Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(O ye who believe! If an evil-liver) this was revealed about al-Walid Ibn 'Uqbah Ibn Ma'it who was sent by the Prophet (pbuh) to Banu'l-Mustaliq to collect their alms; instead he came back claiming that they wanted to kill him. The Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions were about to set forth to conquer them but Allah forbade them from doing so, saying: O you who believe in Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an if a hypocrite, al-Walid Ibn 'Uqbah, (bring you tidings) brings you news about Banu'l-Mustaliq, (verify it) check whether the news are true or false, (lest ye smite some folk in ignorance and afterward repent of what ye did) regret killing them.
The following was revealed regarding al-Walīd b. ‘Uqba whom the Prophet had sent to the Banū al-Mustaliq in order to ascertain [their loyalty to Islam]. He already feared them on account of an old feud between him and them from the time of pagandom [before Islam], and so [upon seeing them come out to him] he returned and claimed that they had refused to give the voluntary alms and intended to kill him. And just as the Prophet (s) was making plans to raid them, they came to him to disavow what he [al-Walīd] had said about them: O you who believe, if a reprobate should come to you with some tiding, some piece of information, verify [it], [ascertain] his truthfulness from his mendacity (fa-tabayyanū: a variant reading has fa-tathabbatū, from al-thabāt, ‘to ascertain’), lest you injure a folk (an tusībū qawman, an object denoting reason), that is to say, for fear of this [happening], out of ignorance (bi-jahālatin is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the subject [of the verb]), that is to say while you are ignorant; and then become remorseful of what you have perpetrated, erroneously against that folk. After they had returned to their homelands, the Prophet (s) sent Khālid [b. al-Walīd] to them, who observed only obedience and goodness in them and [later] informed the Prophet of this.
(And if they had patience till you could come out to them, it would have been better for them.) it would have earned them the better benefit of this life and the Hereafter. Allah, Worthy of all praise, then encourages them to turn to Him in repentance.
وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(And Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful.) It was reported that this Ayah was revealed about Al-Aqra` bin Habis At-Tamimi, may Allah be pleased with him, according to more than one source. Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Aqra` bin Habis said that he called the Messenger of Allah from behind his dwellings, saying, "O Muhammad! O Muhammad!'' "O Allah's Messenger!'' according to another narration, but the Messenger did not answer him, Al-Aqra` said, "O Allah's Messenger.
Investigating the Reliability of the News conveyed by Wicked People
Allah the Exalted ordered investigating the news that sinners and the wicked bring, to make sure of its authenticity. Otherwise, if the sinner's word is taken for granted and a decision is based on it, regardless of whether the information is true or not, the authorities will be taking the lead of the sinners. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored forbade taking the path of the corrupted and sinners. This is why groups of the scholars of Hadith refuse to accept narrations from narrators whose reliability is unknown, for they might be from among the wicked people, in reality.
The Prophet's Decision is Better
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Most of the commentators have expressed the view that this verse was sent down concerning Walid bin 'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'ait. Its background is this: When the tribe of the Bani al-Mustaliq embraced Islam, the Holy Prophet sent Walid bin `Uqbah to collect the zakat from them. When he arrived in their territory, he became scared due to some reason and without visiting the people of the tribe returned to Madinah and complained to the Holy Prophet that they had refused to pay the zakat and had even wanted to kill him. On hearing this the Holy Prophet became very angry and he made up his mind to dispatch a contingent to punish those people. According to some traditions he had dispatched the contingent, and according to others, he was about to dispatch it. In any case all agree that in the meantime the chief of the Bani al-Mustaliq, Harith bin Dirar (father of Juwairiyah, wife of the Holy Prophet), arrived at the head of a deputation, and submitted: "By God, we did not at all see Walid; therefore, there could be no question of refusing to pay the zakat and wanting to kill him. We arc steadfast to the Faith and have no intention to withhold the zakat. " At this, this verse was sent down. With a little variation in wording this incident has been related by Imam Ahmad, Abi Hatim, Tabarani, and Ibn Jarir, on the authority of Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, Harith bin Dirar, Mujahid, Qatadah, 'Abdur Rehman bin Abi Laila, Yazid bin Ruman, Dahhak and Muqatil bin Hayyan. In the tradition reported by Hadrat Umm Salamah this whole story has been related likewise but there is no reference to the name of Walid.
On this critical occasion when on account of believing in a baseless report a grave blunder was about to be committed, Allah gave the Muslims this guiding principle to be followed on receipt of news: 'Whenever you receive important news bearing upon a vital matter, you should not accept it immediately but should first examine the man who has brought it. If he is an evil man whose report they not be authentic normally, you should inquire into it carefully to ascertain the truth instead of accepting it and acting on it immediately." From this Divine Command An important legal principle is deduced, the sphere of application of which is very vast. According to it, it is not permissible for a Muslim government to take any action against a person or a group or a nation on the basis of the reports provided by the secret agents whose character might be doubtful. On the basis of this very principle the traditionists introduced the art of critical appraisal in the science of Hadith in order to determine the value and worth of the people through whom traditions of the Holy Prophet reached the later generations, and the jurists established this principle in the law of evidence that in a matter from which a Shari'ah value can be deduced, or a duty imposed on a person; the evidence of an evil man would be unacceptable. However, all scholars agree that as far as the common worldly matters are concerned it is not necessary to ascertain the truth of every news and the reliability of every informer. For the word used in the verse is naba'. which does not apply to every news but only to the news of consequence. That is why the jurists say that this principle does not apply in the case of ordinary matters. For example, if a person goes to visit somebody and seeks permission to enter the house, and a person comes out and conveys the permission, he can enter the house accordingly no matter whether the one conveying the permission from the master of the house was good or bad. Likewise, the scholars are also agreed that the evidence, as well as the report, of the people whose evil does not relate to lying and immorality, but they are regarded as unrighteous only on account of false beliefs, will also be acceptable. Only the falsehood of heir creed cannot be a hindrance to accepting their evidence or reports.
