Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And if a whisper from the devil reach thee (O Muhammad)) and if a whisper from the devil reaches you, you should reciprocate Abu Jahl's harshness with harshness like it (then seek refuge in Allah) from the accursed devil. (Lo! He is the Hearer) of what Abu Jahl says, (the Knower) of his punishment; it is also said that this means: He is the Hearer of your seeking refuge in Him, the Knower of the whispering of the devil.
And if (wa-immā: here the nūn of the conditional particle in has been assimilated with the mā, which is extra) some temptation from Satan should provoke you, in other words, if some diversion should turn you away from that [better] trait and other good acts, then seek refuge in God (this is the response to the conditional [‘and if’]; the response to the command clause is omitted, being ‘and He will ward it off from you’). Truly He is the Hearer, of what is said, the Knower, of what is done.
(and does righteous deeds, and says: "I am one of the Muslims.'') means, he himself follows that which he says, so it benefits him as well as others. He is not one of those who enjoin good but do not do it themselves, or who forbid evil yet they do it themselves. He does good and avoids doing evil, and he calls people to their Creator, may He be blessed and exalted. This is general in meaning and applies to everyone who calls people to what is good and is himself guided by what he says. The Messenger of Allah is the foremost among people in this regard, as Muhammad bin Sirin, As-Suddi and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said. It was also said that what was meant here is the righteous Mu'adhdhin, as it was mentioned in Sahih Muslim:
(The Imam is a guarantor and the Mu'adhdhin is in a position of trust. May Allah guide the Imams and forgive the Mu'adhdhin.)'' The correct view is that the Ayah is general in meaning, and includes the Mu'adhdhin and others. When this Ayah was revealed, the Adhan had not been prescribed at all. The Ayah was revealed in Makkah, and the Adhan was prescribed in Al-Madinah after the Hijrah, when it was shown to `Abdullah bin `Abd Rabbihi Al-Ansari in a dream. He told the Messenger of Allah about it, and he told him to teach it to Bilal, may Allah be pleased with him, who had a more beautiful voice, as we have discussed elsewhere. So the correct view is that the Ayah is general in meaning, as `Abdur-Razzaq said, narrating from Ma`mar, from Al-Hasan Al-Basri, who recited this Ayah:
(And who is better in speech than he who invites to Allah, and does righteous deeds, and says: "I am one of the Muslims.'') and said, "This is the beloved of Allah, this is the close friend of Allah, this is the chosen one of Allah, this is the most beloved of the all the people of earth to Allah. He responded to the call of Allah and called mankind to that to which he had responded. He did righteous deeds in response and said, `I am one of the Muslims.' This is Allah's Khalifah.''
Wisdom in Da`wah etc
وَلاَ تَسْتَوِى الْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ السَّيِّئَةُ
(The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal.) means, there is a huge difference between them.
ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ
(Repel (the evil) with one which is better,) means, `when someone does you wrong, repel him by treating him well,' as `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "There is no better punishment for one who has disobeyed Allah with regard to you, than your obeying Allah with regard to him.''
(then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.) means, `if you treat well those who treat you badly, this good deed will lead to reconciliation, love and empathy, and it will be as if he is a close friend to you and he will feel pity for you and be kind to you.' Then Allah says:
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ
(But none is granted it except those who are patient) meaning, no one accepts this advice and works according to it, except for those who can be patient in doing so, for it is difficult for people to do.
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظِّ عَظِيمٍ
(and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion) means, the one who has a great portion of happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas explained this Ayah: "Allah commands the believers to be patient when they feel angry, to be forbearing when confronted with ignorance, and to forgive when they are mistreated. If they do this, Allah will save them from the Shaytan and subdue their enemies to them until they become like close friends.''
