The Quran

Commentaries for 49.11

Al Hujraat (The apartments) - الحجرات

49.11 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk) this was revealed about Thabit Ibn Qays Ibn Shammas who mentioned a man of the Helpers with something bad; he mentioned the man's mother about whom he used to taunted in the pre-Islamic period, but Allah forbade him from saying ill things about fellow believers, saying: (O ye who believe) in Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an; referring here specifically to Thabit! (Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are)) in the sight of Allah and also better in the share they have with Him, (nor let women (deride) women) this was revealed about two of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) who derided Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet, and Allah forbade them from doing so (who may be better than they are) in the sight of Allah and also better in the share they have with Him; (neither defame one another) do not defame your believing brothers nor backbite against each other, (nor insult one another by nicknames) which were used in the pre-Islamic period. (Bad is the name of lewdness) it is bad to call your brother: “O Jew”, “O Christian”, “O Magian” (after faith) after having accepted faith and turned his back on all that. (And whoso turneth not in repentance) from calling his brothers with such names and nicknames after having accepted faith, (such are evil-doers) such are those who harm themselves with punishment. This was revealed about Abu Burdah Ibn Malik al-Ansari and 'Abdullah Ibn Hadrad al-Aslami who had a dispute and Allah forbade them from doing so.
49.11 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
O you who believe, do not let any people, that is, any men among you, deride (yā ayyuhā’lladhīna āmanū lā yaskhar … [to the end of] the verse, was revealed regarding the [Banū] Tamīm delegation when they derided the poor among the Muslims, like ‘Ammār [b. Yāsir] and Suhayb [al-Rūmī]; al-sukhriya means ‘scorn’ and ‘disdain’) another people: who may be better than they are, in God’s sight; nor let any women, from among you, deride [other] women who may be better than they are. And do not defame one another, do not cast aspersions [on others] and hence have aspersions cast on you, that is, let none among you denigrate another; nor insult one another by nicknames, do not call another by a nickname which he detests, such as ‘O degenerate one!’ or ‘O disbeliever!’. Evil is the name, mentioned out of mockery, derision and mutual reviling, of immorality after faith! (al-fusūqu ba‘da’l-īmāni substitutes for al-ismu, ‘the name’, to indicate that it [such naming of others] is ‘immorality’ as it is [an action which is] usually repeated). And whoever does not repent, of such [immorality], those — they are the evildoers.
49.11 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Prohibition of mocking and ridiculing One Another
Allah the Exalted forbids scoffing at people, which implies humiliating and belittling them. In the Sahih, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
«الْكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الْحَقِّ وَغَمْصُ النَّاس»
(Arrogance is refusing the truth and belittling people.) And in another Version
«غَمْطُ النَّاس»
(And despising people) It is forbidden to scoff at and belittle people, for the injured party could be more honored and dearer to Allah the Exalted than those who ridicule and belittle them. This is why Allah the Exalted said,
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُونُواْ خَيْراً مِّنْهُمْ وَلاَ نِسَآءٌ مِّن نِّسَآءٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْراً مِّنْهُنَّ
(O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former.) thus, stating this prohibition for men and then women. The statement of Allah the Exalted,
وَلاَ تَلْمِزُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Nor defame yourselves,) forbids defaming each other. He among men who is a slanderer, and a backbiter, is cursed and condemned as Allah states
وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ
(Woe to every Humazah, Lumazah)(104:1) Hamz is defamation by action, while Lamz is by words. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said,
هَمَّازٍ مَّشَّآءِ بِنَمِيمٍ
(Hammaz (defaming), going about with slander.) (68:11) meaning, he belittles and defames people, transgressing and spreading slander among them, which is the Lamz that uses words as its tool. Allah's statement here,
وَلاَ تَلْمِزُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Nor defame yourselves,) just as He said in another Ayah,
وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Nor kill yourselves) (4:29), meaning, nor kill one another. `Abdullah bin `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that the Ayah,
وَلاَ تَلْمِزُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Nor defame yourselves,) means, none of you should defame each other,' while,
وَلاَ تَنَابَزُواْ بِالاٌّلْقَـبِ
(nor insult one another by nicknames.) means, `you should not address people by nick names that people dislike.' Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Jabirah bin Ad-Dahhak said, "This Ayah was revealed about us, Banu Salamah;
وَلاَ تَنَابَزُواْ بِالاٌّلْقَـبِ
(nor insult one another by nicknames.) When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, every man among us had two or three nicknames. When the Prophet called a man by one of these nicknames, people would say, `O Allah's Messenger! He hates that nickname.' Then this Ayah,
وَلاَ تَنَابَزُواْ بِالاٌّلْقَـبِ
(nor insult one another by nicknames.) was revealed.'' Abu Dawud also collected this Hadith. The statement of Allah the Exalted and Most Honored,
بِئْسَ الاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الايمَانِ
(Evil is the name of wickedness after faith), means, the names and descriptions of wickedness are evil; meaning, `to use the nicknames that were used by the people of Jahiliyyah, after you embraced Islam and understood it,'
وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ
(And whosoever does not repent,) means, from this sin,
فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّـلِمُونَ
(then such are indeed wrongdoers.)
49.11 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In the preceding two verses after giving necessary instructions about the Muslim people's mutual fighting, the believers were made to realize that by virtue of the most sacred relationship of the faith they were brothers one to another, and they should fear God and try to keep their mutual relations right. Now, in the following two verses, they are being enjoined to avoid and shun those major evils which generally spoil the mutual relationships of the people in a society. Slandering and taunting the people and harboring suspicions and spying on others are, in fact, the evils that cause mutual enmities and then lead to grave mischief. In this connection, from the commandments that are being given in the following verses and the explanations of these found in the Hadith a detailed law of libel can be compiled. The western law pertaining to libel in this regard is so defective that a person who sues another under this law may well cause some loss to his own honor. The Islamic law, on the contrary,, recognizes a basic honor for every person and gives nobody the right to attack it, no matter whether the attack is based on reality or not, and whether the person who has been attacked has a `reputation" of his own or not. Only the fact that a person has debased and humiliated the other person is enough to declare him a criminal unless, of course, it is proved. that the humiliation caused had a legal ground for it.
