Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 137

قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ سُنَنٌ فَسِيرُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ فَٱنظُرُوا۟ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَٰقِبَةُ ٱلْمُكَذِّبِينَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Similar situations [as yours] have passed on before you, so proceed throughout the earth and observe how was the end of those who denied.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The patterns to which the sūrah refers here, and to which it draws the attention of the believers, concern the fate of those who, throughout history, denied God’s message and described it as a lie, and the fact that days of fortune and misfortune alternate between people and communities. The patterns identified also test people in order to know whether they are truly believers, and patient in adversity. Another pattern of importance is the fact that victory is always granted to those who are steadfast, while the unbelievers are blotted out. As these corresponding parts are outlined, much encouragement is given to the believers to persevere and remain steadfast. They are consoled for their misfortune, which has not befallen them alone. A similar one has befallen their enemies. They should remember that they have a superior faith and aim to those of their enemies and that they enjoy Divine guidance and have a perfect constitution.
Moreover, ultimate victory will be theirs, while their opponents will be vanquished: “Many patterns have passed away before you. Go about the earth and see what was the fate of those who described the truth as lies.” The Qur’ān relates the present to the past in order to point to the future. The Arabs who were the first to be addressed  by  the  Qur’ān  had  nothing  in  their  lives,  neither  experience  nor knowledge, prior to Islam, to enable them to have such a wide view of life and its events. Islam indeed gave them a new life and made out of them a nation to lead mankind.
The tribal system in their community could never have enabled them to appreciate the relationship between the life of the people of Arabia, or indeed human life in general, and the laws of nature which govern everything in life. The new concept, Islam, represented a great departure which could not have developed out of their tribal society or their life conditions. It was given to them by their new faith. They were elevated to this standard within a quarter of a century, while their contemporaries could not manage to reach this level for many centuries to come. They could not for many generations recognise that the laws of nature never fail. When  they  did,  however,  they  overlooked  the  fact  that  God’s  will  is  free  and absolute, and that to Him all matters are referred. This nation of Islam was able to recognise all this and to understand it. That enabled it to appreciate the balance between God’s free will and the constant laws of nature. Thus, they conducted their lives on the basis of working within the laws of nature, reassured that God can accomplish what He wills at any time He chooses.
“Many patterns have passed away before you.” These have taken place according to rules and systems which are established by God’s free will to govern life. What happened at other times will also happen in your own time, according to God’s will. What was applicable to other people is applicable to you as well. “Go about the earth”, because the earth is a single unity and a stage on which human life is played out. Life is an open book for people of intellect to contemplate. “Go about the earth and see what was the fate of those who described the truth as lies.” Their fate is evidenced by what they have left behind and by what we know of their history. The Qur’ān mentions some of these in different places. In some cases, it identifies people, places and times. In other instances, it makes general references which establish a general rule: what happened to those who rejected the truth and described it as a lie in past generations will happen to those who reject the truth today and tomorrow. This reassures the Muslim community in respect to what will ultimately happen, and, on the other hand, it serves as a warning against being too complacent with such people. There were important reasons for providing such reassurance and warning, as we will see in this long passage.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *

3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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“This Surah consists of four discourses:

  • The first discourse (v. 1-32) was probably revealed soon after the Battle of Badr.
  • The second discourse (v. 33-63) was revealed in 9 A.H. (After Hijrah - migration from Makkah to Madinah) on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christians of Najran.
  • The third discourse (v. 64-120) appears to have been revealed immediately after the first one.
  • The fourth discourse (v. 121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud.” [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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1. The Believers had met with all sorts of trials and hardships about which they had been forewarned in Al-Baqarah. Though they had come out victorious in the Battle of Badr they were not out of danger yet. Their victory had aroused the enmity of all those powers in Arabia which were opposed to the islamic Movement. Signs of threatening storms had begun to appear on all sides and the Muslims were in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. It looked as if the whole Arabian world around the tiny state of Madinah - which was no more than a village state at that time - was bent upon blotting out its very existence. This state of war was also adversely affecting its economy which had already been badly disturbed by the influx of the Muslim refugees from Makkah.

2. Then there was the disturbing problem of the Jewish clans who lived in the suburbs of Madinah. They were discarding the treaties of alliance they had made with the Prophet after his migration from Makkah. So much so that on the occasion of the Battle of Badr these people of the Book sympathized with the evil aims of the idolaters in spite of the fact that their fundamental articles of Faith - Monotheism, Prophethood and Life-after-death - were the same as those of the Muslims. After the Battle of Badr they openly began to incite the Quraysh and other Arab clans to wreak their vengeance on the Muslims. Thus those Jewish clans set aside their centuries-old friendly and neighbourly relations with the people of Madinah. At last when their mischievous actions and breaches of treaties became unbearable the Prophet attacked the Bani-Qaynuqah, the most mischievous of all the other Jewish clans who had conspired with the hypocrites of Madinah and the idolatrous Arab clans to encircle the Believers on all sides. The magnitude of the peril might be judged from the fact that even the life of the Prophet himself was always in danger. Therefore his Companions slept in their armours during that period and kept watch at night to guard against any sudden attack and whenever the Prophet happened to be out of sight even for a short while they would at once set out in search of him.

3. This incitement by the Jews added fuel to the fire which was burning in the hearts of the Quraysh and they began to make preparations to avenge the defeat they had suffered at Badr. A year after this an army of 3000 strong marched out of Makkah to invade Madinah and a battle took place at the foot of Mount Uhud. The Prophet came out of Madinah with one thousand men to meet the enemy. While they were marching to the battlefield three hundred hypocrites deserted the army and returned to Madinah but there still remained a small band of hypocrites among the seven hundred who accompanied the Prophet. They played their part and did their utmost to create mischief and chaos in the ranks of the Believers during the Battle. This was the first clear indication of the fact that within the fold of the Muslim Community there was quite a large number of saboteurs who were always ready to conspire with the external enemies to harm their own brethren.

4. Though the devices of the hypocrites had played a great part in the set-back at Uhud, the weaknesses of the Muslims themselves contributed no less to it. And it was but natural that the Muslims should show signs of moral weakness for they were a new community which had only recently been formed on a new ideology and had not as yet got a thorough moral training. Naturally in this second hard test of their physical and moral strength some weaknesses came to the surface. That is why a detailed review of the Battle of Uhud was needed to warn the Muslims of their shortcomings and to issue instructions for their reform. It should also be noted that this review of the Battle is quite different from the reviews that are usually made by generals on similar occasions.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

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11. Tafsir Zone


12. External Links

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