Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 159

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ ٱلْقَلْبِ لَٱنفَضُّوا۟ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَٱعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَٱسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
So by mercy from Allāh, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allāh. Indeed, Allāh loves those who rely [upon Him].

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

In the course of the sūrah’s commentary on the Battle of Uĥud and the attitudes of the Muslim community and other groups towards the way events developed both prior to and during that battle, a few verses are included about the noble personality of  Muĥammad,  God’s  Messenger  (pbuh)  and  the  importance  of  his  status  as  a Prophet to the life of the Muslim community. This demonstrates much of the grace God has bestowed on the Muslim community. While the Prophet’s personality is the known theme of the following verses, certain lines also explain the Islamic method in organising the Muslim community, the basis of this organisation, as well as some basic elements of Islamic philosophy and its importance to human life generally.
 
We can appreciate the great aspect of Divine grace represented by the high moral standards of the Prophet and his fine manners. He had an easy, gentle, lenient and compassionate nature, which attracted people and established real bonds among them. We also find in this short passage the basic principle governing the life of the Muslim community, namely, consultative government. We have here a clear order to implement this principle of consultation. It is worthy of note that this order is given at a time when consultation appears to have led to bitter consequences. Coupled with the principle of consultative government is that of firm resolution, of implementing, without hesitation, whatever has been decided after consultation. To these two principles is added the most important value of placing our trust in God. There is a distinct conceptual, practical and organisational complementarity provided by these three principles. Moreover, the essence of God’s will and predestination is explained here.  All  matters  start  with  Him  and  return  to  Him.  His  will  is  supreme  in conducting events and determining results. The passage also warns against treachery and greed, and distinguishes between those who follow what pleases God and those who incur His wrath. This provides a criterion with which to evaluate gains and losses. The passage concludes by emphasising the great bounty God has bestowed on this nation in the form of the message conveyed by the Prophet. Compared to this bounty, everything else appears so small and all suffering can easily be tolerated.
 
“It is by God’s grace that you deal gently with them. Had you been harsh and hard- hearted, they would surely have broken away from you. Therefore, pardon them and pray for them to be forgiven and consult with them in the conduct of public affairs. When you have resolved about a course of action, put your trust in God. God loves those who put their trust in Him.”
 
At this point, the sūrah addresses the Prophet who must have felt uneasy towards his people. Initially they had been enthusiastic to meet their enemy outside Madinah. Shortly afterwards confusion crept into their ranks and one-third of the army withdrew, before the battle had even commenced. Later, they disobeyed his express order and yielded to the temptation of the loot. They weakened when they heard the rumour of his death. Defeated at heart, they turned on their heels, leaving him with a handful of his Companions and the net result was that he was wounded. He remained steadfast at their rear, calling them to persevere, while they paid no heed to anyone. The Divine address provides consolation to the Prophet and tells the Muslims of God’s limitless grace, manifested in Him sending the Prophet to them. It reminds them of the fact that God has shown them great mercy in giving the Prophet a compassionate nature which makes people’s hearts turn towards him.
 
The purpose of this address is to enhance the Prophet’s compassion so that he overcomes what disappointment he may feel at their actions. For their part, they will realise how important it is to them that the Prophet is so compassionate. The Divine address tells the Prophet to pardon his Companions and to pray to God to forgive them. He is also called upon to take counsel with them on how important matters should be conducted, in the same way as he consulted them. The consequences of Uĥud must not be allowed to suspend or override the principle of consultative government which is fundamental to Islamic life.
 
“It is by God’s grace that you deal gently with them. Had you been harsh and hard- hearted, they would surely have broken away from you.” God’s grace was indeed shown to the Prophet and his Companions. It is demonstrated by the fact that the Prophet himself had a compassionate nature which prompted him to take a lenient and gentle attitude towards them. Had he been hard of heart, he would not have won their hearts, nor would they have gathered around him.
 
People always need compassion, care, a cheerful face and patient forbearance which  is  not  exhausted  by  other  people’s  ignorance  and  weakness.  People  need someone with a large heart who gives them all he can but asks nothing of them, who shares with them their worries without burdening them with his own. They need someone who will always be caring, sympathetic, loving, content and forbearing. God’s Messenger had all these characteristics and these were the distinctive aspects of his life among his Companions. He was never angry with anyone; nor was he ever impatient because of their weaknesses. Never did he take for himself anything of the enjoyments of this world; on the contrary, he gave them all that he possessed with a smile and a cheerful heart. His forbearance, compassion, care and sympathy were extended to all. Everyone who came into contact with the Prophet was full of love for him because of what he generously gave of his love.
 
