REFLECTIONS ON THE CHAPTER OF THE NIGHT [92]


REFLECTIONS ON THE CHAPTER OF THE NIGHT [92]


In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.


وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَىٰ (1) وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا تَجَلَّىٰ (2) وَمَا خَلَقَ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ (3) إِنَّ سَعْيَكُمْ لَشَتَّىٰ (4) فَأَمَّا مَنْ أَعْطَىٰ وَاتَّقَىٰ (5) وَصَدَّقَ بِالْحُسْنَىٰ (6) فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ (7) وَأَمَّا مَن بَخِلَ وَاسْتَغْنَىٰ (8) وَكَذَّبَ بِالْحُسْنَىٰ (9) فَسَنُيَسِّرُهُ لِلْعُسْرَىٰ (10) وَمَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُ مَالُهُ إِذَا تَرَدَّىٰ (11) إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا لَلْهُدَىٰ (12) وَإِنَّ لَنَا لَلْآخِرَةَ وَالْأُولَىٰ (13) فَأَنذَرْتُكُمْ نَارًا تَلَظَّىٰ (14) لَا يَصْلَاهَا إِلَّا الْأَشْقَى (15) الَّذِي كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ (16) وَسَيُجَنَّبُهَا الْأَتْقَى (17) الَّذِي يُؤْتِي مَالَهُ يَتَزَكَّىٰ (18) وَمَا لِأَحَدٍ عِندَهُ مِن نِّعْمَةٍ تُجْزَىٰ (19) إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِ الْأَعْلَىٰ (20) وَلَسَوْفَ يَرْضَىٰ (21)

1. By the night as it envelops; 2. And by the day as it appears in brightness; 3. And by Him Who created male and female; 4. Certainly, your efforts and deeds are diverse (different in aims and purposes); 5. As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to God and fears Him, 6. And believes in the goodness. 7.We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). 8. But he who is greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient. 9. And denies the goodness; 10. We will make smooth for him the path for difficulty; 11. And what will his wealth benefit him when he goes down (in destruction). 12. Indeed, [incumbent] upon Us is guidance.13. And truly, unto Us (belong) the last (Hereafter) and the first (this world). 14. Therefore I have warned you of a Fire blazing fiercely (Hell); 15. None shall enter it save the most wretched, 16. Who denies and turns away. 17. And Al-Muttaqun (the pious and righteous) will be far removed from it (Hell). 18. He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification, 19. And have in his mind no favour from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, 20. Except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High; 21. He surely will be pleased (when he will enter Paradise).

[Surah Al-Layl]


Introduction


This Surah is a Meccan Surah and has the same qualities that other Meccan Suras have short verses. Their contents are expressive and awakening and they are generally about the Hereafter and Divine chastisement.

At the beginning, after making three oaths, the verses divide people into two groups: Those pious believers who give in charity and fear God; and those disbelievers who are greedy misers and think themselves self-sufficient. The fate of the first group is introduced as being in ease and happiness, and the destiny of the second group is affliction and misery.

At one point in the Surah, after mentioning the fact that God guides His servants, the Qur’an warns all of us of a blazing fire. Then, it introduces the conduct of those who enter the fire and that of those who are kept away from it.


The Virtue of Studying Surah Al-Layl

On the virtue of this Surah, the Holy Prophet (S) said:

“He who recites it (Surah Al-Layl) God rewards him so much so that he is satisfied, and He protects him from toil, and makes (the path of his life) smooth for him.” [1]


The Occasion of the Revelation of Surah Al-Layl

Commentators have cited an occasion of revelation for the whole Surah on the authority of Ibn-Abbas.


Here is what the late Tabarsi has said in Majma’-al-Bayan:

There was a man among the Muslims who had a palm tree, a branch of which was bent towards the house of a poor man who had a large family. Sometimes the owner of the palm tree would collect the fruit and if by chance some dates fell in the poor man’s yard and his children picked them up, the owner would come and snatch them away from their hands and even from their mouths.

The poor man complained to the holy Prophet (S) who, in turn requested that the man leave until he (S) could investigate the situation.

Then, it happened that the Prophet (S) met the owner of the palm tree and asked him if he would give him (the Holy Prophet) the tree in question, in return for a palm tree in Paradise. The man declined with the plea that the dates of that tree, among all his numerous trees, were so delicate that he could not give it up.

There was another man, according to some narrations, named Abul-Dahdah, who heard what the Holy Prophet (S) promised the owner.

He said: “O Messenger of God! Would you promise the same to me if I get the palm tree from the owner and give it to you?”

The Holy Prophet (S) said: “Yes”.

So, the man went to the owner of the palm and talked with him and questioned him as to if he knew that the Prophet (S) had offered a palm tree in Paradise instead of the one he had and he answered that he had many palm trees but, the taste of the dates of that tree was the most delicious.

