SURAH AN NOOR AYAH NO 31 TO 64
وَقُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلاَ يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوْ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُوْلِي الإِرْبَةِ مِنْ الرِّجَالِ أَوْ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ وَلاَ يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِنْ زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (النور: 31).
وَأَنكِحُوا الأَيَامَى مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ إِنْ يَكُونُوا فُقَرَاءَ يُغْنِهِمْ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ (النور: 32).
وَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ نِكَاحًا حَتَّى يُغْنِيَهُمْ اللَّهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَالَّذِينَ يَبْتَغُونَ الْكِتَابَ مِمَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ فَكَاتِبُوهُمْ إِنْ عَلِمْتُمْ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا وَآتُوهُمْ مِنْ مَالِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي آتَاكُمْ وَلاَ تُكْرِهُوا فَتَيَاتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَاءِ إِنْ أَرَدْنَ تَحَصُّنًا لِتَبْتَغُوا عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَنْ يُكْرِهُّنَّ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِكْرَاهِهِنَّ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (النور: 33).
وَلَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ آيَاتٍ مُبَيِّنَاتٍ وَمَثَلاً مِنْ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمَوْعِظَةً لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (النور: 34).
اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونِةٍ لاَ شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلاَ غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ نُورٌ عَلَى نُورٍ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (النور: 35).
فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَنْ تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالآصَالِ (النور: 36).
رِجَالٌ لاَ تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلاَ بَيْعٌ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالأَبْصَارُ (النور: 37).
لِيَجْزِيَهُمْ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُمْ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ وَاللَّهُ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (النور: 38).
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَاءً حَتَّى إِذَا جَاءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا وَوَجَدَ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ وَاللَّهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ (النور: 39).
أَوْ كَظُلُمَاتٍ فِي بَحْرٍ لُجِّيٍّ يَغْشَاهُ مَوْجٌ مِنْ فَوْقِهِ مَوْجٌ مِنْ فَوْقِهِ سَحَابٌ ظُلُمَاتٌ بَعْضُهَا فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ إِذَا أَخْرَجَ يَدَهُ لَمْ يَكَدْ يَرَاهَا وَمَنْ لَمْ يَجْعَلِ اللَّهُ لَهُ نُورًا فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ نُورٍ (النور: 40).
أَلَمْ تَرَى أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَالطَّيْرُ صَافَّاتٍ كُلٌّ قَدْ عَلِمَ صَلاَتَهُ وَتَسْبِيحَهُ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ (النور: 41).
وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ (النور: 42).
أَلَمْ تَرَى أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُزْجِي سَحَابًا ثُمَّ يُؤَلِّفُ بَيْنَهُ ثُمَّ يَجْعَلُهُ رُكَامًا فَتَرَى الْوَدْقَ يَخْرُجُ مِنْ خِلاَلِهِ وَيُنَزِّلُ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ جِبَالٍ فِيهَا مِنْ بَرَدٍ فَيُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَيَصْرِفُهُ عَنْ مَنْ يَشَاءُ يَكَادُ سَنَا بَرْقِهِ يَذْهَبُ بِالأَبْصَارِ (النور: 43).
يُقَلِّبُ اللَّهُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَعِبْرَةً ِلأَوْلِي الأَبْصَارِ (النور: 44).
وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَ كُلَّ دَابَّةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَمْشِي عَلَى بَطْنِهِ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَمْشِي عَلَى رِجْلَيْنِ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَمْشِي عَلَى أَرْبَعٍ يَخْلُقُ اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ (النور: 45).
لَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَا آيَاتٍ مُبَيِّنَاتٍ وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ (النور: 46).
وَيَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالرَّسُولِ وَأَطَعْنَا ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّى فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ وَمَا أُوْلَئِكَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ (النور: 47).
وَإِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ مُعْرِضُونَ (النور: 48).
وَإِنْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ الْحَقُّ يَأْتُوا إِلَيْهِ مُذْعِنِينَ (النور: 49).
أَفِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ أَمْ ارْتَابُوا أَمْ يَخَافُونَ أَنْ يَحِيفَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَرَسُولُهُ بَلْ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الظَّالِمُون (النور: 50).
إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَنْ يَقُولُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (النور: 51).
وَمَنْ يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّهَ وَيَتَّقِيهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ (النور: 52).
وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِنْ أَمَرْتَهُمْ لَيَخْرُجُنَّ قُلْ لاَ تُقْسِمُوا طَاعَةٌ مَعْرُوفَةٌ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ (النور: 53).
قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْهِ مَا حُمِّلَ وَعَلَيْكُمْ مَا حُمِّلْتُمْ وَإِنْ تُطِيعُوهُ تَهْتَدُوا وَمَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلاَّ الْبَلاَغُ الْمُبِينُ (النور: 54).
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لاَ يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْفَاسِقُونَ (النور: 55).
وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ (النور: 56).
لاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مُعْجِزِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ النَّارُ وَلَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ (النور: 57).
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنْكُمْ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنْكُمْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ مِنْ قَبْلِ صَلاَةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُمْ مِنْ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِنْ بَعْدِ صَلاَةِ الْعِشَاءِ ثَلاَثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَكُمْ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلاَ عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌ بَعْدَهُنَّ طَوَّافُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ الآياتِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (النور: 56).
وَإِذَا بَلَغَ الأَطْفَالُ مِنْكُمْ الْحُلُمَ فَلْيَسْتَأْذِنُوا كَمَا اسْتَأْذَنَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (النور: 59).
وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنْ النِّسَاءِ اللاَّتِي لاَ يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحًا فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَاتٍ بِزِينَةٍ وَأَنْ يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَهُنَّ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (النور: 60).
لَيْسَ عَلَى الأَعْمَى حَرَجٌ وَلاَ عَلَى الأَعْرَجِ حَرَجٌ وَلاَ عَلَى الْمَرِيضِ حَرَجٌ وَلاَ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَنْ تَأْكُلُوا مِنْ بُيُوتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ آبَائِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ إِخْوَانِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَخَوَاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَعْمَامِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ عَمَّاتِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ أَخْوَالِكُمْ أَوْ بُيُوتِ خَالاَتِكُمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكْتُمْ مَفَاتِحَهُ أَوْ صَدِيقِكُمْ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ تَأْكُلُوا جَمِيعًا أَوْ أَشْتَاتًا فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمْ بُيُوتًا فَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ تَحِيَّةً مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُبَارَكَةً طَيِّبَةً كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ الآياتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (النور: 61).
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِذَا كَانُوا مَعَهُ عَلَى أَمْرٍ جَامِعٍ لَمْ يَذْهَبُوا حَتَّى يَسْتَأْذِنُوهُ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَأْذِنُونَكَ أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِذَا اسْتَأْذَنُوكَ لِبَعْضِ شَأْنِهِمْ فَأْذَنْ لِمَنْ شِئْتَ مِنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ (النور: 62).
لاَ تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاءِ بَعْضِكُمْ بَعْضًا قَدْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ يَتَسَلَّلُونَ مِنْكُمْ لِوَاذًا فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَنْ تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ (النور: 63).
أَلاَ إِنَّ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ قَدْ يَعْلَمُ مَا أَنْتُمْ عَلَيْهِ وَيَوْمَ يُرْجَعُونَ إِلَيْهِ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ (النور: 64).
SURAH AN NOOR AYAH NO 31 TO 64
(24:31) And enjoin believing women to cast down their looks31 and guard their private32 parts33 and not reveal their adornment34 except that which is revealed of itself,35 and to draw their veils over their bosoms,36 and not to reveal their adornment save to their husbands,37 or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands,38 or of their own sons, or the sons of their husbands,39 or their brothers,40 or the sons of their brothers,41 or the sons of their sisters,42 or the women with whom they associate,43 or those that are in their bondage,44 or the male attendants in their service free of sexual
interest,45 or boys that are yet unaware of illicit matters pertaining to women.46 Nor should they stamp their feet on the ground in such manner that their hidden ornament becomes revealed.47 Believers, turn together, all of you, to Allah in repentance48 that you may attain true success.49
31. The commandments of restraining the gaze of women are the same as for men. They should not glance intentionally at the other men, and if they happen to cast a chance look, they should turn their eyes away; and they should abstain from looking at the satar of others.
However, the commandments relating to the men’s looking at women are a little different from those relating to the women’s looking at men. On the one hand, there is an incident related in a tradition saying that Umm Salamah and Umm Maimunah, wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), were sitting with him when Ibn Umm Maktum, a blind companion, made his appearance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his wives: Conceal your faces from him. The wives said: O Messenger of Allah, is he not a blind man? Neither will he see us nor recognize us. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) remarked: Are you two also blind? Do you not see him? Umm Salamah has clarified that this incident occurred at a time when the commandments about the observance of hijab had already been sent down.
(Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmizi). This is also supported by a tradition in Muatta saying that a blind man came to see Aishah and she observed hijab from him. When asked why she observed hijab when the man could not see her, she replied: But I do see him. On the other hand, there is a different tradition from Aishah. In 7 A.H. a deputation of the Africans came to Al-Madinah and they gave a performance of physical skill in the compound of the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself showed their performance to Aishah. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). In another case, we find that when Fatimah bint Qais
was irrevocably divorced by her husband, the question arose as to where she should pass her Iddah (the prescribed waiting term after divorce or death of husband). The Prophet (peace be upon him) first told her to stay with Umm Sharik Ansari, but then instructed her
to stay in the house of Ibn Umm Maktum, where she could stay with greater freedom as he was a blind man. He did not approve of her staying in the house of Umm Sharik because she was a rich lady and her house was frequented by the companions whom she entertained generously. (Muslim, Abu Daud). Read together these traditions show that the restrictions about the women’s looking at men are not so hard as the men’s looking at women.
While it is forbidden for women to sit face to face with men, it is not unlawful if they cast a look at men while passing on the way or see a harmless performance by them from a distance. There is also no harm for women to see the other men in case of real need if they are living in the same house. Imam Ghazzali and Ibn Hajar Asqalani have also reached almost the same conclusion. Shaukani in his Nail al-Autar (Vol. VI, p. 101) has quoted Ibn Hajar as saying: Such permission in respect of women is also supported by the fact that they have always enjoyed this type of freedom in outdoor duties while they came out veiled
when visiting the mosques, or moving in the streets, or during the journey, so that men may not gaze at them, the men were never commanded to use the veil so that women may not gaze at them. This shows that the commandments in respect of the two sexes are different. However, it is not at all permissible that women should gaze leisurely at men and draw pleasure from the eye in doing so.
32. That is, they should abstain from illicit gratification of their sexual desire as well as from exposing their satar before others. Though the commandments for men in this respect are the same as for women, the boundaries of satar for women are different from those prescribed for men. Moreover, the female satar with respect to men is different from that with respect to women. The female satar with respect to men is the entire body, excluding only the hand and the face, which should not be exposed before any other man, not even the brother and father, except the husband. The woman is not allowed to wear a thin or tight-fitting dress that might reveal the skin or the outlines of the body. According to a tradition from Aishah, once her sister Asma came before the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a thin dress. The Prophet (peace be upon him) immediately turned his face away and said: O
Asma, when a woman has attained her maturity, it is not permissible that any part of her body should be exposed except the face and the hand. (Abu Daud). Ibn Jarir has related a similar incident from Aishah saying that once the daughter of Abdullah bin Tufail, who was her mother’s son from her former husband, came to her house for a visit. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) entered the house, he saw her but turned his face to the other side.
