This honorable Surah was revealed after the Messenger of Allah returned from the area of Al-Hudaybiyyah, during the month of Dhul-Qa`dah, in the sixth year of Hijrah. This is when the idolators prevented him from reaching Al-Masjid Al-Haram to perform the `Umrah he intended. They stopped the Prophet from reaching Makkah at that time, but then were prone to peace negotiations. A peace treaty was conducted stipulating that the Messenger would return this year and then come back for `Umrah the following year. The Messenger agreed. However, some of the Companions disliked these terms, including `Umar bin Al-Khattab, as we will mention in detail, Allah willing, while explaining this Surah. After the Prophet slaughtered his sacrificial animals in the area where he was stopped and headed back to Al-Madinah, Allah the Exalted and Most Honored revealed this Surah about what occurred between him and the idolators. Allah declared the Al-Hudaybiyyah peace treaty a manifest victory, because of the benefits peace would carry and the good results that did originate from it. `Abdullah bin Mas`ud and other Companions said, "You consider the conquering of Makkah to be Al-Fath (the victory), while to us, Al-Fath is the treaty conducted at Al-Hلudaybiyyah.'' Jabir (bin `Abdullah) said, "We only considered Al-Fath to be the day of Hلudaybiyyah!'' Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara' (bin `Azib) said, "You consider Al-Fath to be the conquest of Makkah, which was indeed a victory. However, we consider Al-Fath to be the pledge of Ar-Ridwan on the Day of Al-Hudaybiyyah. Then, we were fourteen hundred with the Messenger of Allah. Al-Hudaybiyyah had a well, whose water we consumed, not leaving a drop of water in it. When the news of what happened reached the Messenger of Allah, he came towards us and sat on the edge of the well. Then he asked to be brought a bucket of water and used it for ablution. He next rinsed his mouth, invoked Allah and poured that water into the well. Soon after, that well provided us, as well as our animals, with sufficient water, in whatever amount of water we wished. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "We were with the Messenger of Allah on a trip, and I asked him about a matter three times, but he did not answer me. So I said to myself, `May your mother lose you, O son of Al-Khattab! You were stubborn in repeating your question three times to the Messenger of Allah ; each time he did not respond to you.' So I mounted my animal, my camel, and went ahead for fear that a part of the Qur'an might be revealed in my case. Suddenly, I heard a caller calling, `O `Umar!' So, I went to the Messenger while fearing that part of the Qur'an was revealed about me. The Prophet said,
(Last night, a Surah was revealed to me that is dearer to me than this life and all that it contains: (Verily, We have given you a manifest victory. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future.)) Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i collected this Hadith from several chains of narration through Malik, may Allah grant him His mercy. `Ali bin Al-Madini commented, "This is a good chain of narration consisting of the scholars of Al-Madinah.'' Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas bin Malik said, "This Ayah was revealed to the Prophet,
(Tonight, an Ayah, that is dearer to me than all that the earth carries, was revealed to me.) The Prophet recited the Ayah to them. They said, `Congratulations, O Allah's Messenger! Allah the Exalted and Most Honored has stated what He will do with you. So what will He do with us' These Ayat were revealed to the Prophet,
(That He may admit the believing men and the believing women to Gardens under which rivers flow...), until,
(...a supreme success.)'' This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah said, "The Prophet used to pray until both his feet were swollen. He was asked, `Has not Allah forgiven you all your sins of the past and of future' He said,
«أَفَلَا أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا؟»
(Should I not be a thankful servant)'' The two collectors of the Sahihs collected this Hadith, as well as, the rest of the Group, except Abu Dawud. Allah's statement,
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحاً مُّبِيناً
(Verily, We have given you a manifest victory.) means, clear and apparent victory. This Ayah is about the treaty at Al-Hudaybiyyah, which resulted in great goodness, including people embracing Islam in large crowds and having the chance to meet each other openly. During that time, the believers preached to the idolators and thus beneficial knowledge and faith spread all around. Allah's statement,
