Overview - Surah 60: al-Mumtahanah (The Woman Examined)

Surah Introduction

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The Surah deals with the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims.  It tells Muslims on the one hand not to take the enemies of Allah as their allies and patrons, but on the other hand it tells them not to consider every non-Muslim as their enemy.


  1. Do not take Allah's and your own enemies as your patrons and allies.
  2. It is allowed to have friendly relations with those non-Muslims who do not fight you in your religion and do not expel you from your lands. Some rules related to women who migrated to Madinah and their husbands had not accepted Islam.

This surah takes its name from the Ayat, , يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا جَاءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ مُهَاجِرَاتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ "O you who have believed, when the believing women come to you as emigrants, examine them..." [60:10]

There are 13 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat13
Total Words *348
Root Words *114
Unique Root Words *0
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 91st (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 19th year of Prophethood (6th Year Hijri)
Events during/before this Surah*
Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers, 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*
,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
Surah Index
Abraham, Behaviour (towards others) , Behaviour (treat non-belligerent non-believers with equity) , Disbelievers (relationship to belivers) , Disbelievers (treat non-belligerents with equity) , Fighting (aggression) (forbidden), Fighting (when ordained) , Friends (avoid active disbelievers) , Friends (forbidden are those who fight against you because of your religion) , Grave, Jihad (striving hard in God’s cause) , Judgement, Judgement (Day) , Killing, Marriage (dowry) , Marriage (forbidden) (to non-believers), Religion, Resurrection (Day) , Sexes (equality of) , Women (accept those seeking refuge from non-believing husbands) , Women (pledges of believing women)

Central Theme

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Theme 1: al-Wala wal-Bara [Loyalty and disassociation]

The first part consists of v. 1-9, and the concluding verse 13 also relates to it. In this strong exception has been taken to the act of Hatib bin Abi Balta’a in that he had tried to inform the Quraysh of a very important war secret of the Prophet, only for the sake of safe guarding his family. This would have caused great bloodshed at the conquest of Makkah had it not been made ineffective in time. It would have cost the Muslims many precious lives; many of the Quraysh would have been killed, who were to render great services to Islam afterwards. The gains which were to accrue from conquering Makkah peacefully would have been lost, and all these serious losses would have resulted only because one of the Muslims had wanted to safeguard his family from the dangers of war. Administering a severe warning at this blunder God has taught the believers the lesson that no believer should, under any circumstances and for any motive, have relations of love and friendship with the disbelievers, who are actively hostile to Islam. However, there is no harm in dealing kindly and justly with those disbelievers, who may not be practically engaged in hostile activities against Islam nor  persecution of the Muslims.

The second part consists of v. 10-11. In this a social problem has been settled, which was agitating the minds at that time. There were many Muslim women in Makkah, whose husbands were pagans, but they were emigrating and reaching Madīnah. Likewise, there were many Muslim men in Madīnah, whose wives were pagans and had been left behind in Makkah. The question arose whether the marriage bond between them continued to be valid or not. God settled this problem for ever, saying that the pagan husband is not lawful for the Muslim women, nor the pagan wife lawful for the Muslim husband. The third section consists of verse 12, in which the Prophet has been instructed to ask the women who accept Islam to pledge that they would refrain from the major evils that were prevalent among the womenfolk of the pre-Islamic Arab society and to promise that they would henceforth follow the ways of goodness which the Messenger of God may enjoin.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Both Surah al-Mumtahinah [60] and Surah as-Saff [61] begin with Ayat related to Jihad.

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) = 0*

Period of Revelation

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The Surah deals with two incidents, the time of the occurrence of which is well known historically. The first relates to Hatib bin Abz Balta’a, who, a little before the conquest of Makkah, had sent a secret letter to the Quraysh chiefs informing them of the Prophet’s intention to attack them. The second relates to the Muslim women, who had started emigrating from Makkah to Madīnah, after the conclusion of the Truce of Hudaibiyah, and the problem arose whether they also were to be returned to the disbelievers, like the Muslim men, according to the conditions of the Truce. The mention of these two things absolutely determines that this Surah came down during the interval between the Truce of Hudaibiyah and the Conquest of Makkah. Besides, there is a third thing also that has been mentioned at the end of the Surah to the effect: What should the Prophet make the women to pledge when they come to take the oath of allegiance before him as believers? About this part also the guess is that this too was sent down some time before the conquest of Makkah, for after this conquest a large number of the Quraysh women, like their men, were going to enter Islam simultaneously and had to be administered the oath of allegiance collectively.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Do not befriend with those who are the enemies of Allah and the Muslims.
  • The Muslims have been advised to watch strictly the external spies, especially the women and relatives.
  • The Foreign Policy of the Islamic State is mentioned in Ayat 1, "..do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies.."
  • The Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his companions are an excellent example for the believers.
  • Exception to the prohibition of friendship with unbelievers is made for those who had neither fought against the believers nor expelled them from their homes.
  • For women that become believers, test their Iman, and if you find them truthful do not return them to their unbelieving husbands.
  • Women's Bai'ah (oath of allegiance) in Islam is based on their commitment that they will not commit shirk, they will not steal, they will not commit adultery, they will not kill their children, they will not give any cause for scandal and that they will not disobey the Prophet.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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