The clarity of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s tafseer is incredible. Those of you who may not know the Maulana – he was born and raised in Madinah and moved back to India – his ancestral land. He was a nationalist leader for all of Indians, the Hindu Majority and all minorities, and was the first education minister of independent India and laid the foundation for the educational institutions like IIT’s that rival MIT’s. I believe Muhammad Yunus, a member and a Muslim scholar listed in the emails is a member of IIT.
Maulana was a pluralist, and an inclusivist, as is Islam – the phrases like Rabbul Aalameen, Rahmatul Aalameen should lead us to become Mukhlooqul Aalameen. We need to consciously pull us out of the path of political Islam of self-interest and restore it to Islam for common good. It is in the same line of thinking, I believe the purpose of Islam is to build cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other but God (deviation from truth). Islam is about restoring harmonious, peaceful and a well-functioning cohesive world, God had created.
Some of the statements that jumped at me are:
“It states that they rank the highest who have sacrificed everything in the path of truth and endure steadfastly the trials and tribulations that befell them on the way of truth. That is the criterion of goodness.” – and I will add to this from Sura Hujurat “the best ones among you are those who learn about each other – for knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of another point of view.
In Hindu scriptures there is a powerful phrase “Satyamev Jayate – Truth alone triumphs” and Mahatma Gandhi popularized it, and now it is the national symbol of India… The Maulana has clearly distinguished the purpose of war was not victory or the conquest but bringing forth sustainable peace for “all”.
He pulled out the essence of the Sura – that is the truth alone triumphs and gives examples, “It therefore behooved the followers of the faith that they should have nothing to do with even their parents and brothers if they belonged to the enemy camp.” And elsewhere in Quran It lays down that you have to tell the truth even it goes against you or your interests. Indeed, there is no 5th in Islam; truth is given the highest value.
I am presenting the following papers at Aligarh Muslim University:
Shared by Rafiq Lodhia
SURAH: AL-TAWBAH ( THE REPENTANCE) – CHAPTER: 9 – VERSES: 20-28
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – The Tarjuman al-Qur’an – Year: 1968
The criterion of superiority of one over another in the sight of God is indicated in
verse 20. It states that they rank the highest who have sacrificed everything in
the path of truth and endure steadfastly the trials and tribulations that befell them
on the way of truth. That is the criterion of goodness. It is a lesson for the present
day Muslims who have developed an outlook on life and follow a way of living so
alien to the teachings of Islam. Even like the pagan Arabs of the Prophet’s time,
they prefer the traditional way as against the way of life laid down for them by
Islam. Whenever a rich man living a thoroughly un-Islamic life provides booths
(sabil) of cool drinks during the days of Muharram and arranges the celebration
of the Prophet’s Day (mawlud) on a lavish scale or pays for lightning a mosque
or a dargah on a particular day, the entire Muslim community exultingly applauds
him, and no one cares to know whether what he did was for the sake of God.
One should remember that such deeds do not constitute righteousness in the sight
of God. Goodness lies only in the purity of belief in God and sincerity in action and
steadfast endurance of trials in the way of God. That is the criterion of goodness
sponsored by the Qur’an.
It has been pointed out above that this chapter was revealed in the ninth year of
Hijra and that the earlier verses of it were publicly announced during the period
of Hajj that year. This was the time when Mecca had already been conquered
and strength of the enemies put down for ever on the field of Hunain. For the
expedition to Tabuk as many as thirty thousand Muslims, had assembled, so much
so that there remained no party in the Arabian peninsula to challenge the supremacy
of the followers of the Prophet. Still there lurked in the situation a few weaknesses.
Point A: A large number of Meccans who had opposed the Prophet but had been
pardoned by him at the time of his victorious entry into Mecca had joined the Muslim
fold. Being new converts to Islam, they could not fit into its way of life quickly. So
when war was declared on those who were still opposed to the Prophet in the
country and were giving no rest to its followers, a number of new Meccan converts
began to feel concerned about their relations who were in the enemy camps. In fact,
they could not rise above their sense of kinship with them or their tribal prejudices,
and so formed but a weak wing of the Muslim camp.
Point B: There were also in the Muslim camp quite a number of hypocrites and
timid people. They raised the cry that now that much had been gained for the
Muslims, there was no longer any need for them to engage themselves in further
Point C: The victories which the Muslims had won on the battlefield had developed
in them a general sense of indifference to any possible danger lying ahead of them.
