This, the second longest sūrah in the Qur’ān was revealed in Madinah, following shortly after Sūrah 60, The Examined Woman, or Al-Mumtaĥanah. Some reports say that this latter sūrah was partly revealed at the time of the expedition that ended in Makkah’s fall to Islam in year 8 of the Islamic calendar, while the other parts were revealed earlier, in year 6, at the time of the expedition ending in the peace treaty of Al-Ĥudaybiyyah. As stated in Volume I, when we discussed the opening of Sūrah 2, The Cow, the chronological order of revelation of the Qur’ānic sūrahs cannot be totally ascertained. The longer sūrahs were not revealed in toto, on the same occasion. Rather, several sūrahs continued to be revealed concurrently over the same period of time. When a verse or a passage was revealed, the Prophet was ordered to place it at its position in a particular sūrah. This means that the same sūrah remained unfinished for a period of time, sometimes only briefly but on other occasions this gap could extend over several years. For example, some of the verses of Sūrah 2, the longest in the Qur’ān, were among the first to be revealed in Madinah whilst others were among the last parts of the Qur’ān to be so delivered. The same applies to this sūrah. Certain parts were revealed after Sūrah 60 in years 6 and 8, but many of its verses were revealed early in the Madinah period. It is felt that the revelation of this sūrah covered a period starting after the Battle of Uĥud in year 3, stretching over to year 8 when the early part of Sūrah 60 was revealed. We mention by way of example the verse in this sūrah which includes a ruling Al-Nisā’ (Women) concerning women found guilty of fornication: “As for those of your women who are guilty of gross immoral conduct, call upon four from among you to bear witness against them. If they so testify, then confine the guilty women to their houses until death takes them or God opens another way for them.” (Verse 15) It is certain that this verse was revealed earlier than the one in Sūrah 24, entitled Light, or al-Nūr, which gives a definitive ruling on the punishment for fornication: “As for the adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and let not compassion with them keep you from [carrying out] this law of God, if you truly believe in God and the Last Day; and let a group of the believers witness their punishment.” (24: 2) This verse was revealed after the incident known as “The False Story” in year 5. When it was revealed the Prophet said: “Take this from me. God has opened a way for them...” The way to which he refers is the one prescribed in this latter verse. This sūrah includes several examples which give some indication of the chronology of their revelation, as we explained in the opening remarks of our commentary on Sūrah 2 (Volume I, p. 9). The sūrah also reflects some of the efforts Islam exerted in bringing into being and protecting the first Muslim community and Islamic society. We see an example of the influence of the Qur’ān on that newly born society which derived its basic and distinctive characteristics from the Qur’ān and the Islamic code of living. Here we have clear evidence of how Islam deals with man and how human nature reacts to it. We see how Islam takes man by the hand from the lowest of depths, guiding his footsteps up to a higher horizon, steering him along so that he is able to resist temptation, desire, fear and worry, helping him to bear the difficulties he may encounter and to resist whatever his enemies might scheme against him. Just as in the earlier two Volumes, which discussed Sūrahs 2 and 3 respectively, the Qur’ān here faces all the circumstances prevailing at the time of the birth of the Muslim community in Madinah. It outlines the code of living which lays down the foundation of the Muslim community. It explains the basic principles of the Islamic faith, the values and standards it lays down, and the duties that need to be fulfilled in order to discharge this trust. At the same time, it describes the nature of the forces hostile to the Divine constitution and the community implementing it, warning the Muslim community against these enemies and their schemes. It also exposes the falsehood of their beliefs and their wicked devices.



by: Mustapha Bin Adam · 93 · June 19, 2017

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