The Quran

Commentaries for 33.23

Al Ahzab (The allies) - الأحزاب

33.23 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Of the believers are men who are true) loyal (to that which they covenanted with Allah. Some of them have paid their vow by death (in battle)) such as Hamzah Ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of the Prophet (pbuh) and his fellow believers who died fighting, (and some of them still are waiting) they will continue to be loyal until they die; (and they have not altered) the covenant (in the least) by breaking it;
33.23 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Among the believers are men who are true to the covenant they made with God, in steadfastly remaining alongside the Prophet (s). Some of them have fulfilled their vow, having died or been killed [fighting] for God’s cause, and some are still awaiting, for this [fate], and they have not changed, [their commitment to] the covenant, in the least, and they stand in contrast to the situation with the hypocrites;
33.23-24 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Praise for the Believers' Attitude, and leaving the ultimate Fate of the Hypocrites to Allah
When Allah mentions how the hypocrites broke their promise to Him that they would not turn their backs, He describes the believers as firmly adhering to their covenant and their promise:
صَدَقُواْ مَا عَـهَدُواْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ
(they have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah;) Some of them said: "Met their appointed time (i.e., death).'' Al-Bukhari said, "Their covenant, and refers back to the beginning of the Ayah.''
وَمِنْهُمْ مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُواْ تَبْدِيلاً
(and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.) means, they have never changed or broken their covenant with Allah. Al-Bukhari recorded that Zayd bin Thabit said: "When we wrote down the Mushaf, an Ayah from Surat Al-Ahzab was missing, which I used to hear the Messenger of Allah reciting. I did not find it with anyone except Khuzaymah bin Thabit Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him, whose testimony the Messenger of Allah counted as equal to that of two other men. (The Ayah in question was:)
مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُواْ مَا عَـهَدُواْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ
(Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah;)'' This was recorded by Al-Bukhari but not by Muslim, It was also recorded by Ahmad in his Musnad, and by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i in the chapters on Tafsir in their Sunans. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih. Al-Bukhari also recorded that Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "We think that this Ayah was revealed concerning Anas bin An-Nadr, may Allah be pleased with him:
مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُواْ مَا عَـهَدُواْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ
(Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah.)'' This was reported only by Al-Bukhari, but there are corroborating reports with other chains of narration. Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said: "My paternal uncle Anas bin Al-Nadr, may Allah be pleased with him, after whom I was named, was not present with this Messenger of Allah at Badr, and this distressed him. He said: `The first battle at which the Messenger of Allah was present, and I was absent; if Allah shows me another battle with the Messenger of Allah, Allah will see what I will do!' He did not want to say more than that. He was present with the Messenger of Allah at Uhud, where he met Sa`d bin Mu`adh, may Allah be pleased with him. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said to him, `O Abu `Amr! Where are you going' He replied, `I long for the fragrance of Paradise and I have found it near the mountain of Uhud.' He fought them until he was killed, may Allah be pleased with him. Eighty-odd stab wounds and spear wounds were found on his body, and his sister, my paternal aunt Ar-Rabayyi` bint Al-Nadr said, `I only recognized my brother by his fingertips.' Then this Ayah was revealed:
مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُواْ مَا عَـهَدُواْ اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُواْ تَبْدِيلاً
(Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah; and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed in the least.) They used to think that it had been revealed concerning him and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them.'' This was also recorded by Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i. Ibn Jarir narrated that Musa bin Talhah said: "Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, may Allah be pleased with him, stood up and said, `I heard the Messenger of Allah say:
«طَلْحَةُ مِمَّنْ قَضَى نَحْبَه»
(Talhah is one of those who have fulfilled their Nahbah.)''' Mujahid said concerning the Ayah:
فَمِنْهُمْ مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ
(of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah;) "Their covenant,
وَمِنْهُمْ مَّن يَنتَظِرُ
(and some of them are still waiting) they are waiting for battle so that they can do well. '' Al-Hasan said:
فَمِنْهُمْ مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ
(of them some have fulfilled their Nahbah;) "They died true to their covenant and loyal, and some are still waiting to die in a similar manner, and some of them have never changed in the least.'' This was also the view of Qatadah and Ibn Zayd. Some of them said that the word Nahbah means a vow.