Aishah said: O Messenger of Allah, she is my niece. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) remarked: When a woman reaches the age of puberty, it is not lawful for her to display her body except the hand and the face. (Then he indicated what he meant by the hand by
ripping his own hand from the wrist so that there was hardly a breadth left between his erip and the palm of the hand). The only relaxation permitted in this connection is that a woman can uncover only that much of her body before her close relatives (for example, her brother, father, etc.) as is absolutely necessary for attending to the household duties. For instance, she can roll up her sleeves while kneading the flour, or tuck up her trousers while washing the floor.
The boundaries of female satar with respect to women are the same as the boundaries of the male satar with respect to men, which is the part of the body from the navel to the knee.
This does not, however, mean that a woman should appear half-naked before other women.
It only means that while it is obligatory to keep the part of the body from the navel to the knee duly covered, it is not so in the case of other parts.
33. It should be carefully noted that the demands that divine law makes from women are not only those it has made from men, but that is also restraining of looks and guarding of the private parts, but it makes some other demands from them also, which it has not made from men. This shows that men and women are not identical in this respect.
34. Adornment includes attractive clothes, ornaments, and other decorations of the head, face, hand, feet, etc. which the women usually employ, and is expressed by the modern word make-up. The injunction that this makeup should not be displayed before others is discussed in detail in the following notes.
35. Different interpretations given by different commentators of this verse have greatly confused its real meaning. All that is obviously meant is that women should not display their make-up and adornment except that which is displayed of itself and is beyond their control. This clearly means that women should not purposely and intentionally display their make-up, but there is no accountability if the make-up becomes displayed without any purpose or intention on their part; for instance, the head wrappers being blown aside by the wind thus exposing the adornment or the outer-garment itself which cannot be
concealed but which nevertheless has attraction being a part of the female dress. This very interpretation of this verse has been given by Abdullah bin Masud, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, and Ibrahim Nakhai. On the contrary, some other commentators have interpreted the verse to mean all those parts of the body which usually remain exposed or uncovered, and in this, they include the hands and the face with all their adornments. This is the view of Ibn Abbas and his followers, and a large number of Hanafi jurists have accepted it. (Ahkam-ul-
Quran, AlJassas, Vol. II, pp. 388-389). Thus, according to them, it is permissible for a woman to move out freely with the uncovered face in full make-up and adornment of the hands.
We are, however, unable to subscribe to this view. There is a world of difference between displaying something and it’s becoming displayed of itself. The first implies intention and the second compulsion and a state of helplessness. Moreover, such an interpretation also goes against the traditions which state that the women never moved out with open and uncovered faces in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) after the commandments of hijab had been sent down. These commandments implied veiling of the face as well, and the
veil had become a part of the female dress except during Hajj when one has to be in the prescribed state of ihram and keep the face uncovered. Another argument that is advanced in support of this view is that the hands and the face are not included in the satar of the
woman, whereas satar and hijab are two entirely different things. The sanctity of satar is such that it cannot be violated even before the mahram males like the father, brother, etc. As for hijab, it is over and above satar which is meant to segregate women from nonmahram males; the discussion here relates to the commandments of hijab and not to satar.
36. In the pre-Islamic days of ignorance, women used to wear a sort of headband, which was tied in a knot at the rear of the head. The slit of the shirt in the front part remained open exposing the front of the neck and the upper part of the bosom. There was nothing except the shirt to cover the breasts, and the hair was worn in a couple or two of plaits hanging behind like tails. (AI-Kashshaf, Vol. I, p. 90, and Ibn Kathir, Vol. IIL, pp. 283-284).
At the revelation of this verse, the head-wrapper was introduced among the Muslim women which were meant to cover the head, the breasts, and the back, completely. The way the Muslim women responded to this command has been described by Aishah in a vivid
manner. She states that when Surah An- Noor was revealed and the people learned of its contents from the Prophet (peace be upon him), they immediately went back to their houses and recited the verses before their wives, daughters and sisters. There was an instantaneous
response. The Ansar women, one and all, immediately got up and made wrappers from whatever piece of cloth that was handy. The next morning all the women who came to the Prophet’s Mosque for prayers were dressed in wrappers. In another tradition Aishah says that thin cloth was discarded and the women selected only coarse cloth for the purpose. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. IIL p. 284, Abu Daud).
The very nature and object of the command demanded that the wrapper should not be made out of fine and thin cloth. The Ansar women immediately understood the real object and knew what type of cloth was intended to be used. The Law-Giver himself clarified this
and did not leave it to be interpreted by the people. Dihya Kalbi states: Once a length of fine Egyptian muslin was presented to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He gave a piece of it to me and said, Use one part of it for your shirt, and give the rest of it to your wife for a wrapper, but tell her that she should stitch another piece of cloth on the inner side so that the body may not be displayed through it. (Abu Daud).
37. This verse describes the circle in which a woman can move freely with all her make-up and adornment. Outside this circle she is not allowed to appear with make-up before the other people, whether they are relatives or strangers. The commandment implies that she
should not display her embellishments outside this limited circle, intentionally or through carelessness. However, what becomes displayed incidentally, in spite of care and concern, or what cannot be concealed, is excused by Allah.
38. Fathers include grandfathers and great-grandfathers as well, both paternal and maternal.
Accordingly, a woman can appear before her own and her husband’s grandfathers just as she can appear before her own father and father-in-law.
39. Sons include grandsons and great grandsons from the male or female offspring. No distinction is to be made between the real sons and the step-sons.
40. Brothers’ include real and stepbrothers.
41. Sons of brothers and sisters include sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of all three kinds of brothers and sisters.
42. After the relatives, the other people are now being mentioned. But before we proceed further, it would be useful to understand three things in order to avoid confusion.
First, some jurists hold that the freedom of movement and display of adornment by a woman is restricted to the circle of relatives mentioned in this verse. All others, even the real paternal and maternal uncles, are excluded from this list and a woman should observe hijab
from them because they have not been mentioned in the Quran. This is, however, not a correct view. Let alone the real uncles, the Prophet (peace be upon him) disallowed Aishah to observe hijab even from her foster uncles. A tradition quoted in Sihah Sitta and Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Aishah says that once Aflah, brother of Abul Quais, came to see her and sought permission to enter the house. But since the commandment of hijab had been received, Hadrat Aishah refused him permission. On this Aflah sent back the word saying, You are my niece: you were suckled by my brother Abul Qais’s wife. But Aishah still was hesitant about whether it was permissible to appear unveiled before such a relative or not. In the meantime, the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived and he ruled that he could see her. This shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself did not interpret the verse in the way these jurists do that it was lawful to appear unveiled only before those relatives who have been mentioned in the verse and not before others. He interpreted it to mean that hijab need not be observed from those relatives with whom marriage is prohibited, for instance, paternal and maternal uncles, son-in-law, and foster relatives. Hasan Basri from among the followers has expressed the same opinion and the same has been supported by Allama Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his Ahkam-ul- Quran. (Vol. IIL, p. 390).
Secondly, there is the question of those relatives with whom marriage is not permanently prohibited; they neither fall in the category of mahram relatives (that women may freely appear before them with adornment) nor in the category of complete strangers that they
should observe full hijab from them as from others. What should be the right course between the two extremes has not been determined by the Shariah for such a course cannot possibly be determined. The observance of hijab or otherwise in such cases will inevitably depend on the mutual relationship, age of the woman and of men, family relations and contacts, and other circumstances (e.g. residence in the same house or in different houses).
The personal example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself in this matter gives us the same guidance. A large number of traditions confirm that Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a sister-in-law of the Prophet (peace be upon him), appeared unveiled before him and no hijab, at least on the face and hands, was observed by her. This same position continued till the Farewell Pilgrimage which took place just a few months before the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him). (Abu Daud). Similarly, Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib and a first cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him), appeared before him till the end without ever observing the hijab on his face and hands. She herself has narrated an incident pertaining to the conquest of Makkah, which confirms the same. (Abu Daud). On the contrary, we see that Abbas sends his son Fadal, and Rabiah bin Harith bin Abdul Muttalib,
a first cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and his son Abdul Muttalib before the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the request for a job, as they could not be married till they became earning members of the family. They both see the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the house of his wife Zainab, who is a first cousin of Fadal and is similarly related to the father of Abdul Muttalib bin Rabiah. But she does not appear before them and talks to them from behind a curtain in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him). (Abu Daud). Taking the two kinds of precedents together we come to the same conclusion as we have stated above.
Thirdly, in cases where the relationship itself becomes doubtful, hijab should be observed even by the mahram relatives. Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Daud have related a case where Saudah, a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), had a brother born of a slave woman.
Utbah, the father of Saudah and the boy, left a will enjoining his brother, Saad bin Abi Waqagas, to look after the boy as a nephew for he was from his own seed. When the case came before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he rejected the claim of Saad, saying: The boy
belongs to him on whose bed he was born; as for the adulterer, let stones and pebbles be his lot. But at the same time, he told Saudah to observe the hijab from the boy because it was doubtful whether he was really her brother.
43. The Arabic word nisa-i-hinna means their female associates. Before we consider what women exactly meant, it is worth noting that the word used here is not annisa, which merely means women, but nisa-i-hinna which means their female associates. In the former case, it would be quite permissible for a Muslim woman to appear unveiled before all sorts of women and display her adornment. The use of nisa-i-hinna, however, has circumscribed her freedom within a specific circle. As to what specific circle of women is implied, the commentators and jurists have expressed different opinions.
According to one group, the female associates mean only the Muslim women; as for the non-Muslim women, whether zimmis or otherwise, they are excluded and the hijab should be observed from them as from men. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, and Ibn Juraij hold this opinion and
cite the following incident in support thereof: Umar wrote to Abu Ubaidah: I hear that some Muslim women have started going to public baths along with non-Muslim women. It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should expose
her body before women other than of her own community. On receipt of this letter, Abu Ubaidah was much upset, and he cried out: May the face of the woman who goes to the public baths to whiten her complexion be blackened on the Last Day! (Ibn Jarir, Baihagi, Ibn
Another group, which includes Imam Razi, is of the view that female associates are all women without exception. But it is not possible to accept this view as in that case an-nisa should have sufficed and there was no need to use nisa-ihinna. The third opinion and this appears to be reasonable and nearer to the Quranic text, is that their female associates mean those familiar and known women with whom a woman usually comes into contact in her daily life and who share in her household chores, etc. whether they are Muslim or non- Muslim. The object here is to exclude those women from the circle who are either strangers and whose cultural and moral background is not known or whose antecedents are apparently doubtful, which makes them unreliable. This view is also supported by the authentic traditions which state that zimmi women used to visit the wives of the Prophet
(peace be upon him). The real thing to be considered in this connection would be moral character and not religious belief. Muslim women can meet and have intimate social contacts with noble, modest, and virtuous women, who come from well-known and reliable families even if they are non-Muslim. But they must observe hijab from immodest, immoral, and vulgar women even if they happen to be Muslims. Their company from a moral viewpoint is as dangerous as that of other men. As for contacts with unknown, unfamiliar women, they may at the most be treated like non-mahram relatives. A woman may uncover her face and hands before them but she must keep the rest of her body and adornments concealed.