(That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, ) contains one of the special virtues of the Messenger, and no one else shares this honor with him. There is not an authentic Hadith that states that any person other than the Messenger earned forgiveness for all of his sins of the past and future on account of performing good deeds. This, indeed, is a great honor for the Messenger of Allah, who fulfilled the requirements of Allah's obedience, righteousness and straightness at a level never surpassed by a human being in past generations, nor will it ever be surpassed in the generations to come. Muhammad is the perfect human being and the leader and chief of all mankind in this life and the Hereafter. And since he was, and will always be, the most obedient of Allah's creation to Him and the most honoring of Allah's commands and prohibitions, he said when his she- camel insisted on kneeling down,
«حَبَسَها حَابِسُ الْفِيل»
(He Who stopped the elephant, has stopped her too.) The Prophet then declared,
(By the Name of Him in Whose Hand my soul is, this day, if they ask me anything which will respect the ordinances of Allah, I will grant it to them.) And when the Messenger obeyed Allah and accepted the peace offer from the Quraysh, Allah the Exalted said to him,
(Verily, We have given you a manifest victory. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, and complete His favor on you,) in this life and the Hereafter,
وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَطاً مُّسْتَقِيماً
(and guide you on the straight path,) with the glorious legislation and the straight religion that He ordains on you,
وَيَنصُرَكَ اللَّهُ نَصْراً عَزِيزاً
(And that Allah may help you with strong help.) due to your obedience of the orders of Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored; Allah will elevate your status and give you victory above your enemies. An authentic Hadith states,
(No servant pardons but Allah grants him honor, and none humbles himself for Allah except that Allah the exalted and sublime raises him (in rank).) `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "You will never punish someone who disobeyed Allah with you better than obeying Allah the Exalted and Most Honored with him.''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
When after the treaty of Hudaibiyah this good news of the victory was announced,.the people wondered as to how the treaty could be called a victory. The Muslims did believe in this Divine Revelation as true on the basis of their Faith, but no one could understand what aspect of the victory it had. On hearing this verse, Hadrat 'Umar asked: "Is it a victory, O Messenger of Allah?" The Holy Prophet replied: "Yes." (lbn Jarir) Another Companion came before the Holy Prophet and he also put the same question; whereupon the Holy Prophet replied: "By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, this indeed is a victory." (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Da'ud) On arriving at Madinah still another person said to his companions: "What sort of a victory is it? We were debarred from the House of Allah; our sacrificial camels also could not go to their right places; the Holy Messenger of Allah had to halt at Hudaibiyah, and in consequence of this truce two of our oppressed brothers (Abu Jandal and Abu Basir) were handed over to their oppressors." When this thing reached the Holy Prophet, he said; "A vary wrong thing has been uttered: it indeed is a great victory. You reached the very home of the polytheists, and they had to persuade you to go back by soliciting you to perform 'Umrah the following year; they themselves expressed the desire to suspend hostilities and have peace with you, whereas-their malice and enmity against you is too well-known. Allah has granted you the upper hand over them. Have you forgotten the day when you were fleeing from Uhud and I was calling you back from behind? Have you forgotten the day when the enemy had descended on us from every side in the Battle of the Trench and the hearts were coming up to the throats?" (Baihaqi on the authority of 'Urwah bin Zubair). But not long after this the truce's being a victory began to become manifest, and everyone realized that the triumph of Islam had begun with the treaty of Hudaibiyah. Almost one and the same thing has been related from Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hadrat Jabir bin `Abdullah and Hadrat Bara' bin 'Azib. They are reported to have said: "The people look upon the Conquest of Makkah as the victory, but we regard the truce of Hudaibiyah as the real victory." (Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir).
