Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 153 – 155
In his Tafseer, Ma’arif-ul-Qur’an, Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes, these ayaat form part of the several previous ayaat relating to the Battle of Uhud.
The first ayah here mentions the sorrows of the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. The second ayah describes the antidote. The third ayah reiterates that the form of defeat they faced was no punishment. It was a test to separate the true and sincere Muslims from the hypocrites. Finally, comes the repeated proclamation that the mistake made by the Companions has been forgiven.
Addressing the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks if they remember when they ran up the mountain without casting even a side glance at anyone else due to shock, fear and fright. “While the Messenger was calling you from behind,” meaning you left him behind while he was calling you to stop fleeing from the enemy and to return and fight.
As-Suddi said, “When the disbelievers attacked Muslim lines during the battle of Uhud and defeated them, some Muslims ran away to Madinah, while some of them went up Mount Uhud, to a rock and stood on it. On that, the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kept heralding, ‘Come to me, O servants of Allah! Come to me, O servants of Allah!’”
The Ansar and the Mujahideen Defended the Messenger
Al-Bukhari recorded that Qays bin Abi Hazim said, “I saw Talhah’s hand, it was paralyzed, because he shielded the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with it.”
It is recorded in the Two Saheehs that Abu ‘Uthman An-Nahdi said, “On that day (Uhud) during which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fought, only Talhah bin ‘Ubaydullah and Sa’ad remained with the Prophet.”
Abu Al-Aswad said that, `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Ubayy bin Khalaf of Bani Jumah swore in Makkah that he would kill the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). When the Messenger was told of his vow, he said, ‘Rather, I shall kill him, Allah willing.’ On the day of Uhud, Ubayy came while wearing iron shields and proclaiming, ‘May I not be saved, if Muhammad is saved.’ He then headed to the direction of the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intending to kill him, but Mus’ab bin `Umair, from Bani Abd Ad-Dar, intercepted him and shielded the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with his body, and Mus’ab bin ‘Umair was killed.
The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw Ubayy’s neck exposed between the shields and helmet, stabbed him with his spear, and Ubayy fell from his horse to the ground. However, no blood spilled from his wound. His people came and carried him away while he was moaning like an ox. They said to him, ‘Why are you so anxious, it is only a flesh wound?’ Ubayy mentioned to them the Prophet’s vow, ‘Rather, I shall kill Ubayy,’ then commented, ‘By He in Whose Hand is my soul! If what hit me hits the people of Dhul-Majaz (a popular pre-Islamic marketplace), they would all have perished.’ He then died.”
Distress Upon Distress
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
فَأَثَابَكُمْ غَمًّا بِغَمٍّ
“So Allah repaid you with distress upon distress…”
Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu commented that the first grief was because of the defeat, especially when it was rumored that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was killed. The second grief was when the idolaters went up the mount and the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allah! It is not for them to rise above us.”
‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The first distress was because of the defeat and the second when a rumor started that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was killed, which to them, was worse than defeat.”
Mujahid and Qatadah said, “The first distress was when they heard that Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was killed and the second when they suffered casualties and injury.” It has also been reported that Qatadah and Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas said that it was the opposite (order). As-Suddi said that the first distress was because of the victory and booty that they missed and the second because of the enemy rising above them (on the mount).
لِّكَيْلَا تَحْزَنُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا مَا أَصَابَكُمْ ۗ
“…so you would not grieve for that which had escaped you [of victory and spoils of war] or [for] that which had befallen you [of injury and death].”
It means it was to teach them to not grieve over what they had missed such as the booty and triumph over the enemy and for what had struck them such as injuries and fatalities. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Well-Aware of all that His servants do and endure.
Slumber Overcame the Believers; Fear Overcame the Hypocrites
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds His servants of His favor when He sent down on them tranquility and slumber that overcame them while they were carrying their weapons and feeling distress and grief. In this case, slumber is a favor and carries meanings of calmness and safety.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said that, Abu Talhah said, “I was among those who were overcome by slumber during the battle of Uhud. My sword fell from my hand several times and I would pick it up, then it would fall and I would pick it up again.” Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith in the stories of the battles without a chain of narration, and in the book of Tafsir with a chain of narrators.
At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Al-Hakim recorded from Anas that Abu Talhah said, “On the day of Uhud, I raised my head and looked around and found that everyone’s head was nodding from slumber.” This is the wording of At-Tirmidhi, who said, “Hasan Saheeh.” An-Nasa’i also recorded this hadeeth from Anas who said that Abu Talhah said, “I was among those who were overcome by slumber.”
Ibn Katheer comments the second group mentioned in the ayah, were the hypocrites who only thought about themselves, for they are the most cowardly people and those least likely to support the truth.
One group – the group of the true believers – was covered by the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by drowsiness. They were sincere in their faith, steadfast and relied on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala so He helped them.
Another group – the group of hypocrites who left the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum because they didn’t listen to them – was not overcome by slumber because of their worry and fear.
This group thought that the idolaters achieved ultimate victory when their forces took the upper hand in battle and that Islam and its people would perish. This is typical of people of doubt and hesitation, in the event of a hardship, they fall into such evil thoughts.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then described them that they said,
هَل لَّنَا مِنَ الْأَمْرِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۗ
“Is there anything for us [to have done] in this matter?”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala replies that the matter belongs to Him. They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to the true believers, however, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala exposed their secrets. The hypocrites concealed the thought in their hearts that if the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had listened to them then none of them would have been killed.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala responds to their false claim,
قُل لَّوْ كُنتُمْ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ لَبَرَزَ الَّذِينَ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقَتْلُ إِلَىٰ مَضَاجِعِهِمْ ۖ
“Say, ‘Even if you had been inside your houses, those decreed to be killed would have come out to their death beds.’”
We should remember that death is a decreed matter. All of us will die on the day and time it has been decreed for us. No one can escape death whether they are sitting comfortably in their homes or out striving in the Path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sends tests our way in order to distinguish sincere believers from the hypocrites.
One Sins Becomes the Cause of Another Sin
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in ayah 155,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَلَّوْا مِنكُمْ يَوْمَ الْتَقَى الْجَمْعَانِ إِنَّمَا اسْتَزَلَّهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ بِبَعْضِ مَا كَسَبُوا ۖ وَلَقَدْ عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ
“Indeed, those of you who turned back on the day the two armies met, it was Satan who caused them to slip because of some [blame] they had earned. But Allah has already forgiven them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.”
The Salaf said, “The reward of the good deed includes being directed to another good deed that follows it while the retribution of sin includes committing another sin that follows it.”
Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani writes: One sin drags in yet another sin, similar to one good deed pulling in another good deed. In other words, all deeds have a magnetic pull. When a person performs a good deed, other good deeds become easy on him. His heart desires what is good and righteous. Similarly, a person who commits a sin finds that it has cleared the way for other sins. His heart desires what is sinful.
We should be conscious of how we spend our time – one slip leads to another and soon a person is deep into major sins without remorse. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from a blackened heart that has lost the way to his Lord, ameen.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us to repent and seek His forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving and Forbearing.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 153 – 155
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
[Al-Baqarah 2: 127]