The majority of them thought that now that the Arab land had nearly yielded to the
call of Truth and that there was left no strength among those who had not yet
chosen to yield to the call, there was no imperative need to be on the alert. They
hardly could realize at the moment the height of power and influence that destiny
had marked them to reach. This development in the situation was clearly a source
of danger to the security of the Muslims not only at this hour but in the days to
follow as well.
The necessity therefore was felt to revive in the Muslims the spirit of sincere
attachment to their faith and bring home to them once again the high purpose for
which they were to live and work as earnestly as ever before. They were to be told
that the period of trials was not yet over and that on the other hand it was just to
begin. Of the task lying ahead of them, what was of primary importance at the
moment was the liquidating of whatever opposition that there still was to the
mission of the Prophet and to establish perfect peace and order in the land.
It is why verse 16 calls upon the Muslims to reflect over the situation and realize,
that that was not the hour when they should relax their efforts to reach their goal.
It states that the faith which they professed had yet to be tested in full. So in the
succeeding verses after drawing attention to the character that should distinguish
the Muslims, a significant observation is made in verse 23 that the sense of sincere
attachment to one’s faith and the sense of loyalty to those who were opposed to
the faith could not subsist together or felt simultaneously in one’s mind. It therefore
behooved the followers of the faith that they should have nothing to do with even
their parents and brothers if they belonged to the enemy camp.
Verse 24 is emphatic in asserting that in a conflict between faith and denial of faith,
he alone will be regarded as a man of faith or faithful whom nothing in the world,
and even one’s love for those near and dear to him, should weaken his attachment
or devotion to his faith. It is on this basis that the edifice of a civilized society can
be raised. It refers to all the essential ties which one has necessarily to respect in
life. But the principle of devotion to an ideology such as that which function for the
security and welfare of a society as a whole, demands from everyone professing
faith in his ideology that he should rise far above every other form of attachment
and let nothing detract him from serving whole-heartedly the cause of truth which
that ideology upholds.
The Qur’an also draws particular attention to the attachment one feels to one’s
worldly comfort in life and so might like one’s country not to involve itself in any
war. For instance, one might be gaining wealth by pursuing the avocation of
commerce. In a state of war, opportunities for commerce may be lessened. That
is a fear which is bound to stare in the face of every one living on commerce.
Further, in a state of war one stands the risk of losing one’s possessions. The
thought of the risk will naturally disturb one immensely. Before such as these who
are moved by considerations of this nature, the Qur’an places an abiding truth of
life and asks them seriously to reflect over it. The truth is this. When a people are
called upon by the force of circumstances to defend the cause of truth and uphold
it for the good of men, it should behoove everyone who sincerely believes in the
truth to be prepared to sacrifice everything dear to him, so that truth might prevail
and bring happiness to one and all. The Qur’an gives the tiding to such devotees
of truth that whatever they might lose in the struggle would be repaid to them
manifold when truth shall triumph and bring peace and prosperity to one and all.
“Indeed with God lies the great reward,” says the Qur’an.
History has recorded for all times the glorious manner in which the companion of
the Prophet stood the test of devotion to their faith in God. It may be asserted
without exaggeration that there are few parallels in the annals of man to the
devoted support that they offered to the Prophet in his struggle in the cause of
truth. They sacrificed all that they had for the love of God, with the result that
they reaped in return what the pursuit of goodness always offers for the benefit
But what is our position today? Are we prepared to scrutinize our lives in the light
of this verse of the Qur’an.
Verse 26 refers to the battle of Hunain in eight year of the Hijra, when soon after
the conquest of Mecca, the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif in co-operation with the
tribes of Bani Nadir and Bani Hilal attacked the Muslims. The Prophet issued forth
from Mecca into the valley of Hunain. In this engagement, the Muslims were thrice
in number. Naturally, therefore, they felt confident of success. But when the hour
of trial arrived, their superiority in numbers could not avail. It was only a handful
of staunch adherents of the Prophet, who, inspired by the example of their leader,
saved the situation and won the victory for the Muslims.