Then, the man asked the owner whether he wanted to sell it, and he refused unless he received a sum that he supposed no one would pay. The man asked about the price and the owner answered that it was forty palm trees.

The buyer was astonished and told him that it was an expensive price that he demanded for a bent palm tree-forty palm trees!

Then, after a short pause the buyer agreed to give him forty palm trees. The greedy seller asked him to call some people as witnesses for the exchange and the buyer did. After that, he went to the Holy Prophet (S) and presented the palm tree to him.

The Messenger of God went to the poor man and told him that the palm tree was in his and his children’s possession.

It was there that Surah Lail was descended and stated what it declared about the righteous and wrongdoers.


” By the Night when it Enshrouds “

At the beginning of this Surah, again, we find three reflective oaths about the ‘creation’ and the Creator of the world.

It says: “By the night when it enshrouds,”

The use of the term “yaghsha” (يَغْشَى) ‘enshrouds’ is because night, like a creature, covers half of the globe and brings it under her authority, or is for the reason that the light of the day or the rays of the world-illuminating sun ‘hides’ when night comes forth.

In any case, it is an evidence to the importance of Night’s effective role in men’s lives, including the adjustment of the sun’s heat, the resting of the living creatures in it, and the worshipping vigilant believers who are awake during the night.


“By the day when its brightens up,”

Then, our attention is attracted to another oath. It says: “By the day when it brightens up,”

The ‘Day’ (نَّهَار) begins from the moment when the light of dawn breaks the curtain of the gloom of night and removes the darkness and dominates the expanse of heaven, filling everywhere and everything with its glory and light; the very light that is the secret of the life of all living things.

In the Holy Qur’an, the contrast of ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ and their effect in Man’s life is repeatedly stated and emphasized upon, because they are two perpetual great blessings and are also two Divine Signs.


“By Him Who created the male and the female,”

Then, the last oath of this Surah is mentioned. It says: “By Him Who created the male and the female,”

The existence of the mystery of the sexes runs through all life in human beings, animals and plants. The process of development that occurs in the life-germ from the very beginning until the time of birth, the characteristics of both sexes due to their functions and actions, and the secrets hidden in the sex phenomena are all Signs of the glorious world of creation through which we may understand the greatness of its Creator.

The term “ma” (مَا) ‘something, a thing’ used here for God is for the extraordinary greatness or His Entity that has an ambiguous state which is beyond the imagination and human concept.

Some have also said that “ma”, here in Arabic is ‘masdariyah’. If so, the sentence means: ‘By the creation of male and female’. But this interpretation seems feeble.

In fact, the first two oaths refer to the celestial Signs while the third oath points to the human signs.

The conclusion of the aforementioned oaths is stated in the next verse.


Indeed, your efforts are diverse.”

It says: Indeed, your efforts are diverse.”

People have different or diverse aims in life for which they strive. One might be talking of the pleasures of this world while another may be mindful of the life in the Hereafter. No one lives aimlessly, but we should be careful of the way in which we use our divine talents and powers in order to understand if it is for good or evil.

The term “shatta” (شَتَّى) is the plural form of “Shatit” (شَتيت) and is derived from “shatt” (شَتّ) which means ‘separate, divided’.

Then, the Qur’an, dividing people into two groups; addressing the first says: “Then as for him who gives (in charity) and fears (God), and (in all sincerity) testifies to the Best, we will ease him to the state of ease.”

The purpose of using the term “a’ta” (أَعْطَى) is for the meaning of charity in the way of God and helping the needy.

Then, immediately after that, it emphasizes on ‘piety’ which may refer to the necessity of pure intention in practicing the action lawfully and with permitted wealth, without any reproach or harm or hurt, because all of the meanings are gathered in the sense of ‘piety’.

Some have said that “a’ta” refers to financial actions done for God, and “atqa” (اتَّقَى) refers to other religious actions of worship. However, the first commentary is better, because it adapts both to the appearance of the verse, and to the occasion of revelation that was mentioned before.

The idea of ‘testifying to the Best’ indicates ‘the faith in the Divine blessed rewards’, as Abul-Dahdah, the believing man mentioned in the story on the occasion of revelation of the Surah, who with faith in the Divine blessed rewards spent his wealth.

This meaning is also mentioned in Surah Nisa, No. 40, verse 95: “…unto all (in Faith) hath God promised good…”

Some have said the phrase means ‘the best religion’, i.e. ‘the faith in Islam’ which is the best religion.

Some have rendered the words thus: “I testify that there is no god besides Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah.”

But, regarding all conditions, the first commentary seems more fitting.


“We will ease him to the state of ease.”


The sentence: “We will ease him to the state of ease.”

may refer to the success given by God and making the path of obedience for such persons easy; or paving the road to paradise for them and the act of relieving and greeting them by angels; or it may include all of them.

No doubt, those who give charity and alms piously and believe in the Divine rewards, their difficulties will be changed into easy affairs for them and will have enjoined a special calmness both in this world and the next.