44. There is a good deal of difference of opinion among the jurists about the correct meaning of this injunction. One group holds that this refers only to the slave girls owned by a lady.
Accordingly, they interpret the divine command to mean that the Muslim woman can display her adornment before a slave girl, whether she is an idolatress or a Jew, or a Christian, but she cannot appear before a slave man even if he is legally owned by her. For purposes of hijab, he is to be treated just like a free male stranger. This is the view of Abdullah bin Masud, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, Said bin Musayyab, Taus, and Imam Abu Hanifah, and a saying of Imam Shafai also supports this. They argue that the slave is not a mahram to the lady. If he is freed, he can marry his former owner. Therefore the fact of his being a slave cannot by itself entitle him to be treated like the male mahrams and allow the lady to appear freely before him. The question of why should the words in their possession which is general and applicable to both slaves and slave girls, be restricted to mean only slave girls, is answered by these jurists like this: Though the words are general, the context and background in which they occur make them specifically applicable to slave girls only. The words those in their possession occur just after their female associates in the verse; therefore one could understand that the reference was to a woman’s relatives and other associates; this could lead to the misunderstanding that the slave girls perhaps were excluded; the words those in their possession, therefore, were used to clarify that a woman could display her adornments before the slave girls as before her free female associates.
The other group holds that the words in their possession include both the male slaves and the slave girls. This is the view of Hadrat Aishah, Umm Salamah, and some learned scholars of the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and also of Imam Shafai. They do not argue merely on the basis of the general meaning of the words, but they also cite precedents from the Sunnah in support of their view. For instance, the incident that the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the house of his daughter, Fatimah, along with his slave Abdullah bin Musadah al-Fazari. She was at that time wearing a sheet which, would leave the feet exposed if she tried to cover the head, and the head exposed if she tried to cover the feet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) felt her embarrassment and said: No harm:
there are only your father and your slave! (Abu Daud, Ahmad, Baihaqi on the authority of Anas bin Malik). Ibn Asakir has stated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had given that slave to Fatimah, who brought him up and then freed him. (But the man turned out to be an
ungrateful wretch; in the battle of Siffin, he was the bitterest opponent of Ali and a zealous supporter of Amir Muawiyah). They also quote the following words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in support of their stand: When any of you agrees to a deed of emancipation with her slave, and the slave has the necessary means to buy his freedom, she (the owner) should observe hijab from him. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah on the authority of Umm Salamah).
45. The literal translation of the text would be: those from among the men who are your subordinates and have no desire. The obvious meaning is that apart from the mahram males, a Muslim woman can display her adornment only before the man who satisfies two conditions: firstly, he should be in a subordinate capacity, and secondly, he should be free from sexual urges either due to advanced age, impotence, mental weakness, poverty, or low social position, so that he cannot cherish the desire or have the boldness to think evilly of his master’s wife, daughter, sister or mother. Anybody who studies this injunction in the right spirit with a view to obeying it, and not for the sake of finding ways and means of escaping from or violating it, will readily appreciate that the bearers, cooks, chauffeurs, and other
grown-up servants employed these days in the houses do not fall in this category. The following clarifications given by the commentators and the jurists on this point would show the type of men envisaged in the verse. According to Ibn Abbas: This implies a man who is a mere simpleton and has no interest in women. According to Qatadah: A poor man who is attached to you merely for his sustenance. According to Mujahid: A fool who only needs food and has no desire for women. According to Shabi: The one who is subordinate and entirely dependent on his master, and cannot have the boldness to cast an evil look at the womenfolk of the house. According to Ibn Zaid: The one who remains attached to a family for such a long time that he is regarded as a member brought up in that house, and who has no desire for the women of the house. He is there merely because he gets his sustenance from the family. According to Taus and Zuhri: One who does not cherish the desire for the women nor has the courage to do so. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 95-96, Ibn Kathir, Vol. II, p. 285).
The best explanation in this regard is the incident that happened at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which has been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Nasai, and Ahmad on the authority of Aishah and Umm Salamah. There was a certain eunuch in Madinah who was allowed free access to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the other women of the city, on the assumption that he being incapable of sex was free from the sexual urge. One day when the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the house of his wife, Umm Salamah, he heard him talking to her brother, Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah. He was telling Abdullah that if Taif was taken the following day, he should try to have Badia, daughter of Ghailan Thaqafi. And then he started praising Badia’s beauty and her physical charms and even went to the extent of describing her private parts. On hearing this, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: O enemy of Allah, you seem to have seen her through. Then he ordered that the women should observe hijab from him and he should not be allowed to enter the houses in the future. After this, he turned him out of Madinah and
forbade the other eunuchs also to enter the houses, because the women did not mind their presence, while they would describe the women of one house before the other men of other houses in the society. This shows that the word incapable of sexual desire does not merely imply physical impotence. Anyone who is physically unfit but cherishes sex desire in the heart and takes interest in women can become the cause of many mischiefs.
46. That is, the children who do not yet have their sex feelings aroused. This may apply to boys of 11 to 12 at the most. Older boys start having sex feelings though they may still be immature otherwise.
47. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not restrict this injunction to the jingle of the ornaments, but has derived from it the principle that besides the look, anything which tends to excite any of the senses, is opposed to the objective for which Allah has forbidden the women to display their adornment. Therefore, he ordered the women not to move out with perfumes. According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not stop the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques, but they should not come with perfumes. (Abu Daud, Ahmad). According to another tradition, Abu Hurairah passed by a woman who was coming out of the mosque and felt that she had perfumed herself. He stopped her and said: O bondmaid of Allah, are you coming from the mosque? When she replied in the affirmative, he said: I have heard my beloved Abul Qasim (peace be upon him) say that the prayer of the woman who comes to the mosque with perfumes, is not accepted till she purifies herself with a complete bath as is done after sexual intercourse. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Nasai). Abu Musa Ashari has quoted the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: A woman who passes on the way with perfumes so that people may enjoy her perfumes, is such and such: he used very harsh words for her. (Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nasai).
His instruction was that women should use scents with bright colors but light odors. (Abu Daud). Similarly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) disapproved that feminine voices should enter the ears of men unnecessarily. In case of genuine need, the Quran itself has allowed
women to speak to men, and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives themselves used to instruct people in religious matters. But where there is no necessity, nor any moral or religious ned, the women have been discouraged to let their voices be heard by men.
Thus if the imam happens to commit a mistake during congregational prayer, and he is to be warned of the lapse, the men have been taught to say Subhan-Allah (Glory be to Allah), while the women have been instructed to tap their hands only. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Majah).
48. Turn towards Allah: Repent of the lapses and errors that you have been committing in this regard so far, and reform your conduct in accordance with the commands given by Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him).
49. It would be useful to give here a resume of the other reforms which the Prophet (peace be upon him) introduced in the Islamic society after the revelation of these commandments.
(1) He prohibited the other men (even if they are relatives) to see a woman in privacy or sit with her in the absence of her mahram relatives. Jabir bin Abdullah has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not visit the women whose husbands are away from home, because Satan circulates in one of you like blood. (Tirmizi). According to another tradition from Jabir, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should never visit a woman when alone unless she has a mahram relative also
present because the third one would be Satan. (Ahmad). Imam Ahmad has quoted another tradition from Amir bin Rabiah to the same effect. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself was extremely cautious in this regard. Once when he was accompanying his wife Safiyyah to her house at night, two men of Ansar passed by them on the way. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped them and said: The woman with me is my wife Safiyyah. They said:
Glory be to Allah! O Messenger of Allah, could there be any suspicion about you? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Satan circulates like blood in the human body; I was afraid lest he should put an evil thought in your minds. (Abu Daud).
(2) The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not approve that a man’s hand should even touch the body of a non-mahram woman. That is why while administering the oath of allegiance, he would take the hand of the men into his own hand, but he never adopted this procedure in the case of women. Aishah has stated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never touched the body of any other woman. He would administer the oath verbally to them; when this was done, he would say: You may go, Your allegiance is complete. (Abu Daud).
(3) He strictly prohibited the woman from proceeding on a journey alone without a mahram or in company with a non-mahram. A tradition from Ibn Abbas has been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and said: No man should visit the other woman when she is alone unless she has a mahram also present, and no woman should travel alone unless accompanied by a mahram. A man stood up and said:
My wife is going for Hajj, while I am under orders to join a certain expedition. The Prophet said: You may go for Hajj with your wife. Several other traditions on the subject, emanating from Ibn Umar, Abu Said Khudri, and Abu Hurairah, are found in authentic books of
traditions, which concur that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should go on a journey without a mahram. There is, however, a variation with regard to the duration and the length of the journey. Some traditions lay down the minimum limit as 12 miles and some lay down the duration as one day, a day and night, two days, or even three days. This variation, however, neither renders the traditions unauthentic nor makes it necessary that we should accept one version as legally binding in preference to others. For the plausible explanation for the different versions could be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave different instructions at different occasions depending on the circumstances and merit of each case. For instance, a woman going on a three-day journey might have been prohibited from proceeding without a mahram, while another going on a day’s journey might also have been similarly prohibited.
Here the real thing is not the different instructions to the different people in different situations, but the principle that a woman should not go on a journey without a mahram as laid down in the tradition quoted above from Ibn Abbas.
(4) He not only took practical measures to stop the free mixing of the sexes together but prohibited it verbally as well. Everyone knows the great importance of congregational and Friday prayers in Islam. The Friday prayer has been made obligatory by Allah Himself; the importance of the congregational prayer can be judged from a tradition of the Prophet (peace be him), which says: If a person does not attend the mosque without a genuine reason and offers his prayer at home, it will not be acceptable to Allah. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah, Daraqutni, Hakim on the authority of Ibn Abbas). But in spite of this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) exempted the women from compulsory attendance at the Friday prayer.
(Abu Daud, Daraqutni, Baihaqi). As for the other congregational prayers, he made the women’s attendance optional, saying: Do not stop them if they want to come to the mosque.
Then at the same time, he made the clarification that it was better for them to pray in their houses than in the mosques. According to Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not prohibit the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques of
Allah. (Abu Daud). Other traditions from Ibn Umar are to the effect: Permit the women to come to the mosques at night. (Bukhari, Muslim, Trimizi, Nasai, Abu Daud). And do not stop your women-folk from coming to the mosques though their houses are better for them
than the mosques. (Ahmad, Abu Daud). Umm Humaid Saidiyyah states that once she said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): O Messenger of Allah, I have a great desire to offer my prayer under your leadership. He replied: Your offering the prayer in your room is better than your offering it in the verandah, and you’re offering the prayer in your house is better than your offering it in the neighboring mosque, and your offering the prayer in the neighboring mosque is better than offering it in the principal mosque (of the town). (Ahmad, Tabarani). A tradition to the same effect has been reported by Abdullah bin Masud in Abu Daud. According to Umm Salamah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best mosques for women are the innermost portions of their houses. (Ahmad, Tabarani). But when Aishah saw the conditions that prevailed in the time of the Umayyads, she said: If the Prophet (peace be upon him) had witnessed such conduct of the women, he would certainly have stopped their entry into the mosques as was done in the case of the Israelite women, (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud). The Prophet (peace be upon him) had appointed a separate door in his mosque for the entry of women, and Umar in his time had given strict orders prohibiting men to use that door. (Abu Daud). In the congregational prayers, the women were instructed to stand separately behind the men. At the conclusion of the prayer, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers used to remain sitting for a while so that the women could leave the mosque before the men. (Ahmad, Bukhari). The Prophet (peace be upon him) would say: The best row for the men is the front row and the worst the last one (nearest to the women’s row), and the best row for the women is the rearmost row and the worst the front one (just behind the men’s). (Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi Nasai, Ahmad).
