Surah al-An`am (The Cattle) 6 : 152
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(of) the orphans
And give full
and the weight
(to) its capacity
then be just
a near relative
And (the) Covenant
(He) has enjoined on you
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
“Do not touch the property of an orphan before he comes of age, except to improve it.” Every orphan feels weak within the community because he has lost his father who is supposed to bring him up well and protect him. His weakness, then, imposes a duty on the Muslim community, on the basis of the principle of mutual social solidarity which is central to the Islamic social system. An orphan used to find himself in total loss in pre-Islamic Arabian society. The frequent and varied Qur’anic directives concerning the care that should be taken of orphans, and the stern warning occasionally added to these directives give us an impression of how orphans used to be badly treated in society. This continued to be the case until God selected an honoured orphan from that community to entrust him with the most noble task of all. He made that orphan, Muhammad (peace be upon him), the bearer of His final message to mankind. He also made taking proper care of orphans one of the practices encouraged by Islam which gives its followers this kind of directive. Therefore, anyone who is looking after an orphan must not touch that orphan’s property except in a way which is certain to bring a good return to the orphan. He must protect that property and try to improve it until the orphan comes of age and becomes physically and mentally able to receive his property and make good use of it. Thus, the community adds to its ranks a useful member who obtains his full rights.
“Give just weight and full measure. We do not charge a soul with more than it can bear.” (Verse 152) This clearly applies to commercial transactions and requires people to do their best to ensure that everyone gets what is due to them. The surah provides a direct link between these transactions and faith, because this is the Islamic attitude. It is God who gives this directive and who urges people to give just weight and full measure.
“When you speak, be just, even though it be against one of your close relatives.” Here the Qur’an elevates the human conscience, already refined through a sense of watching God, to the even higher level of being guided by belief in God and the need to fulfil His commandments. Within the context of blood relations there lies a human weakness. People tend to think that family relations dictate mutual support in all situations. A human being knows that he himself is weak and lives only a limited period of time. With his relatives he finds strength. The wider his relations extend, the more firmly established is his existence. It is through his relations that his presence in this world is extended to future generations. For all this, a man is weak when it comes to testifying for or against his relatives or to making a judgement between them and other people. Hence, the Qur’an provides the necessary support so that a Muslim’s conscience prompts him to say words of truth and justice, thinking only of his relationship with God and watching Him alone. This gives him the strength which outweighs by far any support he may have from his relatives, as he places his obligation towards God above his duties to his relatives.
Again this particular instruction seeks to remind people of their covenant with God: “Be true to your covenant with God.” It is part of that covenant that people should speak the truth, even when it affects their relatives. This covenant also requires people to give just weight and full measure and that they do not come near the property of an orphan except to improve it, and to treat human life as sacred, killing no one except in the course of justice. But before all this, the covenant which exists between human beings and God dictates that they must associate no partners with Him. This is a pledge made by them and is strongly impressed on their nature by its very constitution. It is God who has made human nature firmly related to its Creator, feeling His presence through the laws that cover its own existence and the existence of the universe.
The Qur’anic comment on all these directives is a most appropriate one: “This He has enjoined upon you so that you may bear it in mind.” They must always remember this covenant with God in all its details and its binding duties.
These basic rules are made crystal clear. They also provide a summary of the Islamic faith and its social legislation. They start with God’s oneness and they conclude with the mention of man’s covenant with God. They were preceded by a long discourse on sovereignty and the fact that it belongs to God alone.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
According to Ibn Abbas, the whole of the Surah was revealed at one sitting at Makkah [during the night]. Asma bint Yazid says, ‘During the revelation of this Surah the Prophet was riding on a she-camel and I was holding her nose-string. The she-camel began to feel the weight so heavily that it seemed as if her bones would break under it.’ We also learn from other narrations that it was revealed during the last year before the migration (Hijrah) and that the Prophet dictated the whole of the Surah the same night that it was revealed. [Mawdudi]
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
After determining the period of its revelation it is easier to visualize the background of the Surah. Twelve years had passed since the Prophet had been inviting the people to Islam. The antagonism and persecution by the Quraysh had become most savage and brutal and the majority of the Muslims had to migrate to Abyssinia. Additionally, the two great supporters of the Prophet, Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah were no longer there to help him, so he was deprived of all worldly support. In spite of this he carried on his mission. As a result of this all the good people of Makkah and the surrounding clans gradually began to accept Islam but there the community as a whole was still bent on obstinacy and rejection. Therefore if anyone showed an inclination towards Islam they were subjected to taunts and derision, physical violence and social boycott.
It was in these dark circumstances that a ray of hope gleamed from Yathrib, where Islam began to spread freely by the efforts of some influential people of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, who had embraced Islam at Makkah. At that time, none but God knew the great hidden potential in this.
To a casual observer it appeared as if Islam was a weak movement, with no material backing, except for some limited support from the Prophet's own family and a few poor followers. Obviously the latter could not give much help because they themselves were being persecuted.