In the beginning the payment of the alms-tax and giving charity may seem difficult for us, but with continued and frequent practice it will become easy, so that we will gain enjoyment from it.

There are many generous people who are happy to have guests present at their meals but, if they do not receive anyone on a particular day, they will be rather sad. Therefore, for them to receive guests is a kind of ease in their lives.

We should not neglect that, in principle, belief in the Resurrection and in Divine, immense rewards changes Man’s tolerance of different hardships and makes them easy for him. This kind of believing man will spend eagerly not only his wealth but will also give up his dear sweet life for the love of martyrdom on the path of God.

The term “yusra” (يُسْرَى) is derived from “yusr” (يسر) that basically means ‘to saddle a horse and make it ready to ride on’, and the term has been used for any easy deed.


“We will ease him to the path of affliction.”

In the next verse attention is paid to the contrary group and says: But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, and gives the lie to the Best, we will ease him to the path of affliction.”

Here, the term bakhila” (بَخِل) ‘unwilling to give’ is mentioned opposite to “a’ta” (أَعْطَى) ‘being generous’ which we find in the first group; and “Istaghna” (اسْتَغْنَى) ‘demands self-sufficiency’ is either an excuse for the conduct of avarice and a means of heaping up wealth, or it refers to an imagination of being self-sufficient of the divine rewards. This characteristic is just opposite to that of the former group who always seek God’s favour. Or, since the latter group think that they do not need to obey their Lord, then they always commit sin.

Among these three commentaries the first one seems more appropriate, though all of them may be combined.

The purpose of the phrase “And disbelieveth in goodness;” is for signifying disbelief in the rewards of the Next World or rejecting the religion and the good ways of the prophets (as).

The sentence: “We will ease him to the path of affliction” is a state opposite to the case in the sentence: “We will ease him to the state of ease” where God brings forth his favour and the righteous succeed on a smooth path of obedience and charity which makes them free from the difficulties of life.

But, the members of the other group are in absence of success, and travelling the path is difficult for them. They will be involved in hardships in this world and the next. In general, the fulfilment of good deeds and especially payment of charity and the alms-tax in the way of God is difficult for the disbelieving, greedy misers, while it is easy, exciting and pleasant for the righteous.


“And his wealth will not avail him when he perishes.”

At the end of this part of the Surah, the blind-hearted, greedy misers are warned: “And his wealth will not avail him when he perishes.”

He can neither take anything of his worldly property with him, nor could it prevent him from the fire of Hell.

The term “ma”, at the beginning of the verse, may be a negative sign (as it was mentioned above), or for questioning in the negative. If so, the sentence means: ‘What benefit can he take from his wealth when he falls in the grave or Hell?”

The term “taradda” (تَرَدَّى) is based on “rada” (ردى) which means to perish, to fall’ and since falling from a high place usually causes one to perish, it is also used in the sense of ‘perdition’. In the current verse it may mean ‘to fall into the grave, or Hell, or perdition as a punishment’.

Thus, the Holy Qur’an, in these verses, speaks about two groups of people: the first is the righteous who are pious, generous believers; and the second is the group of unbelievers who are impious and miserly. The examples of both groups are clearly pointed out in the description of the occasion of revelation.


Payment of Charity Causes the Fire to Be Kept Away

In the former verses, people were divided into two groups; pious, generous believers and impious, miserly unbelievers, and then, their different fates were pointed out. Now, in the following verse, we are told that God guides us to the straight way, so, the choice is up to us without being obliged to it. It is our own duty to decide and act accordingly. Going along the right path is beneficial for us, ourselves; God has no need of it at all.


“Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide.”

This guidance is irrespective of guidance by way of genesis (through natural position and intellect) or guidance by way of religion (through books and traditions). All other necessary means of guidance have already been provided.


“And certainly, to Us (belongs the End) the Hereafter and (the Beginning) the first (life).”

‘We are not in need of your Faith and obedience. Neither does your obedience profit Us nor does your sinning hurt Us.’ All things and the means of guidance are provided, fully, for the use of Man to take benefit from.

According to this commentary ‘guidance’ means ‘showing the way’. It is also probable that the purpose of these two verses is to encourage the generous believers, and to say that they are guided better by God and their way is easy for them in this world and the Next World, and since the world and the Next World are in His possession, He is completely capable of this.

It is true that this world comes before the Next World but, because of its importance and because it is the main, final goal, the Hereafter is mentioned first.


“Therefore, I warn you of a Fire that blazes.”

And since one of the branches of guidance is the act of warning, in the next verse it says: “Therefore, I warn you of a Fire that blazes.”

The term “taladha” (تَلَظَّى) is derived from “ladha” (لَظَّى) in the sense of ‘a smokeless flame or fire’, and we know that this kind of fire has a hotter heat. The term (ladha) has sometimes been used for Hell itself.

