An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 138 and 139

Seek Honor from Allah Alone

In ayah 138, the hypocrites have been given the news of a painful punishment. By articulating a distressing news with the word, basharah [glad tidings], the hint given is that everyone looks forward to some good news to brighten his or her future but, for the hypocrites, there is just no other news except this.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

بَشِّرِ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً

“Give to the hypocrites the tidings that there is for them a painful torment.”

Hence, the hypocrites have this characteristic, for they believe, then disbelieve, and this is why their hearts become sealed. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the hypocrites as taking the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers, meaning they are the disbelievers’ supporters in reality, for they give them their loyalty and friendship in secret. They also say to disbelievers when they are alone with them, “We are with you, we only mock the believers by pretending to follow their religion.”

Close friendly relations with disbelievers and polytheists have been forbidden in ayah 139. Warning has been served on those who do so. Right along, after giving the reason why people get involved with this disease, the practice has been declared ineffectual and absurd. While chastising them for being friends with the disbelievers, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

الَّذِينَ يَتَّخِذُونَ الْكَـفِرِينَ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَيَبْتَغُونَ عِندَهُمُ الْعِزَّةَ

“Those who take disbelievers for friends instead of believers, do they seek honor with them?” 

The urge to meet and be friendly with disbelievers and polytheists is generally prompted by the assumption that their outwardly visible influence, power and collective strength may give honor and power to those who have close relations with them. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has exposed the reality behind this absurd notion by saying, “You want to acquire honor from those who themselves have no honor?”

Allah then states that honor, power and glory is for Him Alone without partners, and for those whom Allah grants such qualities to. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Fatir ayah 10,

مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعاً

“Whosoever desires honor, then to Allah belong all honor” and in Surah al-Munfiqoun ayah 8,

وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَـكِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ

“But honor belongs to Allah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not.” The statement that honor is Allah’s Alone, is meant to encourage the servants to adhere to their servitude to Allah and to be among His faithful servants who will gain victory in this life and when the Witnesses stand up to testify on the Day of Resurrection.

By adding the Messenger and the believers with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in the above ayah, it has been emphasized that Allah is the only Owner-Possessor of real honor and it is He Who bestows on whosoever He wills a certain part of the honor. Since the Messenger of Allah and those who believe in them are dear in the sight of Allah, therefore, honor and mastery are given to them. As for the disbelievers and the polytheists, they themselves do not have this kind of honor, then, what sort of honor can one get by acting in league with them? Therefore Umar ibn al-Khattab radhiAllahu anhu said, “Whoever seeks honor through human beings is disgraced by Allah.” [Jassas]

As in Mustadrak al-Hakim, Umar radhiAllahu anhu said to Abu Ubaydah, the Governor of Syria, “You were the lowest (in numbers) and the weakest (in strength) among the people (of the world), then Allah made you exceed in numbers and strength with (the grace of) Islam; and you were the meanest (in status) among the people (of the world), then Allah raised you in honor with (the grace of) Islam. So, understand this very clearly: If you seek honor from any source other than Allah, Allah will disgrace you.”

This ayah forbids seeking of honor through friendship with disbelieves and sinners. However, the seeking of honor and power through Muslims is not forbidden because this ayah of Surah al-Munafiqun has made it clear that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed His Messenger and the believers.

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