Aal-Imran · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Stealing from the Wealth of Others

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 161 – 163

Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that this ayah was revealed in connection with a red robe that was missing from the spoils of the Battle of Badr. Some people said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam might have taken it. When this rumor circulated, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down this ayah.

This ayah exonerates the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam of all types of deceit and treachery, be it returning what was entrusted with him, dividing the spoils of war, etc.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, 

وَمَن يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ

“And whoever betrays, [taking unlawfully], will come with what he took on the Day of Resurrection.”

The ayah talks about ghulool [غْلُل] referring here to the misappropriation in the spoils of war. Ghulool, which can also mean khiyaanah is a breach of trust (misappropriation, pilferage and stealing). Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani explains this is more serious than common thefts as spoils of a war belong to the entire army participating in the battle. Whoever steals from the war booty is stealing from hundreds and thousands of the people.

Even if the person later decides to return the stolen property, there is no way that he can return it to thousands of people.

Therefore, the punishment for ghulool or misappropriation is more severe than common thefts. Such a person, on the Day of Judgment, will face humiliation in front of the entire creation when what he had stolen is stacked on his neck.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam got up among us and mentioned ghulool and emphasized its magnitude. He then said, 

“I will not like to see anyone among you on the Day of Resurrection, carrying a grunting camel over his neck. Such a man will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede on my behalf,’ and I will say, ‘I can’t intercede for you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’

I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying a neighing horse over his neck. Such a man will be saying, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede on my behalf,’ and I will reply, ‘I can’t intercede for you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’

I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying clothes that will be fluttering, and the man will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede (with Allah) for me,’ and I will say, ‘I can’t help you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’

I will not like to see any of you coming on the Day of Resurrection while carrying gold and silver on his neck. This person will say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Intercede (with Allah) for me.’ And I will say, ‘I can’t help you with Allah, for I have conveyed (Allah’s Message) to you.’”

This hadeeth was recorded in the Two Saheehs.

Imam Ahmad recorded that ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “During the day (battle) of Khaybar, several Companions of the Messenger of Allah came to him and said, ‘So-and-so died as a martyr, so-and-so died as a martyr.’ When they mentioned a certain man that died as a martyr, the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, 

كَلَّا إِنِّي رَأَيْتُهُ فِي النَّارِ فِي بُرْدَةٍ غَلَّهَا أَوْ عَبَاءَةٍ

 ‘No. I have seen him in the Fire because of a robe that he stole (from the booty).’

 The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, 

يَا ابْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، اذْهَبْ فَنَادِ فِي النَّاسِ: إِنَّهُ لَا يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ إِلَّا الْمُؤْمِنُون

‘O Ibn Al-Khattab! Go and announce to the people that only the faithful shall enter Paradise.’

So I went out and proclaimed that none except the faithful shall enter Paradise.” This was recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidhi, who said “Hasan Saheeh.”

This ayah contains a stern warning and threat against ghulool. Imam Ahmad recorded that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, 

أَعْظَمُ الْغُلُولِ عِنْدَ اللهِ ذِرَاعٌ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ، تَجِدُون الرَّجُلَيْنِ جَارَيْنِ فِي الْأَرْضِ أو فِي الدَّارِ فَيَقْطَعُ أَحَدُهُمَا مِنْ حَظِّ صَاحِبِه ذِرَاعًا، فَإِذَا اقْتَطَعَهُ، طُوِّقَهُ مِنْ سَبْعِ أَرَضِينَ إِلى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَة

“The worst ghulool with Allah is a yard of land, that is, when you find two neighbors in a land or home and one of them illegally acquires a yard of his neighbor’s land. When he does, he will be tied with it from the seven earths until the Day of Resurrection.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Humayd As-Sa`idi said, “The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed a man from the tribe of Al-Azd, called Ibn Al-Lutbiyyah, to collect the Zakah. When he returned he said, ‘This (portion) is for you and this has been given to me as a gift.’ The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stood on the Minbar and said, 

‘What is the matter with a man whom we appoint to collect Zakah, when he returns he said, This is for you and this has been given to me as a gift.’

Why hadn’t he stayed in his father’s or mother’s house to see whether he would be given presents or not? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, whoever takes anything from the resources of the Zakah (unlawfully), he will carry it on his neck on the Day of Resurrection; if it be a camel, it will be grunting; if a cow, it will be mooing; and if a sheep, it will be bleating.’”

Seeking the Pleasure of Allah VS Seeking Worldly Gains

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, 

أَفَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَ اللَّهِ كَمَن بَاءَ بِسَخَطٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَمَأْوَاهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۚ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ – هُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِندَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ

“So is one who pursues the pleasure of Allah like one who brings upon himself the anger of Allah and whose refuge is Hell? And wretched is the destination. They are [varying] degrees in the sight of Allah , and Allah is Seeing of whatever they do.”

Ibn Katheer comments the ayah refers to those seeking what pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by obeying His legislation, thus earning His pleasure and tremendous rewards, while being saved from His severe torment. This type of person is not similar to one who earns Allah’s anger, has no means of escaping it and who will reside in Jahannam on the Day of Resurrection, and what an evil destination it is.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

هُمْ دَرَجَاتٌ عِندَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ

“They are [varying] degrees in the sight of Allah , and Allah is Seeing of whatever they do.”

People’s ranks are based on their deeds. Those who strive in the path of goodness will have higher ranks in the Hereafter even if in the world they may appear as not so blessed. Those who are only working for this world and are negligent towards their Hereafter will see the result of their efforts.

Abu ‘Ubaydah and Al-Kisa’i said that this ayah refers to degrees meaning there are various degrees and dwellings in Paradise, as well as, various degrees and dwellings in the Fire.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sees everything that a person does and will compensate or punish him according to his deeds. No good or evil deed will go unnoticed.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to allow us to use our time and skills wisely and make the most of what we have been blessed with in attaining the highest ranks in the Hereafter, ameen. 

Lessons:

  • The first lesson that we learn is that stealing is not only a crime but also a “sin.” Any person who unlawfully takes something that belongs to another, no matter how big or small it is, has committed a sin. We should not pick up things that belong to others. If we have something that belonged to someone else, we should repent and return the item to its owner. We learn that on the Day of Judgment, people will be carrying their burdens, not only the burden of their sins but everything that they unlawfully obtained. Imagine the pain and humiliation! Therefore, seek Allah’s forgiveness and stay away from stealing others’ belongings.

  • The second lesson that we learn is that of ranks. Racing in good deeds will help us attain the highest ranks in Paradise. Being negligent of the Hereafter and indulged in sins can take a person to the lowest levels of the Hellfire where the fire is the hottest. We seek refuge in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from such an end, ameen.

  • These ayaat encourage us to live an honest life and to remember that we will receive whatever has been decreed for us. We do not have to steal or plot against others to add to our material wealth.

  • We learn that people strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for two reasons. There are those who work solely for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They have no other hidden motive. On the other hand, there are those who apparently strive in the path of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala but their motive is different. It could be seeking fame, a title or war booty. They are not sincere in their intention. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us from having an intention other than His pleasure, ameen.  

DOWNLOAD PDF:  Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 161 – 163

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]
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s