The women joined the Eid congregational prayers but they had a separate enclosure from the men. After the sermon the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to address them separately (Abu Daud, Bukhari, Muslim). Once outside the Mosque the Prophet (peace be upon him)
saw the men and women moving side by side in the crowd. He stopped the woman and said: It is not proper for you to walk in the middle of the road; walk on the sides. On hearing this the women immediately started walking along the walls. (Abu Daud). All these
commandments clearly show that mixed gatherings of men and women are wholly alien to the temper of Islam. It cannot, therefore, be imagined that divine law which disallows the men and women to stand side by side for prayers in the sacred houses of Allah, would allow them to mix together freely in colleges, offices, clubs, and other gatherings.
(5) He permitted the women to make modest use of the make-up, even instructed them to do so, but strictly forbade its overdoing. Of the various types of make-up and decoration that were prevalent among the Arab women in those days, he declared the following as
accursed and destructive of communities:
(a) To add extra hair to one’s own artificially with a view to make them appear longer and thicker.
(b) To tattoo various parts of the body and produce artificial moles.
(c) To pluck hair from the eyebrows to give them a special shape, or to pluck hair from the face to give it a cleaner look.
(d) To rub the teeth to make them sharp or to produce artificial holes in them. (e) To rub the face with saffron or another cosmetic to produce an artificial complexion.
These instructions have been reported in Sihah Sitta and in Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Aishah, Asma bint Abu Bakr, Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas, and Amir Muawiyah through reliable narrators.
After having the knowledge of these clear commandments from Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), a Muslim has only two courses open before him. Either he should follow these commandments practically and purify himself, his family life, and the society at large of the moral evils for the eradication of which Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) have given such detailed commandments, or if due to some weakness he violates one or more of these commandments, he should at least realize that he is committing a sin, and regard it as such, and should abstain from labeling it as a virtue by misinterpretation. Apart from these alternatives, the people who adopt the Western, ways of life against the clear injunctions of the Quran and Sunnah, and then try their utmost to prove to them Islam itself,
and openly claim that there is no such thing as a hijab in Islam, not only commit the sin of disobedience but also display ignorance and hypocritical obstinacy. Such an attitude can neither be commended by any right-thinking person in this world nor can it merit favor with Allah in the Hereafter. But among the Muslims there exists a section of modern hypocrites who are so advanced in their hypocrisy that they repudiate the divine injunctions as false and believe those ways of life to be right and based on truth, which they have borrowed from the non-Muslim communities. Such people are not Muslims at all, for if they still are Muslims, the words Islam and non-Islam lose all their meaning and significance. Had they changed their Islamic names and publicly declared their desertion of Islam, we would at least have been convinced of their moral courage. But in spite of their wrong attitudes,
these people continue to pose themselves as Muslims. There is perhaps no meaner class of people in the world. People with such character and morality cannot be unexpected to indulge in any forgery, fraud, deception, or dishonesty.
(24:32)Marry those of you that are single, (whether men or women),50, and those of your male and female slaves that are righteous.51 52 If they are poor, Allah will enrich them out of His Bounty.53 Allah is Immensely Resourceful, All-Knowing.
50. The word ayama is the plural of ayyim which means a single person and is applicable to every man who is without a wife and to every woman who is without a husband.
51. That is, those who show the right attitude in their dealings with you and in whom you find the capability of discharging the responsibilities of married life. The owner whose slave does not show the right attitude nor seems to possess the necessary capability and temper to
lead a reasonably happy married life, has not been required to arrange his or her marriage.
For in that case, he would become the cause of ruining another person’s life. This condition, however, has not been imposed on free persons because in their case the people who promote marriages are no more than mere advisers, associates, and introducers. The actual
marriage depends on the mutual willingness of the bride and the bridegroom. In the case of a slave, however, the entire responsibility lies on the owner, and if he makes the mistake of marrying a poor person with an ill-natured, ill-mannered spouse, the responsibility for the consequences will be entirely his.
52. The imperative mood of the verb “Marry: Arrange marriages….the righteous”, has led some scholars to assume that it is obligatory to arrange such marriages; whereas the nature of the problem indicates that it cannot be so. Obviously, it cannot be obligatory for somebody to arrange the marriage of the other person. Marriage is not a one-sided affair; it needs another party also. If it were obligatory, what would be the position of the person who is going to be married? Should he willingly accept to be married wherever others arrange it? If so, it would mean that he or she had absolutely no choice in the matter. And if one has a right to refuse, how are the others going to discharge their responsibility? Taking all these aspects into account the majority of the jurists have held that the commandment is not obligatory but recommendatory. The intention is that the Muslims
should ensure that none in the society should remain unmarried. The people of the house, friends, and neighbors, all should take necessary interest in the matter, and where no such help is available, the state should make necessary arrangements.
53. This does not mean that Allah will certainly bestow wealth on anybody who marries. The intention is to discourage a calculative approach. This instruction is both for the parents of the girl and of the boy. The former should not reject a pious and virtuous suitor merely
because he happens to be poor. Similarly, the boy’s parents should not go on postponing his marriage because he is not yet a full earning member or is not yet earning sufficiently.
Young men have been advised not to go on postponing their marriage unnecessarily waiting for better times even if the income is not yet sufficient, one should marry with full faith in Allah. Very often the marriage itself becomes the cause of improving strained circumstances. The wife helps to control the family budget, or the husband starts to exert himself more to meet the new challenges and responsibilities. The wife can also earn to supplement the family budget. Then, who knows what the future holds in store for him.
Good times can change into bad times and bad into good. One should therefore refrain from being too calculative in this regard.
(24:33) Let those who cannot afford to marry keep themselves chaste until Allah enriches them out of His Bounty.#And write out a deed of manumission for such of your slaves that desire their freedom® in lieu of payment® – if you see any good in them – and give them out of the wealth that Allah has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution for the sake of the benefits of worldly life while they desire to remain chaste.2 And if anyone compels them to prostitution, Allah will be Most Pardoning, Much Merciful (to them) after their subjection to such compulsion.
54. The best commentary on these verses are the traditions that have been reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this connection. Abdullah bin Masud has related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said: O young men, whoso among you can afford to marry, he should marry, because this will be a means of restraining the eyes from casting the evil look and of keeping one pure and chaste, and the one who cannot afford, should fast, because fasting helps cool down the passions. (Bukhari, Muslim). According to Abu
Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has taken upon Himself to succor three men: (a) the one who marries with a view to guarding his chastity, (b) the slave who works to earn his freedom, and (c) the one who goes out to fight in the way of Allah.” (Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ahmad) For further explanation, see (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 25).
55. Mukatabat as a term means a deed of emancipation between the owner and the slave entitling the latter to earn his or her freedom after payment of an agreed sum of money in a certain period. This is one of the methods laid down in Islam for the slaves to attain their freedom. It is not essential that the slave must always pay in cash; he can also earn his freedom by rendering some special service to the owner, provided that both parties agree. Once the agreement is signed, the owner is not entitled to put any obstacles in the way of the slave’s freedom. He will have to provide opportunities to enable him to earn for his emancipation and shall have to free him when the agreed amount has been paid in time.
In the time of Umar, a slave entered into such an agreement with his lady owner but managed to collect the amount in advance of the time limit. When the amount was offered to the lady, she refused to accept it on the ground that she would like to have it in monthly and yearly installments. The slave complained to Umar who ordered that the amount be deposited in the state treasury and the slave be set free. The lady was informed that her money lay in the treasury and she had the option to take it in a lump sum or in yearly or monthly installments. (Daraqutni).
56. A group of jurists has interpreted this as “execute the deed of emancipation with them”, that it is obligatory for the owner to accept the offer of a slave to earn his emancipation. This is the view of Ata, Amr bin Dinar Ibn Sirin, Masrug, Dahhak, Ikrimah, the Zahiriyyah and
Ibn Jarir Tabari and Imam Shafai also favored it in the beginning. The other group holds that it is not obligatory but only recommendatory and commendable. This group includes
jurists like Shabi, Mugatil bin Hayyan, Hasan Basri, Abdul Rahman bin Zaid, Sufyan Thauri, Abu Hanifah and Malik bin Anas and Imam Shafai later on also adopted this view. The first view is supported by two things:
(a) The imperative mood of the verb to execute the deed suggests that it is a commanding front of Allah.
(b) Authentic traditions contain the incident that when Sirin, father of Muhammad bin Sirin, the great jurist, and traditionalist, made a request to his master Anas for a deed of emancipation, the latter refused to accept it. Sirin took the matter before Umar, who whip in
hand turned to Anas, saying: Allah’s command is that you execute the deed. (Bukhari).
From this, it has been argued that it was not a discretionary and personal decision of Umar but it was taken in the presence of the companions and none expressed any difference of opinion. This therefore should be taken as an authentic interpretation of the verse.
The other group argues that Allah does not merely say: Execute the deed of emancipation with them but adds: Provided that you find some good in them. This condition of finding some good in them lies entirely on the owner, and there is no fixed standard or means by
which the question of finding good in them could be adjudicated through a court. Legal injunctions are never couched in such language. As such this injunction can only be regarded as recommendatory and not as legally mandatory. As regards the precedent of the case of Sirin, the jurists say that there was not one slave who asked for a deed of
emancipation but thousands of them in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the rightly-guided Caliphs, and a large number of them earned their freedom in that way. But apart from Sirin’s there is no case where an owner was forced by a judicial verdict to execute
a deed of emancipation. Accordingly, this decision of Umar cannot be taken as a judicial decision. All that can be said is that Umar, apart from his position of a judge, was like a father to the Muslims and might have used his paternal authority in a matter where he could not intervene as a judge.
57. Good” implies three things.
(a) The slave must be capable of earning his emancipation money through hard work and labor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: Execute the deed when you are sure that the slave can earn the required amount of money; do not let him go about begging the
people for it. (Ibn Kathir).
(b) He should be honest, truthful, and reliable for the purposes of the agreement. He should make the best of the opportunities and should not waste his earnings.
(c) The owner should make sure that the slave has no immoral trends and does not harbor feelings of enmity against Islam or the Muslims, nor should there be any apprehension that his freedom might prove harmful to the interests of the Muslim society. In other words, he
should prove to be a loyal and faithful member of the Muslim society and not a fifth columnist. It should be noted that such precautions were absolutely necessary in the case of the prisoners of war taken as slaves.
58. This command is general and is addressed to the owners, the common Muslims, and the Islamic government.
(a) The owner is instructed that he should remit a part of the emancipation money. There are traditions to confirm that the companions used to remit a sizable amount of the emancipation money to their slaves. Ali used to remit a quarter of the amount and exhorted others also to do the same. (Ibn Jarir).
