The Surah Al-Hadeed
Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
What is the core
message of this Surah?
The core message of this Surah is to exhort the Muslims to
spend in the cause of Allah. It was revealed to persuade the Muslims to make
monetary sacrifices. The faith of the one who was devoid of the spirit of Islam
which is sincerity towards Allah and His religion and regarded his own self and
wealth as dearer to himself than the spirit of Islam was of little worth in the
sight of Allah.
1. One should not evade spending one's wealth for the sake of
Allah, for wealth indeed belongs to Allah. Only wealth spent in the cause of
Allah will be of any use to man.
2. Those who sacrifice their lives and expend their wealth to
further promote the cause of Islam when it is already strong cannot attain to
the rank of those who struggled with their lives and their wealth to promote and
uphold the cause of Islam when it was weak.
3. Whatever is spent for the cause of the Truth is a loan on
Allah, and Allah will not only return increasing it manifold but will also give
from Himself the best reward for it.
4. In the Aakhira (Hereafter) the Light shall be bestowed
only on those believers who would have spent their wealth in the cause of Allah.
As for the hypocrites who watched and served only their own interests in the
world will be deprived of the Light, and they will be counted among the
5. The Muslims should not follow the footsteps of those
followers of the earlier Books, who worshipped the world and whose hearts have
become hardened with the passage of time. One cannot be a believer whose heart
does not melt at the remembrance of Allah and does not submit to the Truth sent
down by Him.
6. The sincere champions of the Truth and the true witnesses
of the Faith in the sight of Allah are only those believers who spend their
wealth in His way sincerely, without any desire of show off.
7. The life of this world is short and transient, like the
crop which thrives and blossoms, then turns pale and then finally is reduced to
chaff. The everlasting life is in the Aakhira. Therefore, if one has to vie with
another for something, one should strive for Jannah (Paradise).
8. Whatever good man enjoys and whatever hardship he suffers
in this world, are pre-ordained by Allah. A true believer neither loses heart in
affliction nor prides with haughtiness in good times. Whereas a hypocrite
behaves arrogantly and shows miserliness when called upon to spend in the cause
of the same Allah Who blessed him, and also advocates others to be stingy like
9. Allah sent His Messengers with clear signs and the Book
and the Law of Justice so that the people may adhere to justice; besides, He
sent down iron also so that power may be used to establish the Truth and
vanquish falsehood. Allah likes to see who would rise to support and succor His
true Religion even at the risk of their lives.
10. From the preaching of Allah's Prophets some people
adopted the Right Path, but most of them persisted in wickedness. Then the
Prophet Jesus came, whose teachings brought many moral improvements in the lives
of the people, but his community invented monasticism.
1 b. What kind of
subjects are discussed in this Surah and their relationship within the Surah
especially the last section of the Surah needs elaboration in which the
followers of Jesus are discussed.
The subjects that are discussed in this Surah are Attributes
of Allah; Belief in Allah and His messengers; Charity. Charitable men and women
have loaned Allah a loan of goodness and they will receive their
reward-multiplied manifold. This worldly life is a temporary illusion and
Paradise awaits those who believed in Allah and His messengers. Allah sent iron,
which has strength and many benefits for the people. Allah granted descendants
of Noah and Abraham Prophethood and the scripture. Some of them were guided
while many were wicked. Jesus, the son of Mary was given Injeel (Gospel) and his
followers were endowed with kindness and mercy. But they invented monasticism,
which Allah never decreed over them. They were asked to uphold the commandments
approved by Allah. But they did not uphold the message, as they should have.
Those who believed were given their recompense, while many of them were wicked.
Believers should reverence Allah and believe in His messenger. Allah will double
their reward from His mercy, will guide them and forgive them. The followers of
previous scripture should know that they have not monopolized Allah's mercy and
grace as Allah bestows it upon whomever He Wills.
