Saturday, December 1, 2018

Surah Al Mujadilah - The Pleading Woman: Summary of 58th Chapter of the Holy Qur'an

Sūrat al-Mujādilah is the fifty eighth surah with 22 ayats with two rukus, part of the 28th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an.

The surah is entitled Al Mujadalah as well as Al Mujadilah, the title being derived from the word tujadiluka of the very first verse. As at the outset mention has been made of the woman who pleaded with the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) the case of zihar pronounced by her husband and urged him to suggest a way out of the difficult situation in order to save her and, her children's life from ruin, and Allah has described her pleading by the word "mujadalah", the Surah came to be known by this very title. If it is read as "mujadalah",it would mean "pleading and arguing", and if it is read as "mujadilah", it would mean "the woman who pleaded and argued."

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

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

Verses 1-6 redress the grievance of a grieving and pleading woman and legal injunctions about zihar have been given. 

Before reading translation of the verse, a few words about Zihar, a tradition of pre Islamic days to divorce one's wife. Among the Arabs if the husband wanted to sever the marital relations, he would say to his wife: "Anti alayya ka-zahri ammi" which literally means: "You are for me as the back of my mother." This is called zihar. But its real meaning is: To have sexual relations with you would be like having sexual relations with my mother.

Zahr in Arabic is metaphorically used for riding and mounting. Thus, the conveyance is called zahr, because man rides on its back. As this word was employed in order to make the wife unlawful, it was termed zihar. In the pre-Islamic days this was looked upon as tantamount to the pronouncement of divorce, even of greater effect than that, for they took it to mean that the husband was not only severing his marital relations with his wife but was also declaring her to be unlawful for himself like his mother. On this very basis, the Arabs thought reunion could be possible after a divorce but it was impossible after zihar.

Now in this background, a certain woman came pleading to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) who was victim of zihar and wanted justice. Now read the opening six verse of the surah below.
1. Allah has surely heard the words of her who contends with you concerning her husband and complains to Allah. Allah hears what both of you say. Verily Allah is All- Hearing, All-Seeing.
2. Those among you who divorce their wives by declaring them to be their mothers, such are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave birth to them. Indeed what they say is highly contemptible and false. Verily Allah is Most Pardoning, Most Forgiving.
This is Allah’s first decision concerning zihar. It means that if a person shamelessly compares the wife to his mother, his utterance does not make his wife his mother, nor is she endowed with the sanctity that the mother enjoys. The mother’s being mother is fact, for she has given birth to the man. On this very ground, she is eternally sacred and prohibited. Now, how will the woman who has not given him birth become his mother simply by a word of mouth, and how will sanctity and prohibition be established for her by reason, morality and law which, by virtue of this fact, is only reserved for the mother who gave birth. Thus, Allah by this condemnation abolished the custom of the pre-Islamic ignorance according to which the marriage contract between the husband, by pronouncing zihar, and the wife stood dissolved and she became absolutely forbidden for him like the mother.

As for the last part of the verse 2 [Indeed what they say is highly contemptible and false. Verily Allah is Most Pardoning, Most Forgiving], Allah has taken such an utterance to be punishable with much more severely, but it is Allah’s kindness that He has, firstly, abolished the custom of ignorance and saved your family life from utter ruin, and secondly, has prescribed the lightest punishment for the culprits. 

Even the punishments subscribed for the guilty of Zihar (in succeeding verses below) are not in the form of physical torture or imprisonment, but a few acts of worship and virtue, which are meant to reform you and help spread good in your society. In this connection, one should also understand that the acts of worship that have been prescribed by Islam as expiations for certain crimes and sins are neither mere punishments that they may be without the spirit of worship, nor mere acts of worship that they may entail no pain and suffering of the punishment. But both the aspects have been combined in them so that the culprit may experience pain as well as expiate his sin by means of performing a virtue and act of worship.
3. Those who declare their wives to be their mothers and thereafter go back on what they have said shall free a slave before they may touch each other. That is what you are exhorted to do. Allah is fully aware of all your deeds. 4. And he who finds not (the money for freeing a slave) must fast two successive months before they both touch each other. And for him who is unable to do so, he should feed sixty poor. That is in order that you may have perfect Faith in Allah and His Messenger. These are the limits set by Allah. And for disbelievers, there is a painful torment. 5. Verily, those who oppose Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (ﷺ)) will be disgraced, as those before them (among the past nation), were disgraced. And We have sent down clear Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). And for the disbelievers is a disgracing torment.
That is [verse 5], they show hostility towards and dispute with Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him), or set other bounds for themselves than the bounds set by them, or adopt the bounds set by others. There can be no doubt in the disbelief of the person who regards this law as commendable and superior to the Shariah and says that it is wiser and better suited to the genius of the people. And when the Shariah injunction in a particular matter is pointed out to him, he is angry, as we have seen some of those who are under the curse of Allah.
6. On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) and inform them of what they did. Allah has kept account of it, while they have forgotten it. And Allah is Witness over all things.
Thus, Muslims have been strictly warned that it was contrary to their Faith that they should continue to observe the practices of ignorance after they had accepted Islam. In case they should break the bounds set by Allah, or refuse to abide by them, or that they should make their own rules and regulations contradictory to them, then there is not only the punishment of disgrace and humiliation in the world but in the Hereafter too, where they would held accountable for refusing to obey Allah.

