The Surah derives its name Al-Ahzab from verse 20.
Period of Revelation
The Surah discusses three important events which are: the Battle
of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Clans), which took place in
Shawwal, A. H. 5; the raid on Bani Quraizah, which was made
in Dhil-Qa'dah, A. H. 5; and the Holy Prophet's marriage with
Hadrat Zainab, which also was contracted in Dhil-Qa'dah, A.
H. 5. These historical events accurately determine the period
of the revelation of this Surah.
The Islamic army's setback in the Battle of Uhud (A. H. 3)
that resulted from the error of the archers appointed by the
Holy Prophet so boosted up the morale of the Arab pagans and
the Jews and the hypocrites that they started entertaining
the hope that they would soon be able to exterminate Islam
and the Muslims completely.
Their high state of morale can be judged from the events that
occurred in the first year after Uhud. Hardly two months had
passed then the tribe of Bani Asad of Najd began to make preparations
for a raid on Madinah, and the Holy Prophet had to despatch
an expedition under Abu Salamah to counteract them. In Safar
A. H. 4 some people of the tribes of Adal and Qarah asked the
Holy Prophet to send some men to instruct them in Islam.
Accordingly six of the Companions were allowed to accompany
them for the purpose. But when they reached Raji (a place between
Rabigh and Jeddah), they summoned Hudhail against them, who
killed four of the Companions, and took the other two (Hadrat
Khubaib bin Adi and Hadrat Zaid bin ad-Dathinnah) to Makkah
and sold them to the enemy. Then in the same month of Safar,
on the request of a chief of Bani Amir, the Holy Prophet sent
another deputation of 40 (according to others, 70) preachers,
consisting of the Ansar young men, to Najd. But they were also
The people of Usayyah and Ri'l and Dhakwan, tribes of Bani
Sulaim, surrounded them suddenly at Bir Maunah and slew all
of them. Meanwhile the Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir of Madinah,
getting encouragement, continued to commit breaches of the
treaties; so much so that in Rabi'ul Awwal, A.H. 4, they plotted
against the life of the Holy Prophet himself. Then in Jamadi
al-Ula, A. H. 4, Bani Thalbah and Bani Muharib, the two tribes
of Bani Ghatafan, started making preparations to attack Madinah
and the Holy Prophet had to go to punish them.
Thus, after their setback at Uhud, the Muslims went on encountering
repercussions continuously for seven to eight months.
However, it was the Holy Prophet's determination and wisdom
and his great Companions' spirit of sacrifice that changed
these adverse conditions completely within a short span of
time. The economic boycott by the Arabs had made life hard
for the people of Madinah. All the polytheistic tribes around
Madinah were becoming rebellious. Inside Madinah itself the
Jews and the hypocrites were beat upon mischief. But the successive
steps taken by a handful of the sincere Muslims, under the
leadership of the Holy Prophet, not only restored the image
of strength of Islam in Arabia but also increased it manifold.
Raids Preceding the Battle of the Trench
The first such step was taken immediately after the Battle
of Uhud. The very next day when quite a large number of Muslims
lay wounded and the martyrdom of the near and dear ones was
being mourned in many houses, and the Holy Prophet himself
was injured and sad at the martyrdom of his uncle, Hadrat Hamzah,
he called out to the devoted servants of Islam to accompany
him in pursuit of the pagans so as to deter them from returning
and attacking Madinah again.
The Holy Prophet's assessment was absolutely correct. He knew
that, although the Quraish had retreated without taking any
advantage of their almost complete victory, they would certainly
regret their folly when they would halt and consider the whole
matter coolly on the way, and would return to attack Madinah
again. Therefore, he decided to go in pursuit of them, and
630 of of the Muslims at once volunteered to accompany him.
When they reached Hamra al-Asad on the way to Makkah and camped
there for three days, the Holy Prophet came to know through
a sympathetic non- Muslim that Abu Sufyan had stayed at Ar-Rauha,
36 miles short of Madinah, with an army 2,978 strong: they
were regretting their error and were, in fact, planning to
return and attack Madinah once agaln. But when they heard that
the Holy Prophet was coming in pursuit of them with an army,
they lost heart and gave up their plan. Thus, not only were
the Quraish deterred by this action but the other enemies living
around Madinah also realized that the Muslims were being led
by a person, who was highly well informed, wise and resolute,
and that the Muslims were ever ready to lay down their lives
at his command.(For further details, see Introduction to Surah
Al-i-`Imran and E.N. 122 thereof).
Then as soon as the Bani Asad started making Preparations for
a raid on Madinah, the Holy Prophet's secret agents gave him
timely information about their intention. Thus, before they
could come in force to attack Madinah, he sent an army 150
strong, under Hadrat Abu Salamah (the first husband of Hadrat
Umm Salamah) to punish them. They took Bani Asad by surprise,
who fled in panic leaving all their possessions behind, which
fell into the Muslim hands.
After this came the turn of the Bani an-Nadir. The day they
plotted against the life of the Holy Prophet, and the secret
was disclosed, the Holy Prophet ordered them to leave Madinah
within ten days and warned that anyone who remained behind
after that would be put to death. Abdullah bin Ubayy, the chief
of the hypocrites of Madinah, encouraged them to defy the order
and refuse to leave Madinah. He even promised to help them
with 2,000 men, and assured them that the Bani Ghatafan from
Najd also would come to their aid. Accordingly, the Bani an-
Nadir sent word that they would not leave no matter what the
Holy Prophet might do.
