Overview - Surah 33: al-Ahzab (The Confederates)

Surah Introduction

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The Surah deals with a number of social and political issues.  It talks about the practice of child-adoption, some marriage customs, Battle of Ahzab and Bani Quraydhah, social issues related to Hijab of Muslim women.  It also talks about the hypocrites and their conduct in the society.

Sections:

  1. The custom of adoption and Islamic instructions about it. Prophet Muhammad (saw) is dearer to the believers than their own selves.
  2. The Battle of Ahzab and the way of the hypocrites.
  3. The excellent role model of the Prophet Muhammad -peace be upon him.
  4. The household of the Prophet, his pious wives.
  5. Allah's rewards for the Believing men and women. Prophet's marriage with Zainab. The finality of the Prophethood.
  6. Prophet Muhammad (saw) is sent as a witness, a bearer of glad tidings and Shining Lamp. The marriages of the Prophet: certain privileges and restrictions.
  7. Rules of conduct in domestic relations.
  8. Rules of Hijab, Warnings to the hypocrites, the Last Hour.
  9. Believers must speak right. The burden of trust assumed by the human being.

The Surah takes its name, al-Ahzab [confederates/groups] from the Ayat,  وَلَمَّا رَأَى الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْأَحْزَابَ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَصَدَقَ اللَّـهُ وَرَسُولُهُ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّا إِيمَانًا وَتَسْلِيمًا "And when the believers saw the confederates, they said, "This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger spoke the truth." And it increased them only in faith and acceptance." (33:22)

There are 73 Ayat in this Surah.

Overview

Total Ayat73
Total Words *1287
Root Words *290
Unique Root Words *6
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 90th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 18th year of Prophethood (5th Year Hijri)
Events during/before this Surah*
Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah, , Battle of Uhud, Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr, Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah, , 2nd Pledge of Aqabah, 1st Pledge of Aqabah, Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1, 2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa, Muhammad
Surah Index
Abraham, God (extol his glory from morning until night) , Angels, Apostasy, Bedouin, Behaviour (maligning believers is sinful) , Behaviour (towards other Muslims) , Behaviour (wives of the Prophet) , Children (adopted ones should be named after their fathers) , Clothing (women’s outer garments prevent harassment by hypocrites) , Death, Death (and flight from battle) , Divorce (Woman) (unless marriage unconsummated), Earth, Fasting, Food, Hell, Hypocrites, Jesus, Jihad, Judgement (Day) , Killing (hypocrites will be slain in Medina during the War of the Confederates) , Laws given by God and the Prophet, Marriage (to adopted son’s ex-wife is permitted) , Mary, Materialism (and the Prophet’s wives) , Medinah, Moses, Mountains, Muhammad (admonished) , Muhammad (divorce) , Muhammad (exemptions from regular marriage laws) , Muhammad (like of a pretty woman) , Muhammad (marriage) (kinship allowances in), Muhammad (marriage) (restrictions), Muhammad (seal of the prophets) , Muhammad (widowed wives not allowed to remarry) , Nepotism disallowed, Patriarchy, Privacy (Prophet’s household) , Prophet (has highest claim on allegiance of believers) , Prophet (wives) (rewards and punishments), Prophet (wives) (will be let go if they desire), Ramadhan, Sexual Relations, Sexes (equality of) , Sin, Slaves, Weather (wind)

Central Theme

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Theme 1: Submission to the commands of Allah

These were the questions that were engaging the attention of the Prophet and the Muslims at the time Surah Al-Ahzab was revealed and replies to the same form the subject matter of this Surah.

A perusal of the theme and the background shows that the Surah is not a single discourse which was sent down in one piece but it consists of several injunctions, commandments and discourses. These were sent down one after the other in connection with the important events of the time and then were put together in one Surah. Its following parts stand out clearly distinguished from one another.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Allah Almighty speaks of the various factions who gathered to annihalate the Muslims and highlights the various reactions to this incident and the ways Allah can and shall protect the Believers, albeit through a wind etc.

Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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  • Taqwa [God-conciousness/fear] - The Surah begins and ends with the order to have Taqwa,

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ اتَّقِ اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا "O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise." (33:1)

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا "O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice."(33:70)
     
  • Hypocrisy - In the first Ayat of the Surah, Allah Almighty says, يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ اتَّقِ اللَّـهَ وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً "O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise." (33:1)
    The last Ayat of the Surah - لِّيُعَذِّبَ اللَّـهُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ وَيَتُوبَ اللَّـهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۗوَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا "[It was] so that Allah may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the men and women who associate others with Him and that Allah may accept repentance from the believing men and believing women. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful." (33:73)

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Wind ريح - In Surah al-Ahzab (33) and Surah Saba' (34) there is a mention of the usage of the 'wind' In Surah al-Ahzab,  إِذْ جَاءَتْكُمْ جُنُودٌ فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا وَجُنُودًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا "....We sent upon them a wind and armies [of angels] you did not see...." (33:9). In Surah Saba' وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ غُدُوُّهَا شَهْرٌ وَرَوَاحُهَا شَهْرٌ "And to Solomon [We subjected] the wind - its morning [journey was that of] a month - and its afternoon [journey was that of] a month..." (34:12)  
  • Purposes of sending the Prophet أَرْسَلْنَاكَAllah says in Surah al-Ahzab (33), يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا ﴿٤٥﴾ وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُّنِيرًا "O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And one who invites to Allah, by His permission, and an illuminating lamp." (33:45-46) In Surah Saba' (34) Allah says, وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا كَافَّةً لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ "And We have not sent you except to all mankind as a bringer of good tidings and a warner. But most of the people do not know." (34:28)
     
