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Analysis of Surah Hujarāt
Qur'anic Exegesis
Amin Ahsan Islahi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Sūrah Hujarāt is the dual counter-part of Sūrah Fatah, the previous sūrah. The whole sūrah is actually an explanation of the last verse of Sūrah Fatah: ‘Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, and those with him are strong against the unbelievers [but] compassionate amongst each other.’

The sūrah can be distinctly divided into four sections. A brief summary and analysis of these sections is presented below:

Section I (1-5)

In this first section, the manners which the Muslims must observe before the Prophet (sws) have been highlighted. They have been warned to show respect to the Prophet (sws) and to give priority to his directives instead of asserting their own views. They must not raise their voice above his, and also must not address him as they address one another. The Almighty nurtures the seed of piety in only those hearts who have regard and respect for the Prophet (sws). Those who express their superiority because they think that they have done Allah and the Prophet (sws) a favour by accepting Islam should be aware that this attitude might render vain all their deeds whilst they may not even realize this loss.

Section II (6-10)

This section throws light upon the communal affairs and the collective attitude of the Muslims. The dealings of the Muslims with one and another should be based on brotherhood and fraternity not on the basis of association with a particular party or group. It is totally forbidden for a Muslim faction to launch an assault over another Muslim faction by trusting the account of an evil doer, something upon which they would themselves feel ashamed later on. In all important affairs they should leave the decision making to the Prophet (sws) and follow his directives. To obtain the support and sympathy of the Prophet (sws), no party should unduly pressurize the Prophet (sws). This would be showing disregard to the blessing of faith the Almighty has bestowed them with. After tasting the sweet flavour of faith, anything done unworthy of it would be tantamount to a return to disbelief and faithlessness. The Almighty has endeared faith to them and made disbelief and wrongdoing abhorrent to them precisely to prevent this return. The sūrah further gives guidance to the believers when two of their parties take up arms against one another. They must not support either of these parties because of their association with it, instead they should view the whole affair with justice and fairness and try to make peace between them. If one of the parties commits aggression against the other, Muslims should fight against these aggressors after they have been made aware of their gross unfairness till they submit to Allah’s judgement.

Section III (11-13)

In this section, the Muslims have been advised to refrain from all those activities which create hatred among them and which ignite the flames of disorder and disruption in the society. No Muslim should mock or defame another Muslim or insult him by nicknames. Muslims should also avoid immoderate suspicion, and also refrain from hunting down each others’ mistakes. Moreover, they must also abstain from backbiting. Pride and vanity about one’s clan, family or creed are relics of the period of ignorance before Islam and must not be persisted with. The Almighty has created all mankind from a single pair of man and woman. The real aim behind dividing mankind into various groups and tribes is that they should identify each other on the basis of their own separate characteristics, instead of being lost in the vastness of a single group. The basis of honour in the sight of Allah is piety and not association with a particular clan or tribe.

Section IV (14-18)

The last section, in essence, reiterates what has been indicated in the beginning of the sūrah. It becomes clear from this section, that the people who are under discussion in the initial verses of the sūrah are the Bedouin who lived in the whereabouts of Medina and who had accepted Islam only because they were over-awed by its increasing political strength. Therefore, the true essence of faith had not found its way into their hearts and they vainly reckoned that they had done the Prophet (sws) a great favour by accepting Islam. As a result, they had developed a vain attitude and behaviour, about which actually they have been warned in the beginning of the sūrah. Here, at the end, the Almighty has asked the Prophet (sws) to convey to these people that they must not think that Islam is indebted to them; the Almighty has full knowledge of their inner and outer selves. Though they have submitted, yet faith has not found its roots in their hearts. They have done Islam no favour by accepting faith, rather the Almighty has done them a favour by guiding them to the fragrance of faith. If they now fulfil the obligations which their faith now imposes on them, they shall be duly rewarded, for the Almighty is watching all their deeds.

(Translated from Islahi’s ‘Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān’)    ---Shehzad Saleem

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