Tuesday 13 November 2018

Surah Al Ahzab "The Clans - The Coalition Forces": Summary of 33rd Chapter of the Holy Quran


Sūrat al-Aḥzāb, the 33rd surah /chapter containing 73 verses and nine rukuh is divided in Juzʼ/Parts 21 and 22 of the Holy Qur'an. Sūrat al-Aḥzāb was revealed in Medina and takes its name from the 20th verse "Al Ahzab" meaning clans or getting together of coalition forces of the pagans of Makkah against the Muslims for the third battle  around Medina, known as the Battle of Ditch as for the first time in the history of Arab warfare a defensive strategy was adopted by digging a ditch or trench all around Medina to thwart the onslaught of the nonbelievers. The surah also covers some social matters pertaining to the Prophet of Allah, the status of His wives and adoption.

The explanations of the verses of this surah are rather long and elaborate for the reason that there are issues which need to be understood very clearly by those objecting and criticizing the Prophet of Allah and his household effects. These explanations are the minimum possible words, while the actual explanations are very lengthy. Those readers seeking additional explanations and details are requested to read the exegeses of the Holy Qur'an given at reference 1 and 2 below.

Let us now read explanation of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

The opening verse of the Surah reveal circumstances and their aftermath when Zaid Bin Haratha, the adopted son of the Prophet had divorced his wife. Here it would appropriate to explain the background of this marriage which resulted into a divorce and the Prophet marrying the divorcée. The Prophet ﷺ had himself arranged the marriage of his first cousin Hadrat Zainab with his adopted son Zaid under his personal influence. However, the marriage did not progress well  bride's whole family had opposed it for they did not like that a daughter of the noble Quraish should be given in marriage to a freed slave. Hadrat Zainab herself was not happy at this arrangement. But everyone had to submit to the Holy Prophet's command. The marriage was solemnized and a precedent was set in Arabia that Islam had raised a freed slave to the status of the Quraishite nobility. Since the marriage was contracted between the Prophet Hadrat Zainab by a Divine order, although the Prophet accepted it as such, as by this marriage the root of the tradition and customs of ignorance regarding the adopted relations, and marrying the divorced wife of adopted son came to an end.
1) O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily Allah is All-Knowing, Most Wise. 2) Follow that which is revealed to you from your Lord. Verily Allah is fully aware of all that you do. 3) Put your trust in Allah: Allah is sufficient as Guardian. 
However, the Prophet  ﷺ  knew that this action will provide a strong excuse to the disbelievers and the hypocrites; who were already burning with jealousy at his successive victories, to start a propaganda campaign against him. This fear was not due to any apprehension for personal defamation, but for the reason that it would harm Islam; it would cause mistrust of Islam among the people who were inclined towards it; it would make the neutral people to join the enemy; and it would cause the weak minded people among the Muslims to be involved in doubts and suspicions. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) thought it was unwise to take a step for the eradication of a custom of ignorance, which would harm the greater interests and objectives of Islam.

Thus right in the first verse of this surah, Allah removes all the apprehensions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), as if to say: “We know better what is useful and beneficial for our religion and what is not. We know what would be wise and what unwise in this regard. Therefore, you should not behave in a manner which would suit the disbelievers and the hypocrites, but you should behave in a manner which is according to Our Will. You should fear Us and not the disbelievers and the hypocrites.”

