Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 144 – 145
When Muslims suffered defeat in battle at Uhud and some of them were killed, Shaytan shouted, “Muhammad has been killed.” Ibn Qami’ah went back to the idolaters and claimed, “I have killed Muhammad.” Some Muslims believed this rumor and thought that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had been killed, claiming that this could happen, for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrated that this occurred to many prophets before. Therefore, the Muslims’ resolve was weakened and they did not actively participate in the battle.
Ibn Abi Najih said that his father said that a man from the Muhajireen passed by an Ansari man who was bleeding (during Uhud) and said to him, “O fellow! Did you know that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was killed?” The Ansari man said, “Even if Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was killed, he has indeed conveyed the Message. Therefore, defend your religion.”
So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed this ayah,
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ –
“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]?”
It means that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has been sent to deliver Allah’s Message and may be killed in the process, just as what happened to many prophets before. Therefore, it should not be a reason for the believers to become weak and lose their confidence. Prophet Muhammad’s duty was to convey the Message of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala which he duly delivered. Now, whether he is alive or dead, the Ummah should not turn back on their heels but strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructed them to do.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that He will reward those who are grateful. They are those who obeyed Allah, defended His religion and followed His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whether he was alive or dead. The Saheeh, Musnad and Sunan collections gathered various chains of narration stating that Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu recited this ayah when the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam died.
Al-Bukhari recorded that ‘A’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha said that Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu came riding his horse from his dwelling in As-Sunh. He dismounted, entered the Masjid and did not speak to anyone until he came to her (in her room) and went directly to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face, knelt down and kissed him, then started weeping and proclaimed, “My father and my mother be sacrificed for you! Allah will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death, which was written for you.”
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that Abu Bakr then came out, while ‘Umar was addressing the people, and Abu Bakr told him to sit down but ‘Umar refused, and the people attended to Abu Bakr and left ‘Umar. Abu Bakr said, “To proceed; whoever among you worshipped Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ –
‘Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.’”
The narrator added, “By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this ayah before until Abu Bakr recited it, and then whoever heard it, started reciting it.” Sa’eed bin Al-Musayyib said that ‘Umar said, “By Allah! When I heard Abu Bakr recite this ayah, my feet could not hold me, and I fell to the ground.”
Next Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us that no person dies except by His will,
وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَن تَمُوتَ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ كِتَابًا مُّؤَجَّلًا ۗ
“And it is not [possible] for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined.”
It means no one dies before or after their appointed time of death. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows for how long a person will live. It is a matter that is pre-decided. After a person has completed their fixed term, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sends the angels of death to collect his soul. (We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for a good end that we die in a state that is the most pleasing to Him, ameen.)
He says in Surah Fatir,
وَمَا يُعَمَّرُ مِن مُّعَمَّرٍ وَلَا يُنقَصُ مِنْ عُمُرِهِ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ ۚ
“And no aged person is granted [additional] life nor is his lifespan lessened but that it is in a register.” (35:11)
In Surah Al-An’aam, He says,
هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ ثُمَّ قَضَىٰ أَجَلًا ۖ وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى عِندَهُ ۖ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تَمْتَرُونَ
“It is He who created you from clay and then decreed a term and a specified time [known] to Him; then [still] you are in dispute.” (6:2)
These ayaat encourage us to not live our lives as cowards fearing what the enemy is going to do to us if we strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Whether a person is called to fight on the battlefield to defend Islam or called to do open Da’wah on the street, we should not fear death. We will die on the time and day that it has been decreed for us; not a day earlier or a second later. Avoiding battle neither decreases nor increases the life of a person.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us “…whoever desires the reward of this world – We will give him thereof; and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter – We will give him thereof. And we will reward the grateful.”
It means whoever works for the sake of this life, will only earn what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala decides he will earn. However, he will not have a share in the Hereafter. Whoever works for the sake of the Hereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will give him a share in the Hereafter, along with what He decides for him in this life.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that He will reward the grateful. Ibn Katheer writes that this means Allah will award them with His favor and mercy in this life and the Hereafter, according to the degree of their appreciation of Allah and their good deeds. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala enable us to become of those who strive for the Hereafter, ameen.
We learn that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was a human and he died a human death. He is not alive or hazir-o-nazir. We also learn that he was the Final Messenger, no new messenger will come after him.
We learn that the loss of wealth or life should not make us give up good deeds. Whether our loved ones are there or not, we should remember that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala created us and there is a purpose of our life. We must continue to do good deeds seeking the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
When we lose something that we love (whether a person or an object), Shaytan makes us focus on the loss so much that we overlook the blessings in our lives. We should remember the many blessings that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has blessed us with. For example, if one parent dies, be grateful for the other parent who is there. If the spouse, be grateful for the children. If you have no one, be grateful for the friends you have who care about you.
A person who recognizes Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala accepts His decisions. He does not question, Allah’s decision to take someone’s life.
We are not here to impress people, we are here to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala
If a person’s goal is the Dunya then he will have no share in the Hereafter. But when a person is Akhirah-focused (meaning works for the rewards in the Hereafter) and is not focused on the Dunya, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will bless this person with the treasures of the Akhirah AND Dunya. Therefore, a person should not give up or be depressed upon losing something of the Dunya. Learn from the Sahabah radhiAllahu ‘anhum and the great scholars who were imprisoned and persecuted and they did not give up striving in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
When you suffer in life, get up and move on! Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala decreed it, move on. Do not prolong your grieving. When you miss your loved ones make du’a for them because this is what will benefit them not complaining to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 144 – 145