Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(That He may make that which the devil proposeth) on the tongue of his Prophet (a temptation) a misfortune (for those in whose hearts is a disease) doubt and opposition for acting upon it, (and those whose hearts are hardened) towards the remembrance of Allah (Lo! the evil-doers) the idolaters: al-Mughirah Ibn Shu'bah and his host (are in open schism) they are in opposition to, and enmity with, the Truth and guidance.
That He may make what Satan has cast a trial, a test, for those in whose hearts is a sickness, dissension and hypocrisy, and those whose hearts are hardened, namely, the idolaters, [hardened] against acceptance of the truth. For truly the evildoers, the disbelievers, are [steeped] in extreme defiance, [in] a protracted feud with the Prophet (s) and the believers, for his tongue uttered mention of their gods in a way that pleased them, and yet this was later nullified.
How the Shaytan threw some Falsehood into the Words of the Messengers, and how Allah abolished
At this point many of the scholars of Tafsir mentioned the story of the Gharaniq and how many of those who had migrated to Ethiopia came back when they thought that the idolators of the Quraysh had become Muslims, but these reports all come through Mursal chains of narration and I do not think that any of them may be regarded as Sahih. And Allah knows best. Al-Bukhari said, "Ibn `Abbas said,
(in his recitation (of the revelation).) "When he spoke, the Shaytan threw (some falsehood) into his speech, but Allah abolished that which the Shaytan threw in.''
ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّهُ ءَايَـتِهِ
(Then Allah establishes His revelations.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(when he did recite (the revelation), Shaytan threw (some falsehood) in it) "When he spoke, the Shaytan threw (some falsehood) into his speech.'' Mujahid said:
(when he did recite) "When he spoke.'' It was said that it refers to his recitation, whereas,
(but they trust upon Amani) means they speak but they do not write. Al-Baghawi and the majority of the scholars of Tafsir said:
(he did recite) "Reciting the Book of Allah.''
أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَـنُ فِى أُمْنِيَّتِهِ
(Shaytan threw (some falsehood) in it) "In his recitation.'' Ad-Dahhak said:
(when he did recite) "When he recited.'' Ibn Jarir said, "This comment is more akin to interpretation.''
فَيَنسَخُ اللَّهُ مَا يُلْقِى الشَّيْطَـنُ
(But Yansakh Allah that which Shaytan throws in.) The meaning of the word Naskh in Arabic is to remove or lift away. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "This means, Allah cancels out that which the Shaytan throws in.''
(And Allah is All-Knower,) means, He knows all matters and events that will happen, and nothing whatsoever is hidden from Him.
(All-Wise.) means, in His decree, creation and command, He has perfect wisdom and absolute proof, hence He says:
(And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord, so that they may believe therein,) means, `so that those who have been given beneficial knowledge with which they may differentiate between truth and falsehood, those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, may know that what We have revealed to you is the truth from your Lord, Who has revealed it by His knowledge and under His protection, and He will guard it from being mixed with anything else.' Indeed, it is the Wise Book which,
(And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the straight path.) means, in this world and in the Hereafter. In this world, He guides them to the truth and helps them to follow it and to resist and avoid falsehood; in the Hereafter, He will guide them to the straight path which leads to the degrees of Paradise, and He will save them from the painful torment and the dismal levels of Hell.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
For the distinction between Nabi and Rasul, refer to E. N. 30 of Chapter XIX (Maryam).
The Arabic word tamanna has two meanings: "desire" and "to recite" something.
If the first meaning is taken, it will imply: "Satan tried to prevent the fulfillment of his desire." If the second meaning is taken, it will imply: "When the Prophet recited the Revelations, Satan created different sorts of doubts about its truth and meanings in the minds of the people."
If the first meaning is adopted, it will imply: "Allah fulfills the Prophet's desire and makes his Mission successful in spite of the obstacles of Satan and confirms the truth of His Revelations by fulfilling His promises to the Prophet". In case of the second meaning, it will imply: "Allah eradicates all the doubts and objections inspired by Satan in the hearts of the people and clarifies the confusion created about any verse of the Qur'an in subsequent Revelations".
"Allah is All-Knowing" and has full knowledge of the mischief worked by Satan and of its effects, and being ;'All-Wise", He counteracts every mischief of Satan.
That is, "Allah lets Satan work such mischiefs to put to the test both the righteous and the wicked people". The people with a perverted mentality deduce wrong conclusions from these and deviate from the Right Way, while those, who think on the right lines, realize that all these things are the mischiefs of Satan and that the Message of the Prophet is based on the Truth. They conclude that the very fact that Satan has been so much agitated and become active against it is a clear proof of its being the Truth. It is very important to understand the real significance of this passage (vv. 52-54) for this has given rise to a grave misunderstanding.