Then, it points to those who enter this blazing fire, saying: “None shall reach it except the most wretched one, who had denied [the truth] and turned away,”

So, the scale for happiness and unhappiness is Faith and disbelief, respectively, and the fruit that each of them brings forth. God, in His infinite Mercy, has provided full guidance to His creatures. Man, having mental and spiritual faculties and talents, with all the inspired prophets (as) and heavenly Books, and all Divine signs and possibilities of guidance at his disposal, rejects the truth and goes astray. So, such a person is surely the clear example of a wretched individual.


“Who had denied [the truth] and turned away.”

In the sentence “who had denied [the truth] and turned away.”

The part of the verse:“who had denied” may refer to ‘blasphemy’ and the other part of the same verse:“turns away” may refer to ‘the negligence of doing good’; as this is a condition of blasphemy.

Or both of them may refer to the negligence of Faith, in this way that at first, they reject the prophet (saw) and then turn their backs and go away from him forever.

The commentators have a question and answer thus: the above mentioned verses indicate that the fire of Hell is only for disbelievers, but this idea does not adapt to what the other verses of the Qur’an and the Islamic narrations say from which it is understood that the sinful believers will have a share from the fire, too. That is why some misled classes, taking these verses as their evidence, believe that with the existence of Faith, sinning is possible without punishment.

In answering the question, two points should be made: the first is that the purpose of the phrase ‘reaching the fire’, here is the same as ‘being immortal in Fire’ that we know it belongs to disbelievers, with reference to the verses that mean besides blasphemers, there are some who enter Hell.

The second point is that the idea that the above verses and the following ones say that being kept away from the fire is only for the most God-fearing people, i.e. on the whole the situations of the two groups are to be indicated thus: the miserly unbelievers and the generous, pious believers. From these two groups only the first one reaches Hell and the second group enters Heaven. Thus, the third group, that is, the sinful believers is not in question at this point.

In other words, limitation, here is ‘an additional limitation’; as if Heaven is created only for the second group. This statement makes other objections clear in connection with the contradiction of the current verses and the next ones which restrict salvation to the righteous.


“But the righteous one will avoid it, [He] who gives [from] his wealth to purify himself.”

Then, the words are about some people who are kept away from this blazing Fire. It says: “But the righteous one will avoid it, [He] who gives [from] his wealth to purify himself.”

The usage of the term “yatazakka” (يَتَزَكَّى) is in fact for the meaning of ‘purity of intention’ since the Arabic root word “zaka” (زَكَّى) implies both increase and purification in morals and wealth: “Of their goods take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily prayers are a source of security for them…” [2]

Then, to emphasize on their pure intention in their giving of charity, it says: “And bestow no favour on anyone for the sake of reward, but only the desire to seek for the countenance of his Lord, the Most High.”

In other words, many charities or good deeds are done with a motive; that of returning someone else’s favour and compensating and rewarding someone for some service done or expecting some reward in return for one’s own good deeds. But the above-mentioned verses denote that the sole motive in a pious, believing Man’s mind is that he desires the Countenance or, Good Pleasure of the Lord, the Most High.

This countenance or wajh” ( وَجْهِ) ‘face’, here with the meaning of ‘essence’, implies good pleasure or the approval of God.

The phrase ‘his Lord, the Most High’ shows that the act of ‘giving charity’ is done with a good understanding of His Lordship and that He is the Most High.

Finally, in the last verse of the Surah, the unique great reward of these good believers is pointed out in a short sentence.


“And he shall soon be well-pleased”.

It says: “And he shall soon be well-pleased”.

Yes, one who is whole-heartedly devoted to God shall find God’s pleasure as he expects; an absolute pleasure, vast, illuminated and conditionless which contains all the blessings, of His Bliss. It is something that, today, we cannot imagine at all; and what a grand, splendid blessing this reward is!

Some commentators have thought that the pronoun in the term “yardha” (يَرْضَى) may refer to God. If so, the verse means: ‘And God shall soon be well-pleased (with him), which is, itself, a great, unique gift that the Lord, the Most High, has bestowed upon His servant, and certainly such a pious believing servant will be well-pleased with Him, because these two correlate with each other. Surah Al-Bayyinah, No. 98, verse 8 verifies this idea : It says: “…God is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him…”, and also, the verse: “Come back to your Lord well-pleased (with Him) and well-pleasing”. [3]

But, the first commentary is more appropriate.


Explanation

The Moral Excellence of Spending in the Way of God:

Spending in the Way of God and giving financial help to the needy; especially to the respectable ones, with pure and good intention, is one of the themes that is repeatedly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and is one of the characteristics of ‘True Faith’.

There are many Islamic narrations on this subject so much so that the culture of the religion indicates that financial spending, which has no motive but for the countenance of God and which is free from any hypocrisy, reproach and hurt, is the best of deeds.