(And if an evil whisper from Shaytan tries to turn you away, then seek refuge in Allah.) means, the devils among men may be deceived by your kind treatment of him, but the devils among the Jinn, when they insinuate their evil whispers, cannot be dealt with except by seeking refuge with the Creator Who gave him power over you. If you seek refuge with Allah and turn to Him, He will stop him from harming you and bring his efforts to naught. When the Messenger of Allah stood up to pray, he would say:
(I seek refuge in Allah the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, from the accursed Shaytan and his evil insinuations, breath and impurity.)'' We have already stated that there is nothing like this in the Qur'an, apart from the passage in Surat Al-A`raf, where Allah says:
(Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish. And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytan, then seek refuge with Allah. Verily, He is All-Hearer, All-Knower.) (7:199-200) and the passage in Surat Al-Mu'minun where Allah says:
(Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter. And say: "My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings of the Shayatin. And I seek refuge with You, My Lord! lest they should come near me.'') (23:96-98)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
To understand the full significance of these words also, one should keep in view the conditions in which the Holy Prophet and, through him, his followers were given this instruction. The conditions were that the invitation to the Truth was being resisted and opposed with extreme stubbornness and severe antagonism, in which All bounds of morality, humanity and decency were being transgressed. Every sort of lie was being uttered against the Holy Prophet and his Companions; every kind of evil device was being employed to defame him and to create suspicions against him in the minds of the people; every kind of accusation was being leveled against him and a host of the propagandists were busy creating doubts against him in the hearts; in short, he and his Companions were being persecuted in every possible way because of which a substantial number of the Muslims had been compelled to emigrate from the country. Then the program that had been prepared to stop him from preaching was that a hand of the mischievous people was set behind him, who would raise such a hue and cry that no one should be able to hear anything as soon as he opened his mouth to preach his message. In such discouraging conditions when apparently every way of extending invitation to Islam seemed to be blocked, the Holy Prophet was taught this recipe for breaking the opposition.
First, it was said that goodness and evil are not equal, as if to say: "Although apparently your opponents might have raised a dreadful storm of mischief and evil, as against which goodness might seem absolutely helpless and powerless, yet evil in itself has a weakness which ultimately causes its own destruction. For as long as man is man, his nature cannot help hating evil. Not only the companions of evil, even its own upholders know in their hearts that they are liars and wicked people and arc being stubborn for selfish motives. Not to speak of creating dignity and honor for them in the hearts of others, it lowers them in their own esteem, and causes their morale to be weakened and destroyed in the event of every conflict. As against this evil, the good which appears to be utterly helpless and powerless, goes on operating and working and it becomes dominant in the long run. For, in the first place, the good has a power of its own which wins the hearts and no man however perverted and corrupted, can help esteeming it in his own heart. Then, when the good and evil are engaged in a face to face conflict and their nature and merits become apparent and known, after a long drawn out struggle, not many people would be left, who would not start hating the evil and admiring the good.
Second, it was said that evil should be resisted not by the mere good but' by a superior good, as if to say: "If a person treats you unjustly and you forgive him, it is the mere good. The superior good is that you treat the one who ill-treats you which kindness and lout. "
The result would be that "your worst enemy would become your closest friend," for that is human nature itself. If you remain quiet in response to an abuse, it will be mere goodness but it will not silence the abuser. But if you express good wishes for him in response to his abuses, even the most shameless opponent will feel ashamed, and then would hardly ever be able to employ invectives against you. If a person doesn't miss any opportunity to harm you, and you go on tolerating his excesses, it may well make him even bolder in his mischiefs. But if on an occasion he gets into trouble and you come to his rescue, he will fall down at your feet, for no mischief can hold out against goodness. However, it would be wrong to take this general principle in the meaning that every enemy will necessarily become a close friend when you have treated him with the superior good. There are such wicked people also in the world, whose inimical nature will never change for the better no matter how tolerantly you may overlook their excesses and how benevolently you may react and respond to every evil committed by them. But such devil-incarnates are as few in the world as the embodiments of goodness are.