Mocking does not only imply mocking with the tongue but it also includes mimicking somebody, making pointed references to him, laughing at his words, or his works, or his appearance, or his dress, or calling the people's attention to some defect or blemish in him so that others also may laugh at him. All this is included in mocking. What is actually forbidden is that one should make fun of and ridicule another, for under such ridiculing there always lie feelings of one's own superiority and the other's abasement and contempt, which are morally unworthy of a gentleman. Moreover, it hurts the other person, which causes mischief to spread in society. That is why it has been forbidden,
To make mention of the men and the women separately does not mean that it is lawful for the men to mock the women or the women to mock the men. The actual reason for making a separate mention of the two sexes is that Islam does not at all believe in mixed society. Ridiculing each other generally takes place in mixed gatherings and Islam does not permit that non-mahram males and females should meet in such gatherings and make fun of each other. Therefore, in a Muslim society it is inconceivable that the men would mock a woman, or the women would mock a man in an assembly.
The word lamz as used in the original is very comprehensive and applies to ridiculing, reviling, deriding, jeering, charging somebody or finding fault with him, and making him the target of reproach and blame by open or tacit references. As all such things also spoil mutual relationships and create bad blood in society, they have been forbidden. Instead of saying, “Do not taunt one another", it has been said "Do not taunt yourselves", which by itself shows that the one who uses taunting words for others, in fact, taunts his own self. Obviously, a person does not use invectives against others unless he himself is filled with evil feelings and is almost in a state of bursting like a volcano. Thus, tire one who nourishes such feelings has made his own self a nest of evils before he makes others a target, Then, when he taunts others, it means that he is inviting others to taunt him. It is a different matter that the other person may evade his attacks because of a gentle nature, but he himself has opened the door to mischief so that the other may treat him likewise.
This Command requires that a person should not be called by a name or a title which may cause him humiliation, e.g. calling somebody a sinner or a hypocrite, or calling someone a lame or blind one, or one-eyed, or giving him a nickname containing a reference to some defect or blemish in him, or in his parents, or in his family, or calling a person a Jew or a Christian even after his conversion to Islam, or giving such a nickname to a person, or a family, or a community, or a group, which may bring condemnation or disgrace on it. Only those nicknames have been made an exception from this Command, which though apparently offensive, are not intended to condemn the persons concerned, but they rather serve as a mark of recognition for them. That is why the traditionists have allowed as permissible names like Suleman al-A`mash (the weak-eyed Suleman) and Wasil' al-Ahdab (the hunch-backed Wasil) among the reporters of the Hadith. If there are several men of the same name and a particular man among them may be recognized only by a particular title or nickname of his, the title or nickname can be used, even though the title by itself may be offensive. For instance, if there are several men called `Abdullah, and one of them is blind, he may be called Abdullah the blind, for his recognition. Likewise, those titles also are excluded from this Command, which though apparently offensive, are in fact, given out of love and the people who are called by those titles themselves approve them, like Abu Hurairah (father of the kitten) and Abu Turab (father of the dust).
That is, "It is very shameful for a believer that in spite of being a believer he should earn a name for using abusive language and for immodest behavior. If a disbeliever earns reputation for himself for mocking the people, or taunting them, or for proposing evil and offensive titles for others, it may not be a good reputation from the point of view of humanity, but it at least goes well with his disbelief. But if a person after affirming the Faith in Allah and His Messenger and the Hereafter earns reputation on account of these base qualities, it is simply regrettable.
49.11 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are)…) [49:11]. This was revealed about Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shimas. The latter was hard of hearing and when he came to see the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, the Companions made room for him in order for him to sit next to the Prophet so that he could hear him. He came one day when people were already seated and started stepping over people, saying: “Make room! Make room!” One man said to him: “You have found a place, so sit down!” Thabit sat down but he was angry. He tried to tease the man. He said: “Who are you?” The man said: “So-and-so”. Thabit exclaimed: “What, the son of so-and-so”, and he mentioned his mother about whom they used to taunt him in the pre-Islamic period. The man lowered his head out of embarrassment. Then, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse. (… not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are) [49:11]. This was revealed about two of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who derided Umm Salamah. What happened is that the latter tied her loins with a white dress and spread its extremity behind her such that she dragged it behind her. ‘A’ishah said to Hafsah: “Look at what she is dragging behind her! It looks like a dog’s tongue”. This was their derision of her. Anas said: “This was revealed about the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who made fun of Umm Salamah because she was short. ‘Ikrimah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn Akhtab went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, women revile me, saying: O Jewess, daughter of Jewish parents!’ The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to her: ‘Could you not have said to them in reply: my father is Aaron, my uncle is Moses and my husband is Muhammad’. Then, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. (…nor insult one another by nicknames…) [49:11]. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Mihrajani informed us> Abu ‘Abd Allah ibn Battah> ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz> Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Marwazi> Hafs ibn Ghiyath> Dawud ibn Abi Hind> al-Sha‘bi> Abu Jubayrah ibn al-Dahhak> his father and uncles who said: “The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, came to us and, when some men used nicknames to call others, it was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, those who are called by these nicknames do not like it’. This verse was then revealed (…nor insult one another by nicknames…)”.