Here are some meaningful traditions on the matter:


1. The Messenger of God (S) is narrated to have said in a tradition:

“Good temper, feeding (others) and blood shed (offered in sacrifice for the sake of God) are (signs) of Faith”. [4]


2. Imam Sadiq (as) is narrated to have said:

“I have not seen anything equal to visiting a (Muslim) believer but that of feeding him, and it is for God to feed from Heaven the (believing) one who feeds a believer.” [5]


3. In another tradition the Holy Prophet (S) is narrated to have answered the man who asked him what the best actions were:

“Feeding (others), and (saying) good words.” [6]


4. Again, a tradition from the Holy Prophet (S) says:

“The one who maintains a Muslim family (entertaining them) for a day and a night’s time, God forgives his sins.” [7]


This Surah was not revealed in reference to Abu Bakr

1. Fakhruddin Al-Razi was wrong

1. Fakhruddin Al-Razi was wrong when he said in his tafsir that Ahlussunah has reached a consensus that this surah was revealed in reference to Abu Bakr. Many scholars from Ahlus Sunnah have also mentioned another person in their books and Imam Al-Qurtubi is one of them. Imam Al-Qurtubi has mentioned in his tafsir that this surah may have been revealed in reference to Abul-Dahdah.[8] So a consensus within Ahlus Sunnah that this surah was revealed in reference to Abu Bakr does not exist within Ahlus Sunnah.


2. Abu Bakr confiscated the worldly and the non-worldly rights of the Ahlulbayt (as).

2. Abu Bakr confiscated the worldly and the non-worldly rights of the Ahlulbayt (as). Tell me, how can God reveal a whole surah in reference to a person who confiscated the worldly and the non-worldly rights of the Ahlulbayt (as)?

When it comes to the worldly rights, Abu Bakr took the land of Fadak from Lady Fatima (as). Fadak was a gift from the Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr confiscated Fadak from Lady Fatima (as). Fatima the daughter of the Prophet (as) was angry with Abu Bakr and died angry with Abu Bakr.[9] The Prophet (saw) said : “Fatima is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry”[10],and he who makes the Prophet (saw) angry, makes God angry, and he who makes God angry is cursed[11], so how could a person whom God has cursed be a person of generosity according to the Holy Qur’an[12] and a person who constantly purifies his intentions and soul before and after giving his wealth to the poor? How could a person be known in the Holy Qur’an to be generous when he stole Ahlulbayt’s (as) property? That is definitely not a man of generosity and a man who purified his intentions and soul before and after the demise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw)!

When it comes to the non-worldly rights, Abu Bakr usurped the caliphate of Imam Ali (as) and the caliphate of the Ahlulbayt (as). The Prophet (saw) left behind him the Holy Qur’an and the Ahlulbayt (as). The Prophet (saw) also left behind a caliph and a representative from Ahlulbayt (as), and that was Imam Ali (as). The Sunni sources are very clear about what the Prophet (saw) left behind and how Abu Bakr confiscated the caliphate God gave to the Ahlulbayt (as). [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]


3. Many Sunni and Shia scholars mention that this Surah was revealed in reference to the Sahabi Abul-Dahdah.

3. Many Sunni and Shia scholars mention that this Surah was revealed in reference to the Sahabi Abul-Dahdah.


4. There are Sunnis who are trying to reinforce their arguments by stating that this surah was revealed in reference to Abu Bakr by saying that the generosity of Abu Bakr was displayed when he freed Bilal.

4. There are Sunnis who are trying to reinforce their arguments by stating that this surah was revealed in reference to Abu Bakr by saying that the generosity of Abu Bakr was displayed when he freed Bilal. Abu Bakr freed Bilal, but did Abu Bakr do it with pure intentions or dirty intentions? Sunnis must understand that Islam looks at the intentions of a Muslim before he is committing the acts. Reflect on the verses [92:17-21] and understand that the intentions are important before money is given to the poor.

History shows that Bilal was a resistant individual who would stand up and tolerate all the hardships for his strong faith. After the Prophet’s demise, he left Madinah for Damascus.

The only potential difference between the Shia and Sunnis is the reason behind why he left Madinah.

Shia scholars believe that he didn’t want to say the adhan for anyone other than Rasulullah (pbuh) [22] because:

  • There are traditions from the Imams (as) that say: “Bilal was a righteous servant (of God), he said that after Rasulullah, I will not say the adhan for anyone, from then on, the phrase حی علی خیر العمل was removed from the adhan.” [23]

2- Sunni historical traditions also clearly state that Bilal refused to say the adhan for the khalifahs after the Prophet (pbuh); Waqedi reports: “After the Prophet’s demise till his burial, Bilal continued to say the adhan and whenever he would recite the phrase اشهد ان محمد رسول الله, the people in the mosque would cry in high voices. After his burial, Abu Bakr asked Bilal to once again say the adhan, Bilal replied: If you have freed me (from slavery) for yourself and for me to be with you, then I will do as told, but if you have freed me for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.), then let me be free in His way. Abu Bakr answered: I freed you solely for the sake of Allah (s.w.t.). Bilal said: (Then) I refuse to say the adhan for anyone after Rasulullah (pbuh). Abu Bakr said: You are free not to do so. Bilal stayed in Madinah for a short while and when the army left for Damascus, he went along with them and remained there.[24]In Al-Isabah, Asqalani narrates that after the Prophet’s death, Bilal went to Damascus for jihad.[25]

