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Interpretation of Sura an-Nur - Verses 11-14 - The Scandal against Ayeshah 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"

About the accusation against Ayeshah when she had been left behind by the caravan

11.“Verily those who brought forward the lie are a band of you. Do not regard it an evil to you; nay, it is good for you. Unto every man of them will be paid that which he has earned of the sin; and as for him among them who had the greater part therein, he shall have a grievous chastisement.”

12. “Why did not the believers, men and women, when you heard of it, think well of themselves; and say: ’This is a manifest lie’?”

13. “Why did they not bring four witnesses about it? But since they have not brought witnesses, they are liars before Allah.”

14. “And had it not been Allah's and grace His mercy on you in the world and the Hereafter, a grievous chastisement would certainly have touched you on account of the discourse which you entered into.”

The Adventure of ’Ifk, (a Great Slander)

It is understood from all the verses 11-16 that an innocent person was accused of unchaste act at the descending of these verses, and this rumour was spread throughout the society.

When a group of hypocrites, who were apparently Muslim, also wanted to use this event maliciously for causing Islamic society harm and for the sake of their own interest and weakening the common reputation of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), these verses were sent down and so this incident was dealt with in an unprecedented resoluteness. And so the insulting astray-goers and sinister hypocrites were firmly suppressed.

The holy Qur’an, without mentioning the main phenomenon in this verse, says:

“Verily those who brought forward the lie are a band of you....”

Then it commiserates the believers who were very annoyed by accusing a pure person of such an evil act, by saying:

“... Do not regard it an evil to you; nay,it is good for you. ...”

By means of it, the evil intentions of some of defeated enemies and undiscerning hypocrites were uncovered and these outwardly good persons who were of a bad character, were disgraced. Possibly if this event had not occurred and they had still remained unknown, they would have attacked more severely and dangerously in the future.

This event taught the Muslims a lesson that following rumourmongers will cause them lose every thing. They must firmly resist this matter.

Then, two points are mentioned in the remaining part of the verse. At first, it says:

“... Unto every man of them will be paid that which he has earned of the sin; ...”

It indicates that the great responsibility of those who led and found a sin would never prevent the responsibility of others, but every person is as responsible for a sin as he participates and shares in a conspiracy.

For the second step, the verse continues saying:

“... and as for him among them who had the greater part therein, he shall have a grievous chastisement.”

Commentators say that this person was ‘Abdullah Ibn ’Abi Maslul, who was the chief person of ’Ifk companions. Some others have also mentioned Mastah Ibn ’Ithamah and Hassan Ibn Thabit as the referent of this concept.

Anyway, the one who was more active than others and set off the flames of ’Ifk and is considered as the leader of the group will be imposed with a punishment as great as his sin is great.

Then, in the next verse, the believers who were deceived in this affair and were influenced by this group are severely reprimanded through a few verses. At first, it says:

“Why did not the believers, men and women, when you heard of it, think well of themselves; and say: this is a manifest lie?”

It means those why believers did not think good of other believers, who are as their own selves, when they heard hypocrites’ words about their faithful persons, and why they did not say that it was a great and manifest slander.

They knew the evil and notorious background of these hypocrites. They were certain out of various contexts that such an accusation was impossible. They were well aware of that accused person’s chastity. They knew the plots which were planned and were carried out against the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Nevertheless, they must be reprimanded that they heard such false rumours and they remained silent, the worse was when they consciously or unconsciously spread it!

It is interesting that instead of asking believers to think good of the one who is accused of this calumny, it says they must think well of themselves. This way of speaking means that believers are of one essence, and if one of them is accused, it is as though all of them were accused. They are like the limbs of each other, if world brings harm to one of the limbs, the other limbs do not stay calm and indifferent. As one is to defend himself against accusations, one must defend his religious female and male brothers.

The use of the word /’anfus/, in such cases, also is seen in other verses of the holy Qur’an, including Sura Al-Hujurat No. 49, verse 12 which says: “... and find not fault with your own selves ...”. And that its emphasis is put on ‘ the believers, men and women’ shows that Faith is a quality that can prevent evil thinking and suspicions.

Up to now those believers were spiritually and morally reprimanded and rebuked, because on the whole it was not its time for the believers to be silent against that evil calumny or to be puppet of benighted rumourmongers.

Then, in this verse the subject is judicially paid attention, where it says:

“Why did they not bring four witnesses about it? But since they have not brought witnesses, they are liars before Allah.”

This reprimand shows that the commandment of producing four witnesses as well as ‘Qathf punishment’, if witnesses are not produced, had been revealed before the verses of ‘Ifck’.

But,why the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) did not proceed to carry out this prescribed punishment is clearly answered. If people do not cooperate, the execution of such an affair is not possible, because tribal bigoted relationships sometimes make negative resistances to be temporarily brought about against carrying out some judgments. This event, as the history indicates, happened in the same way.

Finally,all these reprimands are concluded in the next holy verse, when it says:

“And had it not been Allah's and grace His mercy on you in the world and the Hereafter, a grievous chastisement would certainly have touched you on account of the discourse which you entered into.”

With regard to the matter that the Qur’anic word /’afadtum/is derived from the word /’ifadah/, meaning pouring water out increasingly, and it is also sometimes used to mean sinking into water, it is understood froni this phrase that the rumour of such a calumny spread so much that it also enveloped all believers.

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