In the verse 4 below, it is explained that a person cannot be a believer and a hypocrite, truthful and false, wicked and righteous, at one and the same time. He does not have two hearts in this chest that one should have sincerity in it and the other fearlessness of God. Therefore, a man can have only one kind of character at a time: Thus if you call a believer a hypocrite, or a hypocrite a believer, it will not change the reality. The true character of the person will inevitably remain the same.
4) Allah has never put two hearts within one person's body; nor has He made your wives, whom you compare to your mothers' backs (to divorce them), your true mothers; nor has He made those whom you adopt as sons your own sons. These are only words that you utter with your mouths. But Allah proclaims the Truth and directs you to the Right Path. 
Here another aspect of the Arab domestic life has been highlighted In Arabic In old days when an Arab; in the heat of a domestic quarrel, would say to his wife: "Your back for me is as the back of my mother," it was thought that the woman was no longer lawful for him because he had compared her to his mother. About this Allah says: "A woman does not become a man's mother just because he has called her his mother or compared her to his mother. His mother is the woman who bore him. Only his Balling his wife his mother cannot change the reality."  The same aspect has also been highlighted in Surah Al- Mujadilah: Ayahs 2-4: "Those who pronounce thihar among you [to separate] from their wives - they are not [consequently] their mothers. Their mothers are none but those who gave birth to them. And indeed, they are saying an objectionable statement and a falsehood. But indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving."

In Islam, the lineage is very important. Verses 5-6 are about the differences between adopted and blood-related persons. Verse 5 refers to Adoption in Islam and verse 6 contains a reference to the term Mother of Believers, who were Prophet's wives. This perhaps suggests their elevated standing with the community and in the later verses, these women are described as "unlike any other.
5) Call your adopted sons after their true fathers; that is more equitable in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their true fathers, then regard them as your brethren in faith and as allies. You will not be taken to task for your mistaken utterances, but you will be taken to task for what you say deliberately. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Compassionate.
Verse 5 above clearly cautions not to change the lineage with the aim of getting included in the will, shares of inheritance or for any other benefit. One who deceives others will be humiliated by Allah. After the divorce, some women change the last name of the child for being angry at the father of her children. This ayat clearly shows that one cannot go “against” the commandments of Allah. He chose that person to be a child’s father – and it has to be accepted as such. Likewise, those who hate their fathers, they cannot change your last name either. No matter what he has done to or to the society (he could be a murderer).  It may be added here that it is not from the tradition of Islam, especially the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, for a woman to change her last name after marriage. She remains to be identified by the family that she was born in and not the husband’s family. Aisha remained ‘Aisha bint Abu Bakr after her marriage to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Let us practice the traditions of Islam and not become blind followers of others’ traditions.
6) Surely the Prophet has a greater claim over the believers than they have over each other, and his wives are their mothers. According to the Book of Allah, blood relatives have greater claim over each other than the rest of the believers and the Emigrants (in the cause of Allah), except that you may do some good to your allies (if you so wish). This is inscribed in the Book of Allah.
As commanded by Allah in verse 6, the Prophet (peace be upon him) assumes superior nature of relationship over and above all human relationships. meaning by that no other relationship is in any way comparable with the relationship that exists between the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the believers. On the basis of the special relationship, another characteristic of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are mothers of the believers, however only in the sense that the Muslims are under obligation to have reverence and respect for them, and no Muslim could marry them. As for other matters they are not like the mothers. For example, apart from their real relatives, all other Muslims were non-mahram for them from whom they had to observe hijab; their daughters were not like real sisters for the Muslims, so that no Muslim could marry them; their brothers and sisters were not like the maternal uncles and aunts for the Muslims; they could not be inherited by a Muslim, unless a close relative, as a mother is inherited by her son.