(b) The common Muslim is instructed that he should extend liberal help to all such slaves who asked for help in this regard. One of the heads of Zakat expenditure as laid down in the Quran is the ransoming of slaves. (Surah AtTaubah, Ayat 60). In the sight of Allah freeing of
slaves is a great act of virtue. (Surah AlBalad, Ayat 13). According to tradition, a bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and requested him to instruct him what he should do to earn Paradise. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied You have asked about the
most important thing in a most concise way. You should free the slaves and help them to earn their freedom, If you present cattle to somebody, present such a one as gives plenty of milk. Treat your relatives kindly even if they treat you unjustly. If you cannot do all this,
you should feed the poor, give water to the thirsty, exhort the people to do good, and forbid them to do evil. If you cannot do even this, you should restrain your tongue: if you have to speak, speak something good, otherwise, keep quiet. (Baihaqi).
(c) The Islamic government is advised to spend a part of the Zakat collections on the emancipation of slaves.
Here it should be noted that slaves in ancient times were of three kinds: (i) Prisoners of war, (ii) Free men who were captured and traded as slaves, (iii) Hereditary slaves who did not know when their ancestors became slaves and to which of the above categories they originally belonged. Before the advent of Islam, Arabia as well as the outside world abounded in all kinds of slaves. The entire social and economic structure of society depended more on slave labor than on servants and wage-earners. The first question before Islam was to tackle the problem of hereditary slaves, and secondly, to find a solution to the entire problem of slavery for all times to come. In tackling the first problem, Islam did not abruptly abrogate the ownership rights in respect of the hereditary slaves as it would have completely paralyzed the entire social and economic system and involved Arabia in a far more destructive civil war than the one fought in America. Islam did not follow any such policy of reform. Instead, it generated a great moral movement for the emancipation of slaves and employed inducements, persuasions, religious injunctions, and legal enactments
to educate and motivate the people to free the slaves voluntarily for earning their salvation in the Hereafter, or as an expiation of their sins as enjoined by Islam, or by accepting monetary compensation. To set the pace the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself freed 63 slaves. One
of his wives, Aishah, alone treed 67 slaves. The Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) uncle, Abbas, freed 70 slaves. Among others, Hakim bin Hizam freed 100 slaves, Abdullah bin Umar 1,000, Zulkala Himyari 8,000, and Abdur Rehman bin Auf 30,000. The other companions among whom Abu Bakr and Uthman were prominent also set a large number of slaves free. The people, in order to win Allah’s favor, not only emancipated their own slaves but also bought them from others and then set them free. The result was that in so far as hereditary slaves were concerned, almost all of them had been freed even before the righteous Caliphate came to an end.
As for the future, Islam completely prohibited free men from being kidnapped and traded as Slaves. As for the prisoners of war, it was permitted (not commanded) that they might be kept as slaves so long as they were not exchanged for Muslim prisoners of war, or freed on
payment of ransom. Then, on the one hand, the slaves were also allowed to earn their freedom through written agreements with their masters, and on the other, the masters were exhorted to set them free just like the hereditary slaves, as an act of virtue, to win Allah’s approval, or as an expiation of sins, or by willing that a slave would automatically gain his freedom on the master’s death, or that a slave girl would be free on the master’s death if she had borne him children, whether he had left a will or not. This is how Islam solved the problem of slavery. Ignorant people raise objections without trying to understand this solution, and the apologists offer all sorts of apologies and have even denied the fact that Islam had prohibited slavery absolutely.
59. This does not mean that if the slave girls do not want to lead a chaste and virtuous life they can be forced into prostitution. It only means that if a slave girl commits an immoral act of her own free will, she herself is responsible for it and the law will be applied against her alone. But if the owner forces her into it, it will be entirely his responsibility, and the law will proceed against him. Obviously, the question of force arises only when someone is compelled to act against his own will. As for the words for your own worldly gains, these
have not been used in a conditional or restrictive sense that if the owner is not sharing the immoral earnings of the slave girl, he is not an offender if he forces her into prostitution. The intention is to declare all such money unlawful as has been earned through illegal and
It is, however, not possible to comprehend the full import of this injunction merely from the words of the text. For this, it is necessary to understand the entire background and circumstances prevalent at the time of its revelation. Prostitution in Arabia existed in two
forms: Domestic prostitution and open prostitution in the brothel.
(a) Domestic prostitution was carried out by freed slave girls who had no guardians, or by free women who had no family or tribal support. They would take residence in a house and enter into an agreement with a number of men simultaneously for financial help in return
for sexual gratification. Whenever a child was born, the mother would name whomsoever she liked as its father, and the man was accepted in society as the father of the child. This was an established custom in the pre-Islamic days, which was considered almost analogous to marriage. When Islam came, it recognized only that contract as a legal marriage where a woman had only one husband. Thus all other forms of sexual gratification came to be regarded as adultery and punishable offenses as such. (Abu Daud).
(b) Open prostitution which was carried out entirely through slave girls was of two kinds. First, the slave girls were obliged to pay a fixed heavy amount every month to the owner, which they could only earn through prostitution. The owner knew well how the money was earned, and in fact, there was no other object of imposing a heavy demand on the poor slave girl, especially when it was much higher than the usual wages for work or labor. Secondly, beautiful and young slave girls were made to stay in the brothel and a flag was put at the door to indicate that a needy person could satisfy his lust there. Such women were called qaliqiyat and their houses were known as mawakhir. All prominent men of the day owned and maintained such houses of prostitution. Abdullah bin Ubayy (the chief of the hypocrites
of Madinah, who had been nominated as king of Madinah before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) arrival there and who was in the forefront of the campaign to slander Aishah) himself owned a regular house of prostitution in Madinah, which had six beautiful slave
girls. Not only did he earn money through them but also used them to entertain his respectable and important guests who came to see him from different parts of Arabia. He employed the illegitimate children thus born to enhance the splendor and strength of his army of slaves. When one of these prostitutes, named Muazah, accepted Islam and wanted to offer repentance for her past sins, Ibn Ubayy subjected her to torture. She complained of it to Abu Bakr, who brought it to the notice of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the woman be taken away from the cruel man. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVII, pp. 55 -58, and 103-104; Al Istiab Vol 11, p. 762; p. 762; Ibn Kathir, Vol. IIL, pp. 288-289). Such were the conditions when this verse was revealed. If these conditions are kept in view, it will become obvious that the real object was not merely to stop the slave
girls from being forced into prostitution but to ban prostitution itself as illegal within the boundaries of the Islamic state. Simultaneously, there was a declaration of general pardon for those who had been forced into this business in the past.
After the revelation of this divine command, the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared:
There is no place for prostitution in Islam. (Abu Da’ud). The second command that he gave was that the earnings made through adultery were unlawful, impure, and absolutely forbidden. According to a tradition reported by Rafi bin Khadij, the Prophet (peace be upon
him) described such earnings as impure, a product of the worst profession, and the most filthy income. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Nasai). According to Abu Huzaifah, he termed the money earned through prostitution is unlawful. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). Abu Masud Ugqbah
bin Amr says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade the people to take prostitution earnings. (Sihah Sitta and Ahmad). The third command was that the slave girl could be employed for lawful manual labor, but the owner had no right to impose or receive any money from her about which he was not sure how it had been earned. According to Rafi bin Khadij, he prohibited accepting any earnings from the slave girl unless it was known how she had earned it. (Abu Daud). Rafi bin Rifaah Ansari has reported the same command in clearer words. He says: The Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah prohibited us from accepting anything from the earnings of a slave girl except that which she earned through manual labor, such as (and he indicated this with his hand) baking bread, spinning cotton or carding wool or cotton. (Musnad Ahmad, Abu Daud). Another tradition quoted from Abu Hurairah in Abu Daud and Musnad Ahmad says that taking of money earned by a slave girl through unlawful means is prohibited. Thus the Prophet (peace be upon him) in accordance with the intention of this verse, banned by religious injunction and law all kinds of prostitution prevalent in Arabia in those days. Over and above this, the decision he gave in the case of Muazah, the slave girl of Abdullah bin Ubayy, shows that an owner who forces his slave girl into prostitution loses his rights of ownership over her. This is a tradition from Imam Zuhri, which Ibn Kathir has quoted on the authority of Musnad Abdur Razzaq.
(24:34) Verily We have sent down for you revelations that clearly expound true guidance, examples of those who passed away before you, and an admonition for those who fear (Allah).
60. This verse is not only connected with the verse immediately preceding it but with the entire discourse right from the beginning. Revelations giving clear guidance are those verses which: (1) State the law concerning zina, qazf, and lian. (2) Forbid the believers to marry
impure men or women. (3) Prohibit the slandering of chaste people and propagating indecencies in society. (4) Lay stress on men and women to restrain their gaze and guard their private parts. (5) Prescribe the limits of the Hijab for women. (6) Disapprove of the
marriageable people’s remaining unmarried. (7) Lay down the rule for slaves to earn their freedom through written agreements. (8) Ban prostitution to purify society. After all these commands and instructions, a warning is being given that now if the people violated these instructions it would only mean that they wanted to meet with the same doom as had been the lot of the wretched communities before them, whose stories have been related in the Quran itself. There could probably be no severer warning at the end of an edict. But it is a
pity that a people who profess to be believers, and recite the holy edict and hold it sacred, yet continue to defy and violate its provisions in spite of the severe warning
(24:35) Allah61 is the Light of the heavens and the earth.62 His Light (in the Universe) may be likened to a niche wherein is a lamp, and the lamp is in the crystal which shines in star-like brilliance. It is lit from (the oil) of a blessed olive tree63 that is neither eastern nor western.64 Its oil well nigh glows forth (of itself) though no fire touched it:
Light upon Light.65 Allah guides to His Light whom He wills.66 Allah sets forth parables to make people understand. that Allah knows everything.67
61. From here the discourse is directed towards the hypocrites, who were bent upon starting mischief in the Islamic community, and were as active from within as the unbelievers were from without to harm the Islamic movement and the body politic of Islam. As these people
professed belief, apparently belonged to the Muslim community, and had blood relationships with the Muslims, especially with the Ansar, they were better placed to start and spread mischief. The result was that even some sincere Muslims, due to simplicity or weakness, became tools in their hands and even their supporters. But in spite of their profession of faith, the lure of worldly gains had utterly blinded them to the light that was spreading in the world through the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The indirect address to the hypocrites here has three things in view. Firstly, to admonish them, for the first and foremost demand of Allah’s providence and His mercy is to go on admonishing the misguided and the erring one till the last in spite of his persistence in mischief and wickedness. Secondly, to differentiate clearly between belief and hypocrisy so that every right-thinking person from the Muslim community should be able to distinguish between a true believer and a hypocrite. Then if anybody, in spite of this differentiation, falls prey to the machinations of the hypocrites or supports them, he should be responsible for his conduct.
Thirdly, to warn the hypocrites clearly and plainly that Allah’s promises for the believers are meant only for those who sincerely believe and then fulfill the demands and requirements of their faith. These promises are not meant for anybody who poses himself as a Muslim. The hypocrites and the sinful people therefore should not cherish any hope that they will have any share in these.
62. The phrase heavens and the earth in the Quran is generally used for the universe. Thus the verse would also mean: Allah is the light of the whole universe.