The followers of Jesus dealt affectionately with the
creatures of Allah and they were also loving with one another among themselves.
Onward the followers of Jesus had invented an innovation(Bidat)
Ruhbaniyat(Monasticism), i.e. renunciation of the world, but this renunciation
was not prescribed by Allah upon them, but their intention was to seek the good
pleasure of Allah, however, they did not observe it as it should have been
observed."1 The example of the followers of Jesus has been cited to
show that the adoption of an extreme course by them, with howsoever good
intentions, led them to deviate from the goal they had sought to attain. They
invented the institution of monkery (monasticism) in order, as they thought, to
seek the pleasure of Allah, and in conformity with, according to them, Jesus's
own teaching and practice. The adage that the road to heaven is paved with good
intentions was never better illustrated than in the case of Christians for whom
monasticism proved a source of many evils. They started with monasticism and
ended with giving themselves up to the worship of Mammon.
2. a. Explanation of
Asmaa ul Husnaa attributes of Allah with reference to the subject of
Surah Ash-Shu'raraa 26.
The disbelieves of Makkah were persistently refusing to
accept the message of Islam given by the Noble Prophet as they wanted to see a
Sign which makes them bow their heads in humility. The seeker after Truth does
not have to look far for a Sign. The Signs are the natural phenomena, which
abound around him. In this Surah in verse 7, Allah gives the Sign of the
creation of a variety of fine vegetation in abundance. "This surely has a Sign,
but most of them would not believe. The fact is that your Lord is Mighty as well
as Merciful." (26:8-9; 67-68; 103-104; 121-122; 139-140; 158-159; 174-175;
190-191;). Allah is so Powerful ('Aziz) that He could send chastisement at once
at their misbehaving, but He is very Merciful (Raheem) and not an awesome
and terrifying being and delays in sending rebuke perhaps they may come to
believe some day in near future. Here Allah's attributes are mentioned in pair,
that on the one hand He is 'Aziz, i.e. Mighty enough to punish the
wrong-doers; and on the other he is Raheem, i.e. Merciful, so that the
righteous followers will ultimately be spared from the punishment to be
inflicted on the wrong doers.
Allah had created man to demonstrate in his person His great
attributes (Asmaa ul Husnaa) and in order that he should respond to the
Divine Call. The term Asmaa ul Husnaa refers to the highest attributes of
Allah the Almighty, which show His excellence and supremacy overall, and befit
Him alone. The Surah particularly deals with the Divine attributes, Latif
(Benignant), Sami' (Hearing), Malik (King) and Raheem
(Merciful), and gives sound and solid arguments and reasons to prove that Allah
is Holy, He hears the prayers of His creatures, He is Merciful and He is the
King and Ruler of the whole universe.
Allah is All Mighty, All-Powerful and All-Merciful at the
same time. History contains instances of His Wrath as well as His Mercy. Hence
it is for the people to decide whether they would like to deserve Allah's Mercy
or His Wrath. Allah wants that people should recognize the Truth through the
verses of the Divine Book and the Signs, which are scattered all over the
universe and are found, even in their own-selves. Allah has bestowed upon man
free will and freedom to follow right or wrong. Those who follow the path of
piety, belief and obedience receive Allah's Mercy and those who follow the path
of sin, and evil will receive Allah's Wrath, as Allah is Mighty as well as
Merciful. This Surah gives instances of Prophets Abraham, Noah, Hud, Salih, Lot
and Shu'aib, and how their people rejected the Divine message and were punished,
because it is the invariable law of Allah that the arrogant and the wicked
disbelieves are punished for their rejection of truth.
2 b. Generally Asmaa ul Husnaa
are mentioned in pairs throughout the Qur'an. What possible wisdom can one
develop from this pattern.