Verses 7-8 show that Allah will test even the sincerity of the prophets. The beginning of the surah seems to be concerned with truthfulness. The surah reinforces that "Allah is enough to trust...All this is written in the Scripture...Allah will question [even] the truthful about their sincerity, and for those who reject the truth He has prepared a painful torment...speak in a direct fashion." Truthfulness and trust seem to be emphasized for believers and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) since he was dealing with hypocrites and betrayers[according to whom? in Medina, who spread lies, deserted the army during the battle, or supported the attackers.
7) And call to mind, (O Prophet), when We took the covenant from all Prophets; and also from you and Noah and Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary. We took from them a solemn covenant. 8) so that (their Lord) may question the truthful about their truthfulness. As for the unbelievers, He has kept a painful chastisement in store for them.
Verses 9-27 are the main theme of the surah and are related with the believers and hypocrites' reactions to the Battle of the Trench (which is sometimes known as the Battle of the Ditch). The believers are those who remain steadfast in their belief and courage whereas the hypocrites try to run for safety, abandon the Muslim army, and doubt God and Prophet Muhammad. Verse 26 contains a reference to the Siege of the Banu Qurayza and consequent looting of their possessions.
9) Believers, call to mind Allah's favour to you when enemy hosts invaded you. Then We sent against them a wind and hosts that you did not see although Allah was observing all that you were then doing.
The siege of Madina had lasted over a month and there seemed to be no way of ending it as the forces of Makkah had a well supplied line of communications behind them. But even they were getting weary of this strange kind of battle tactics unknown to them. Thus then the Divine help came in the form of windstorm to break the morale of the encircling forces and break their ranks. “Armies whom you did not see” implies the hidden powers which operate in the affairs of men under Allah’s command and of which men are totally unaware. Man regards the occurrence of events and incidents as resulting from apparent causes and does not take into account the hidden forces at work, whereas in most cases these very hidden forces play the decisive role. As these forces function under the command of Allah’s angels, the “armies” may imply the angels as well though there is no indication here of sending the armies of the angels.
10) When they came upon you from above you and from below you, when your eyes were stupefied with horror and your hearts leapt to your throats, and you began to entertain diverse thoughts about Allah.
The enemies came upon you from every side, and also that those coming from Najd and Khyber came from above and those coming from Makkah from below you.
11) The believers were then put to a severe test and were most violently convulsed. 12) And call to mind when the hypocrites and all those with diseased hearts said: “All that Allah and His Messenger had promised us was nothing but deceit.”
13) And when a section of them said: “(O people of Yathrib), now there is no place for you to stay, so turn back.” (And call to mind) when a section of them was seeking permission from the Prophet to leave, saying: “Our houses are exposed (to attack),” although they were not exposed (to attack); they only wished to flee (from the battle-front).
According to majority of scholars and interpreters of the Holy Qur'an, Ayat 13 above has two meanings: The apparent meaning is that there is no chance for them to stay at the Trench against the polytheists; therefore, they should return to the city. And the hidden meaning is that there is no chance for them to remain in Islam; therefore, they should return to their ancestral religion, so that they might escape the danger in which they had involved themselves by earning the hostility of the whole of Arabia. The hypocrites uttered such mischievous things so that they could make the one who would listen to them understand the intended hidden meaning, but in case someone took exception to their words, they could say they had been misunderstood.