Light is something that makes things visible; which is itself manifest and helps make other things manifest. The human mind conceives light in this very sense. The absence of light is termed darkness, invisibility, and obscurity. On the other hand, when there is visibility and things become exposed to view, the man says there is light. Allah has been called Light’ in this basic sense, and not in the sense of a beam of light that travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second and stimulates the optic nerve through the retina. This conception of light has nothing to do with the reality of the meaning for which the human mind has coined this word; rather the word light is used for all those lights which we experience in this physical world. All human words used for Allah are used in their basic sense and meaning, and not with reference to their physical connotation. For instance, when, the word sight is used with respect to Allah, it does not mean that Allah has an eye like men and animals with which He sees. Similarly, when we say that Allah hears or grips or grasps, it does not mean that He hears through ears, or grips or grasps with the hand like us. These words are used in a metaphorical sense and only a man of very poor intelligence would have the misconception that hearing or seeing or grasping is not possible except in the limited and specific sense in
which we experience it. Similarly, it will be shortsightedness to interpret the word light in the sense of physical light rays emanating from a luminous body and affecting the retina.
This word is not applicable to Allah in its limited sense but in its absolute sense. That is, He alone in this universe is the real and prime cause of manifestation, otherwise, there is nothing but darkness here. Everything which gives light and illuminates other things has received its light from Him; it has no light of its own.
The word light is also used for knowledge, and ignorance is termed darkness. Allah is the Light of the universe in this sense too, because the knowledge of reality and of right guidance can be obtained from Him alone; without having recourse to His Light, there will be nothing but the darkness of ignorance and the resultant vice and wickedness in the world.
64. Which is neither in the east nor in the west: which grows in an open plane or on a hill, where it gets sunshine from morning till evening. Such an olive tree yields the oil which gives a bright light. On the other hand, a tree that gets sunlight only from the east or only
from the west, yields thick oil which gives weak light.
65. In this parable, Allah has been likened to the Lamp and the universe to the Niche. The glass shade is the veil behind which Allah has concealed Himself from His creation. This veil is not a physical veil for concealment, but a veil caused by the intensity of divine manifestation. The human eye is unable to see Him not because of the intervening darkness but because of the intensity of the all-pervading, all-embracing Light radiating through the transparent veil. The human vision which is limited in nature cannot comprehend it. It can only comprehend and perceive limited physical lights which vary in brightness, which disappear and reappear, and Which can be perceived only by contrast to existing darkness.
But the Absolute Light has no confronting darkness. It does not vanish, it shines forth and pervades all around with ever existing glory; it is beyond human perception and comprehension.
As for the lamp which is lit with the oil of a blessed olive tree, which is neither eastern nor western, this is a metaphor to give an idea of the perfect light of the lamp and its brilliance.
In antiquity, the source of brilliant light was the olive lamps, and the most superior oil for the purpose was that obtained from a tree standing in an open and elevated place. The epithet of Lamp for Allah in the parable does trot mean that Allah is deriving His energy from some external source. It only means that the Lamp of the parable is not an ordinary lamp but the most brilliant lamp that can be imagined. Just as a brilliant lamp illuminates the whole house, so has Allah illuminated the whole universe.
Again, the words “its oil is (so fine) as if it were going to shine forth by itself though no fire touched it”, are also meant to emphasize the brilliance of the light of the lamp, which is being fed by the finest and most readily combustible oil. The olive and its being neither eastern nor western, and the high combustibility of its oil by itself (without fire), are not the essential elements of the parable, but attributes of the lamp, which is the primary element of the parable. The essential elements of the parable are only three: the Lamp, the Niche, and the transparent Glass Shade.
The sentence: His light may be likened, dispels the possible misunderstanding that one could have from the words: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. This shows that the use of the word light for Allah does not at all mean that the essence of His Being is
nothing but light. In essence, He is a Perfect Being, Who is All-Knowing, All-Powerful, All-Wise, etc. and also possessing all Light has been called Light itself because of His Perfection as a source of Light, just as somebody may be called Grace on account of his being highly
gracious and beneficent and Beauty because of his being highly beautiful and attractive.
66. That is, although Allah’s Light is illuminating the whole world, everybody does not and cannot perceive it. It is Allah alone Who blesses whomsoever He wills with the capacity for perceiving His Light and benefiting by it. Just as the day and night are alike to a blind man,
so is the case of a man without the gift of inner perception. He may see the electric light, the sunlight, the moonlight, and the light from stars, but he cannot perceive the Light of Allah.
For him, there is nothing but darkness in the universe. Just as a blind man cannot see the stone in his way unless he stumbles over it, so is the man without the gift of inner perception, who cannot perceive even those realities around him which may he all brilliance and shining by Allah’s Light. He will perceive them only when he is overtaken by the consequences of his own misdeeds.
67. This means two things: First, He knows what parable can best explain a certain reality, and secondly, He knows who is entitled to receive this bounty and who is not. Allah has no need to show His Light to the one who has no desire or longing for it and who is utterly lost in worldly pursuits and in seeking material pleasures and gains. This bounty can be bestowed only on the one who in the knowledge of Allah has a sincere desire for it.
(24:36) (Those who are directed to this Light are found) in houses which Allah has allowed to be raised and wherein His name is to be remembered: in the people glorify Him in the morning and in the evening,
68. Some commentators have interpreted these houses to mean the mosques and raising them to mean constructing and reverencing them. Some others, however, take them to mean the houses of the believers and raising them to mean raising their moral status. The words to mention His name therein seem to refer to the mosques and support the first interpretation, but if we look deeper, we see that they support the second interpretation equally well. This is because divine law does not confine worship to mosques alone as is the case with the
priest-ridden religions where the rituals can only be performed under the leadership of a clergy. In Islam, a house is also a place of worship like the mosque and every man is his own priest. As this Surah mostly contains instructions for ennobling domestic life, we feel that the second interpretation is more in keeping with the context though there is no reason for rejecting the first interpretation. There will be no harm if both the mosques and the houses of the believers are implied here.
(24:37) people whom neither commerce nor striving after profit diverts them from remembering Allah, from establishing Prayer, and from paying Zakah; people who dread the Day on which all hearts will be overturned and eyes will be petrified;
(24:38) (people who do all this so) that Allah may reward them in accordance with the best that they did; indeed He will bestow upon them more out of His Bounty, for Allah grants whomsoever He wills beyond all measure.
69. Here those characteristics have been described which are necessary for the true perception of Allah’s Absolute Light and for benefiting from His bounties. Allah does not bestow His bounties without reason. He bestows them on the deserving ones alone. He only sees this that the recipient has a sincere love for Him, stands in awe of Him, seeks His favors, and avoids His wrath; he is not lost in material pursuits but in spite of his worldly engagements keeps his heart warm with God’s remembrance. Such a person does not rest content with low spiritual levels, but actively endeavors to attain the heights towards which
his master may guide him. He does not go for the paltry gains of this transitory world but has his gaze constantly fixed on the everlasting life of the Hereafter. These are the things that determine whether or not a person should be granted the favor to benefit from Allah’s Light. Then, when Allah is pleased to bestow His bounties, He bestows them
without measure; and it will be man’s own incapacity if he does not receive them in full.
(24:39) But for those who deny the Truth, their deeds are like a mirage in the desert, which the thirsty supposes to be water until he comes to it only to find that it was nothing; he found instead that Allah was with Him and He paid his account in full. Allah is swift in settling the account.70
70. That is, they refused to accept sincerely the divine message which was brought by the Prophets, which at that time was being given by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These verses clearly show that truthful and righteous believers only can benefit from Allah’s Light. In contrast to them, the state of those people is being described
here, who refused to believe and obey the Prophet (peace be upon him), who was the real and sole means of attaining the Light of Allah.
71. This parable describes the condition of those people who, in spite of disbelief and hypocrisy, practice some good deeds and also believe, among other things, in the life after death in the hope that their good deeds will be of some help to them in the Hereafter even if they did not believe and follow the Prophet and lacked the qualities of true believers. In this parable, they are being told that their expectations of reaping the benefits of their ostentatious deeds of virtue in the Hereafter are no more than a mirage. Just as a traveler in the desert takes the glittering sands for a surging pool of water and runs towards it for quenching his thirst, so are these people traveling on the road to death cherishing false hopes on account of their good deeds. But just as the one running towards a mirage does not find anything there
to quench his thirst, so will these people find nothing to avail them when they enter the state of death. On the contrary, they will find Allah there, Who will require them to account for their disbelief, hypocrisy, and misdeeds, which they committed along with their ostentatious
deeds of virtue, and will deal with them in full justice.
(24:40) (24:40) Or its similitude is that of depths of darkness upon an abysmal sea, covered by a billow, above which is a billow, above which is cloud, creating darkness piled one upon another; when he puts forth his hand, he would scarcely see it.72 He to whom Allah assigns no light, he will have no light.73
72. This parable describes the condition of all the disbelievers and the hypocrites including those who perform good deeds for ostentation. It is being stated that such people are passing their life in a state of absolute and complete ignorance, whether they are the most learned people in the world or leaders in their respective fields of learning. They are like the man who is lost in complete darkness where no ray of light can reach him. They think that knowledge merely consists in producing atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, supersonic planes, and moon rockets, or in attaining excellence in economics and finance and law and philosophy. But they little understand that real knowledge is something entirely different and they have no idea of it. Thus considered they are just ignorant, and an illiterate peasant who has gained some acquaintance of the divine truth is wiser than them.
73. Here is stated the real object of the discourse which began with: Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. When in fact there is no light in the universe except the Light of Allah and all manifestation of reality is due to that Light, where from can the one whom
Allah does not give light as a light? There exists no other source of light from where he can receive a ray.
(24:41) Do you not see that all that is in the heavens and the earth, even the birds that go about spreading their wings in flight, extol His glory? Each knows the way of its prayer and of its extolling of Allah’s glory. Allah is well aware of whatever they do.
(24:42) Allah’s is the dominion of the heavens and the earth and to Him are all destined to return.
(24:43) Do you not see74 that it is Allah Who gently drives the clouds, then He joins them together and then turns them into a thick mass and thereafter you see raindrops fall down from its midst? And then He sends down hail from the heaven -thanks to the mountains75 – and causes it to smite whom He wills and averts it from whom He wills. The flash of His lightning almost takes away the sight.
74. As has been explained above, Allah is the Light of the whole universe, but His Light can be perceived and comprehended by righteous believers only. All other people grope about in the dark like the blind in spite of the all-pervading, all-embracing Light. Here are a few of the countless signs which guide to the Light that is being mentioned by way of example. If a person whose eyes of the heart are open, sees them, he can perceive Allah working everywhere around him at all times. But those who are blind of the heart, and can only see with the head’s eyes, can see Biology and Zoology and other sciences working in the world, but they fail to perceive and recognize Allah’s signs anywhere working in the world.
75. This may mean frozen clouds which have been called mountains in the heavens metaphorically. It may also mean the mountains of the earth which stand high in the heavens and whose snow-capped peaks cause condensation in the clouds which results in hailstorms.
(24:44) It is Allah Who alternates the night and the day. Surely there is a lesson in it for those that have sight.
(24:45) Allah has created every animal from water. Of them some move on their bellies, some move on two legs, and some on four. Allah creates whatever He wills. Surely Allah has power over everything.