The mention of Divine Attributes of Allah Almighty gives man
the feeling that he has not to deal with an ordinary being but with Almighty
Allah Who has such and such attributes. In the Qur'an these beautiful names of
Allah have been mentioned here and there, and in the Hadith 99 names of
that Exalted and Pure Being have been enumerated, which Tirmidhi and
Ibn Majah have related on the authority of hadrat Abu Hurairah.
Allah alone is 'Aziz(All-Mighty) and Hakim(All-Wise).
In the Qur'an Allah's attribute of 'Aziz(All-Mighty) has been accompanied
by His attributes of being Qawi(Strong), Muqtadir (Powerful),
Jabbar(Omnipotent), Dhuntiqam(Avenger) and the like, which only
signify His absolute power, and this has been so only in places where the
context demanded that the wicked and disobedient be warned of Allah's relentless
punishment. Wherever the word 'Aziz has been used for Allah, it has
everywhere been accompanied by one or other of His attributes of being Hakim(Wise),
Alim(Knower), Raheem(Merciful), Ghafoor(Forgiving), Wahhab(Generous)
and Hamid (Praiseworthy). The reason is that if an individual who wields
un-limited power is at the same time foolish, ignorant, un-forgiving as well as
stingy and devoid of character, that individual's power and authority cannot but
lead to injustice and wickedness.2
In the Glorious Qur'an Allah's attribute of 'Aziz has
necessarily been accompanied by His attributes of being All-Wise and Knowing,
Compassionate and Forgiving, Praiseworthy and Generous, so that man may know
that Allah Who is ruling this universe has, on the one hand, such absolute power
that no one, from the earth to the heavens, can prevent His decrees from being
enforced, but, on the other, He is also All-Wise: His each decision is based on
perfect wisdom; He is also All-Knowing: whatever decision He makes, He makes it
precisely according to knowledge; He is also Compassionate: He does not use
infinite power mercilessly. He is Forgiving as well: He does not punish His
creatures for insignificant offenses, but forgives their errors; He is also
Generous: He does not treat His subjects stingily, but liberally and
benevolently; and He is also Praiseworthy: He combines in Himself all
praiseworthy virtues and excellences.
THE FOLLOWING ARE EXPLANATORY NOTES AND NOT
PART OF THE LECTURE
By implication the
Muslims were told that because a great Prophet had been raised for them, by
following whom they would be given great worldly power and wealth, they should
not go to the other extreme and give themselves up to the pursuit of material
gains and physical pleasures. While monasticism has been decried and deplored as
repugnant to human nature, the Noble Prophet also is reported to have said:
there is no monasticism in Islam (Ibn Athir). Islam is not a religion for
dreamers and visionaries who live in a world of their own conception, entirely
divorced from the hard realities of life, but is a practical system which gives
effective and full guidance in mundane as well as spiritual affairs. It has not
left any aspect of crowded human life for which it has not laid down practical
guidance. There is no place in Islam for such an impracticable teaching as "take
no thought for the morrow"(Matt. 6:34). It emphatically enjoins a Muslim "to
look to what he sends forth for the morrow"(59:19). According to Islam a true
Muslim is one who discharges fully and completely the obligations he owes to his
fellow-beings(Haquuq al Ibaad) as he discharges those he owes to his
History of Christian
For about 200 years after Prophet Jesus(peace be upon him)
the Christian Church did not know anything about monasticism. The basis of
monasticism is to look upon asceticism as a moral ideal and to regard celibacy
as superior to matrimonial and mundane life. Historically the spread of
monasticism has three main causes:
First, in the ancient polytheistic society sensuality,
immorality and materialism had so permeated that in their zeal to nullify it the
Christian scholars adopted the extremist way instead of the way of moderation.
They so stressed chastity that the relationship between man and woman by itself
came to be looked upon as filthy, even if it was within marriage. To possess
property of any kind was considered a sin for a religious person and to live
like a poor man and ascetic the criterion of moral excellence. They made
withdrawal from pleasure and all material comforts self-denial and curbing of
the desires the object of morality and regarded torturing the body by different
sorts of harsh discipline as the climax and proof of a person's spirituality.
