Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 146 – 148
After pointing out the cause of defeat in the Battle of Uhud and what should be done in trials, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comforts the believers because of what they suffered in Uhud,
Ibn Katheer writes that this ayah means that many prophets and their companions were killed in earlier times, as is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir. It was also said that the Ayah means that many prophets witnessed their companions’ death before their eyes. However, Ibn Ishaq mentioned another explanation in his Seerah, saying that this Ayah means, “Many a Prophet was killed, and he had many companions whose resolve did not weaken after their Prophet died, and they did not become feeble in the face of the enemy. What they suffered in Jihad in Allah’s cause and for the sake of their religion did not make them lose heart. This is patience and Allah loves the patient.”
Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani provides the explanation of some of the words in the ayah as below:
The word ribbiyoon [رِبِّيُّونَ] is a derivation from Rabb as is Rabbani which means “of the Rabb or Lord.” So in the ayah, ribbiyoon means “men of Allah.”
Some commentators take ribbiyoon to mean “many groups.” In their view, this is derived from the word, “Ribbah” which means “the group.” ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu and Hasan al-Basri said that it means the “ulema” and the “fuqaha.”
Ibn Katheer writes in his Tafseer that Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that Ibn Mas’oud radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that it means “thousands.” Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, Sa’eed bin Jubayr, ‘Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi’ and ‘Ata’ Al-Khurasani said that the word Ribbiyyun means, “large bands.”
The word istakaanoo [اسْتَكَانُوا] has been derived from istakaanah and it means “to be subdued and rendered weak and immobile.”
The word wahanu [وَهَنُوا] has been derived from wahn and it means “to lose heart under suffering” or “to wilt under pressure.”
Now that we have understood the meaning of the important words, let us look at what the ayah means.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum (and us) that victory and defeat is not permanent. Either of the party wins or loses. In the past, many prophets participated in the battles with their religious scholars but did not give up when they faced challenges. They did not say, “Oh this task is so strenuous, we face a loss of lives and properties let someone else do it. We should go back to our homes.” They continued to strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala seeking His pleasure alone and no worldly titles or rewards.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Allah loves the steadfast.” Why is steadfastness mentioned here? It is because one cannot accomplish anything if they are not patient and committed to their appointed task. If one day, a student shows up to class and then disappears for several days, will such a person be able to complete his course with excellence? No! You have to show commitment to whatever you choose to do in life.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
وَمَا كَانَ قَوْلَهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
“And their words were not but that they said, ‘Our Lord, forgive us our sins and the excess [committed] in our affairs and plant firmly our feet and give us victory over the disbelieving people.’”
Words are a reflection of a person’s inner state. When facing the challenges the people of the past did not let their resolve, weaken. Instead, they made Du’as to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Why do they seek forgiveness from their sins?
It is because they knew that whatever afflictions have descended upon them are a result of their own sins and wrongdoings. They hold themselves accountable before they could blame someone else. An important lesson for us to remember.
They ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to forgive their minor sins (dhunoobanaa) and major sins (israafanaa), to make them firm on His path and grant them victory.
It was their resolve and commitment to Allah’s Deen that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala rewarded them with victory in this world and they will have eternal rewards in the Hereafter.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the address by reminding us,
وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
“So Allah gave them the reward of this world and the good reward of the Hereafter. And Allah loves the doers of good.”
When the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passed away the Companions did not say, “Now there is no purpose of our lives. Let us return to our homes.” Rather, they strove in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with the same vigor because of which Islam spread outside the Arabian peninsula. Whether a person leaves their comfort to fight on the battlefield or to attend a class at a Masjid, he will suffer a few things. But we will also suffer if we are just sitting in our home doing nothing. For example, you do not sign up for a Qur’an class because your favorite program comes on the TV at that time. You turn on your television and the electricity goes out. Now who is suffering?
A lady shared that one day she left her home to attend her weekly Qur’an class. While she was away, burglars broke into her home and committed theft. One attitude can be, “Because I left my house to attend this class, there was a burglary in my home.” But guess what was the response of this woman? She said, “I was grateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for protecting me from witnessing this burglary.” SubhanAllah! We should look at our attitude. We will suffer whether we are in the comfort of our homes doing nothing or striving in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
When our resolve is strong and our intention is sincere, then the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala also comes. If we are shaky in our resolve, then it sets in the heart and we are unable to do the good. So stop telling yourself, “I can’t do it.”
Living in the west, when we say, “I can’t wear Hijab. I can’t wear Abaya. I can’t live without the mortgage,” we should not blame the west but our own weak resolve. When you sense weakness in yourself, make sincere Du’as to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and reflect on your wrongdoings.
Problems in life are mean to draw closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When we display patience in our trials, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala also loves us. Sadly, when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tests we give up everything and go in depression. Then every day our conversation is about our problems and we fail to make heartfelt Du’as to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to fix our problems.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loves the Muhsineen – focus on the rewards of the Hereafter and do every task at the level of excellence
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 146 – 148