If we consider it in the context in which it occurs, it becomes obvious that it was sent down to refute the wrong appraisal of the casual observers that the Holy Prophet had "failed" to achieve his desired object. This was because he had striven for thirteen long years to persuade his people to accept his Message but the apparent result was that he had not only failed in this, but he and the small band of his followers had been forced to leave their homes. As this "exile" contradicted his claim that he was a Prophet of Allah and had His approval and succor with him, some people became skeptical about it. Moreover, they became doubtful about the truth of the Qur'an, because they were not being visited by the scourge, which was inflicted on those who treated the Prophet as false. His antagonists scoffed at him, saying, "Where is that succor of Allah and the scourge with which we were threatened?" The answer to these doubts of the disbelievers was given in the preceding passage, and in this passage the addressees were those who were influenced by this propaganda. Briefly the whole answer was to this effect:
"lt is not a new thing that the people of a Messenger have treated him as an impostor for it has always been happening like this: You can see from the remnants of those peoples who treated their Messengers as impostors how they were punished for their mischief. You can learn a lesson from them, if you will. As regards the delay in the coming of scourge, the Qur'an never threatened the disbelievers ò with immediate punishment, nor is it the job of the Messenger to inflict punishments. The scourge is sent by Allah, but He is not hasty in sending His torment. He gives respite to the people to mend their ways as He is giving you now. Therefore, you should not be under any delusion that the threats of scourge are empty threats.
"It is also not a new thing that the desires and wishes of a Prophet meet with obstacles or that false propaganda is made against his Message for the same has already happened with regard to the Messages of the former Prophets. But ultimately Allah eradicated the mischief worked by Satan and made the Message successful. Therefore you should take a warning from the past history of Satan's mischiefs and their ultimate failure. You should note it well that the obstacles and the mischiefs of Satan are a trial and means that help attract the righteous people towards Islam and winnow the dishonest people away from it".
It is a pity that in spite of the above clear and simple meaning of the passage which fits in well with the context, a grave misunderstanding has arisen because of a tradition which has not only changed its meaning entirely and rendered it irrelevant in the context but has helped make doubtful the very basic Articles of the Faith. Therefore we are making a critical appraisal of the tradition in order to show how to make the right use of traditions for the correct interpretation of the Qur'an.
According to this tradition, the Holy Prophet had a strong longing and desire to this effect: "I wish some Revelations were sent down to tone down the abhorrence of the mushrik Quraish against Islam so as to bring them nearer to it, or at least the criticism against their creed may not be so severe as to arouse their enmity".
While he was cherishing this desire, it so happened that one day when he was sitting in a big gathering of the Quraish, Surah An-Najm (LIII) was sent down and he began to recite it. When he came to vv. 19, 20: "Have you ever considered about this Lat and this `Uzza, and a third (goddess) Manat, "all of a sudden he recited, "These are exalted goddesses; indeed their intercession may be expected". After this he continued to recite Surah An-Najm up to the last verse and then fell down in prostration and all the Muslims and the mushriks of the Quraish also did the same, for the latter said, "Now we have no difference with Muhammad; we also profess that Allah is the Creator and the Provider and that these deities of ours are merely our intercessors with Him". After this, when in the evening Angel Gabriel came, he said, "What have you done? I did not bring these two sentences". At this the Holy Prophet became very sad and Allah sent down vv. 73 75 of Surah Bani Isra`il (XVII): "O Muhammad! these people have left no stone unturned to tempt you away from that which We have revealed to you so that you might fabricate something in Our name. Had you done that, they would have made you their friend. It was just possible that you might have inclined a little towards them, if We had not given you strength. But if you had done so, We would have made you taste double chastisement in this world as well as in the Hereafter: then you would have found no helper against Us".
But in spite of this, he continued to be grieved till Allah sent down v. 52 of this Surah (Al-Hajj) in which Allah consoled him, saying that the same had been happening to the former Prophets.
Another thing that happened in the meantime was that the story reached the migrants to Habash that there had been a reconciliation between the Holy Prophet and the disbelievers of Makkah. Accordingly, many of them returned to Makkah only to learn that the news of reconciliation was wrong and the conflict between Islam and kufr was raging as furiously as before.
Now let us make a critical study of this story which has been cited by Ibn Jarir and many other commentators and is even contained in many collections of Traditions.
(1) None of its reporters, except Ibn `Abbas, is a Companion.
(2) There are many major discrepancies and variations in its details.
(3) The wording ascribed to the Holy Prophet in praise of the idols in each Tradition is different from that of others.
Moreover, these words have been attributed to different sources according to different Traditions: (a) These words were put in by Satan during the Revelation and the Holy Prophet imagined that they were revealed by Gabriel. (b) He himself uttered these words inadvertently, being urged by his own desire. (c) He was dozing when he uttered these words. (d) He intentionally uttered these words but in a manner as to question their veracity. (e) Satan interpolated these words into the Revelation, giving an impression that the Holy Prophet himself had recited them. (f) It was one of the mushriks who had recited these words.