When the Bani Quraizah also joined the invaders, the hypocrites had a good excuse for defection and asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) for leave to go and protect their houses and families, which, they said, had been endangered, whereas at that time the Prophet (peace be upon him) being responsible for the defense and protection of all the people of Al-Madinah, had already made arrangements for protection against the danger, which were a part of the collective scheme of defense being implemented by him as commander of the Islamic forces. Therefore, there was no immediate danger in the face of which these people could justifiably make such an excuse.
14) If the enemy were to enter the town from various directions, and they were summoned to act treacherously, they would have succumbed to it and would have shown little reluctance in doing so. 15) They had earlier covenanted with Allah that they would not turn their backs in flight. And a covenant made with Allah must needs be answered for.
That is, they had felt regret at the weakness they had shown on the occasion of the battle of Uhud and pledged to Allah that they would compensate for their error in any future trial. But Allah cannot be deceived by empty words. He puts to one or the other test everyone who makes a pledge with Him so that his sincerity of intention or otherwise is found out. Therefore, just after two years of the battle of Uhud, He made them confront an even more serious danger and discovered how far they were sincere in their pledge.
16) (O Prophet), tell them: “If you run away from death or slaying, this flight will not avail you. You will have little time after that to enjoy (the pleasures of life).” 17) Say (to them): “Who can protect you from Allah if He desires an evil for you? And who can prevent Him if He desires to show mercy to you?” They shall find none other than Allah to be their protector or helper. 18) Allah knows well those of you who create obstructions (in war efforts) and say to their brethren: “Come and join us.” They hardly take any part in battle. 19) They are utterly niggardly (in coming to your aid). Whenever there is danger, you will see them looking at you, their eyes rolling as though they were on the verge of fainting at the approach of death. But when the danger passes away, their greed for wealth prompts them to greet you with their sharp, scissor-like tongues. These are the ones who never truly believed, and so Allah has caused their deeds to be reduced to naught. That is easy enough for Allah. 20) They think that the invading confederates have not yet gone. But if the confederates were to mount another assault, they would wish to be in the desert among the Bedouins and keep themselves informed about you from there. But even if they remained in your midst, hardly would they fight.
 21) Surely there was a good example for you in the Messenger of Allah, for all those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much. 
Ayat 21 presents the conduct and way of life of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) as a model was to teach a lesson to the people, who had been motivated by considerations of selfish interests and personal safety on the occasion of the battle of the Trench. They are being addressed, as if to say: “You claimed to be the believers and Muslims and followers of the Messenger (peace be upon him). You should have seen how the Messenger (peace be upon him) conducted himself on the occasion. If the leader of a group is himself a seeker of personal security and is ever ready to flee danger, it would be reasonable to expect manifestation of such weakness from his followers. But here the case was different. The Prophet (peace be upon him) endured along with others every toil and labor that he asked others to endure, and endured more than others; there was no trouble which others might have experienced and he himself did. not. He was among those who dug the trench, and endured hunger and other afflictions just as the common Muslims did. He did not leave the battlefront even for a moment during the siege nor retreated an inch. After the betrayal of the Bani Quraizah his own family had also been exposed to danger even as the families of the other Muslims were. He did not make any special arrangement for his own and his family’s protection, which did not exist for others. He was always in the forefront to offer maximum sacrifices for the great objectives for which he was constantly asking others to make sacrifices. Therefore, whoever made a claim of being his follower should have followed the practical example set by the leader.

This is the meaning of the verse in the context here. But its words are general and there is no reason why it should be confined to these meanings only. Allah does not say that only in this respect His Messenger’s (peace be upon him) life is a model for the Muslims to follow, but has regarded it as a model absolutely. Therefore, the verse demands that the Muslims should take the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) life as a model for themselves in every affair of life and should mold their character and personality according to it.
22) As for the true believers, when they saw the invading confederates, they cried out: “This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and what Allah and His Messenger said was absolutely true.” This only increased their faith and submission. 
After drawing attention to the model of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Allah now presents the model of his companions (verse 22) so that the character of the false claimants to faith and of the sincere followers of the Messenger (peace be upon him) is clearly contrasted.

Here, one should keep( verse 12) in view. There it was said that when the hypocrites and the people with diseased hearts found themselves surrounded by a huge force from the front and by the Bani Quraizah from behind, they openly started saying: “The promises that Allah and His Messenger had made with us were nothing but a delusion. We were promised that if we believed in Allah’s religion, His succor would be at our back and we would rule Arabia and the world outside, but here we are at the verge of exterminating with no sign yet of the armies of the angels in sight to save us and protect us against this grave calamity.” Now in verse 22 they are being told: “One meaning of the promise of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) was that which was understood by these false claimants to faith. The other meaning is that which is understood by the sincere and true Muslims. When they saw the storms of danger gathering, they too remembered the promises of Allah, but these promises did not mean that as soon as they affirmed the faith they would overwhelm and subdue the whole world without the slightest effort, and the angels would come to perform their coronation, but the promises actually meant that they would have to pass through severe trials, endure extreme hardships and afflictions, offer supreme sacrifices; then only will Allah bless them with His grace and they will be granted successes of the world and the Hereafter, which Allah has promised to His believing servants.