Secondly, when Christianity started achieving successes and
spreading rapidly among the common people, the Church in its zeal to attract
more and more adherents went on imbibing every evil that was prevalent in
society. Thus, saint-worship replaced the ancient deities. Images of Christ and
Mary began to be worshipped instead of the idol of Horus and Isis. Christmas
took the place of Saturnalia.
Christian monks began to practice every kind of occult art
like curing the sick by amulets and magic incantations, taking omens and
fortune-telling, driving out spirits, etc., as were prevalent in ancient days.
Likewise, since the common people looked upon a dirty and naked person who lived
in a cave or den as a holy and godly man, this very concept of sainthood became
prevalent in the Christian Church, and legends of their miraculous powers began
to abound in the memoirs of the Christian saints.
Thirdly, the Christian possessed no detailed law and definite
traditions and practices to determine the bounds of religion. They had given up
the Mosaic Law. The Gospel by itself afforded no perfect code of guidance. Hence
the Christian theologians went on permitting every kind of innovation to enter
the religion partly under the influence of alien philosophies, customs and
practices and partly under their personal preference and whim. Monasticism was
one such innovation. They took their philosophy and rules and practices from the
Buddhist monks, Hindu Yogis and ascetics, Egyptian Anchorites, Iranian
Manicheans, and the followers of Plato and Plotinus, and made the same the means
and methods of attaining self-purification, spiritual loftiness and nearness to
Allah. Those who committed this error were not ordinary men. From the 3rd to the
7th century (i.e., till about the time the Qur'an began to be revealed) the
religious personalities who were recognized as the foremost scholars and
religious guides and leaders of Christendom, both in the East and in the
West-St.Athanasius, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St.
Gregory the Great-
all were monks
themselves and great upholders of monasticism. it was under their influence that
monasticism became popular in the Church.
The basic rules of Christian Monasticism are derived from the
writings and instructions of St.Anthony (25-350 AD) of Egypt who is regarded as
the father of Christian Monasticism. Afterwards monasticism spread like a deluge
in Egypt and monasteries for monks and nuns were set up everywhere in the land.
In some monasteries three thousand monks lived at a time. The monastic movement
then began to spread in Palestine and Syria and in different countries of Africa
and Europe. In the beginning the Christian Church accepted relinquishment of the
world, celibacy and voluntary poverty as an ideal of spiritual life, however it
could not declare marriage, begetting children and possessing property or wealth
to be sinful as the monks did. Subsequently under the influence of early saints
such as St. Athanasius (d. 373 AD), St. Basil (d.379 AD), St. Augustine (d. 430
AD), and Gregory the Great (d. 609 AD) many of the monastic rules became part
and parcel of the Church.
The monastic innovation has some characteristics, which are
(1) Inflicting pain on the body by severe exercises and novel
methods. In this act every monk tried to surpass the other.
St. Macarius of
Alexandria constantly carried with him a weight of 80 pounds and for six months
he slept in a swamp while poisonous flies preyed on his naked body. His
disciple, St. Eusebius carried a weight of 150 pounds and lay in a dry well for
three years. St. Bessarion lay in thorny bushes for 40 days and did not rest his
back on the ground for 40 years. St. John remained standing in worship for three
years during which he neither sat nor lay down; he would only recline at times
against a rock. St. Simeon Stylites (390-449 AD) spent last 30 years of his life
on a 60 foot high pillar and remained permanently exposed to the elements. When
he died the Christian world proclaimed that he was the best model of a Christian
saint. One saint remained silent for 30 years. Some lived in the dens of beasts,
or in dry wells, or in old graves; and some other remained naked and concealed
their private parts under long hair and would crawl on the ground. After death
their bones were preserved in monasteries.