In contrast to this viewpoint, there is another viewpoint that says that after the Prophet’s (saw) death, Bilal went to Abu Bakr saying: Oh, successor of Rasulullah! I have heard the Prophet (saw) say that the best of all deeds is jihad in the way of Allah (swt). Abu Bakr said: What do you mean by that? Bilal answered: I want to go for jihad and fight in Allah’s way and be blessed martyrdom. Abu Bakr implored him not to go and said: I am old and feeble, and my death is edging ever closer. Bilal remained with Abu Bakr and after his death, went to Umar and repeated what he had said to Abu Bakr and heard the same reply, but this time, he rejected Umar’s request.[26] In another weak narration, it has been said that when Umar went to Damascus, Bilal said the adhan for him. [27]

Of course, the first tradition doesn’t contradict the traditions that the Shia refer to. In addition to being a weak and unauthentic one, the second one in no way says that he was the khalifas’ official mu’adhin and recited the adhan for them in their presence.


Conclusion:

1. According to the sources, Bilal did not appreciate that Abu Bakr freed him due to his intentions.

2. The Shia and the Sunnis do not accept that Bilal was the khalifas’ official mu’adhin .


5. The Prophet (saw), Ahlulbayt (as), the Imams of Ahlulbayt (as) and the Companions of Ahlulbayt (ra) were the true generous human beings of pure taqwa.

5. The Prophet (saw), Ahlulbayt (as), the Imams of Ahlulbayt (as) and the Companions of Ahlulbayt (ra) were the true generous human beings of pure taqwa.


The Prophet (S) used to prefer the poor to himself. He used to give them his food while he suffered hunger to the degree that he, once, tied the stone of hunger on his stomach so as to share the pains of hunger with the poor.


Imam Al-Baqir (as) said: “The Prophet (S) had never eaten his fill for three consecutive days since God gave him the Divine Mission. ” (Quoted from Safinat ul-Bihar; part 1 page 194 (as quoted from al-Kafi).


Imam As-Sadiq (a) narrated: Ali was the most similar to the Prophet. He used to eat bread with oil and serve people with bread and meat. (Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; vol. 9 page 538 (as quoted from al-Kafi).


Ahlulbayt’s (as) generosity is well known in the Qur’an. Both Shia and Sunni scholars acknowledge that the verses (76:8-9) in Surah Al-Insan were revealed in the praise of Ahlulbayt’s (as) generosity.


The following Holy Verse was revealed for Imam Ali (as) and his family (as): “They feed the destitute, orphans, and captives for the love of God, saying: We only feed you for the sake of God and we do not want any reward or thanks from you (76:8-9).”


The disciples of The Ahlul-Bayt (as) have unanimously agreed that the previous Holy Verse was revealed for Ali, Fatima, al-Hasan, and al-Hussein (a). Moreover, a good deal of ulema of other sects have also asserted so.

Interpreting Sura of al-Insan, az-Zamakhshari records the following narration in his book titled Tafsir ul- Kashaf:

Ibn Abbas narrated:” The Prophet (S), with some of his companions, visited al-Hasan (as) and al-Hussein (as) who were sick. They suggested that Imam Ali (as) should vow a three-day fasting if they would recover their health. The Imam (as), as well as their mother Fatima and Fudda their bondwoman implemented that suggestion. When Al-Hasan (as) and al-Hussein (as) were healed, the group fasted. The Imam (as) had no food at that time; therefore, he had to borrow three measures of barley from Shimon the Jew. In the first day, Fatima (a) milled and baked one of these measures. In the very time of breaking fast, a poor man knocked their door and said: “Peace be upon you; the family of Muhammad. I am a poor Muslim. Serve me with food and God may serve you from the food of Paradise.” The Imam gave him his share. The others pursued him and gave their shares. They passed that night without eating anything.

On the second day of their fasting, an orphan complaining hunger knocked on their door in the time of breaking fast. They offered their shares and passed the second night without having anything except water.

On the third day and at the very time of breaking fast, a prisoner complaining hunger knocked on their door asking for some food. They all offered him their shares before having anything of it.

On the fourth day, Imam Ali (as) took al-Hasan (as) and al- Hussein (as) to the Prophet (saw) while they were trembling because of hunger. “I am very touched by what I see,” said the Prophet (saw) who walked with them to their house. There, he saw Fatima (as) standing in her place of prayer while her belly was stuck to her back and her eyes were deep-set. He was affected by such a view. In the meantime, the Archangel Gabriel (as) descended and said: “Muhammad, enjoy it. God may please you in connection to your household.” He then recited the Surah. [Quoted from Sayyid A. Sharafuddin’s al-Kalimat ul-Gharraa; page 29, Tafsir Al-Kashaaf by Zamakshari.]


