Answer: I am afraid this is an incorrect inference. Needless
to say that the Qur’ān is a coherent Book. Each verse has a specific context,
disregarding which may lead to gross misinterpretation.
If we take a look at the context of 3:159, it becomes evident
that the verse occurs in the group of verses in which the behaviour of the
hypocrites and the events of the battle of Uhud and their aftermath are under
discussion. The hypocrites, we know from the Qur’ān, were given a time of
respite so that they might reform themselves. However, once the time was over,
they were severely dealt with as is evident from many verses of the Qur’ān. For
O Prophet! Strive hard against the Unbelievers and the
Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell, -- an evil refuge
The battle of Uhud was the time when they were still in the
period of respite. So, it was not appropriate to disregard them at that time.
Consequently, the Prophet (sws) is told to keep consulting them in various
affairs; however, he is not bound by what their majority says. If he decides
contrarily, he should repose his trust in Allah and do what he has decided. This
is a brief summary of the stress of the verse.
A more detailed look at the context of 3:159 and at the
various historical facts shows that the Prophet (sws) had consulted the Muslims
on whether they should fight the enemy from within the city or from the outside.
The hypocrites opined that they should fight from within the city while the true
believers were of the opposite opinion. The Prophet (sws) it seems also held the
latter opinion. So when he and the believers decided to go out and fight, the
hypocrites became angry and expressed their anger in various ways. Abdullāh Ibn
Ubayi for example departed right before the battle with his three hundred men
saying that his opinion was ignored. Another group of the hypocrites that stayed
with the Muslims started spreading the propaganda once the battle was over that
the defeat was due to the wrong strategy adopted. Consequently, 3:156-8, while
addressing the hypocrites,
mention these details in the following manner:
O you who believe, be not like the unbelievers who say of
their brethren when they are travelling through the land or fighting: ‘If they
had stayed with us they would not have died or been slain’ so that Allah may
make a cause of regret in their hearts. It is Allah Who gives life and death.
And Allah knows what you do. And if you are killed or die in the way of Allah,
forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they amass [of worldly
wealth]. And whether you die are or killed, verily, unto Allah you shall be
gathered. Had you been severe or harsh, they would have broken away from you.
Consequently, it is clear from these verses that the Prophet
in (sws) his capacity of a Prophet (sws) was advised to deal with the hypocrites
of his times in a particular manner, as spelled out in the subsequent verse; in
other words, this subsequent verse also like the previous ones refers to the
So ignore their faults and ask for God’s forgiveness for them
and consult them in affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your
trust in Allah. (3:159)
These verses cannot be related to us in any way today.
Technically speaking, the antecedent of the plural accusative pronoun in the
imperative verb shāwirhum are the hypocrites of the Prophets times. Owing to his
position as Prophet, Muhammad (sws) was divinely guided in their affairs and was
told to deal with them with latitude until the Almighty signalled to him that
the period of respite was over.
Consequently, the verse cannot be extended to anyone beyond
the Prophet (sws).