They are in fact being asked: “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and afflictions and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out: When will Allah’s help come?” “Yes, Allah’s help is near.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 214). It is the believers who on seeing the hard times of affliction approaching, who do not waver in their faith and instead of giving up Allah’s obedience, they become ready to resign and surrender to Him whatever they have with complete conviction and satisfaction of the heart.”
23) Among the believers there are those who have remained true to the covenant they made with Allah. Among those some of them have fulfilled their vow and others await the appointed time. They have not changed in the least. 24) (All this is) in order that Allah may reward the truthful for their truthfulness, and either punish the hypocrites or, if He so wills, accept their repentance. Verily Allah is Most Pardoning, Most Compassionate. 25) Allah sent back the unbelievers empty-handed, their hearts seething with rage. Allah sufficed the believers in their fight. Allah is Most Powerful, Most Mighty. 26) Allah brought down from their fortresses those People of the Book who had supported the invading confederates and cast such terror into their hearts that some of them you kill and some of them you take captive. 27) Allah made you inherit their land, their dwellings, and their goods, and a piece of land on which you had not yet trodden. Verily Allah has power over all things.
Verses 28-34 contain a reference to wives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and tell the believers the proper conduct with the Prophet and his household. The prophet's wives are called the Mothers of the Believers and thus have to follow certain rules and regulations as women who are "unlike other women." As such, some scholars have suggested that these rules apply exclusively to only Prophet's wives.
28) O Prophet, tell your wives: “If you seek the world and its embellishments, then come and I will make some provision for you and release you in an honourable way.
At some places, the Prophet of Allah has been shown as a king with wealth and harem of wives and criticized by followers of other faith. But the revelation of verse 28 has a background which shows the state of living of a Prophet of Allah whose message was soon to be spread all over the world. It is quoted that one day Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) visited the Prophet (peace be upon him), and saw that his wives sitting around him and he was quiet. Addressing Umar, he said: They are sitting around me as you see: they are asking for money for household expenditure.” At this both the companions rebuked their daughters and said, “Why do you embarrass the Prophet (peace be upon him) and demand from him that which he does not have.” This event shows how economically hard pressed the Prophet (peace be upon him) was at that time, and how distressed and embarrassed he was feeling at his wives’ demand for domestic expenditure during the period when a bitter conflict was going on between Islam and paganism.
29) But if you seek Allah and His Messenger and the Abode of the Hereafter, then surely Allah has prepared a great reward for those of you who do good.”
After the incident quoted above, verse 29 was revealed, which explains the Islamic Law Takhyir which amounts to delegation of the right to obtain divorce. The husband himself gives the wife the choice to stay in wedlock with him or be separated. Once a husband has given this choice to a wife, he can neither withdraw it nor stop her from exercising it. However, it is not necessary that the woman must exercise it. She may choose to remain in wedlock with the husband, or may prefer to separate, or may opt nothing and let the right of divorce be annulled.

The subject is very long and will be dealt with separately for many clarifications that can be made here. So the Prophet first spoke to Aishah, and said: “I ask you a thing; do not be hasty in answering; consult your parents, then decide.” Then he told her of Allah’s command and recited this verse. She replied: “Should I consult my parents about this?” I seek Allah and His Messenger and the Hereafter. After this he went to each of his wives and asked the same thing and each one gave the same reply as had been given by Aishah.
30) Wives of the Prophet, if any of you commit flagrant indecency, her chastisement shall be doubled. That is easy for Allah.
The verse 30 does not mean that there was, God forbid, any chance of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives committing an indecency, but this was meant to make them realize that they were the mothers of the Muslims; therefore, their responsibilities were accordingly very high, and so their moral conduct should be the purest.
31) But whoever of you is obedient to Allah and His Messenger and does good deeds, Allah will double her reward. We have prepared for her a generous provision.
The verses from here to the end are about the commandments of hijab. Although here  only the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) have been addressed, the intention is to enforce reforms in all the Muslim houses. The object of addressing the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives in particular is that when a pure way of life will start from his house, it will be followed by the women of all other Muslim houses as well, because this house was looked upon by the Muslims as a model to follow.
32) Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear Allah, do not be too complaisant in your speech lest those with diseased hearts should covet you; but speak in a straight forward manner. 
As for talking to other men, it is stressed that “There is no harm if the other man is spoken to in case of a genuine need, but on such an occasion the woman’s tone and manner of speech should be such as does not let the other man think that he could cherish any false hope from her. There should be no undue softness in her tone, no allurement in her conversation, no consciously affected mellowness in her voice, which should excite the male hearer’s emotions and encourage him to make advances.”