6. Imam Ali (as) : The Master of the Believers and the one who gave charity during worship

6. Certainly, your Master is God and His Messenger and those who believe who establish prayer and give charity while they bow. And whoever takes God and His Messenger and those who believe as a guardian, so surely the party of God will be victorious. (Qur’an 5:55-56)

It is unanimous that the verse descended about Imam ‘Ali (as) when he gave away in charity his ring while he was in a state of kneeling in his prayer. [28]


7. Imam Ali (as) : The Divider of Heaven and Hell and the leader of the pious

7. But the righteous one will avoid it – (the most pious) Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification,” [92:17-18] :

The righteous and the pious believers will avoid the justice of Hell. But never forget that Imam Ali’s (as) wilayah (allegiance to Imam Ali as) is what separates paradise from hell, and hell from paradise:

“The Prophet (S) said to ‘Ali (as): You are the divider of Paradise and Hell on the Day of Judgment, you say to Hell: This is mine, and that is yours.” [29]

Imam ‘Ali (as) narrated: The Messenger of God (S) said: When God gathers the first-ones and the last-ones on the Day of Judgment, and the Path has been erected on the bridge of Hell, no one can cross it unless he had along proof of allegiance (Wilaya) to ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib.” [30]

Anas Ibn Malik narrated: “When Abu Bakr neared death,…, Abu Bakr said that he heard the Messenger of God (S) saying: That there is an obstacle on the Path which no one crosses unless with a passport (permission) from ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as). And I heard the Messenger of God (S) saying: “I am the seal of the Prophets and you, ‘Ali, the seal of the Awliya.” [31] [32]


Secondly, Imam Ali (as) is the Imam (leader) of the pious Muslims and Believers, and the Imam (leader) of the righteous Muslims and Believers:

The Prophet (saw) said, “Ali (A.S) is the Imam of the pious, the prince of believers, and the leader of the resplendent.” [33]

Imam Ali (as) is also included in the family of purity, purification and infallibility within the Holy Qur’an [33:33] and the hadiths [Sahih Muslim 2424 [34], Jami’ At-Tirmidhi [35]]


8. Ibn Muljam : is the most evil and the most wretched creature who killed the Imam (leader) of the pious : Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as)

8. It is widely documented that the killer of Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) – Abdul Rahman b. Muljam is the most wretched of all mankind. However, some Muslims find no fault with him and believe he was a great worshipper.


Reply

The following tradition clearly establishes that Ibn Muljam was the most accursed of all people:

It is narrated from Jabir b. Samurah that he said: The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed Ali (a.s.): Who is the most wretched of all from the first and the last? Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) replied: God and His Messenger know better. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said: Your killer, O Ali. [36] [37] [38]


After such a clear tradition backed by first-rate references, Ibn Muljam still finds supporters among the Muslims.

Sample this – Ibn Taymiyyah (the so-called Shaikh al-Islam) has this to say about Kharijis of which Ibn Muljim was a member:

‘…they (Kharijis) are not of those who lie purposely, they are known as truthful ones, it has even been said that their traditions (hadith) are amongst the most reliable traditions.’ [39]

He further stated: ‘His killer (i.e. the killer of Imam Ali) was one of them (the Khawaarij). He was Ibn Muljam…. He was one of the best of Allah’s slaves.’ [40]


When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has disgraced Ibn Muljam despite his worship and devotion as the most wretched of God’s creatures, what right does Ibn Taymiyyah or his ilk have to refer to him as among the best of Allah’s worshippers? Do we refer to Iblis as the best of Allah’s worshippers enjoying the rank of angels or as the accursed rebel?

Also, by branding Ibn Muljam as the most wretched of Allah’s creatures, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has underlined the superiority of Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) over others. There is no tradition that says Umar b. Khattab’s killer is the worst of mankind or Usman’s murderers are Allah’s most wretched creatures.


9. If Abul Dahdah is praised for being one of the most pious and righteous servants of God in the Holy Qur’an, then what about the man who is the leader of the pious and the righteous servants of God?

9. If Abul Dahdah is praised for being one of the most pious and righteous servants of God in the Holy Qur’an, then what about the man who is the leader of the pious and the righteous servants of God?


10. Conclusion

Conclusion: This Surah and these verses cannot have been revealed in reference to Abu Bakr. The qualities of goodness, piety, generosity, sincerity, purity etc are the qualities of Prophet Muhammad (saw), the Ahlulbayt (as), and the companions of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Ahlulbayt (as). They are known for these qualities in the Holy Qur’an.


Supplication

O Lord! Give all of us the success of having a share of this great, good action.

O Lord! Cause the purity of our intention to be increased.

O Lord! We seek your Grace and Mercy so that You will be well-pleased with us and we will be well pleased, too.


