camel, Al-Yaqutah, and indeed, it is worth more than a small amount.' And I went back without asking the Prophet for anything.'' This is the same wording for this Hadith collected by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i.
Allah's statement,
وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ
(And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well) indicates that no charity escapes Him, and He will reward it fully and perfectly on the Day of Resurrection, when it is most desperately needed.
Praise for those who Spend in Charity
Allah said,
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَلَهُمْ بِالَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَعَلاَنِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُم عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(Those who spend their wealth (in Allah's cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.)
This Ayah praises those who spend in charity for Allah's sake, seeking His pleasure, day and night, publicly and in secret, including what one spends on his family. The Two Sahihs recorded that the Messenger of Allah said to Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas:
«وَإِنَّكَ لَنْ تُنْفِقَ نَفَقَةً تَبْتَغِي بِهَا وَجْهَ اللهِ إِلَّا ازْدَدْتَ بِهَا دَرَجَةً وَرِفْعَةً، حَتَّى مَا تَجْعَلُ فِي فِي امْرَأَتِك»
(You will not spend charity with which you seek Allah's Face, but you will ascend a higher degree and status because of it, including what you put in your wife's mouth.)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Mas`ud said that the Prophet said,
«إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمَ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ نَفَقَةً يَحْتَسِبُهَا، كَانَتْ لَهُ صَدَقَة»
(When the Muslim spends on his family while awaiting the reward for it from Allah, it will be written as charity for him.)
Al-Bukhari and Muslim also recorded this Hadith.
Allah said,
فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ
(shall have their reward with their Lord), on the Day of Resurrection, as reward for what they spent in acts of obedience. We previously explained the Ayah,
فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(there shall be no fear on them nor shall they grieve.)
2.272 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In this verse a misunderstanding of the Muslims has been removed. At first they hesitated to give monetary help to their non-Muslim relatives and other non-Muslims. They thought that monetary help to Muslims alone was in the Way of Allah. Here they have been told that they have not been made responsible for thrusting Guidance upon the unbelievers: their responsibility ends when they have conveyed the Truth to them. It lies with Allah to bestow (or not to bestow) the light of perception. The Muslims, therefore, should not hesitate to fulfil the needs of the non-Muslims just because they have not accepted the Guidance. If they fulfil the need of anyone to please Allah, He will give them their reward.
2.272 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
You are not responsible for guiding them; but God guides whomever He will. And whatever good you expend is for yourselves; for then you are expending desiring only God's face and whatever good you expend shall be repaid to you in full and you will not be wronged. “[O Muḥammad] yours is the praiseworthy station al-maqām al-maḥmūd the firmly tied banner al-liwāÌ al-maʿqūd the noble degrees al-rutab al-sharīfa the high waystations al-manāzil al-ʿaliyya and the pleasing practices al-sunan al-marḌiyya. You are the leader of those who come first and those who come last. No one comes close to you and certainly [no one] equals you. But you are not responsible for their guidance. Guidance is among the special characteristics of Our right and not a sliver of it is given to another. O Muḥammad you call them but We guide them.”
2.272 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(The guiding of them is not thy duty…) [2:272]. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn al-Harith informed us> 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja'far> 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Muslim> Sahl ibn 'Uthman al-'Askari> Jarir> Ash'ath ibn Ishaq> Ja'far ibn al-Mughirah> Sa'id ibn Jubayr who reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Do not give alms except to the people of your own religion”. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (The guiding of them is not thy duty…), upon which the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Give alms to people of other religions”. Ahmad informed us> 'Abd Allah> 'Abd al-Rahman> Sahl> Ibn Numayr> al-Hajjaj> Salman al-Makki> Ibn al-Hanafiyyah who said: “Muslims used to dislike giving alms to the poor among the idolaters until this verse was revealed. They were then ordered to give them alms”. Said al-Kalbi: “The Messenger of Allah went to perform the lesser pilgrimage to make up for the lesser pilgrimage which he missed the previous year ('Umrat al-Qada') and had with him Asma' bint Abi Bakr. The mother of Asma', Qutaylah, and her grandmother, who were still idolateresses at that time, came to see her and ask her for help. Asma' said: 'I will not give you anything until I consult the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, for you do not follow my religion'. She went and consulted him about this matter, upon which Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, commanded her after the revelation of this verse to give alms to both of them. She gave them alms and helped them”. Said al-Kalbi: “There is another way of understanding this verse. It happened that some Muslims had relatives, in-laws and ties through suckling among the Jews. Because of this, they used to help them before the advent of Islam. When they became Muslim, they disliked to keep on helping them and wanted to force these Jews to become Muslim. They consulted the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, about this. This verse was revealed as a response to their consultation, after which the Muslims continued their help to them”.