(2) They remained dirty and strictly avoided cleanliness and
bodily care. A famous nun, Virgin Sylvia, never allowed any part of her body
except the fingers to become we with water throughout life.
(3) Monasticism practically forbade married life and
ruthlessly abandoned the institution of marriage. All religious writings of the
fourth and fifth centuries are filled with the thought that celibacy is the
highest moral virtue. Chastity meant that one should strictly abstain from
sexual relation even if it was between husband and wife. The perfection of a
pure spiritual life lay in complete self-denial, with no desire for physical
pleasure. It was indispensable to suppress any carnal desire because it
strengthened animality. For them pleasure and sin were synonymous. St. Basil
forbade even laughing and smiling. Marriage was considered as filthy. A monk was
forbidden even to look at a woman, and was required to abandon his wife, if he
was married. Women were asked to shun marriage and remain spinsters, and if they
were married, they should separate from their husbands. St. Jerome, the
distinguished Christian scholar, ruled that the woman who remained a spinster as
a nun for the sake of Christ, was the bride of Christ, and her mother was the
mother-in-law of Christ, i.e., God. Hence many Christian saints abandoned their
spouses as there was no provision for divorce. As a result married monks were
having "illicit" relations with their wives in private. They were asked to meet
their wives only in the presence of at least two other men and they should sleep
in the open.
(4) The most painful and pathetic chapter of ascetic
monasticism is that it cut asunder man's relations with his parents, with his
brothers and sisters, and even his own children. Because love for family members
was sinful. They believed it was necessary for man to break off all those
relations for the sake of spiritual progress.
After 27 years the mother of St. Simeon Stylites came to see
him in a monastery, but was not allowed to enter being a woman. The son refused
to go out and meet her. The woman lay at the entrance for three days and three
days night and finally breathed her last. Then the holy man emerged from his
seclusion, mourned his mother's death and prayed for her forgiveness. The same
way they treated their sisters and children. The viewpoint of Christian
monasticism in these matters was that the one who sought love of God, should
break off all relations of human love that bound him in the world of his
parents, his brothers and sisters, and his children. Of a nun it is said that
for three days after her death, she remained subject to a torment because she
had not been able to cleanse her heart of her mother's love. About a saint it is
written that he never treated anyone harshly except his relatives.
(5) With practices like these, they made their human feeling
dead, with the result that they would treat with utmost enmity those with whom
they had any religious differences. In the beginning of 4th century, there arose
80 - 90 sects in Christianity, each of which regarded the other with extreme
hatred. Alexandria was a great center of this sectarian conflict. There, in the
beginning the Bishop of the Arian sect attacked the Athnasius party. Virgin nuns
were dragged out of their convents, stripped naked and beaten with thorny
branches and branded in order to make them give up their creed. Then, when the
Roman Catholics came to power in Egypt, they treated the Arian sect likewise; so
much so that according to the prevalent view Arius himself also was poisoned.
Once in the city of Alexandria the monks of St. Cyril created turmoil. They
seized a nun of the opponent sect and took her into the church; they killed her,
hacked her body to pieces, and cast them into the fire. Rome was not any
different from this. In 366 A.D, at the death of Pope Liberius, two sects
nominated their respective candidates for papacy. This resulted in great
bloodshed. In one day 137 dead bodies were taken out from one church.
