Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 152

وَلَقَدْ صَدَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَعْدَهُۥٓ إِذْ تَحُسُّونَهُم بِإِذْنِهِۦ ۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا فَشِلْتُمْ وَتَنَٰزَعْتُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْرِ وَعَصَيْتُم مِّنۢ بَعْدِ مَآ أَرَىٰكُم مَّا تُحِبُّونَ ۚ مِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَمِنكُم مَّن يُرِيدُ ٱلْءَاخِرَةَ ۚ ثُمَّ صَرَفَكُمْ عَنْهُمْ لِيَبْتَلِيَكُمْ ۖ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا عَنكُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And Allāh had certainly fulfilled His promise to you when you were killing them [i.e., the enemy] by His permission until [the time] when you lost courage and fell to disputing about the order [given by the Prophet] and disobeyed after He had shown you that which you love. Among you are some who desire this world, and among you are some who desire the Hereafter. Then he turned you back from them [defeated] that He might test you. And He has already forgiven you, and Allāh is the possessor of bounty for the Believers.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The sūrah paints a full picture of the battlefield and the succession of victory and defeat. Every movement, every impression, every facial expression and every fleeting thought is recorded. The Qur’ānic description is like a film reel which shows every movement in vivid and sharp detail. This particularly applies to the image of people fleeing from the battlefield and charging up the mountain in panic, as the Prophet called out to them. Coupled with this is a picture of the thoughts, impressions and reactions people entertained. On top of it all, we have a number of directives and statements which are characteristic of the Qur’ānic style and its remarkable method of educating believers.

“God fulfilled to you His promise, when, by His leave, you were about to destroy them.” This was at the beginning of the battle, when the Muslims began to steadily put an end to all resistance shown by the idolaters, and to destroy their forces. At that time, they were not distracted by the loot which loomed large. The Prophet had said to them: “You will be victorious as long as you remain steadfast.” God has fulfilled that promise which He gave them through His Prophet.

“But then you lost heart and disagreed with one another concerning [the Prophet’s command] and disobeyed after God had brought you within view of that for which you were longing. Some of you cared only for this world and some cared for the life to come.” This is a description of what took place among the archers. A group of them felt the temptation too strongly. They wanted their share of the booty. They argued with those who maintained that they must obey the Messenger’s command literally. Their argument led to disobedience when they saw the clear indications of the victory they longed to achieve. Thus, they were split into two groups: one caring only for worldly gains, and the other looking only for God’s reward in the hereafter. Discord was sown and the believers were no longer one force, working for one goal. Dedication, which is absolutely necessary in every battle fought for the sake of faith, was tainted with greed. What is important to remember is that a battle fought for the sake of faith is unique in that it is fought both on the battlefield and in people’s hearts. Victory in the former is dependent on victory in the latter. It is a battle fought for the sake of God. Therefore, God gives victory in it to those who are totally dedicated to Him.

Since they have raised the banner of God, He does not grant them victory until He has tested them and ascertained their dedication, so that there can be no false pretences. Sometimes, those who clearly raise the banner of falsehood in battle are given victory, for a purpose known to God alone. But it has to be understood that those who raise the banner of faith without demonstrating complete dedication are never granted victory by God until they have proven that they have passed the test. This is the message the Qur’ān wants to state clearly to the Muslim community, using this  particular  battle  as  their  reference  point.  He  wanted  the  first  Muslim community to learn this as it suffered bitter defeat as a result of a confused and shaky attitude.
“Some of you cared only for this world and some cared for the life to come.” Here the Qur’ān sheds light on what is deep in people’s hearts. The Muslims themselves did not know that they entertained such thoughts. `Abdullāh ibn Mas`ūd, the Prophet’s Companion said: “I never thought that any of the Companions of the Prophet would care for worldly gains, until God revealed in the Qur’ān describing our situation in Uĥud: “Some of you cared only for this world and some cared for the life to come.” Their hearts are thus laid open before them so that they can determine the causes of their defeat.
At the same time, the Qur’ān partly reveals to the Muslims God’s purpose behind letting them suffer all this pain, and behind allowing events to develop in that particular fashion: “Then He turned you away from them so that He may put you to a test.” God’s predestination remains operative. When people weakened, disputed and disobeyed, God turned their power away   from  the idolaters  and  let the archers abandon their positions and the fighters desert the battlefield. All this took place as a result of their own actions, but it was all predestined by God in order to test the believers with hardship, fear, defeat and loss of life. Such a trial was bound to reveal what was in their innermost hearts and to distinguish true believers from those who only pretended to be so. There is no contradiction whatsoever between allowing events to happen as a direct result of their causes and them being predetermined. The  law  of  cause  and   effect  remains  operative  but  every  cause  is  also  well determined.
“But now He has forgiven you,” what you have shown of weakness, dispute and disobedience as well as your running away from battle. That forgiveness is an aspect of His grace which overlooks human weakness when it is not the result of ill-will or deliberate disobedience. He has forgiven you because your errors and weakness remain within the framework of faith and submission to God. They do not come in defiance of God’s orders.