In verses 7-10 mention the secret whisperings and consultations of the hypocrites to  conspire and intrigue against the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), and their hidden malice and grudge with which they greet the Prophet (ﷺ), like the Jews, in a manner as to wish him ill instead of well. Here the Muslims have been consoled too, as if to say: "These whisperings of the hypocrites can do no harm to you; therefore, you should go on doing your duty with full trust in Allah". Besides, they have also been taught this moral lesson:"The true believers, when they talk secretly together, do not talk of sin and transgression and disobedience to the Messenger if they have to talk secretly together they should talk of goodness and piety."
7. Have you not seen that Allah knows whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth? There is no secret counsel of three, but He is their fourth (with His Knowledge, while He Himself is over the Throne, over the seventh heaven), nor of five but He is their sixth (with His Knowledge), not of less than that or more, but He is with them (with His Knowledge) wheresoever they may be; and afterwards on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Verily, Allah is the All-Knower of everything. 8. Have you not seen those who were forbidden to hold secret counsels, and afterwards returned to that which they had been forbidden, and conspired together for sin and wrong doing and disobedience to the Messenger (Muhammad ). And when they come to you, they greet you with a greeting wherewith Allah greets you not, and say within themselves: “Why should Allah punish us not for what we say?” Hell will be sufficient for them, they will burn therein, and worst indeed is that destination!
9. O you who believe! When you hold secret counsel, do it not for sin and wrong-doing, and disobedience towards the Messenger (Muhammad ) but do it for Al-Birr(righteousness) and Taqwa (virtues and piety); and fear Allah unto Whom you shall be gathered. 10. Secret counsels (conspiracies) are only from Shaitan (Satan), in order that he may cause grief to the believers. But he cannot harm them in the least, except as Allah permits, and in Allah let the believers put their trust .

In verses 11-13 Muslims have been taught certain manners of social behavior and directed to eradicate social evils which were prevalent at that time. It is observed that "If some people are sitting in an assembly, and more people arrive, they do not show even the courtesy as to squeeze in so as to make room for others, with the result that the new-comers have to keep standing, or to sit in the door-way, or to go back, or seeing that there is enough room yet start jumping over the people's heads to find room for themselves." This often used to be experienced in the Holy Prophet's assemblies. Therefore, Allah gave the instruction, as if to say:"Do not behave selfishly and narrow minded in your assemblies but do accommodate the new-comers also with an open heart."
11. O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room. Allah will give you (ample) room (from His Mercy). And when you are told to rise up [for prayers, Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause), or for any other good deed], rise up. Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. 12. O you who believe! When you (want to) consult the Messenger (Muhammad ) in private, spend something in charity before your private consultation. That will be better and purer for you. But if you find not (the means for it), then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 13. Are you afraid of spending in charity before your private consultation (with him)? If then you do it not, and Allah has forgiven you, then (at least) perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and obey Allah (i.e. do all what Allah and His Prophet order you to do). And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.

From verse 14 to the end, members of the Muslim society, which was a mixture of the sincere Muslims and the hypocrites and the waverers, have been told plainly as to what is the criterion of sincerity in Islam. 

  • One kind of Muslims are those who are friends with the enemies of Islam: they do not hesitate for the sake of their interests to be treacherous to the religion which they profess to believe in; they spread all sorts of doubts and suspicions against Islam and prevent the people from adopting the Way of Allah. But since they are part of the Muslim community their false profession of Faith serves them as a cover and shield. 
  • The second kind of Muslims are those who, in the matter of Allah's Religion, do not care even for their own father, brother, children, and family, to say nothing of others. They do not cherish any feeling of love for the person who is an enemy of God and His Messenger and His Religion. 

Allah in these verses has explicitly stated that the people of the first kind, in fact, belong to Satan's party however hard they may try to convince others of their Islam by swearing oaths. And the honor of belonging to Allah's party is possessed only by the Muslims of the second kind. They alone are the true Muslims: they alone will attain to true success, and with them alone is Allah well pleased.
14. Have you (O Muhammad ) not seen those (hypocrites) who take for friends a people upon whom is the Wrath of Allah (i.e. Jews)? They are neither of you (Muslims) nor of them (Jews), and they swear to a lie while they know. 15. Allah has prepared for them a severe torment. Evil indeed is that which they used to do. 16. They have made their oaths a screen (for their evil actions). Thus they hinder (men) from the Path of Allah, so they shall have a humiliating torment. 17. Their children and their wealth will avail them nothing against Allah. They will be (the) dwellers of the Fire, to dwell therein forever. 18. On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together (for their account), then they will swear to Him as they swear to you (O Muslims). And they think that they have something (to stand upon). Verily, they are liars! 19. Shaitan (Satan) has overtaken them. So he has made them forget the remembrance of Allah. They are the party of Shaitan (Satan). Verily, it is the party of Shaitan (Satan) that will be the losers! 20. Those who oppose Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ), they will be among the lowest (most humiliated). 21. Allah has decreed: “Verily! It is I and My Messengers who shall be the victorious.” Verily, Allah is All-Powerful, All-Mighty. 22. You (O Muhammad ) will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ), even though they were their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred (people). For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Ruh (proofs, light and true guidance) from Himself. And We will admit them to Gardens (Paradise) under which rivers flow, to dwell therein (forever). Allah is pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Verily, it is the Party of Allah that will be the successful.

May Allah grant us wisdom to act exactly we have been directed in the Holy Qur'an and as explained by none other than the Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) himself.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Mujādilah with English subtitles:

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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