  • Relationship between the Leadership and the Masses. In Surah al-Ahzab (33), Allah says, "The Day their faces will be turned about in the Fire, they will say, "How we wish we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger. And they will say, "Our Lord, indeed we obeyed our masters and our dignitaries, and they led us astray from the [right] way. Our Lord, give them double the punishment and curse them with a great curse." (33:66-68). In Surah Saba' (33), Allah says, " And those who disbelieve say, "We will never believe in this Qur'an nor in that before it." But if you could see when the wrongdoers are made to stand before their Lord, refuting each other's words... Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, "If not for you, we would have been believers." Those who were arrogant will say to those who were oppressed, "Did we avert you from guidance after it had come to you? Rather, you were criminals." Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, "Rather, [it was your] conspiracy of night and day when you were ordering us to disbelieve in Allah and attribute to Him equals." But they will [all] confide regret when they see the punishment; and We will put shackles on the necks of those who disbelieved. Will they be recompensed except for what they used to do?" (34:31-33)
     
  • The Hour. There is a reference to the Hour and the end of Surah al-Ahzab (33) and the beginning of Surah Saba (34).

    يَسْأَلُكَ النَّاسُ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِندَ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّ السَّاعَةَ تَكُونُ قَرِيبًا "People ask you concerning the Hour. Say," Knowledge of it is only with Allah. And what may make you perceive? Perhaps the Hour is near." (33:63)

     وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَأْتِينَا السَّاعَةُ ۖ قُلْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّي لَتَأْتِيَنَّكُمْ عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ ۖ لَا يَعْزُبُ عَنْهُ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا أَصْغَرُ مِن ذَٰلِكَ وَلَا أَكْبَرُ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ
    "But those who disbelieve say, "The Hour will not come to us." Say, "Yes, by my Lord, it will surely come to you. [Allah is] the Knower of the unseen." Not absent from Him is an atom's weight within the heavens or within the earth or [what is] smaller than that or greater, except that it is in a clear register -" (34:3)

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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  • Many family and social commandments/rulings are found in this Surah. 

Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • The words يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ 'O Prophet' - This Surah begins with this phrase and is repeated 5 times in with in Surah al-Ahzab [the highest frequency in the Qur'an]. This phrase occurs in the Qur'an 13 times overall.  
  • Words derived from أ ذ ي harm/trouble occur seven times in this Surah. This is most usage of this root word compared to any other Surah. 
  • Corrupt Leadership  وَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّا أَطَعْنَا سَادَتَنَا وَكُبَرَاءَنَا فَأَضَلُّونَا السَّبِيلَا "And they will say, "Our Lord, indeed we obeyed our masters and our dignitaries, and they led us astray from the [right] way." (33:67)
 
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Unique Root Words to this Surah only


6 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah *

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
Frequency
in Qur'an
أ ل ه 90 2851
ك و ن 42 1390
أ م ن 31 879
ٱلَّذِى 24 1464
ق و ل 21 1722
ن ب أ 18 160
ر س ل 17 513
إِلَّا 12 663
ق ل ب 11 168
ز و ج 11 81

Period of Revelation

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The Surah discusses three important events which are: the Battle of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Confederates) which took place in the month of Shawwal 5 A.H.; the raid on Banu Quraythah which was made in Dhil-Qa’dah 5 A.H.; and the Prophet’s marriage with Zaynab which also was contracted in Dhil-Qa’dah 5 A.H. These historical events accurately determine the period of the revelation of this Surah.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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Lessons/Guidance/Major-Issues/Reflections

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  • Fear Allah and do not obey the unbelievers and the hypocrites
    Laws relating to:
  • Divorce
  • Status of an adopted son
  • By word of mouth, neither your wives become your real mothers nor your adopted sons your real sons.
  • Prophet's wives are declared to be the mothers of all believers.
  • Blood relations have greater claims than others in the Book of Allah.
  • Battle of the Trench (Ahzab)
  • Favors of Allah
  • Attitudes of the hypocrites
  • Non participants are declared to have no faith at all and that all their deeds are void.
  • The life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is declared to be a model for all believers.
  • Admonition to the wives of the Prophet.
  • It is not befitting for the believers to have options in what has been decided by Allah and His Rasool.
  • Allah's commandment to marry the divorced wife of his adopted son.
  • The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is not the father of any of your men but a Rasool and Seal of the Prophethood.
  • The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is given special permission to marry more than four wives along with restriction of neither to marry any more nor to exchange any present wife after this commandment.
  • Etiquettes concerning the visits to the Prophet's household.
  • Allah Himself and His angels send blessings on the Prophet, and the believers are commanded to do the same.
  • Laws of Hijab (dress code) for women.
  • The trust of Allah was presented to the heavens, the earth and the mountains: they refused to take that responsibility but the man took it.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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External Links

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