This is evident from the context as well as understood by several commentators from this verse that the Holy Prophet was hesitant to take any military action against the Bani al-Mustaliq on the report given by Walid bin 'Uqbah in their case, but some of the people insisted that they should be attacked at once. At this those people were warned that they should not forget that the Holy Prophet was present among them, who understood them better than they did. Therefore, their thinking that the Holy prophet should act according to their counsel in important matters was undue boldness. For if he started acting according to what they counseled it would generally lead to blunders for which they themselves would have to suffer.
It means this: The whole community of the believers has not committed the error that was committed by those few people who wanted the Holy Prophet to act as they counseled, and the believing community s remaining steadfast on the right path was due to the reason that Allah by His bounty and grace had endeared to them the path of the Faith and made unbelief, wrongdoing and disobedience abhorrent to them. The addressees in the two parts of this verse are two separate groups. The sentence beginning with lau yuti'ukum is not addressed to the entire class of the Companions but only to those particular Companions who were insisting that the Bani al-Mustaliq should be attacked at once, and the sentence beginning with wa lakin-nallaha.., is addressed to the general class of the Companions who would never dare insist on their own opinion and view before the Holy Messenger of Allah, but had full faith in his leadership and remained steadfast on the path of obedience, which is, and should he, the demand of true Faith. From this it cannot be concluded that those who had insisted on their own opinion were devoid of the love of the Faith, but what becomes obvious from this is that they had become forgetful of this demand of the Faith because of which they made the error of insisting on their own opinion in the presence of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, Allah first warned them of their error, then of its evil consequences, and finally stated that the right attitude for a believer was the one that had been adopted by the generality of the Companions.
That is, "Allah does not bestow His bounty and favor blindly, but He grants this great blessing to whomever He grants on the basis of wisdom and His knowledge that he is worthy of it. "
…If a reprobate comes to you with some tiding…He said:The reprobate (fāsiq) is a liar (kadhdhāb). The inner meaning of the verse is to teach (taʾdīb) a person who has been informed of someone’s derogation of him, that he should not rush into exacting retribution on them, without having found out about [the matter] for himself.His words:
(O ye who believe! If an evil-liver bring you tidings, verify it…) [49:6-8]. These verse were revealed about al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘ayt. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent him to collect the poor-due from Banu’l-Mustaliq. However, there was an old enmity between him and them in the pre-Islamic period. When these people heard of his coming, they came out to receive him out of reverence for Allah, exalted is He, and His Messenger. But he was scared of them and the devil whispered to him that they wanted to kill him. He returned halfway and went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, saying: “Banu’l-Mustaliq have refused to pay the poor-due and wanted to kill me”. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, became angry and was about to attack them. Meanwhile, when Banu’l-Mustaliq realised that the emissary had gone back, they went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: “We heard of your emissary and we went out to receive him, honour him and give him that which was due upon us of the right of Allah, exalted is He. But your emissary went back and we feared that what sent him back might be a message he received from you because you are angry with us. And we seek refuge in Allah from His wrath and from the wrath of His Messenger”. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (O ye who believe! If an evil-liver) i.e. al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah (bring you tidings, verify it…). Al-Hakim Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Shadhyakhi informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zakariyya al-Shaybani> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Daghuli> Sa‘id ibn Mas‘ud> Muhammad ibn Sabiq> ‘Isa ibn Dinar> his father> al-Harith ibn Dirar who said: “I went to see the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and he invited me to embrace Islam. I embraced Islam and believed. He enjoined me to pay the poor-due and I agreed. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I will go to my people and invite them to embrace Islam and pay the poor-due. I will collect the poor-due from whoever accepts my invitation and at such-and-such a time you send for me so that I bring you the poor-due I collect’ ”. When al-Harith ibn Dirar collected the poor-due from those who accepted to embrace Islam and it was the agreed time for sending it to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, the emissary failed to show. Al-Harith thought that Allah and His Messenger were angry with him. He gathered the leaders of his people and said to them: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, has set a specific time for me to send an emissary to collect the poor-due that I have with me. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, does not go back on his word. I think that the emissary has failed to show up because of anger. Let us go to see the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace”. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, had sent al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah to al-Harith to fetch the poor-due that the latter had collected. After travelling a while, al-Walid got scared and returned back. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, al-Harith refused to hand the poor-due over to me and wanted to kill me”. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent a dispatch to al-Harith and met al-Harith and his companions who were coming to see the Prophet close to Medina. Al-Harith met them there and they recognized him. He asked them: “To whom have you been sent?” They said: “To you”. “Why?” he asked. They said: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent you al-Walid ibn ‘Uqbah but he came back claiming that you refused to give him the poor-due and that you wanted to kill him”. He said: “No, by Him Who has sent Muhammad with the truth; I did not see him nor did he come to me”. When al-Harith entered in on the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, he said to him: “You withheld the poor-due and wanted to kill my emissary!” Al-Harith said: “No, by Him Who has sent Muhammad with the truth; I did not see your emissary nor did he come to me. I only came when your emissary failed to show up and I feared that Allah and His Messenger might be angry with us”. Then these verses of al-Hujurat were revealed (O ye who believe! If an evil-liver bring you tidings, verify it, lest ye smite some folk in ignorance and afterward repent of what ye did) up to His words ((It is) a bounty and a grace from Allah; and Allah is Knower, Wise) [49:8].