“God is gracious to the believers.” Part of His grace is to forgive them, as long as they follow the method He has laid down for them and they submit to His will, without claiming any of the essential qualities of Godhead for themselves. At the same time, they must not derive any of their laws, values or standards from any source other than Him. Thus, when they slipped, that error came only from weakness. When they were exposed to this trial and proved themselves, they are forgiven.

Lessons from Battle of Uhud

In his book, Zad al-Ma`ad, Ibn al-Qayyim cited many of the rulings and noble lessons derived from the battle of Uhud, among them:

1. The believers learned the negative consequence of disobedience, loss of courage and dispute, and that what occurred was the result of it. As Allah(Almighty) said: And Allah had certainly fulfilled His promise to you when you were killing them, with His permission, until when you lost courage and fell to disputing about the [Prophet's] order and disobeyed after He had shown you that which you love. Among you are some who desire this world, and among you are some who desire the Hereafter. Then He turned you back from them [defeated] that He might test you. And He has forgiven you. (3:152) 

When they experienced the consequence of their disobedience to the Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah upon him), their weakening and their arguments, they became more careful and aware thereafter.

2. Allah's wisdom and method required that His messengers and their followers triumphed at times and are defeated at times, but the outcome was always in their favour. Because if they were continually victorious, non-believers as well as believers would join them, so believers could not be distinguished from others.

3. Sincere believers were distinguished from hypocrites, for when Allah (Almighty) gave the Muslims victory over their enemies on the day of Badr some entered Islam whose motives were not as they appeared. So, the wisdom of Allah (Almighty) necessitated a test to differentiate between the believer and the hypocrite. In this battle, the hypocrites showed their true colours and spoke of what they had previously concealed. So, the believers realized that they had an enemy from within and thus could be cautious of them and prepared for them.

4. Allah (Almighty) tests His servants in both good times and bad through that which they like and which they dislike, in victory and defeat. When they show firm obedience and servitude in what they like and what they dislike, then they are true servants of his.

5. If Allah (Almighty) had always given them victory in every circumstance and had always subdued their enemies, they would have become oppressive and arrogant. His servants are only kept righteous and balanced through good times and bad, hardship and ease.

6. When Allah (Almighty) afflicts them with setbacks, loss and defeat, they become humble and submissive, making them deserving of His might and victory.

7. Allah (Almighty) has prepared for His believing servants positions in His Paradise which they cannot reach through their deeds; they will reach them only through difficulties and trials. So, He gives them the means to reach those positions in the form of problems and ordeals.

8. When enjoying continuous health, wealth and ascendancy, human souls acquire an oppressive and impatient nature. This is a disease that hinders one on his journey to Allah (Almighty) and the Hereafter. So, when Allah (Almighty) intends to honour a soul, He gives it difficulties and hardships which serve as treatment for that disease, like a doctor who makes a patient drink a bitter medicine or removes diseased parts from him. And if he left him to his own wishes and inclinations, they would destroy him.

9. Martyrdom in the sight of Allah (Almighty) is among the highest ranks earned by His allies. The martyrs are His privileged servants who are nearest to Him. In fact, after the rank of siddeeq (the intimate and fervent supporter of a prophet) comes that of the shaheed (martyr). The only way to attain this rank is through the circumstances leading to it, i.e., being overcome by an enemy.

10. When Allah (Almighty) intends to destroy His enemies he provides them with the causes of their destruction. The greatest of these causes after unbelief is their oppression, tyranny and abuse of His sincere allies, their waging war against them and overpowering them. In this way, He (Almighty) purifies His servants of their sins and faults. And thereby, He increases the causes of His enemies' destruction.

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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