If the context in which this sentence occurs is kept in view, one will certainly feel that the faults referred to here imply those shortcomings and weaknesses that had remained in the struggle that the Muslims had been making for the success and victory of Islam, under the leadership of the Holy Prophet, for the past nineteen years or so. These shortcomings are not known to any one because the intellect is absolutely helpless to find out any weakness in that struggle. But according to the highest standards of perfection in the sight of Allah there had remained some such weakness in it because of which the Muslims could not attain a decisive victory so soon over the pagans of Arabia. What Allah means to say is this: ¦If you had carried on your struggle along with those weaknesses, it would have taken you much longer to subdue Arabia, but We have overlooked all those weaknesses and shortcomings and compensated for them only through Our grace, and opened for you at Hudaibiyah the door to victory and conquest which you could not have achieved only by your ordinary endeavors"
Here, this thing also should be understood well that for the weaknesses that might occur and remain in the struggle and endeavor that a group might be making for an object, the leader and guide of the group only is addressed. This does not mean that the weaknesses are the leader's personal weaknesses. Those are, in fact, the weaknesses of the struggle that the group is making as a whole; but the address is made to the leader to tell him that his work suffers from such and such a weakness.
However, as the address is directed to the Holy Prophet and declared that Allah has forgiven him all his former and latter faults, the general words also give this meaning that Allah pardoned all the shortcomings (which were the shortcomings in view of his high position) of His Holy Messenger. That is why when the Companions saw that he took extraordinary pains over his worship, they would say: `Why do you subject yourself to such hardships when all your former and latter errors and shortcomings have been pardoned?" the Holy Prophet would reply: "Should I not behave as a grateful servant?" (Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud).
"Perfection of his blessings" implies that the Muslims should become wholly free to live their lives in accordance with Islamic civilization, Islamic law and commandments, secure from every fear, every resistance and every external interference, and they should also be blessed with the power that they may uphold Allah's Word throughout the world. Dominance of disbelief and wickedness which may be a hindrance in the way of Allah's worship and an obstacle in the struggle in propagating Allah's Word, is the greatest calamity for the believers; the Qur'an calls it 'fitnah " (mischief). Delivered and freed from this calamity when they arc able to achieve an abode of Islam (darul-Islam) in which the Divine Religion is enforced in its entirety, and along with that they are also provided with the means and resources by which they may establish faith and righteousness on Allah's earth in place of disbelief and wickedness, this would be the perfection of Allah's blessing on them. As this blessing was achieved by the Muslims only through the Holy Prophet, Allah addressed only him and said: "We willed to complete Our blessing on you; therefore we have granted this victory to you."
“The right way": the way to conquest and success. In other words, it implies that by causing the treaty to be concluded at Hudaibiyah Allah paved the way for and inspired the Holy Prophet with the plan by which he could subdue all the forces that were resisting Islam.
Another translation can be: "Bestow on you an unprecedented victory," for the word aziz in the original may mean mighty as well as unprecedented and unparalleled. According to the first meaning, the sentence means: "By means of this treaty Allah has helped you in a way as to make your enemies helpless"; and according to the second, it means: "Seldom has this novel method ever been adopted to help somebody, that a thing which apparently is a mere peace treaty, and that too a treaty concluded from a weak position, would turn into a decisive victory."
"Sakinat" in Arabic is calmness and tranquility and peace of mind. Here Allah calls its being sent into the hearts of the believers an important factor in the victory that Islam and the Muslims achieved at Hudaibiyah. From a study of the conditions of the tuns one comes to know what kind of a Sakinat it was that was sent down into the hearts of the Muslims during that period and how it became a source of victory. If at the time when the Holy Prophet expressed his intention to go for 'Umrah to Makkah, the Muslims had become terror-stricken and started behaving like the hypocrites as if they were going into the very jaws of death, or if at the time when they heard the news on the way that the disbelieving Quraish were coming out in great strength to fight them, they had been alarmed as to how they would face the enemy un-armed, and thus become panic-stricken, obviously no benefits would have resulted from Hudaibiyah at all. Then, if at the time when at Hudaibiyah the disbelievers had stopped the Muslims from going any further, and when they had tried to provoke them by launching against them repeated sudden attacks, and when the rumor of Hadrat 'Uthman's martyrdom had spread, and when Abu Jandal had appeared on the scene as the very image of oppression and persecution, the Muslims had actually become provoked and broken the discipline that the Holy Prophet had instilled in them, the result would have been disastrous. Above all, if at the time when the Holy Prophet was going to conclude the treaty on the conditions which were un-acceptable to the entire party of the Muslims, the Muslims had happened to disobey him, the great victory of Hudaibiyah would have turned into a humiliating defeat. Thus, it was all because of Allah's bounty that on all these critical moments the Muslims were blessed with full peace of mind with regard to the leadership and guidance of the Holy Prophet, the truth of Islam and the truthfulness of their mission. This is why they decided with a cool mind that they would face and accept whatever hardships they would encounter in the way of Allah; that is why they remained safe from fear, confusion, provocation and despair; that is why perfect discipline continues to prevail in the camp; and that is why, in spite of being deeply grieved at the conditions of peace, they submitted to the decision taken by the Holy Prophet. This was the sakinat that Allah had sent down into the hearts of the Muslims, and it was all because of this that the dangerous step of undertaking a journey for performing 'Umrah became the prelude to a unique victory.