The Muslim force had to proceed through a narrow pass. The enemy force lay in
ambush awaiting the Muslims to enter this pass. They knew that among the Muslims
nearly as many as two thousand were new converts from Mecca. A good many of
these were allies of the enemy. The moment the Muslims moved into the narrow
defile, the enemy force showered arrows over them from their bows. It was a
sudden attack. A large section of the Muslim army took to their heels in a state of
alarm. The situation seemed clearly to go against the Muslims. It was at this juncture
that the Prophet ask, ‘Abbas, his uncle, to cry out to his old comrades of Samra who
had sworn allegiance to him at the time of the treaty of Hudaibiya to steady themselves.
The cry inspired a new courage in the hearts of the staunch among them who forthwith
returned to the Prophet and gave so stiff a fight to the enemy that they had to suffer
a defeat at the hands of the Muslims.
This incident was a great eye-opener for the followers of the Faith. It brought home
to them that mere numbers do not bring victory. The strength of numbers does
contribute to success in warfare. But success does not always depend upon numbers.
It is the strength of will and the determination not to yield which ultimately count and
help even a small band of determined fighters to rout a force many times strong in
numbers. The Qur’an addressing the Muslims points out that there were occasions in
the past when though they were few in numbers they had achieved victory over the
enemy. But that now at this hour in Hunain when they prided themselves over the
largeness of their numbers, mere numbers did not avail. That was a matter for them
to reflect over.
In verse 28 the Quran reverts to the order issued in an earlier verse of this chapter
prohibiting the polytheists to enter the Ka’ba any further. That House of Prayer had
been raised by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail for the worship of God, the
One, and was meant to serve as a center of spiritual activity for those who believed
in the unity of God.
In this verse the reference to the uncleanliness of the polytheists is not to their
physical condition but to the uncleanliness of their hearts. Islam does not regard the
person or the body of anyone as unclean. Every man as man stands on the same
footing as every other human being. It is why it has prohibited untouchability and
does not single out any section of humanity as untouchable. In fact, it is clear from
the recorded history of the Prophet that the Prophet maintained social relationships
with not only the People of the Book, the Jews, but with the polytheists of his time.
He used to dine with them and accept their invitations and also offer invitations to
them. History has recorded that he at times had allowed them to stay in his own
mosque at Madina.
The verse under reference has a limited application. It applies to the seat of Ka’ba
along and not to any other Muslim place of worship. In fact, after the issuing of
this order, the Prophet had allowed the Christians of Yemen, and the polytheists
from Ta’if to stay in his mosque.
Surah: 20 – They who have believed in God and abandoned their homes for the
sake of God and striven with their possessions and their persons in the way of
God, shall rank high in the estimation of God. These are they who shall attain
success (in life).
Surah: 21 – Tidings of mercy doth their Lord send them and of His good pleasure
and also of gardens in which lasting joy shall be theirs.
Surah: 22 – Therein shall they abide for ever. Surely (for such people) there is a
great reward from their Lord.
Surah: 23 – O Muslims! Do not take your fathers or brothers for friends if they
prefer unbelief to belief; and whoso of you shall take them for friends they shall
be regarded as those who have been unjust to themselves.
Surah: 24 – Say (to the Muslims, O Prophet!): If your fathers and your sons and
your brothers and your wives, and your kith and kin and the wealth that you have
acquired and the merchandise which ye fear may not have a proper sale, and the
dwellings of which you are very don, be dearer to you than God and His Apostle and
striving in the way of God, then, wait until God disclose what He wills to do. And it is
not in the manner of God to guide the impious.
Surah: 25 – (O Muslims!) This is a fact that God had helped you on many a previous
occasion (when you were few in number) and on the day of Hunain, when despite
the strength over which you had exulted availed you not, and the earth with all its
vastness had straitened on your and you to turn back in fight.
Surah: 26 – It was then, God infused into the Prophet and those faithful (to him)
the spirit of steadiness and self-assurance and succoured them with unseen hosts
and defeated the unbelievers, and that is what the unbelievers deserved.
Surah: 27 – Yet after this, God will turn in mercy towards whomsoever He pleaseth;
for indeed God is Forgiving, Merciful.
Surah: 28 – O ye Muslims! Surely those who ascribe partners to God are an unclean
lot. Let them not after this year approach the Holy Place of Prayer, and if (due to
lack of opportunity to profit by trading with them at the time of Hajj) you apprehend
poverty, (then, do not lose heart for), God, if He please, will soon give you riches
out of His abundance. Verily, God knows (your needs) and He will in His Wisdom
compensate you for your loss.