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Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 22

Adopted from the book: "The Light of the Holy Qur'an - Interpretation of Sura an-Nur" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani & a Group of Muslim Scholars"

22. "And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear against giving to the near of kin and the needy, and fugitives for the cause of Allah. And they should pardon and overlook. Do you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

Commentary

The Arabic word /Safaha/ means to ignore, which is more important than forgiveness. Some have said that /safh/ is a forgiveness that is without rebuke and reproof.

Some commentators have narrated an occasion of revelation for this holy verse, which shows how this verse is related to the pervious verses.

They say that this holy verse was revealed about some Companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). After the event of 'Ifk, they took an oath to withdraw their financial helps from those who were involved in that event and spread this great calumny. They decided to give them no generous succour, in anything. But this noble verse prevented them from this violation and harshness. It orders them to be forgiving and lenient.

This occasion of revelation has been quoted by QurtAbi in his commentary narrated from Ibn Abbas;and Dahhak, as well as the deceased Tabarsi, have narrated it from Ibn Abbas and other persons, and it is general.

But some Sunni commentators insist that this verse is revealed about Abi Bakr who terminated his financial help to Mastah Ibn 'Athathah, his maternal aunt's son or his sister's son, who helped to the circulation of 'Ifk. However all pronouns that are used in the verse are plural. This matter shows that a group of Muslims decided to put an end to their helps unto these wrongdoers, and this verse prohibited them from this decision.

Anyway, we know that the verses of Qur'an are not limited to occasion of revelation, and they involve all believers till Doomsday. The holy verse implicitly recommends Muslims not to be influenced by hot vehement feelings and they should not make rough and excessive decisions against wrongdoers' errors and faults.

With regard to this occasion of revelation, we return to the commentary of the verse. The holy Qur'an says:

"And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear against giving to the near of kin and the needy, and fugitives for the cause of Allah...."

This way of saying shows that a group of those who were involved in 'Ifk were from among the Emigrants in the way of Allah. They were deceived by hypocrites and because of their past records Allah did not allow them to be ostracized from Islamic society and He did not let the Muslims decide some horrible things about them that were more than the limit they deserved.

Meanwhile the Qur'anic holy phrase /la ya'til/ is whether derived from the word /'iliyyah/ (on the rhythm of /'itiyyah/), meaning to take an oath, or from the word /'alw/ (on the rhythm of 'Dalw'), meaning to abandon and to shrink. Thus, the verse, according to the first meaning, prohibits taking an oath to terminate such helps. And, according to the second meaning, the verse precludes withdrawal of such action. Then to encourage Muslims to continue such good deeds, it adds:

"... And they should pardon and overlook...."

As we expect Allah's forgiveness, we must not forget to forgive others. The verse continues saying:

"... Do you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

It is interesting that, on one hand, the companions of 'Ifk were severely reprimanded, but, on the other hand, to prevent extremists from resorting to measures beyond the norm and to control their feelings, 3 sentences, each of which is more interesting and remarkable than the others, were used: first, it is ordered to be forgiving and condoning.

Then it says: "... Do you not like that Allah should forgive you? ...", (so you must forgive). Finally, two of Allah's attributes that are 'Forgiving' and 'Merciful' are mentioned as an emphasis. It indicates that they could not be more legalistic than Allah's commandment. Allah,Who Himself has issued this judgment, is Forgiving and Merciful. He enjoined them not to terminate the helps, so what did they want to say?

Undoubtedly, all Muslims who were involved in 'Ifk affair did not have a before-hand scheme, but some pseudo-Muslim hypocrites set it and a group of deceived Muslims followed them. Certainly all of them were on the wrong side of the law and were guilty, but there were a lot of differences between these two groups. They could not be treated alike.

Anyway, the above-mentioned holy verses are today and tomorrow a great lesson for Muslims and all future generations; when some persons commit a sin or make a mistake we must not exceed in the limits of punishment.They must be excluded from Islamic society and must not be barred from helps so that they resort to enemy and become one of foes.

The above verses, in fact, portray the balance of Islamic repulsion and attraction; the verses of 'Ifk and the severe punishment of those who made false statements about people's wives compose the great power of repulsion. The verse in question, that mentions Allah's mercifulness, forgiveness, and clemency, represents the attraction!

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