Surah Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran ) 3 : 169

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا۟ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أَمْوَٰتًۢا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَآءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allāh as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision,

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The sūrah then tackles another highly important matter with far- reaching effects. That is the fact that martyrs killed in the defence of God’s cause are not dead; they continue to live and they receive what they need from their Lord. They continue to interact with the Muslim community and the events affecting it after they have departed. Such interaction is the most important aspect of continued life. Thus the life of the Uĥud martyrs is strongly linked to the events that followed their martyrdom before the sūrah describes the attitude of the true believers. These were the ones who responded to God and His Messenger after they had suffered the calamity of defeat. They immediately chased the Quraysh army so as to prevent any possible attempt by that army to attack Madinah. They paid little heed to other people’s warnings that the Quraysh were marshalling large forces to attack them. They placed their trust in God and thus gave practical credence to their declaration of belief in Him.

Having reassured the believers and established the true facts concerning death and the Divine will, the sūrah adds to the reassurance of the believers by describing the fate of the martyrs who are killed while defending God’s cause. Indeed that is the true meaning of a martyr, for there is no martyrdom except that achieved through defending God’s cause, and dying in the process. These martyrs are indeed alive, having all of the essential qualities of life. They “receive” their needs from their Lord, are happy with the grace God bestows on them, rejoice at the happy news of what is to befall their brethren whom they had left behind, and they witness the events of the Muslim community. Such are the qualities of the living. Why should we, then, be distressed at their departure, when they are indeed interacting with those who are alive?  But  they  have  much  more  than  this  interaction.  They  have  all  that  God bestows on them of His grace. Why do believers, then, create untrue separations between a living martyr and his people whom he has left behind, between this world and the world beyond, when there should be no such separation in their thoughts as in both worlds they deal with God.
 
To clarify this fact is of central importance in the formulation of one’s overall understanding. Indeed it initiates a Muslim’s perception of the universe, what takes place in it, as well as life in its various stages. Death is not the end of all life, as other people believe. Indeed it does not even represent a barrier between what comes before it and what comes after it.
 
“Do not think of those who are slain in God’s cause as dead. They are alive, and well provided for by their Lord.” This verse gives an order not to think of people killed while serving God’s cause as dead, even though they have departed from this world and are no longer seen by the living. It gives also an assurance that they are very much alive, with their Lord. The verse then gives a list of the aspects of life they have. The first of these is that they are “well provided for.”

Further discussion

  • In this Ayat, Allah has said do not think that they are dead and in al-Baqarah He says do not say, وَلَا تَقُولُوا  "And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, "They are dead." Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not." (2:154). Speech is an expression of thought, with the domain of thinking being the origin and speech being the secondary product. When many of the Muslims had been martyred at Uhud, Allah is informing the Muslims that they should not even think that the killed Muslims are dead.

  • عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ "(they are] with their Lord.." This shows that martyrs are close to their Lord and this is what every believer seeks to acheieve; closeness to Allah. Allah mentions that they are with Him and thereafter mentions that they are being provided for showing that being with Him is a greater blessing then being provided for.

  • In Sahih Muslim, "Abdullah said, “We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said, “The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). They said: O Lord, we wish that You may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Your way once again. When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven).” [Sahih Muslim no.1887]
  • Az-Zarqânî has mentioned numerous cases regarding bodies that do not decompose. 

  • According to Ibn `Abd al-Barr, the hadeeth of the Prophet (saw) in which he said, “Verily, Allah has forbidden the Earth to consume the bodies of the Prophets” also applies to the martyrs as well.

  • During the reign of Mu`âwiyah [which was around 40 years after Uhud], the Caliph wanted to cause the spring at the base of Mount Uhud to flow. He ordered a public statement to be made that those who had a deceased relative in the vicinity should undertake to exhume his body and relocate it. Jâbir ibn Abdullah was one of those who went forth to exhume the bodies. He said: “We went forth and exhumed the bodies, finding them fresh and flexible…When a spade struck the finger of one of the bodies, drops of blood issued forth.”  Similar report mentioned by Ibn Kathir in Bidayah wa Nihayah under the section discussing the Battle of Uhud.

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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  • In Surah al-Baqarah, there is an Ayat with a similar wording;

    وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَن يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ أَمْوَاتٌ ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَاءٌ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَشْعُرُونَ "And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, "They are dead." Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not." (2:154)
     
  • Allah Almighty has purchased the lives of the Believers;

    إِنَّ اللَّـهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ ۚيُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَيَقْتُلُونَ وَيُقْتَلُونَ ۖ وَعْدًا عَلَيْهِ حَقًّا فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ ۚ وَمَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِعَهْدِهِ مِنَ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَاسْتَبْشِرُوا بِبَيْعِكُمُ الَّذِي بَايَعْتُم بِهِ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ  "Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment. " (9:111)

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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  • Jabir bin `Abdullah said, "The Messenger of Allah looked at me one day and said, `O Jabir! Why do I see you sad' I said, `O Messenger of Allah! My father was martyred and left behind debts and children.' He said,