All this was by God’s grace, which He extended to the Prophet and his followers. God reminds them of this grace at this particular moment so as to build on it something which is essential to the life of the Muslim community: “Therefore, pardon them and pray for them to be forgiven and consult with them in the conduct of public affairs.”
 
We have here a distinctive order: “Consult with them on the conduct of public affairs.” This principle, which is basic to the Islamic system of government, is established here, even when Muĥammad himself, God’s Messenger, is the one who conducts public affairs. This is, then, a definitive statement which leaves the Muslim community in no doubt that consultation is central to Islamic government. Without it,  no  system  is  truly  Islamic.  What  form  this  consultation  takes  and  how  the principle is implemented are matters which can be adapted to the prevailing conditions  of  any  particular  Islamic  society.  Any  forms  and  mechanisms  which ensure that consultation is really, not superficially, practised are acceptable to Islam.
 
The  true  picture  of  the  Islamic  system  does  not  appear  complete  unless  we examine the rest of the verse, to discover that consultation is never allowed to lead to hesitation and delay. Nor does it replace the need to rely ultimately on God: “When you have resolved upon a course of action, put your trust in God. God loves those who put their trust in Him.”  The role of consultation is to examine all views and select a particular course of action. When the process reaches this stage, consultation must give way to implementation with resolve and decisiveness, placing trust in God. Thus, God’s will determines the outcome as He pleases.
 
The Prophet not only gave the Muslim community the lesson of consultation, he also gave it a second lesson as he willingly and seriously implemented the decision made and placed his trust in God. He gave his order to the Muslims to get ready to march and prepared himself to do so by putting on his body armour, even though he was aware of what awaited them all in terms of suffering and sacrifice. As will be recalled, there were those who feared that in all this they might have imposed on the Prophet a course of action of which he did not approve. Therefore, they put the matter back to him and assured him of their obedience whatever he decided. Nevertheless, even with this second opportunity, the Prophet did not reverse his decision. He wanted to teach them the whole lesson of consultation and resolve, combined with complete reliance on God and submission to His will. He wanted them to realise that there was a specific time for consultation, but once a decision was taken there could be no room for hesitation and starting the process anew. That could only perpetuate the state of indecision.
 
“God loves those who put their trust in Him.” This is a distinctive quality of the believers. Reliance on God, putting our trust in Him and submitting to His will constitute the final line which maintains the proper balance in Islamic philosophy and Islamic life. Ultimate authority belongs to God and He does what He chooses. This was one of the great lessons which the Battle of Uĥud taught the Muslim community. It remains a lesson to be learnt by every new generation of Muslims.

Reflections/Lessons

  • "So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them..." - Leaders in dealing with many different kinds of people under their authority, naturally develop a tough and rough approach as they test the leaders patience etc. Here, Allah has pointed out that He has aided the Prophet to be leniant and soft and this was a mercy from Him. 
  • لعل المراد بهذه الرحمة ربطه سبحانه وتعالى على جأشه صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم، وتخصيصه له بمكارم الأخلاق، وجعل الرفق ولين الجانب مسبباً عن ربط الجأش؛ لأن من ملك نفسه عند الغضب كان كامل الشجاعة. الألوسي: 4/105 [Be the first to translate this....]
  • إشعار بمنزلة الصحابة، وأنهم كلهم أهل اجتهاد، وأن باطنهم مرضي عند الله تعالى. الألوسي: 4/107 [Be the first to translate this....]
  • الرحمة، والعفو، والتواضع، ولين الجانب، من أهم صفات الداعية، ﴿ فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ ٱلْقَلْبِ لَٱنفَضُّوا۟ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ [Be the first to translate this....] 
  • اسأل الله سبحانه أن يرزقك الرحمة بإخوانك، واللين لهم، وشاورهم ببعض أمورك، ودرب نفسك على هذه الصفات، ﴿ فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ ٱلْقَلْبِ لَٱنفَضُّوا۟ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَٱعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَٱسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِى ٱلْأَمْرِ  [Be the first to translate this....]

 

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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  • The word فَظًّا - 'harsh and hard hearted,
  • حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، وَعُثْمَانُ، ابْنَا أَبِي شَيْبَةَ قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، عَنْ سُفْيَانَ، عَنْ مَعْبَدِ بْنِ خَالِدٍ، عَنْ حَارِثَةَ بْنِ وَهْبٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ لاَ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ الْجَوَّاظُ وَلاَ الْجَعْظَرِيُّ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَالْجَوَّاظُ الْغَلِيظُ الْفَظُّ   Harithah b. Wahab reported the Messenger of Allah () as saying , "Neither the Jawwaz nor the Jazari will enter paradise." He said that the Jawwaz is the one who is coarse and harsh. [Sunan  Abu Dawud no. 4801]

 

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