Although a very efficacious recipe, it is not easy to use. It requires a great will power, resolution, courage, power of endurance and full control over one's own self. A man may act benevolently in response to an evil done, on an impulse, and there is nothing extraordinary in it. But when a person has to fight for years and years, for the sake of the Truth, those mischievous worshipers of falsehood, who do not feel any hesitation in violating any bond of morality, and are also intoxicated with power, it requires extraordinary grit to go on resisting the evil with good, and that too with the superior good, without ever showing any lack of restraint and self-control. Such a work can be accomplished only by him who has resolved with a cool mind to work for the cause of upholding the Truth, who has subdued his self to intellect and sense and in whom good and righteousness have taken such deep roots that no malice and mischief of the opponents can succeed in deposing him from his high position.
This is a law of nature. Only a man of very high rank is characterized by. these qualities; and the one who possesses these qualities cannot be prevented by any power of the world from attaining to his goal of success. It is in no way possible that the depraved people may defeat him with their mean machinations and shameless devices.
Satan feels grieved when he sees that in the conflict between the Truth and falsehood meanness is being resisted with nobility and evil with goodness. He wants that he should somehow incite the fighters for the sake of the Truth and their prominent men in particular, and especially their leaders, to commit such a mistake, even if once, on the basis of which he may tell the common people that evil is not being committed by one side only: if mean acts are being committed by one side, the people of the other side also are not morally any better: they too have committed such and such a shameless act. The common people do not have the capability that they may assess and counterbalance fairly the excesses being committed by one party by the reactions of the other. As long as they sec that while the opponents ate adopting every mean act yet these people do not swerve at All from the path of decency and nobility, goodness and righteousness, they continue to regard and esteem them highly. But if at some time they happen to commit an unworthy act, even if it is in retaliation against a grave injustice, both the sides become equal in their esteem, and the opponents also get an excuse to counter one blamable act with a thousand abuses. That is why it has been said: 'Be on your guard against the deceptions of Satan. He will incite you as a well wisher to take note of every abuse and every insult and attack and urge you to pay the opponent in the same coin, otherwise you would be regarded as a coward and weaken your image of strength. " On every such occasion whenever you feel any undue provocation, you should take care that this is an incitement of Satan who is arousing you to anger and wants you to commit a mistake. And after having been warned do not be involved in the misunderstanding that you have full control over yourself, and Satan cannot make you commit any mistake. This high opinion of ones own power of judgment and will is another and more dangerous deception of Satan. Instead of it you should seek Allah's refuge, for man can save himself from mistakes only if Allah helps and grants him protection.
The beat commentary of this subject is the event which Imam Ahmad has related in his Musnad on the authority of Hadrat Abu Hurairah. He says that once a man started uttering invectives against Hadrat Abu Bakr, in the presence of the Holy Prophet. Hadrat Abu Bakr kept on hearing the invectives quietly and the Holy Prophet kept on smiling at it. At last, when Hadrat Abu Bakr could restrain himself no longer, he also uttered a harsh word for the person in response. No sooner did he utter the word than the Holy Prophet was seized by restraint, which appeared on his face, and he rose and left the place immediately. Hadrat Abu Bakr also rose and went behind him. On the way he asked, 'How is it that as long as the person went on abusing me, you kept quiet and smiling, but when I also said a word in retaliation, you were annoyed" The Holy Prophet replied, "Until you were quiet an angel remained with you, who went on replying to him on your behalf, but when you spoke out Satan came in place of the angel: I could not sit with Satan. "
After seeking Allah's refuge against the storm of opposition, the thing that brings patience and peace and tranquility to the heart of the believer is this conviction: "Allah is not unaware: He knows whatever we arc doing as well as that which is being done against us. He is hearing whatever we and our opponents utter and watches the conduct of both of us." On the basis of this very conviction the believer entrusts his own and the opponents of the truth's affair to Allah and remains satisfied. '
This is the fifth place where the Holy Prophet and, through him, the believers have been taught this wisdom of preaching and reforming the people. For the other four places, see AI-A'raf: 199-204, An-Nahl: 125-128, Al Mu'minun: 96-98, Al-'Ankabut: 46-47 and the E.N.'s.