وَمَا بَدَّلُواْ تَبْدِيلاً
(but they have never changed in the least.) means, they never changed their covenant or were disloyal or committed treachery, but they persisted in what they had promised and did not break their vow, unlike the hypocrites who said:
إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِىَ بِعَوْرَةٍ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلاَّ فِرَاراً
("Truly, our homes lie open.'' And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.) 33:13
وَلَقَدْ كَانُواْ عَـهَدُواْ اللَّهَ مِن قَبْلُ لاَ يُوَلُّونَ الاٌّدْبَـرَ
(And indeed they had already made a covenant with Allah not to turn their backs,) 33:15
لِّيَجْزِىَ اللَّهُ الصَّـدِقِينَ بِصِدْقِهِمْالْمُنَـفِقِينَ إِن شَآءَ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ
(That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth, and punish the hypocrites, if He wills, or accept their repentance by turning to them.) Allah tests His servants with fear and shaking so as to tell the evil from the good, as each will be known by his deeds. Although Allah knows what the outcome will be before anything happens, still He does not punish anyone on the basis of His knowledge until they actually do what He knows they will do. As Allah says:
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّى نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَـهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّـبِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَـرَكُمْ
(And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard and patient, and We shall test your facts.) (47:31). This refers to knowing something after it happens, even though Allah knows it before it comes to pass. Allah says:
مَّا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَذَرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَى مَآ أَنتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّى يَمِيزَ الْخَبِيثَ مِنَ الطَّيِّبِ وَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيُطْلِعَكُمْ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ
(Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen) (3:179). Allah says here:
لِّيَجْزِىَ اللَّهُ الصَّـدِقِينَ بِصِدْقِهِمْ
(That Allah may reward the men of truth for their truth,) meaning, for their patience in adhering to the covenant they had made with Allah and keeping their promise.
(and punish the hypocrites, ) who are the ones who broke the covenant and went against the commands of Allah, for which they deserve to be punished, but they are subject to His will in this world. If He wills, He will leave them as they are until they meet Him in the Hereafter, when He will punish them, or if He wills, He will guide them to give up their hypocrisy and to believe and do righteous deeds after they had been wrongdoers and sinners. Since His mercy and kindness towards His creation prevail over His wrath, He says:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
(Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)
33.21-24 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In view of the context in which this verse occurs, the object of presenting the Holy Prophet's conduct and way of life as a model was to teach a lesson to the people, who had been motivated by considerations of selfish interests and personal safety on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench. They are being addressed, as if to say: "You claimed to be the believers and Muslims and followers of the Holy Messenger. You should have seen how the Messenger whose followers you claimed to be conducted himself on the occasion. If the leader of a group is himself a seeker of personal security, is lazy and indolent, gives preference to personal interests to everything else, and is ever ready to flee danger, it would be reasonable to expect manifestation of such weakness from his followers. But here the case was different. The Holy Prophet endured along with others every toil and labor that he asked others to endure, and endured better than others; there was no trouble which others might have experienced and he himself did. not. He was among those who dug the trench, and endured hunger and other afflictions just as the common Muslims did. He did not leave the battlefront even for a moment during the siege nor retreated an inch. After the betrayal of the Bani Quraizah his own family had also been exposed to danger even as the families of the other Muslims were. He did not make any special arrangement for his own and his family's protection, which did not exist for others. He was always in the forefront to offer maximum sacrifices for the great objectives for which he was constantly asking others to make sacrifices. Therefore, whoever made a claim of being his follower should have followed the practical example set by the leader.
