Surah Mumtahinah – She Who is Examined: Overcoming Sectarianism and Religious Divide

Introduction

The surah describes as to how to deal with national enemies and not share state secrets with them and how to be kind and compassionate towards all other non-Muslims, who are not at war with or trying to kill the Muslims or make them homeless.

The fundamental verses in understanding the compassionate Quranic teachings towards the non-Muslims are the followings:

God may still bring about affection between you and your present enemies – God is all powerful, God is most forgiving and merciful.

He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.

But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.  (60:7-9)

If we interpret other verses of this surah and else where in the Quran, in light of these very clear and fundamental instructions then there is no room left for religious prejudice and bigotry.

These verses can go, indeed, a long way in creating one loving human family. When the Muslims realize that they have to be kind and just towards non-Muslim brothers and sisters and that Allah loves the just and compassionate, what room is left to justify prejudice and hatred towards followers of the other sects of Islam.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr:

That there should be no affection for or alliances with an enemy party is made clear in vv. 1-3. The case of Abraham and his followers is then cited as an example to be followed (vv. 4-6) in this regard. The next passage (vv. 7-9) provides hope that better relations can be established with enemy parties and allows for good relations with those who do not oppose the Muslims. The last section (vv. 10-12) addresses the complex situation brought about by the emigration of women from Makkah to Madinah and the rules to be observed when women who are married to idolaters choose to embrace Islam. Marriages between believers and disbelievers were henceforth considered invalid, but were to be dissolved in as equitable a manner as possible.

Section I: Dealing with the national enemies

60:1. You who believe, do not take My enemies and yours as your allies, showing them friendship when they have rejected the truth you have received, and have driven you and the Messenger out simply because you believe in God, your Lord —not if you truly emigrated in order to strive for My cause and seek My good pleasure. You show them affection in secret, while I know all you conceal and all you reveal. And whosoever among you does so has indeed  strayed from the right path.

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاءَ تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءَكُم مِّنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۙ أَن تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِي ۚ تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْهُ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ 

60:2. If they gain the upper hand over you, they will be your enemies and stretch out their hands and tongues to harm you; it is their dearest wish that you may renounce your faith.

 إِن يَثْقَفُوكُمْ يَكُونُوا لَكُمْ أَعْدَاءً وَيَبْسُطُوا إِلَيْكُمْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ وَأَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالسُّوءِ وَوَدُّوا لَوْ تَكْفُرُونَ 

60:3. Neither your kinsfolk nor your children will be any use to you on the Day of Resurrection: He will separate you out. God sees everything you do.

 لَن تَنفَعَكُمْ أَرْحَامُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ ۚ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

60:4. You have a good model in Abraham and his companions, when they said to their people, ‘We disown you and what you worship besides God! We renounce you! Until you believe in God alone, the enmity and hatred that has arisen between us will endure!’- except when Abraham said to his father, ‘I will pray for forgiveness for you though I cannot protect you from God’ – they prayed, ‘Lord, we have put our trust in You; we turn to You; You are our final destination.’

 قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَحْدَهُ إِلَّا قَوْلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ لَأَسْتَغْفِرَنَّ لَكَ وَمَا أَمْلِكُ لَكَ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ رَّبَّنَا عَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

60:5. ‘Lord, make us not a trial for the disbelievers. Forgive us, Lord, for You are the Almighty, the All Wise.’

 رَبَّنَا لَا تَجْعَلْنَا فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا رَبَّنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ 

60:6. Certainly you have a good model in them for those who hope for God and the Last Day. If anyone turns away, remember God is self-sufficing and worthy of all praise.

 لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّـهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ 

60:1

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr:

Friends translates awliyd’, which could also be  rendered ‘protectors,’ ‘helpers,’ or ‘allies’ (T). This verse was reportedly revealed in relation to a member of the Muslim community who attempted to disclose the Prophet’s plans to the Quraysh. The Prophet sent several Companions to intercept the letter sent by Hatib ibn Abi Balta‘ah. After intercepting the letter, which had information about the Prophet’s plans to march upon Makkah, the Prophet asked, ‘What is this, O Hatib?’ He answered, ‘Be not hasty [in judging me], I am a man who is merely allied with the Quraysh, for I am not myself a Qurayshite. All the Emigrants with you have relatives who will protect them. I have no relatives in Makkah; so I wanted to obtain some assistance from the Quraysh. By God, I did not do it because I doubt my religion, nor because I have turned to disbelief after choosing Islam.’ The Prophet said, ‘He has spoken the truth!’ But ‘Umar exclaimed, ‘Let me strike the neck of this hypocrite!’ To which the Prophet responded, ‘He has taken part in the Battle of Badr. You do not know; perhaps God has looked upon those who took part in the Battle of Badr and said, ‘Do as you please, for I have forgiven you.’ Then this verse was revealed (Q, T, W). Despite the Prophet’s leniency, the verse indicates that to choose alliance with disbelievers over alliance with the Prophet and the Muslim community is to stray from the right way (sawa’ al-sabil), which literally means, ‘the middle way.’