(24:46) Verily We have sent down revelations that clearly explain the Truth. Allah guides whomsoever He wills to a Straight Way.
(24:47) They say: “We believe in Allah and the Messenger, and we obey,” but thereafter a faction of them turns away (from obedience). These indeed are not believers.
76. That is, their turning away from obedience itself belies their claim that they are believers and their conduct clearly shows that their profession of faith and submission was absolutely false.
(24:48) When they are called to Allah and His Messenger that he (that is, the Messenger) may judge (the disputes) among them,77 a faction of them turns away.78
77. These words clearly state that the judgment of the Prophet is the judgment of Allah and the command of the Prophet is the command of Allah. Therefore, the invitation to obey the Prophet is an invitation to obey both Allah and His Prophet. Also see (Surah An-Nisa, Ayats
59-61, and the E.Ns thereof).
78. This does not only apply to the cases which came up before the Prophet (peace be upon him) for a decision in his lifetime, but this continues valid even today. Thus, a summon from the court of a judge in an Islamic government, who judges a case in accordance with the
Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him), is actually a summon from the court of Allah and His Prophet, and the one who repudiates the judge indeed repudiates both Allah and His Prophet. This thing has been explained in a tradition related by Hasan
Basri thus: Whosoever is summoned to appear before a judge from among the judges of the Muslims but fails to appear before him, he is a transgressor and forfeits his rights. (Al-Jassas, Ahkam-ul-Quran, Vol. HI, p. 405). In other words, such a person not only renders himself
punishable but also guilty and liable to be proceeded against.
(24:49) However if the right is on their side they come to him (professing) their submissiveness.79
79. This verse states that a person who willingly accepts only that part of the divine law which serves his advantage, but rejects that which goes against his interests and desires, and prefers the worldly laws instead, is not a believer but a hypocrite. His profession of faith is
false for he does not in fact believe in Allah and His Prophet but in his own interests and desires. With this attitude even if he believes in and follows a portion of the divine law, his belief has no value whatever in the sight of Allah.
(24:50) Do their hearts suffer from the disease (of hypocrisy)? Or have they fallen prey to doubts? Or do they fear that Allah and His Messenger will wrong them? Nay, the truth is that they themselves are wrong-doers.80
80. That is, there can be only three reasons for such conduct. First, a person may not have believed at all but may only be posing as a Muslim in order to enjoy the benefits of belonging to the Muslim community. Secondly, he might have believed but may still be
having doubts about the reality of the Prophethood, revelations, life-after-death, and even the existence of Allah Himself. Thirdly, he may be a believer but might at the same time be apprehending injustice from Allah and His Prophet and considering their commands disadvantageous to him personally in one way or the other. There can be no doubt that the people belonging to any of these categories are themselves unjust. A person who, having such doubts and suspicions enters the Muslim community and enjoys undeserved benefits by posing himself as a member thereof, is indeed a deceiver, cheater, and forger. He is not only doing injustice to himself, practicing constant falsehood and developing the meanest traits of character, but he is being unjust to the Muslim people as well, who look upon him as one
of themselves merely on the basis of his verbal profession of the faith and let him enjoy all sorts of social, cultural, political and moral relations with them as such.
(24:51) When those that believe are called to Allah and His Messenger in order that he (that is, the Messenger) may judge their disputes among them, nothing becomes them but to say: “We hear and we obey.” Such shall attain true success.
(24:52) Those who obey Allah and His Messenger and fear Him and avoid disobeying Him: such, indeed, shall triumph.
(24:53) (The hypocrites) solemnly swear by Allah: “If you order us, we shall surely go forth (and fight in the cause of Allah).” Tell them: “Do not swear. The state of your obedience is known. 81 Allah is well aware of all that you do.”82
81. The verse may also mean that the obedience expected of the believers is of a recognized and well-known type, which is above every kind of suspicion, and not such as may need swearing of oaths to convince others of its sincerity. Their conduct is manifest and everybody who comes into contact with them feels that they are truly obedient to Allah and His Prophet.
82. That is, you might succeed in deceiving the people, but you cannot deceive Allah, Who is aware of everything, open or hidden, even of your innermost motives and intentions.
(24:54) Say: “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger. But if you turn away, then (know well) that the Messenger is responsible for what he has been charged with and you are responsible for what you have been charged with. But if you obey him, you will be guided to the Right Way. The Messenger has no other responsibility but to clearly convey (the command).”
(24:55) Allah has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will surely bestow power on them in the land even as He bestowed power on those that preceded them and that He will firmly establish their religion which He has been pleased to choose for them, and He will replace with security the state of fear that they are in. Let them serve Me and associate none with Me in My Divinity.8 Whoso thereafter engages in unbelief,#4 such indeed are ungodly.
83. As has been hinted at the beginning of this discourse, this means to warn the hypocrites that the promise of Allah to bestow successorship in the land is not meant for those people who are Muslims only in name, but for those who are true in faith, pious in character, sincere in devotion and who follow Allah’s religion in letter and spirit eschewing every tinge of shirk. Those who lack these qualities and pay mere lip service to Islam are neither worthy of this promise nor its addressees. Therefore they should entertain no hope of
having any share in it.
Some people interpret Khilafat (successorship in the land) to mean political power and authority and conversely conclude that whosoever possesses power and authority in the land is necessarily a true believer and a follower of Allah’s approved religion and His devotee, free from all traces of shirk. Then in order to get support for their wrong conclusion, they even change the very meanings of faith, virtue, divine creed, Allah’s worship, idolatry, etc. to suit their interpretation. This is the worst distortion of the meaning of the Quran, even worse than what the Jews and Christians did with their Scriptures. This interpretation of the verse tends to destroy the very message of the Quran. If successorship in the land were to mean mere power and authority in the land; then all those people who wielded power and authority in the world, or wield it today, would fit in with the description contained in the verse, even if they denied Allah, revelations, Prophethood, life in the Hereafter, and were involved in all kinds of major sins like usury, adultery, drinking, and gambling. Now if all such people are regarded as pious believers and considered worthy of holding the high offices because of their qualities as such, then faith would imply simple obedience to physical laws and virtue would mean making use of those laws effectively and successfully. Allah’s approved religion would mean making maximum progress in the fields of industry and trade, commerce, and politics by achieving excellence in the physical sciences; devotion to Allah would mean abiding by the rules and procedures which are naturally useful and essential for success in individual and collective enterprises, and shirk would mean adopting a few harmful methods also along with the useful procedures and rules. But the question is: Would a person who has studied the Quran with an open heart and mind ever believe that the terms faith, righteous deeds, true religion, devotion to Allah, tauhid, and shirk as used in the Quran really mean this? As a matter of fact, such a meaning can be understood either by the one who has never made an intelligent study of the Quran as a whole, but has picked up verses from here and there and given them his own biased meaning according to preconceived notions and theories, or by the one who has read the Quran through but has all along been holding all those verses as wrong and absurd, which invite people to accept Allah as the One and only Lord, His revelations as the only source of guidance, His Messengers as the only true guides worthy of absolute obedience, and which demand not only belief in the life after- death, but also state that the people who would consider success in worldly life as their sole and ultimate objective, without any idea of their accountability in the Hereafter, would be deprived of real success. The Quran has
repeated these themes so frequently in diverse ways and in such clear and plain language that it is difficult to believe that anybody who studies it honestly can ever be involved in those misunderstandings in which the modern interpreters of this verse have been involved.
The fact is that they have misconstrued Khilafat and Istikhlaf (successorship) after their own notions, which cannot be held as correct by anybody who has some knowledge of the Quran.
The Quran has used Khilafat and Istikhlaf in the following three meanings and the context determines in which particular meaning it has been used in a particular place:
(a) To bear the authority delegated by Allah. The whole human race is Allah’s Khalifah (successor) on the earth in this sense.
(b) To acknowledge Allah as the Supreme Sovereign and to use His delegated powers and authority in accordance with His law. In this sense, only a pious and righteous believer can be a Khalifah, because he alone can discharge the responsibilities of Khilafat truly. On the
another hand, a disbeliever and sinner cannot be Khalifah: he is rather a rebel against Allah, because he abuses the power and authority delegated by Allah in disobedience to Him in the land bestowed by Him.
(c) The succession of one ruling nation in the land after the fall of another nation. The meanings (a) and (b) imply vicegerency while (c) implies successorship. Both these meanings of Khilafat are well known and recognized in the Arabic lexicon.
Now anybody who reads this verse in this context cannot have any doubt that the word Khilafat has been used here for the government which discharges the responsibilities of Allah’s vicegerency strictly in accordance with Allah’s law, and not in accordance with mere physical laws of the world. That is why, not to speak of the disbelievers, even the hypocrites, who professed faith in Islam, are being excluded from the purview of Allah’s promise. That is why it is being stated that true and righteous believers only are worthy of this promise.
That is why it is being averred that the establishment of Khilafat will result in the establishment of Islam, Allah’s approved religion, on strong foundations; and that is why the condition being put forward for earning this favor is that the believers should remain steadfast in their faith and devotion to Allah avoiding every tinge of shirk. To remove this promise from its right context and apply it on the international scene to any power is sheer absurdity and nonsense. (For further details, see (E. N. 99 of Surah Al-Anbiya )also.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned here is that the direct addressees of this promise were the Muslims living in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) though indirectly it applies to the future generations of Muslims as well. When in the beginning this promise
was held out by Allah, the Muslims were living in a state of fear and Islam had not yet taken firm roots even in Hejaz. A few years later this state of fear not only gave way to peace and equanimity but Islam also spread outside Arabia to large parts of Africa and Asia, and it
became firmly established not only in its own land of birth but outside it as well. This is historical proof of the fact that Allah fulfilled His promise in the times of Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman (may Allah he pleased with them all). No right-thinking person, therefore, can
have any doubt that the Khilafat of the first three Caliphs has been authenticated by the Quran itself, and Allah Himself has testified to their being pious believers. If anybody still has a doubt, he should read the address of Ali in Nahjal Balaghah, which was meant to dissuade Umar from going personally to fight against the Iranians. He said:
Our success in this work is not dependent on numerical strength; it is the religion of Allah for which He Himself has opened ways. We are grateful to Him for His help and succor which has enabled us to serve its cause till it has been raised to its present glory. Allah Himself has said: Allah has promised to those among you, who believe and do righteous deeds that He will make them successors in the land. Allah will certainly fulfill this promise and will help the armies of Islam. The position of the Caliph in Islam is like that of the string in a necklace of pearls. If the string breaks, the pearls scatter away and the order is
destroyed. Once scattered and dispersed, it becomes difficult to collect them again. No doubt the Arabs are small in number, but they have been increased by Islam and strengthened by unity. You should therefore stick to Madinah like the pivot and make the erindstone of Arabia rotate about you and guide the war machine from here. Once you leave this place, your entire organization will begin to crumble, then you will start feeling more worried about the dangers behind than the enemies in front. Moreover, the Iranians will concentrate their whole attention on you and will like to exterminate you, taking you as the main and only hurdle in their way to victory. As for your apprehension that they have come out in much greater strength, I would say that hitherto we have been fighting them not merely on the strength of numbers, but have been putting them to rout on the strength of Allah’s help and succor. Any discerning reader can see for himself as to which side is being held by Ali as worthy of Allah’s promise with regard to successorship in the land.