Yet scholars of Tradition like Hafiz Ibn Hajar and jurists like Abu Bakr alJassas and rationalists like Zamakhshari and commentators like Ibn Jarir accept this story as true and consider it as a commentary on verse 52 of this Surah. Ibn Hajar argues like this:
"Even though the links by which this Tradition has been related are either weak or "broken", except in one case, the very fact that it has been related through so many "links" is a proof that there is some truth about it. The one which has strong links is by Said bin Jubair who has related it from Ibn `Abbas and the reporters of two more Traditions (which have been cited by Tabari) have been declared authentic by Bukhari and Muslim".
On the other side, there are other eminent scholars who declare this story to be utterly baseless. Ibn Kathir says, "All the links of this Tradition are unauthentic and I have found no correct version of this with continuous links". Baihaqi says, "This story has not been proved to be correct by the rules of reporting". When Ibn Khuzaimah was asked about it, he said, "This story has been invented by heret cs". Qazi `Ayad says, "The very fact that this Tradition is neither contained in any of the six authentic collections of Hadith nor has it been related in an authentic way by authentic reporters shows its weakness". Besides them, Imam Razi, Qazi Abu Bakr Ibn al-`Arabi, Alusi etc. have rejected it altogether.
It is a pity that even those who reject this story have not done full justice to their cases. There are some who reject it because its "links" are weak. In other words, they would have accepted it, if its links were strong. Then there are others who reject it because its acceptance makes the whole Faith doubtful. This kind of reasoning may satisfy the believers but it cannot satisfy those who are already sceptical or intend to make a research into it with a view to making a correct appraisal of Islam. They will rather say, "When a story is related by an eminent Companion and is contained in the collections of Traditions, there is no reason why we should reject it just because it makes your Faith doubtful".
Now let us consider the story critically and rationally to prove that it is unacceptable.
(1) Its internal evidence proves it to be wrong: (a) According to the story the incident happened after the first migration to Habash, for according to it some of the migrants returned to Makkah after hearing the story. Now the fact is that the migration took place in the month of Rajab of the fifth year of Prophethood and some of the migrants returned to Makkah three months later, i.e. in Shawwal of the same year. (b) Verses 73-75 of Chapter XVII in which the Holy Prophet was "reproved" for this incident were revealed in the eleventh or twelfth year of Prophethood. In other words, he was "reproved" by Allah five or six years after the incident. (c) This verse (52) in which the interpolation by Satan was abrogated was sent down in the first year of Hijrah, i.e. about two years after the reproof. Can a person in his senses believe' that the Holy Prophet 'was reproved for the interpolation after six years, and it was abrogated after nine years ?
(2) According to the story, this interpolation was made in Surah An-Najm. When the Holy Prophet was reciting the words, "And a third (goddess) Manat'; he also recited the interpolated sentence, and then continued the recital up to the end of the Surah. It is said that the disbelievers of Makkah were so pleased with the interpolation that they declared, "The differences between us and Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) have now come to an end".
Let us now read w. 19-23 of An-Najm along with the alleged interpolation (in italics): "Have you ever considered about the reality of this Lat and ` Uzza and a third (goddess) Manat? These are exalted goddesses; indeed their intercession may be expected. What, do you have sons for yourselves add daughters for Him (Allah) ? This is indeed an unfair division. They are nothing but mere names which you and your forefathers have invented. Allah has sent down no authority in regard to them. They follow only conjectures and the whims of their own minds, although right guidance has come from their Lord".
Even a casual reader will detect an obvious contradiction in the passage. Immediately after "praising" the goddesses there is a hard hit on their worshipers, as if to say: "O foolish people! How is it that you have ascribed daughters to Allah and sons to yourselves? All this is your own invention which has no authority from Allah". On the face of it, the interpolation makes the passage absurd which cannot be assigned even to a rational person not to speak of Allah. Then the story presumes that all the Quraish who were listening to it must have lost their senses; otherwise they could not have declared that their differences with Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) had been made up from thence.
From this internal evidence it has become clear that this story is absurd and meaningless.