About such a manner of speech Allah clearly says that this does not behoove a woman who has any fear of God in her heart and desire to avoid evil. In other words, this is the way and manner of the wicked and unchaste woman’s speech and not of the believing pious woman’s speech: If this verse is read together with verse 31 of Surah An-Nur, in which Allah says: “They should not stamp the ground in walking lest their hidden decoration is revealed,” the intention of the Lord clearly seems to be that the women should not attract other men by their voice or the jingle of their ornaments unnecessarily, and if at all they have to speak to the other men, they should speak to them in an unaffected tone and manner.
33) And stay in your homes and do not go about displaying your allurements as in the former Time of Ignorance. Establish Prayer, give Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only wishes to remove uncleanness from you, O members of the (Prophet's) household, and to purify you completely.
Verse 33 above begins with the Arabic word "qarna" in the original is derived from qarar according to some lexicographers and from waqar according to others. In the first sense, it will mean: “settle down, stick firmly” and in the second sense: “live peacefully, sit with dignity.” In both the cases the verse means to impress that the woman’s real sphere of activity is her home; she should carry out her functions within that sphere peacefully, and she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need.
34) Remember the Signs of Allah and the words of wisdom which are rehearsed in your homes. Verily Allah is All-Subtle, All-Aware.
The opening word of verse 34 is "wadhkurna" which has two meanings: Remember and mention. According to the first meaning the verse would mean: “O wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), you should never forget that yours is the house from where the world is being instructed in divine revelations and wisdom, therefore, your responsibility is very great. Let it not happen that the people might see specimens of ignorance in this very house.” According to the second meaning, it would mean: “O wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), you should mention and relate before the people whatever you hear and see, for by virtue of your close and constant social association and attachment with the Prophet (peace be upon him) you will know and experience many such things which the other people. will not be able to know by any other means than you.”

Verses 35-36 show the characteristics of people who will be forgiven and rewarded by God. Some scholars take these verses to mean equal worth of women and men and thus reject claims that women are inferior to men.
35) Surely the men who submit (to Allah) and the women who submit (to Allah), the men who have faith and the women who have faith, the men who are obedient and the women who are obedient, the men who are truthful and the women who are truthful; the men who are steadfast and the women who are steadfast, the men who humble themselves (to Allah) and the women who humble themselves (to Allah), the men who give alms and the women who give alms, the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much:63 for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a mighty reward.
The theme of verse 35 immediately after the foregoing paragraph contains a subtle allusion to the fact that the instructions given above to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives are not exclusively meant for them but the Muslim society as a whole should reform itself in accordance with them.
36) It does not behove a believer, male or female, that when Allah and His Messenger have decided an affair they should exercise their choice. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has strayed to manifest error. 
Verse 36 was revealed in connection with the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) marriage with Zainab (may Allah be pleased with her). When the Prophet of Allah proposed the wedlock between Zainab and his adopted son Zaid, Zainab said, “I am better than him in lineage" and that "I do not approve him for myself. I am a Quraishite by birth." The same sort of disapproval was expressed by her brother, Abdullah bin Jahsh, because Zaid was a freed slave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Zainab was the daughter of his paternal aunt, Umaimah bint Abdul Muttalib. At this, this verse was sent down and on hearing it Zainab and all her relatives yielded to the proposal at once. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) married them, paid ten diners and 60 dirhams from his own pocket as dower on behalf of Zaid, provided the bridal dress and sent some articles of food for domestic use.