That is, "One Faith they already had before they set out on this expedition; they attained the additional Faith when they remained steadfast on the way of sincerity, piety and obedience in every trial that they faced in connection with the expedition. " This verse is one of those verses which show that Faith is not a static state which is incapable of growth, but it develops as well as decays and deteriorates. After embracing Islam till death the believer at every step in his life continues to be confronted with such tests and trials in which he has to take a decision whether in following the Divine Religion he is prepared to sacrifice his life, his wealth, his sentiments, desires, time, comforts and interests or not. If at the time of every such trial he adopts the way of sacrifice, his Faith progresses and develops, and if he turns away his Faith decays and deteriorates till a time may also come when the initial state of the Faith with which he had entered Islam is even endangered to be lost and destroyed. (For further explanation. see E.N. 2 of Surah AI-Anfal and E.N. 38 of AI-Ahzab).
It means this: Allah has such hosts by which He can destroy and exterminate the disbelievers completely whenever He wills, but He has deliberately and by wisdom only placed this responsibility on the believers that they should enter a conflict with the disbelievers and struggle to make the Religion of Allah prevail and prosper in the world. In this way alone does a door to the enhancement of their ranks and successes in the Hereafter open as is being indicated in the following verse'.
In the Qur'an generally mention of the rewards for the believers is made collectively and separate mention is not made of the rewards for the men and the women But here, since the general mention of giving the rewards could cause the doubt that this reward may perhaps be only meant for the men. Allah has made a separate mention of the believing women, saying that they too would be equal partners in this reward with the believing men. The reason is obvious. Those God-fearing women who encouraged their husbands, sons, brothers and fathers to proceed on the dangerous journey instead of stopping them from it and discouraging them by crying and wailing, who looked after their houses, their properties, their honor and children in their absence faithfully, who did not even feel the alarm lest at the sudden departure of 1,400 of the Companions the disbelievers and hypocrites of the surrounding areas would attack the city, should certainly have become equal partners with their men in the reward of Jihad although they stayed behind in their homes.
That is, that He may pardon whatever errors they might have committed because of human weaknesses, remove every trace and mark of the errors from them before admitting them into Paradise so that they may enter Paradise absolutely free from every evil that may cause them embarrassment.
The hypocrites living in the suburbs of Madinah were thinking, as has been stated in verse 12 below, that the Holy Prophet and his Companions would not return alive from that journey. As for the polytheists of Makkah and their pagan companions, they were thinking that they had successfully put to rout the Holy Prophet and his Companions by preventing them from performing `Umrah. In fact, whatever these two groups had thought they had this misunderstanding about Allah that He would not help His Messenger and in the conflict between the Truth and falsehood would allow falsehood to defeat and frustrate the Truth.
That is, "They were encompassed by the same evil fate which they wanted to avoid and against which they had devised all those plans, and their same plans caused the evil fate to be hastened."
Here the theme of verse 4 has been reiterated for another object. There, the object was to state that Allah instead of employing His supernatural hosts to fight the disbelievers had employed the believers for it only because He willed to favor them. Here, the theme has been repeated to say that in order to punish the one whom Allah wills to punish He can employ whichever of His countless hosts He likes for the purpose; no one has the power to avert His punishment by his own plans.