Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verse 62 - Not to act without Apostle's Permission Commentary
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"
None to act without the Apostle's permission - The Apostle (Muhammad's) call is not like the call of any one else - Everything in the Universe belongs only to Allah
62. "Only these are the (true) believers who believe in Allah and His messenger and, when they are with him on a matter requiring collective action, they go not away until they have asked leave of him. Verily those who ask leave of you, are they who believe in Allah and His Messenger. So, if they ask your leave for some affair of theirs,give leave to whom you please of them, and ask forgiveness of Allah for them. Verily Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
Occasion of revelation
In commentaries there are many things mentioned about the occasion of revelation of this verse that we present to you some of them:
1. Some say that this verse is about Hanzaleh in whose wedding night the commandment of holy war was issued. He took permission from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to go home for doing the ceremony of wedding night. Because of shortage of time, he went to battle-field without taking legal bath and then he became martyr. The holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Angles did bathe him." After sleeping only that night with his wife, Allah gave Hanzaleh a child whose history is lengthy. 146
2. Some other commentators say that this verse is about the hypocrites who performed ritual prayer when they were with people and if no one saw them and they were alone, they did not perform ritual prayer. 147
3. A group of commentators say that this verse is about some persons who were ordered by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to do a job, but they did their personal jobs.
4. Some say that this verse is about those Muslims who were busy digging a moat and took permission from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) for visiting their family.
Being with godly leader for helping him and solving problems is the sign of faith, and leaving him alone is the sign of hypocrisy and weakness of faith. In social life, the existence of a leader and following him is necessary.
How this verse is related to other previous verses, some commentators, including the deceased Tabarsi in Majma'ul-Bayan and the writer of Fi Zilal, have said that because the previous verses talked about the way of association with friends and relatives, the current verse talks about the way of Muslims' association with their leader and puts emphasis on observing regulations before him so that they obey him in every thing, and, even in many important affairs, without his permission they should not leave the group.
Another probability is that: in some former verses the necessity of obeying Allah and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was mentioned and one of its conditions was that without his permission Muslims should not do anything, therefore, the verse under discussion talks about this matter.
Anyway, in the beginning of the verse it says:
"Only these are the (true) believers who believe in Allah and His messenger and, when they are with him on a matter requiring collective action, they go not away untilthey have asked leave of him...."
The purpose of the Qur'anic phrase: /'amrin Jami'/ (some common errand) is any important affair that necessities gathering of people and their cooperation and help, whether this issue is a crucial matter of consultation or a matter of holy war and fighting with foe, or Friday prayer in very critical conditions, and such like. Therefore, if we see that some commentators interpreted it as consultation about holy war or Friday prayer and feast prayer, we must say that they have referred to some part of the meaning of the verse, and the previous occasions of revelation are the extensions of this general ordinance.
This is in fact a disciplinary order or command that no united group or society can ignore it, because in such conditions, the absence of one person can cost a bomb and harms the ultimate aim, especially when the chief of the group is Allah's messenger and a sagacious, influential spiritual leader.
Paying attention to this matter is important that the purpose of taking permission is not that everyone takes permission superficially and goes after his own job, but he must really take permission; that is, if the leader sees that his absence is insignificant, he permits him to go, otherwise, he must not go and sometimes he must forfeit his personal and private job to a more important aim.
Thus, following this matter, the Qur'an adds implying that those who ask you permission and their belief in Allah and His Messenger is not a mere oral one, but they obey you and Allah's commandment with their soul and spirit, then give them leave. The verse says:
"... Verily those who ask leave of you, are they who believe in Allah and His Messenger. So, if they ask your leave for some affair of theirs, give leave to whom you please of them,..."
It is clear that such faithful persons have gathered for an important affair and they would not take permission for a trivial matter; and the purpose of the holy phrase /sa'nihim/, mentioned in this verse, is some important and necessary jobs.
On the other hand, the will of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) does not mean he issued permission without considering conditions and consequence of individuals' absence, but this means that the leader is free to prevent people from going away if he thinks that their presence is vital.
The evidence of this matter is verse 43 of Sura At-Taubah, No.9 in which the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was reprimanded for giving permission to some persons, where it says: "May Allah pardon you! Why did you give them leave before you had found out those who spoke the truth and before you had known the liars?" This verse shows that even the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) must be careful in giving permission to individuals and he must count the cost and he is divinely responsible.
In the end of the verse, concerning when giving them permission, it says: "... and ask forgiveness of Allah for them. Verily Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
Now the question is that why forgiveness. Were they still wrongdoers while they asked the permission of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? There are two ways for answering this question: first, although they were allowed to their jobs, they gave more priority to their personal and private jobs than Muslims' common job and this was not free from a kind of leaving the better 148 and, therefore, they needed forgiveness (like asking forgiveness for a disapproved action).
Moreover, this matter shows that Muslims must not ask permission as much as possible and they must be altruistic and benevolent, because after taking permission their action is abandonment of what is primary, lest trivial matters are considered as excuses of leaving important jobs and works.
The other matter is that they deserve Allah's favour, because of their politeness toward their leader, and the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) asks Allah's forgiveness as thanking them. 149
Anyway these two answers are not inconsistent, and both of them may be the purpose of the verse.
Of course, these two very important Islamic disciplinary commands are not limited to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his companions, but this is true about all Devine leaders including prophet, Imam and the scholars who are their successors to observe them, for the issue of Muslims' destiny and Islamic society is under consideration in it. Even, in addition to the commandment of the glorious Qur'an, it is based on reason and logic, for no organization and group remains without observing this principle, and correct management is impossible without it.
It is really strange that some famous Sunni commentators consider this holy verse as an evidence for exertion and leaving the judgment to religious jurist's opinion, but it must be said that the exertion that is mentioned in the discussions of fundamental dogmas and jurisprudence is about religious ordinances and not about subjects. No one can reject exertion in subjects and the opinion of every commander and every chief and manager in deciding about executive issues is respected, but this does not mean that we can use independent reasoning in general ordinances of religion and reject or enact an ordinance according to the benefit and interest.
146. Al-Mazan, the Commentary
148. The commentary of Fakhr-i-Raza, Rah-ul-Bayan, and Qurtaba, following the verse under discussion
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