This is the meaning of the verse in the context here. But its words are general and there is no reason why it should be confined to these meanings only. Allah does not. say that only in this respect His Messenger's life is a model for the Muslims to follow, but has regarded it as a model absolutely. Therefore, the verse demands that the Muslims should take the Holy Prophet's life as a model for themselves in every affair of life and should mold their character and personality according to it.
That is, "The Prophet's life is no model for the person who is forgetful of God, but it certainly is a model for him who remembers Allah much and consistently and not only occasionally just by chance. Likewise, this life is no model for him who has no hope from Allah and does not expect Resurrection to take place, but it is most surely a model for the person who is hopeful of Allah's grace and His favors, and who is also mindful that the Day of Judgment will come when his well-being will wholly depend on how closely his conduct resembled the conduct and character of the Messenger of Allah in this world. "
After drawing attention to the model of the Holy Prophet, Allah now presents the model of his Companions so that the character of the false claimants to faith and of the sincere followers of the Messenger is clearly contrasted.
Although both were alike apparently in the affirmation of the faith, both were counted as Muslims, and both attended at the Prayers, they were separated from each other as soon as the time of the trial approached, and it became clear who were loyal to Allah and His Messenger and who were Muslims only in name.
Here, one should keep verse 12 in view. There it was said that when the hypocrites and the people with diseased hearts found themselves surrounded by a huge force of ten to twelve thousand men from the front and by the Bani Quraizah from behind, they openly started saying: "The promises that Allah and His Messenger had made with us were nothing but a delusion. We were promised that if we believed in Allah's religion, His succor would be at our back and we would rule Arabia and the world outside and all the wealth of Caesar and Chosroes will be ours, but here we are that the whole of Arabia is bent upon exterminating us, and there is no sign yet of the armies of the angels in sight, who would save us and protect us against this grave calamity." Now they are being told: "One meaning of the promise of Allah and His Messenger was that which was understood by these false claimants to faith. The other meaning is that which is understood by the sincere and true Muslims. When they saw the storms of danger gathering, they too remembered the promises of Allah, but these promises did not mean that as soon as they affirmed the faith they would overwhelm and subdue the whole world without the slightest effort, and the angels would come to perform their coronation, but the promises actually meant that they would have to pass through severe trials, endure extreme hardships and afflictions, offer supreme sacrifices; then only will Allah bless them with His grace and they will be granted successes of the world and the Hereafter, which Allah has promised His believing servants.
"Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and afflictions and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out: `When will Allah's help come?" - "Yes, Allah's help is near." (AI-Baqarah: 214).
"Do the people think that they will be left alone after they have once said, `We have believed', and they will not be tested ? The fact is that We have put to the test all those who have gone before them. Surely, Allah has to see who are the truthful and who the liars. " (AI-`Ankabut: 2-3).
That is, "On seeing the hard, times of affliction approaching they did not waver in their faith but were strengthened in it all the mote, and instead of giving up Allah's obedience they became ready to resign and surrender to Him whatever they had with complete conviction and satisfaction of the heart. "
Here, one should fully understand that faith and resignation is indeed a quality of the self which is put to trial and test at every command and demand of the Faith. At every step in life man comes across situations where the Faith either enjoins something or forbids something, or requires one to make sacrifices of life and wealth and time and desires of the self. At every such occasion the faith and conviction of the person who deviates from obedience will suffer decline and the faith and conviction of him who submits to the command and demand will be strengthened and enhanced. Although in the beginning a man becomes a believer and Muslim only by embracing the fundamental creed (Kalimah) of Islam, yet his state of faith does not remain static but is open to both deterioration and development. Decline in sincerity and the spirit of obedience causes it to deteriorate; so much so that constant retrogression may cause the person to reach the last limits of the faith where the slightest move backward may turn him from a believer to a hypocrite. Contrary to this, the more sincere a person is, the more perfect his obedience and the greater his devotion and dedication to the cause of the true Faith, the stronger and more sound will he grow in faith and may even attain the supreme rank of the truthful. But this increase and decrease in the faith has only the moral significance which can be judged and reckoned by none but Allah. As for the man, faith is simply the act of affirmation by which a Muslim enters Islam and is regarded as a Muslim as long as he remains steadfast to it. In this regard we cannot say that so and so is half a Muslim, or one-third a Muslim, and another one double a Muslim or triple a Muslim. Likewise, in legal rights the Muslims are equal and alike. It cannot be that one is regarded a greater believer and given more rights and another one a lesser believer and given less rights. In these aspects there can be no question of the increase and decrease in the faith, and in fact, in this very sense has Imam Abu Hanifah said: "Faith in Islam neither increases nor decreases. "
That is, "Someone has already offered his life in the way of Allah, and someone is awaiting the time when he will offer it for the sake of his Faith.