     «أَلَا أُخْبِرُكَ؟ مَا كَلَّمَ اللهُ أَحَدًا قَطُّ إِلَّا مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ، وَإِنَّه كَلَّمَ أَبَاكَ كِفَاحًا» ، قال علي: الكفاح: المواجهة «قَالَ: سَلْنِي أُعْطِكَ. قَالَ: أَسْأَلُكَ أَنْ أُرَدَّ إِلَى الدُّنْيَا فَأُقْتَلَ فِيكَ ثَانِيَةً، فَقَالَ الرَّبُّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: إِنَّهُ قَدْ سَبَقَ مِنِّي الْقَوْلُ: إِنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهَا لَا يَرْجِعُونَ. قَالَ: أَيْ رَبِّ فَأَبْلِغْ مَنْ وَرَائِي»

    "Should I tell you that Allah never spoke to anyone except from behind a veil However, He spoke to your father directly. He said, `Ask Me and I will give you.' He said, `I ask that I am returned to life so that I am killed in Your cause again.' The Lord, Exalted He be, said, `I have spoken the word that they shall not be returned back to it (this life). ' He said, `O Lord! Then convey the news to those I left behind.') Allah revealed, وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أَمْوَتاً "Think not of those as dead who are killed in the way of Allah...)'' [Mustrak al-Hakim, Ibn Kathir, Abu Bakr Ibn Marduwyah recorded it]

9. Relevant Hadith

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  • In Sahih Muslim, "Abdullah said, “We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said, “The souls, of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). They said: O Lord, we wish that You may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Your way once again. When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven).” [Sahih Muslim no.1887]
     
  • The Messenger of Allah said 'No soul that has a good standing with Allah and dies would wish to go back to the life of this world, except for the martyr. He would like to be returned to this life so that he could be martyred again, for he tastes the honor achieved from martyrdom' [Muslim]
     
  • Messenger of Allah said 'The martyrs convene at the shore of a river close to the door of Paradise, in a green tent, where their provisions are brought to them from Paradise day and night'. [Ahmad]
     
  • Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said,

    مَا مِنْ نَفْسٍ تَمُوتُ، لَهَا عِنْدَ اللهِ خَيْرٌ، يَسُرُّهَا أَنْ تَرْجِعَ إِلَى الدُّنْيَا، إِلَّا الشَّهِيدُ، فَإِنَّهُ يَسُرُّهُ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ إِلَى الدُّنْيَا فَيُقْتَلَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَى، لِمَا يَرَى مِنْ فَضْلِ الشَهَادَة 

    "No soul that has a good standing with Allah and dies would wish to go back to the life of this world, except for the martyr. He would like to be returned to this life so that he could be martyred again, for he tastes the honor achieved from martyrdom" Sahih Muslim
  • The Prophet [saw] seeked martyrdom.

    وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوَدِدْتُ أَنِّي أُقْتَلُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أُحْيَا ثُمَّ أُقْتَلُ ثُمَّ أُحْيَا ثُمَّ أُقْتَلُ ثُمَّ أُحْيَا ثُمَّ أُقْتَلُ

    “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, I wish that I could be killed in the cause of Allah, then brought back to life, then be killed, then be brought back to life, then be killed then be brought back to life, then be killed.'" Sunan an-Nasa'i 3098

  • حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، حَدَّثَنَا نُعَيْمُ بْنُ حَمَّادٍ، حَدَّثَنَا بَقِيَّةُ بْنُ الْوَلِيدِ، عَنْ بَحِيرِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، عَنْ خَالِدِ بْنِ مَعْدَانَ، عَنِ الْمِقْدَامِ بْنِ مَعْدِيكَرِبَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ لِلشَّهِيدِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ سِتُّ خِصَالٍ يُغْفَرُ لَهُ فِي أَوَّلِ دَفْعَةٍ وَيَرَى مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ وَيُجَارُ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَيَأْمَنُ مِنَ الْفَزَعِ الأَكْبَرِ وَيُوضَعُ عَلَى رَأْسِهِ تَاجُ الْوَقَارِ الْيَاقُوتَةُ مِنْهَا خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا وَيُزَوَّجُ اثْنَتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ زَوْجَةً مِنَ الْحُورِ الْعِينِ وَيُشَفَّعُ فِي سَبْعِينَ مِنْ أَقَارِبِهِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ صَحِيحٌ غَرِيبٌ 

    Narrated Al-Miqdam bin Ma'diykarib narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "There are six things with Allah for the martyr. He is forgiven with the first flow of blood (he suffers), he is shown his place in Paradise, he is protected from punishment in the grave, secured from the greatest terror, the crown of dignity is placed upon his head - and its gems are better than the world and what is in it - he is married to seventy two wives along Al-Huril-'Ayn of Paradise, and he may intercede for seventy of his close relatives." [Abu 'Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih. Tirmidhi 1663

10. Wiki Forum

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11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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Muhammad Al-Luhaidan (Recitation)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Tp5yTVXEw