(3) Now let us consider whether the occasions ascribed by the commentators to the revelation of the verses under discussion, fit in with the chronological order of the Qur'an. According to the story, the interpolation in Surah AnNajm (LIII) was made in the fifth year of Prophethood; the reproof was made in vv. 73-75 of Bani Isra'il (XVII) and then the interpolation was annulled and the incident explained in vv. 52-54 of Surah Al-Hajj (XXII). Now there could be only two possibilities about the time of their revelation: either the verses containing the reproof and the abrogation were sent down in the period in which the interpolation took place, or the verse containing the reproof was sent down along with Surah Al-Hajj (XXII). In the first case, the question arises: Why were these verses (XVII: 73-75) not inserted in An-Najm (LIII)? Why were they held in abeyance for six long years and then inserted in Surah Bani Isra'il (XVII), when it was revealed, and vv. 52-54 (containing the abrogation) inserted in Surah Al-Hajj (XXII) after a further delay of more than two years? Does it mean that the verses were sent down on one occasion and inserted years later haphazardly in one Surah or the other? In the second case, the question would arise: Does it stand to reason that the verses containing the reproof (XVII: 73-75) were sent down six years after the interpolation, and the verse of abrogation (XXII: 52) nine years after the incident? Still another question arises: What was the occasion of the revelation of the verses of reproof and abrogation in Chapters XVII and XXII in the context in which they occur?
(4) Now let us turn to the third principle of correct appraisal of the Qur'an.
For a correct appreciation of the Qur'an it is essential to consider whether a particular commentary fits in with the relevant context of the Qur'an or not. If we make even a cursory study of XVII: 71-73, (Bani Isra'il), it will become obvious that there was no occasion for the alleged reproof in v. 73 and that there is no tinge of reproof in it, for the words of the verse refute the allegation that the Prophet was taken in by the mischief of the disbelievers. Then in Surah AI-Hajj (XXII), if we make a critical study of the verses that precede vv. 52-54 and follow them, it will become obvious that there was no occasion to console the Prophet for the "interpolation" and to annul it after nine years.
(5) We reiterate that no Tradition, however strong links it might have, can be accepted when the Text itself is a clear evidence against it, and when it does not fit in with the wording, the context, the order etc. of the Qur'an. When the incident is considered in this background, even a skeptical research scholar would be convinced that the Tradition is absolutely wrong. As regards a believer, he can never accept it, when he knows that it contradicts not only one verse but a large number of other verses of the Qur'an. He would rather believe, that the reporters of the Tradition might have been deluded by Satan and not the Holy Prophet. He would never believe that the Holy Prophet could interpolate even a single word in the Qur'an under the influence of a desire of his own: or that there could ever occur such a desire in his mind that he should make a compromise with the disbelievers by associating shirk with Tauhid: or that he could ever wish that Allah might not say anything to displease the disbelievers: or that the Revelation was made in such an unsafe and doubtful manner as to enable Satan to mix with it even a word in a manner as if it was also brought by Gabriel. Each of these things is contradictory to the clear Revelation of the Qur'an and the basic Articles of the Faith which we have learned from the Qur'an and the Holy Prophet. God forbid that we should accept any such Tradition that might lead to the above mentioned presumptions just because the Tradition seems to be "authentic" in every way.
It will be worth-while to consider the question: How is it that so many reporters of Traditions have related this story? Does it not show that there must have been some reality about it? Otherwise, so many reporters, who included many authentic and eminent scholars, could not have made such an heinous slander against the Qur'an and the Holy Prophet. Its answer is contained in the authentic collections of Traditions by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Nasa`i and Musnad Ahmad. The reality of the incident is this:
The Holy Prophet recited Surah An-Najm and performed prostration at the end of it. At this, all the hearers, both the Muslims and the mushriks, fell down in prostration. This was what really happened and there is nothing strange about-it. Let us depict the occasion: The Holy Prophet was reciting a forceful piece of the eloquent Qur'an in a very impressive manner. Naturally the occasion produced an emotional effect and all the listeners instinctively fell down in prostration along with him. It was because of such ecstasies produced by the Holy Prophet's recital of the Qur'an as this that the disbelievers dubbed him a "sorcerer". As regards the story that the Holy Prophet praised the deities of the disbelievers, it appears that the Quraish concocted the story to hide their "defeat". Probably someone or other of them explained away their defeat, saying, "We ourselves heard Muhammad praising our deities. Therefore we also fell down in prostration along with him". As regards the migrants to Habash, they returned to Makkah when they heard the concocted story that there had been a compromise between the Holy Prophet and the Quraish. It appears that some of those people who had seen the Muslims and the mushriks falling down together in prostration, presumed that peace had been made between them, so the story traveled to the migrants in Habash who had no means to verify it and thus thirty-three of them returned to Makkah.
Naturally these three things-prostration by the Quraish, their explanation of it, and the return of the migrants from Habash-combined to evolve that story. So much so that some authentic people were also deluded by it, for to err is human, and the pious and intelligent people are no exception to it. However, the error of the latter proves to be more harmful, because their credulous followers accept with closed eyes their misconceptions along with their right conclusions. On the other hand, mischief mongers collect all such errors of the righteous people and exploit them to prove that all the collections of Traditions are false and should be rejected forthwith.