33.23 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(Of the believers are men who are true to that which they covenanted with Allah…) [33:23]. Abu Muhammad Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim informed us> 'Abd Allah ibn Humayd> Makki ibn 'Abdan> 'Abd Allah ibn Hashim> Bahz ibn Asad> Sulayman ibn al-Mughirah> Thabit> Anas who said: “My uncle Anas ibn al-Nadr - after whom I was named Anas - failed to take part in the Battle of Badr. When he returned, he was extremely pained that he did not participate in Badr. He said: 'I was absent from the first battle fought by the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. By Allah, if Allah, glorified and exalted is He, enables me to take part in any future fighting, He will see what I will do!' At the Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were exposed, he said: 'O Allah, I exonerate myself from that which these idolaters have brought and seek Your pardon from what these - i.e. the Muslims - have done'. He then proceeded with the sword in his hand. On the way, he met Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and said to him: 'O Sa'd, by Him in Whose Hand is my soul, I can smell the scent of the Garden by Uhud'. He fought the idolaters until he was killed. We found him among the dead. He had suffered eighty something wounds, ranging from a blow with the sword, a stab with spear to a hit by a arrow. They mutilated him to the extent that we did not recognise him. It was his sister who identified him by his finger. This verse was then revealed (Of the believers are men who are true to that which they covenanted with Allah…). We used to say: 'This verse was revealed about him and his fellow Muslims [who died fighting]' ”. Narrated by Muslim from Muhammad ibn Hatim from Bahz ibn Asad. Sa'id ibn Ahmad ibn Ja'far al-Mu'adhdhin informed us> Abu 'Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Faqih> Ibrahim ibn 'Abd Allah al-Zabibi> Bundar> Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Ansari> his father> Thumamah> Anas ibn Malik who said: “This verse was revealed about Anas ibn al-Nadr (Of the believers are men who are true to that which they covenanted with Allah)”. This was narrated by Bukhari from Bundar. (Some of them have paid their vow by death (in battle), and some of them still are waiting…) [33:23]. This verse was revealed about Talhah ibn 'Ubayd Allah. He remained firm around the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, at the Battle of Uhud until his hand was hurt. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said at that point: “O Allah, decree the Garden for Talhah!” Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Tamimi informed us> Abu'l-Shaykh al-Hafiz> Ahmad ibn Ja'far ibn Nasr al-Razi> al-'Abbas ibn Isma'il al-Raqqi> Isma'il ibn Yahya al-Baghdadi> Abu Sinan> al-Dahhak> al-Nizal ibn Sabrah> 'Ali who said about Talhah: “That is a man about whom a verse from the Book of Allah, exalted is He, has been revealed (Some of them have paid their vow by death (in battle), and some of them still are waiting). Talhah is of those who have already paid their vows, he will face no reckoning regarding that which he will do in the future”. 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hamdan informed us> Ahmad ibn Ja'far ibn Malik> 'Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal> his father> Waki'> Talhah ibn Yahya who reported that one day the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, passed by Talhah and said: “This one is of those who have already paid their vows”.