The discourse from here verse 37 to 48 was sent down after the Prophet (peace be upon him) had married Zainab, and the hypocrites, the Jews and the mushriks had started a relentless propaganda campaign against him. 
37) (O Prophet), call to mind when you said to him whom Allah had favoured and you had favoured: “Cleave to your wife and fear Allah,” and you concealed within yourself for fear of people what Allah was to reveal, although Allah has greater right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her, We gave her in marriage to you so that there should not be any constraint for the believers regarding the wives of their adopted sons after they had accomplished whatever they would of them. And Allah's command was bound to be accomplished. 38) There could be no hindrance to the Prophet regarding what Allah ordained for him. Such has been Allah's Way (with the Prophets) who went before. Allah's command is a decree firmly determined. 39) (This is Allah's Way) regarding those who deliver the Messages of Allah and who fear Him, and fear no one else than Allah. Allah is Sufficient as a Reckoner.
40) Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets. Allah has full knowledge of everything.
The verse 40 was at the root of all those objections which the opponents were raising in connection with this marriage of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

  • Their first objection was that he had married his own daughter-in-law, whereas according to his own law the son’s wife is forbidden for the father. This was answered by saying: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men.” That is, Zaid was not his real son, and so it was not unlawful to marry his divorced wife.
  • Their second objection was that even if his adopted son was not his real son, it was not necessary that he should have married his divorced wife. This was answered by saying: “But he is the Messenger of Allah.” That is, it was his duty as the Messenger of Allah to put an end to all kinds of prejudices about a lawful thing which custom and tradition had made unlawful without good reason and declare it to be lawful once again.
  • The point was stressed by saying: “and (he is) the seal of the Prophets.” That is, not to speak of a Messenger, no other Prophet would be raised after him, who could make up for a possible deficiency in the enforcement of a reform in the law and society that might have been left un-enforced in his time. Therefore, it had become all the more necessary that he should himself root out the custom of ignorance.
  • To further emphasize this point, it was said: “Allah has knowledge of everything.” that is, Allah knows best why it was imperative to get the custom of ignorance rooted out at that juncture through the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He knows that no other prophet would be coming after him; therefore, if He did not abolish this custom through His last Prophet, no other person after him would be able to abolish it for all the Muslims of the world for ever. Even if the later reformers would abolish it, no action of any one of them will have the permanent and universal authority behind it so that the people of every country and every age might start following it, and none of them would have a personality endowed with that holiness and sanctity that an action’s being merely his way (Sunnah) might root out every feeling of aversion and abhorrence from the mind of the people.
It is a pity that a section of the people in our age have given wrong interpretations of this verse and opened the way to a great mischief. 