84. Kufr (disbelief) here may also mean ingratitude or denial of the truth. In the first case, the verse will refer to those people who deviate from the right path after Allah has favored them with successorship, and in the second, to the hypocrites, who do not give up their hypocritical attitude even after hearing this promise of Allah.
(24:56) Establish Prayer and pay Zakah and obey the Messenger so that mercy may be shown to you.
(24:57) Do not even imagine that those who disbelieve can render Allah powerless in the land. Their abode is the Fire; what an evil abode!
(24:58) Believers!85 At three times let those whom your right hands possess and those of your children86 who have not yet reached puberty87 ask leave of you before entering your quarters: before the Morning Prayer and when you take off your clothes at noon, and after the Night Prayer. These are the three times of privacy for you.88 If they come to you at other times then there is no sin for them89 nor for you, for you have to visit one another frequently.90 Thus does Allah clearly explain His directives to you. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
85. From, here again, the commandments for social life are being resumed. It is just possible that this portion of Surah An-Noor was revealed at a later date.
86. According to the majority of commentators and jurists, this refers to both male and female slaves. Ibn Umar and Mujahid, however, have expressed the opinion that it refers to the male slaves only. But in view of the commandment that follows there appears to be no reason for making this distinction. Violation of one’s privacy by his children is as
undesirable as by his female slaves. All jurists agree that the commandment given in this verse is applicable both to the minor and to the grown-up slaves.
87. Another translation can be: Who has not yet reached the age of seeing wet dreams.
From this, the jurists have deduced the principle that in the case of boys puberty starts when they begin having nocturnal emissions. But the translation that we have adopted is preferable because the injunction is meant both for boys and girls. If nocturnal emission
is taken as the sign of attaining puberty, the injunction would be confined to boys only, because in the case of girls it is the menstrual discharge, and not nocturnal emission, which marks the beginning of puberty. In our opinion, the intention is that the children of the
house should follow this procedure till the time that they become sex conscious. After they have become sex conscious they have to follow the injunction that follows.
88. Literally aurat is a place of danger and trouble; it also means a private part of the body that one would not like to expose before others and something which is not fully secured.
All these meanings are close to each other and all are implied in the meaning of this verse. The verse means to say that these are your times of privacy when you are either alone or with your wives in a state when it is not proper for your children and servants to come in to
see you unannounced. Therefore, they should be instructed that they must take your permission before coming in to see you in your places of privacy at these three times.
89. That is, at other times than these, there is no restriction on the entry of minor children and slaves in your private rooms without permission. If on such an occasion you are not properly dressed and they enter without permission, you will have no right to take them to
the task. For, in that case, it will be your own folly to have kept yourself in an improper state at a time when you should have been properly dressed for the day’s business. However, if they enter without permission during times of privacy, the blame will lie with them provided they have been taught the necessary etiquette.
90. This is the reason for the general permission for children and slaves to come without permission at other times than those mentioned above. This throws light on a fundamental figh principle that every religious injunction is based on some wisdom or good reason,
whether it has been explained or not.
(24:59)And when your children attain puberty91 let them ask to leave to come to you like their elders used to ask leave. Thus does Allah clearly explain to you His Signs. He is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
91. That is, when they have reached the age of puberty. As has been explained in E.N. 87 above, the signs of puberty in the case of boys and girls are nocturnal emission and menstrual discharge respectively. There is, however, a difference of opinion among the jurists regarding the beginning of puberty in those boys and girls who for some reason do not show these physical signs for an unduly long time. According to Imam Shafai, Imam Abu Yusuf, Imam Muhammad, and Imam Ahmad, a boy or a girl of 15 years will be considered to have attained puberty, and a saying of Imam Abu Hanifah also supports this view. But the well-known view of Imam Abu Hanifah is that in such cases the age of
puberty will be 17 years for girls and 18 years for boys. Both these opinions are the result of juristic reasoning and neither is based on any injunction of the Quran or Sunnah. It is therefore not necessary that the age limits of 15 or 18 years be accepted as marking the beginning of puberty everywhere in the world in abnormal cases. In different countries and ages, there are different conditions for physical development and growth. The age of puberty in a certain country can be determined by means of the law of averages in normal cases. As
for abnormal cases, the mean difference of ages may be added to the upper age limit to determine the age of puberty. For instance, if in a country, the minimum and maximum ages for nocturnal discharge are normally 12 and 15 years respectively, the mean difference of one
and a half years may be added to the maximum limit of 15 years to determine the beginning of puberty for abnormal cases. The same principle can be used by the legal experts of various countries to fix the age of puberty keeping in view their peculiar local conditions.
There is a tradition quoted from Ibn Umar in support of the age of 15 years for puberty. He says: I was 14 when I presented myself before the Prophet (peace be upon him) to ask his permission to join the battle of Uhud, but he declined permission. Then on the occasion of the battle of the Trench, when I was 15, I was again presented and he permitted me to join. (Sihah Sitta, Musnad Ahmad). This tradition, however, does not stand scrutiny for the following two reasons:
(a) The battle of Uhud took place in Shawwal, 3 A.H., and the battle of the Trench in Shawwal, 5 A.H. according to Ibn Ishaq, and in Zil-Qad, 5 A.H. according to Ibn Saad. There is an interval of two years or more between the two events. Now if Ibn Umar was 14 at the time of the battle of Uhud, he could not be 15 at the time of the battle of the Trench. It may be that he mentioned 14 years for 13 years and 11 months and 15 years for 15 years and 11 months.
(b) It is a different thing to be regarded as an adult for the purposes of war and quite different to be legally an adult for social affairs. They are not necessarily interconnected.
Therefore the correct view is that the age of 15 for an abnormal boy has been fixed on the basis of analogous and juristic reasoning and not on the basis of anything in the Quran or Sunnah.
(24:60) The women who are past their youth (and can no longer bear en and do not look forward to marriage2will incur no sin if they cast off their outer garments without displaying their adornment. But if they remain modest, that is still better for them. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
92. Literally, this means those women who are no longer capable of bearing children, who no longer cherish sexual desires, and who cannot excite the passions of men.
93. Obviously it cannot mean that they should strip themselves naked. That is why all the jurists and commentators agree that it implies the outer garments which are used to hide the adornments as enjoined in (Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayat 59).
94. Tabarruj is a display and exhibitionist. When used with regard to a woman, it would imply the one who displays her charms and adornments before other men. The permission to lay aside the outer garments is being given to those old women who are no longer
interested in personal embellishments and whose sex desires are gone. But if they still have a hidden desire smoldering in their hearts and an urge to display it, they cannot avail of this permission.
(24:61) There is no blame on the blind nor any blame on the lame nor any blame on the sick nor on yourselves that you eat in your own houses, or your fathers’ houses, or your mothers’ houses, or your brothers’ houses, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your fathers’ brothers or the houses of your fathers’ sisters, or in the houses
of your mothers’ brothers, or in the houses of your mothers’ sisters or in the houses whose keys you possess, or the house of a friend.95 There is no blame if you eat together or separately.96 But when you enter such houses, greet each other with a salutation appointed by Allah, a salutation that is blessed and good. Thus, does Allah expound His signs to you in order that you will act with understanding
95. Three things are necessary to understand this verse:
(a) The verse consists of two parts: the first part relates to the sick, the lame, the blind and other handicapped people, and the second part to the other People.
(b) The moral teachings of the Quran had so thoroughly changed the Arab mind that they had become highly sensitive with regard to the distinction between the lawful and the unlawful. According to Ibn Abbas, when Allah commanded them “not to devour one another’s a property by unlawful ways” (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 29), the people became unduly cautious and would not eat freely at each other’s house; so much so that unless a formal invitation was extended, they considered it unlawful even to dine in the house of a relative
or a friend.
(c) The mention of taking meals at your own house only means to impress that taking meals at the house of a relative or a friend is just like taking meals at one’s own house, where no permission is required.
With these three things in mind, one can easily understand the meaning of the verse. It says that the handicapped person can have his meal anywhere and at any house in order to satisfy his hunger because society as a whole owes to him this privilege on account of
his handicap. As for the other people, for them, their own houses and the houses of the relatives mentioned in the verse are equally good for the purpose. No formal invitation or permission is needed to have the meals at their houses. In the absence of the master, if his wife or children offer something, it can be taken without hesitation. In this connection, it should be noted that the houses of one’s children are just like one’s own house, and friends imply close friends.
96. In ancient Arabia, some tribes had the tradition that each member sat and ate separately. Eating together in one place was considered bad as some Hindus do even today. On the contrary, some other tribes considered it bad to eat alone individually; so much so that they would even go without food if they did not have company at meals. This verse means to abolish such customs and restrictions.
(24:62) The true believers are only those who sincerely believe in Allah and in His Messenger and who, whenever they are with him on some common errand, they do not go away until they have asked leave of him. Verily those who ask leave of you, it is they who truly believe in Allah and His Messenger. So if they ask you leave in connection with some of their affairs,“ give leave to those whom you will, and ask
Allah for forgiveness on their behalf..“Surely Allah is Much Forgiving, Ever Merciful.
97. These are the final instructions being given to tighten the discipline of the Muslim community and make it more organized than before.
98. This commandment is also applicable in respect of the successors of the Prophet (peace be upon him) after him and other leaders of the Muslims. When the Muslims are called upon to get together for a common cause, whether relating to war or peace, it is not permissible for them to retreat or disperse without the due permission of the leader.
99. This contains a warning that it is absolutely unlawful to ask permission without any genuine need.
100. That is, it depends upon the Prophet or his successor after him to grant or not to grant permission even in case of a genuine need. If he deems the collective cause to be more important than the individual need of the person, he may refuse permission and a believer will not mind it.
101. This again contains a warning: If in asking permission there is even a tinge of excuse-making, or of placing individual interests above collective interests, it would be a sin. Therefore the Prophet or his successor should also pray for the forgiveness of the one whom
he gives permission.
(24:63) (Muslims!) Do not make the calling of the Messenger among you as your calling one another.12 Allah knows well those of you who surreptitiously steal away, taking shelter behind one another. Let those who go against the order (of the Messenger) beware lest a trial or severe punishment afflict them.
102. Dua means to summon, pray, and call. Dua-ar- Rasul, therefore, may mean summoning or praying by the Messenger or calling the Messenger. The verse can thus have three meanings which would all be equally correct; (a) The Prophet’s summons should not be treated as a common man’s summons, for the Prophet’s summon is of extraordinary importance, which you cannot ignore because if you fail to respond to it, or feel hesitant about it, you will be doing so at the very risk of your faith. (b) Do not consider the Prophet’s prayer as a common man’s prayer. If he is pleased with you and prays for you, there can be no greater good fortune for you. But if he is displeased with you and curses you, there can be no greater misfortune for you. (c) Calling the Prophet should not be like calling among yourselves of each other. That is, you should not call or address the Prophet just as you call and address other people aloud by their names. You should have full respect for him, because the slightest disrespect in this regard will call for Allah’s reckoning in the Hereafter.
Though all the three meanings quite fit in with the context, the first meaning is more in keeping with the theme which follows.
(24:64) Lo! Whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth belongs to Allah. He is well aware of your ways. And the Day when they will be returned to Him, He will tell them all what they did. Allah knows everything.