Peace and Blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his Family (as)


| Sayyid Abbas Sadr-‘ameli and Amir Zabidi


Further reading

https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-20/surah-lail-chapter-92


References

[1] Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 395, Traditions 35 and 38.

[2] Surah Tauba, No. 9, Verse 103

[3] Surah Fajr, No. 89, verse 28

[4] Usul al-Kafi, vol. 2, on ‘Feeding a Believer’, Tradition 17.

[5] Bihar Al-Anwar

[6] Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 388, Traditions 113.

[7] Bihar Al-Anwar

[8] Tafsir Al-Qurtubi, volume 10, page 718

[9] Sahih al-Bukhari 3092, 3093, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/57/2

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari 3714, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/62/64

[11] Qur’an 33:57

[12] Qur’an 92:17-21

[13] Sahih Muslim 2408 d, https://sunnah.com/muslim/44/58

[14] Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Book 49, Hadith 4157, Eng ref : Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3788, https://sunnah.com/urn/736710

[15] Sahih al-Bukhari 6830, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/86/57

[16] Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Book 49, Hadith 4085, English ref : Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3719, https://sunnah.com/urn/635990

[17] Sahih Muslim 1757 c, https://sunnah.com/muslim/32/58

[18] Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 1, Hadith 124, English ref : Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 119, https://sunnah.com/urn/1251190

[19] Sahih al-Bukhari 6586, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/81/174

[20] Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Book 49, Hadith 4078, Eng ref : Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3713, https://sunnah.com/urn/735920

[21] Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Book 49, Hadith 4077, Eng ref : Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3712, https://sunnah.com/urn/735910

[22] Al-Ikhtisas, pg. 71.

[23] Man La Yahdhuruhul-Faqih, v.1, pg. 283.

[24] Translation of Tabaqatul-Kubra, v.3, pg. 202, al-Tabaqatul-Kubra, v.2, pg. 178, Asadul-Ghabah, v.1, pg. 243, al-Isti’ab, v.1, pg. 82.

[25] Ansabul-Ashraf, v.1, pg. 526, al-Isabah, v.1, pg. 456.

[26] Translation of Tabaqatul-Kubra, v.3, pg. 202, al-Tabaqatul-Kubra, v.2, pg. 178, Asadul-Ghabah, v.1, pg. 244.

[27] Asadul-Ghabah, v.1, pg. 244.

[28] (1) Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Tha’labi, under Verse 5:55

(2) Tafsir al-Kabir, by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, v6, pp 186,288-289

(3) Tafsir Jamiul Hukam al-Qur’an, by Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Qurtubi, v6, p219

(4) Tafsir al-Khazin, v2, p68

(5) Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti, v2, pp 293-294

(6) Tafsir al-Kashshaf, by al-Zamakhshari, Egypt 1373, v1, pp 505,649

(7) Asbab al-Nuzool, by Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, Egypt 1382, v1, p73 on the authority of Ibn Abbas

(8) Asbab al-Nuzool, by al-Wahidi, on the authority of Ibn Abbas

(9) Sharh al-Tjrid, by Allama Qushji

(10) Ahkam al-Qur’an, al-Jassas, v2, pp 542-543

(11) Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v5, p38

(12) Kanzul Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, v6, p391, Tradition #5991

(13) al-Awsat, by Tabarani, narrated from Ammar Yasir

(14) Ibn Mardawayh, on the authority of Ibn Abbas

… and more.

[29] Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 9, subheading 2, p195

[30] Al-Riyadh al-Nadhirah, by Muhibbuddin al-Tabari, v2, p172

[31] Tarikh, by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, v10, p356

[32] Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar, Ch. 9, subheading 2, p195

[33] Mustadrak Alee Al-Sahihain of Al-Hakim Al-Nisabori, 3/129; Kenz Al-Omal, 6/153, Manaqib Khawarizmi Page 295, Ibn ‘Asakir, Tarikh Madinat Dimashq, Volume 42, page 370, Fadha’il As-Sahaba by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Matalib Al-’Aliyah by Ibn Hajar

[34] https://sunnah.com/muslim/44/91

[35] https://sunnah.com/urn/636700

[36] Musnad-e-Ahmed vol. 1 p. 130 – Imam Ahmed b. Hanbal is among the four Imams of Sunni schools. The Hanbali sect, which he founded, is the preferred school of jurisprudence for the Salafis.

[37] Khasaais-o-Aale Abi Talib (a.s.) by Imam Nesaai p. 39 – Imam Nesaai’s Sunan is among the six reliable books of the Ahle Sunnah called the Sihaah-e-Sittah. His book Khasaais is dedicated to the virtues of Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.) due to which he was killed by supporters of Muawiyah in Syria.

[38] Al-Manaaqib of Ibn Maghaazeli p. 204

[39] Minhaaj al-Sunnah, vol. 1 p. 68

[40] Minhaaj al-Sunnah vol. 5 p. 47


| REFLECTIONS ON THE CHAPTER OF THE NIGHT [92]

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