41) Believers, remember Allah much 42) and glorify Him morning and evening. 43) It is He Who lavishes His blessings on you and His angels invoke blessings on you that He may lead you out of darkness into light. He is Most Compassionate to the believers. 44) On the Day they meet Him they will be greeted with: “Peace.” He has prepared for them a generous reward. This can have three meanings: 45) O Prophet, We have sent you forth as a witness, a bearer of good tidings, and a warner,
46) as one who calls people to Allah by His leave,84 and as a bright, shining lamp. 47) Announce to the believers the good tidings that Allah has kept bounteous blessings in store for them. 
48) Do not yield to the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard the hurt that comes from them, and put your trust in Allah. Allah suffices as the Guardian to entrust one's affairs to. 
Verses 49-52 detail who the prophet can marry or not. Verse 50 was revealed pertaining to Maymuna bint al-Harith.
49) Believers, when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them,85 you may not require them to observe a waiting period that you might reckon against them. So make provision for them and release them in an honourable manner.
50) O Prophet, We have made lawful for you your wives whose bridal dues you have paid, and the slave-girls you possess from among the prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and maternal aunts who have migrated with you, and a believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet and whom he wants to take in marriage. (O Prophet), this privilege is yours alone to the exclusion of other believers. We know well what restrictions We have imposed upon them as regards their wives and those whom their right hands possess, (and have exempted you from those restrictions) that there may be no constraint upon you.90 Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.
51) Of them you may put off any of them you wish, and you may take any of them whom you wish, and you may call back any of those whom you had (temporarily) set aside: there will be no blame on you (on this account). It is likelier that they will thus be comforted, and will not grieve, and every one of them will be well-pleased with what you give them.91 Allah knows what is in your hearts. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Forbearing.52) Thereafter women will not be lawful for you, and it will not be lawful for you to take other wives in place of them, even though their beauty might please you, unless they be those whom your right hand owns.94 Allah is watchful over everything.
Verses 53-58 tell the believers how they should interact with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when visiting him and his household.
53) Believers, enter not the houses of the Prophet without his permission,nor wait for a meal to be prepared; instead enter when you are invited to eat, and when you have had the meal, disperse. Do not linger in idle talk. That is hurtful to the Prophet but he does not express it out of shyness; but Allah is not ashamed of speaking out the Truth. And if you were to ask the wives of the Prophet for something, ask from behind a curtain. That is more apt for the cleanness of your hearts and theirs. It is not lawful for you to cause hurt to Allah's Messenger, nor to ever marry his wives after him. Surely that would be an enormous sin in Allah's sight. 54) (It does not matter) whether you disclose something or conceal it, for Allah certainly knows everything.
55) It will not be blameworthy for the wives of the Prophet if their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, and the women with whom they have social relations, and the persons whom their right hands possess enter their houses. (O women), shun disobeying Allah. Allah is watchful over everything. 56) Allah and His angels bless the Prophet. Believers, invoke blessings and peace on him. 57) Verily those who cause annoyance to Allah and His Messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter and has prepared for them a humiliating chastisement. 58) Those who cause hurt to believing men and to believing women have invited upon themselves a calumny and a manifest sin.
Verse 59 uses the phrase adna al-jilbab which is sometimes understood as 'wrap around' and is used to force women to cover themselves, in some cases, cover completely and leave the eyes visible when they leave the house. Other scholars believe that "adna al-jilbab" means 'make it hang low' rather than wrap around and thus do not support the assertion that women must cover their heads. Some scholars say that this verse was revealed to women to protect them "(when abroad); that is most convenient, that they should be known [as free, not slaves] and not molested [by the] hypocrites...," a practice that was part of the "slave-owning jahili society, that no longer exists" suggesting that women don't need to cover anymore.
59) O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings around them. It is likelier that they will be recognized and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. 
Verses 60-73 explain the actions that Allah will take with the disbelievers and believers and will direct Muhammad to take against the hypocrites. The last verse ends with the proclamation that Allah will punish both hypocrites and idolaters, whether they are men and women, and reward the believers of both genders. Both genders are presented as equal since they are both punished or redeemed without any differences when judged by Allah
60) If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts there is a sickness, and the scandal mongers in Madinah do not desist from their vile acts, We shall urge you to take action against them, and then they will hardly be able to stay in the city with you. 61) They shall be cursed from all around and they shall be ruthlessly killed wherever they are seized. 62) This has been Allah's Way with those who have gone before, and you shall find no change in Allah's Way
63) People ask you concerning the Hour (of Resurrection). Say: “Allah alone has knowledge of it. What do you know? Perhaps the Hour is nigh.” 64) Allah has cursed the unbelievers and has prepared for them a Blazing Fire; 65) therein they shall abide for ever. They shall find none to protect or help them. 66) On that Day when their faces shall be turned around in the Fire, they will say: “Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger.” 67) They will say: “Our Lord, we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they turned us away from the Right Way. 68) Our Lord, mete out to them a double chastisement and lay upon them a mighty curse.” 69) Believers, do not be like those who distressed Moses and then Allah declared him quit of the ill they spoke about him; and he had a high standing with Allah.
70) Believers, fear Allah and speak the truth: 71) Allah will set your deeds right for you and will forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has achieved a great triumph. 72) We offered the trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to carry it and were afraid of doing so; but man carried it. Surely he is wrong-doing, ignorant.
73) (The consequence of man's carrying the trust is) that Allah may chastise hypocritical men and hypocritical women and accept the repentance of believing men and believing women. He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. 
You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Aḥzāb:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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