According to Malik Ghulam Farid:

The prohibitory injunction is of very strict character. Muslims are not to have friendly relations with the avowed enemies of God—those who drove out the Prophet and the Muslims from their hearths and homes and sought to destroy Islam. It is all-comprehensive in this respect that no consideration of bonds or ties of even the nearest blood relationship is allowed to interfere with it. The enemy of Islam is God’s enemy, whosoever he may be.  The immediate occasion of the revelation of this verse seems to be when the Quraish dishonored the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, and the Holy Prophet had to take stem punitive action against them, Hatib bin Abi Balta‘ah had written a secret letter to the Meccans informing them of the Holy Prophet’s intended march on Mecca. The Prophet, informed by revelation about it, sent ‘Ali, Zubair and Miqdad in search of the bearer of the letter. They overtook the Messenger—she was a woman——on the way to Mecca and the letter was brought back to Medina. Hatib’s offence was extremely grave. He had sought to divulge an important State secret. He deserved exemplary punishment, but he was forgiven because he had committed the offence inadvertently, not realizing its grave consequences. Incidentally, the episode of the letter fixes the date of the revelation of the Surah.

In understanding Islamic teachings one needs to make a clear distinction in matters of the state and what would be religious freedom for everyone and brotherly love in the human family regardless of religion.

Every state or country punishes spies and those who divulge any state secrets to the enemies in the sternest possible ways. In this sense secular knowledge also helps better understanding of the Quran. This verse should be read in light of history of WWI, WWII and cold war between USA and Russia, to understand it in modern context.

Section II: Dealing with the non-Muslims

60:7. God may still bring about affection between you and your present enemies – God is all powerful, God is most forgiving and merciful.

 عَسَى اللَّـهُ أَن يَجْعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ عَادَيْتُم مِّنْهُم مَّوَدَّةً ۚ وَاللَّـهُ قَدِيرٌ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

60:8. He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.

 لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

60:9. But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.

إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَن تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ 

60:10. You who believe, test the believing women when they come to you as emigrants – God knows best about their faith – and if you are sure of their belief, do not send them back to the disbelievers: they are not lawful wives for them, nor are the disbelievers their lawful husbands. Give the disbelievers whatever dowries they have paid – if you choose to marry them, there is no blame on you once you have paid their dowries, and do not yourselves hold on to marriage ties with disbelieving women. Ask for repayment of the dowries you have paid, and let the disbelievers do the same. This is God’s judgement: He judges between you, God is all knowing and wise.

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا جَاءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ مُهَاجِرَاتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ ۖ اللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِهِنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِنَاتٍ فَلَا تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ ۖ لَا هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ ۖ وَآتُوهُم مَّا أَنفَقُوا ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ ۚ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوا بِعِصَمِ الْكَوَافِرِ وَاسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقْتُمْ وَلْيَسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقُوا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ حُكْمُ اللَّـهِ ۖ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ 

60:11. If any of you have wives who leave you for the disbelievers, and if your community subsequently acquires gains from them, then pay those whose wives have deserted them the equivalent of whatever dowries they paid. Be mindful of God, in whom you believe.

 وَإِن فَاتَكُمْ شَيْءٌ مِّنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ فَعَاقَبْتُمْ فَآتُوا الَّذِينَ ذَهَبَتْ أَزْوَاجُهُم مِّثْلَ مَا أَنفَقُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ الَّذِي أَنتُم بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ

60:12. O Prophet, when believing women come and pledge to you that they will not ascribe any partner to God, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill their children, nor forge an allegation against anyone, nor disobey you in what is good, then you should accept their pledge of allegiance and pray to God for forgiveness them: God is most forgiving and merciful.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ يُبَايِعْنَكَ عَلَىٰ أَن لَّا يُشْرِكْنَ بِاللَّـهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَسْرِقْنَ وَلَا يَزْنِينَ وَلَا يَقْتُلْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ وَلَا يَأْتِينَ بِبُهْتَانٍ يَفْتَرِينَهُ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِنَّ وَأَرْجُلِهِنَّ وَلَا يَعْصِينَكَ فِي مَعْرُوفٍ ۙ فَبَايِعْهُنَّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُنَّ اللَّـهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ 

60:13. You who believe, do not take as allies those with whom God is angry: they despair of the Afterlife, as the disbelievers despair of those buried in their graves.

 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَوَلَّوْا قَوْمًا غَضِبَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمْ قَدْ يَئِسُوا مِنَ الْآخِرَةِ كَمَا يَئِسَ الْكُفَّارُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْقُبُورِ 

Commentary

60:7

This verse provides hope and optimism that good relations can be established in time with the national enemies. Else where, the Quran provides a recipe for converting our personal enemies to bosom friends: “And good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with that which is best. And lo, he between whom and you was enmity will become as though he were a warm friend. But none is granted it save those who are steadfast; and none is granted it save those who possess a large share of goodness. (41:34-35)

60:8-9

These are the fundamental verses in understanding the compassionate Quranic teachings towards the non-Muslims are the followings:

He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.

But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.  (60:8-9)

The Quran is mainly a message of love, compassion and justice. Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times, has collected a large number of verses on the theme of human compassion: Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran.

No where does the Quran say to limit our compassion and justice for the Muslims only or for those of our sect, except that the Quran prohibits marrying polytheists, as in this surah and in 2:221.  This is the only line, in our knowledge that the Quran draws against non-Muslims in social interactions.

These verses are one of the reasons we sought our URL: TheQuran.Love.

 

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