(6). Although they retreated from the world and lived a life
of seclusion and poverty, but at the same time they amassed the wealth of the
world most avariciously. In the beginning of 5th century the condition was that
the Bishop of Rome lived in his palace like a king, and when his carriage
emerged in the city, it would be as stately and splendid as of the emperor
himself. St. Jerome complained that the feast hosted by many of the bishops
out-classed the feasts of the governors. The flow of wealth to monasteries and
churches had assumed the proportions of a deluge by the beginning of the 7th
century(the age of the revelation of the Qur'an). A person who happened to
commit a grave sin could be redeemed only by making an offering at a saint's
shrine, or a sacrifice at the altar of a church or monastery. Common people
developed extreme reverence for the monks because of their self-discipline and
Taking advantage of this, hosts of world seeking people also
donned the monk's garments and entered their ranks. Then under the garb of
feigned poverty they turned acquisition of worldly wealth and possessions into a
(7) Monasticism was repeatedly was defeated in the matter of
chastity and in its fight against nature. In the monasteries some exercises of
self-mortification were such that the monks and nuns were required to live
together in one and the same place, and they had often to pass the night in the
same bed in their enthusiasm for more and more temptations. St. Evagarius, the
well-known monk, has praised the self-control acquired by the Palestinian monks,
saying: "They had mastered their passion so completely that although they bathed
with the women together, looked at their bodies, touched them, even embraced
them, yet they remained invincible to nature." Albeit bathing was an abhorrent
thing in monasticism, such baths were also taken for the same of exercise in
self-control. Finally, about the same Palestine, St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. 396
AD) writes that it has become a center of wickedness and immorality. Human
nature avenges itself on those who fight it. Monasticism fought it and
ultimately fell in the pit of immorality, the story of which is a most shameful
blot on the religious history of the 8th to 11th centuries. An Italian bishop of
the 10th century writes: " If the penal law for misconduct is practically
enforced against those who perform religious services in the church, none would
escape punishment except the boys, and if the law to remove illegitimate
children from religious services was also enforced, there might perhaps be left
no boy among the attendants of the church." Books of the medireview authors are
filled with complaints that the nunneries had become houses of prostitution.
Within their four walls new-born babies were massacred; the priests and
religious attendants of the church had developed illicit connections even with
forbidden relatives; the crime of the unnatural act had spread like epidemic in
the monasteries; and the practice of confession had become a means of immorality
in the churches.
From these details one can fully appreciate what corruption
of Christianity is the Qur'an alluding to when it says: "The Christians
themselves invented monasticism, but they did not observe it as it should have
been observed." (57:27).
Thus, wherever injustice and wickedness is being committed in
the world, it is only because the one who wields authority over others, is
either using his power un-wisely and foolishly, or he is merciless and
hard-hearted, or evil-minded and wicked. Wherever power is coupled with these
evil traits of character, no good can be expected to result.
The full importance of this statement of the Qur'an can be
better understood by those people who are aware of the philosophy of politics
and law on the question of sovereignty. Sovereignty connotes that the one who
possesses it should wield unlimited power: there should be no internal and
external power to change or modify his decision or prevent it from being
enforced, and none should have any alternative but to obey him. At the mere
concept of this infinite and un-limited power, man's common-sense necessarily
demands that whoever attains to such power, should be faultless and perfect in
knowledge and wisdom, for if the one holding this power is ignorant, merciless
and evil, his sovereignty will inevitably lead to wickedness and corruption.
That is why the philosophers who regarded a single man, or a man-made
institution, or an assembly of men as the holder of this power, have had to
presume that he or it would be infallible. But obviously, neither can unlimited
sovereignty be actually attained by a human power, nor is it possible for a
king, or a parliament, or a nation, or a party that it may use the sovereignty
attained by it in a limited circle faultlessly and harmlessly. The reason is
that the wisdom that is wholly free of every trace of folly, and the knowledge
that fully comprehends all the related truths, is not at all possessed even by
entire mankind, not to speak of its being attained by an individual or an
institution, or a nation. Likewise, as long as man is man, his being wholly free
of and above selfishness, sensuality, fear, greed, desires, prejudice and
sentimental love, anger and hate is also not possible. If a person ponders over
these truths, he will realize that the Qur'an is indeed presenting here a
correct and perfect view of sovereignty. It says that no one except Allah in
this universe is possessor of absolute power, and with this unlimited power He
alone is faultless, All-Wise and All-Knowing, Compassionate and Forgiving, and
Praiseworthy and Generous in His dealings with His subjects.