As soon as the time limit of ten days come to an end, the Holy
Prophet laid siege to their quarters, but none of their supporters
had the courage to come to their rescue. At last, they surrendered
on condition that every three of them would be allowed to load
a camel with whatever they could carry and go away leaving
the rest of their possessions behind. Thus, the whole suburbs
of the city which were inhabited by the Bani an-Nadir, and
their gardens and their fortresses and other properties fell
to the Muslims, and the people of this treacherous tribe became
scattered in Khyber, Wad il Qura and Syria.
Then the Holy Prophet turned his attention to the Bani Ghatafan,
who were preparing for a war against Madinah. He took 400 of
the Muslims and overtook them at Dhat ar-Riqa. They were so
taken by surprise that they fled their houses without a struggle
and took refuge in the mountains.
After this in Shaban A. H. 4, the Holy Prophet went forth to
Badr to fight Abu Sufyan. At the end of the Battle of Uhud,
he had challenged the Holy Prophet and the Muslims, saying, "We
shall again meet you in combat at Badr next year." In reply
the Holy Prophet announced through a Companion: "All right:
we accept your challenge." Accordingly, at the appointed time
he reached Badr with 1,500 of the Muslims. From the other side,
Abu Sufyan left Makkah with an army of 2,000 men, but could
not have the courage to march beyond Marr-az-Zahran (modern,
Wadi Fatimah). The Holy Prophet waited for him at Badr for
eight days; the Muslims during these days did profitable business
with a trading party. This incident help- ed more than restore
the image of strength of the Muslims that had been tarnished
at Uhud. It also made the whole of Arabia realize that the
Quraish alone could no longer resist Muhammad (upon whom be
Allah's peace and blessings). (Please also refer to E.N. 124
This image and position of the Muslims was further strengthened
by another event. Dumat al-Jandal (modern, Al-Jauf) was an
important place at the border between Arabia and Syria. When
the caravans of the Arabs, trading between Iraq in the south
and Syria and Egypt in the north, passed that way, they were
harassed and looted by the natives. In Rabi al- Awwal, A. H.
5, the Holy Prophet himself went to punish them with an army
of 1,000 men. They could not muster up courage to come out
and fight him and, therefore, fled the place. This caused the
whole of northern Arabia to dread the power of Islam, and the
tribes began to realize that the great power emerging from
Al-Madinah was formidable and could no longer be resisted by
one or a few of the tribes.
The Battle of the Trench
Such were the conditions when the Battle of the Trench took
place. It was in fact a combined raid by many of the Arab tribes,
who wanted to crush the power of Madinah. It had been instigated
by the leaders of the Bani an-Nadir, who had settled in Khyber
after their banishment from Madinah. They went round to the
Quraish and Ghatafan and Hudhail and many other tribes and
induced them to gather all their forces together and attack
Thus, in Shawwal, A. H. 5, an unprecedentedly large army of
the Arab tribes marched against the small city of Madinah.
From the north came Jews of Bani an-Nadir and Bani Qainuqa
who after their banishment from Madinah, had settled in Khaiber
and Wad il Qura. From the east advanced the tribes of Ghatafan,
Bani Sulaim, Fazarah, Murrah, Ashja, Sad, Asad, etc. and from
the south the Quraish, along with a large force of their allies.
Together they numbered from ten to twelve thousand men.
Had it been a sudden attack, it would have been disastrous.
But the Holy Prophet was not unaware of this in Madinah. His
intelligence men and the sympathizers of the Islamic movement
and the people influenced by it were present in every tribe,
who kept him informed of the enemy's movements. Even before
the enemy could reach his city, he got a trench dug out on
the north-west of Madinah in six days, and having the Mount
Salat their back, took up a defensive position with 3,000 men
in the protection of the Trench.
To the south of Madinah there were many gardens (even now there
are) so that it could not be attacked from that side. To the
east there are lava rocks which are impassable for a large
army. The same is the case with the south western side. The
attack, therefore, could be made only from the eastern and
western sides of the Uhud, which the Holy Prophet had secured
by digging a trench. The disbelievers were not at all aware
that they would have to counter the trench outside Madinah.
This kind of a defensive stratagem was unknown to the Arabs.
Thus, they had to lay a long siege in winter for which they
had not come prepared.
After this, only one alternative remained with the disbelievers:
to incite the Jewish tribe of Bani Quraizah, who inhabited
the south eastern part of the city, to rebellion. As the Muslims
had entered a treaty with them that in case of an attack on
Madinah they would defend the city along with them, the Muslims
had made no defensive arrangement there and had even sent their
families to take shelter in the forts situated on that side.
The invaders perceived this weakness of the Islamic defenses.
They sent Huyayy bin Akhtab, the Jewish leader of the Bani
an-Nadir, to the Bani Quraizah so as to induce them to break
the treaty and join the war. In the beginning, they refused
to oblige and said that they had a treaty with Muhammad (upon
whom be Allah's peace) who had faithfully abided by it and
given them no cause for complaint. But when Ibn Akhtab said
to them, "Look, I have summoned the united force of entire
Arabia against him: this is a perfect opportunity to get rid
of him. If you lose it, you will never have another opportunity," the
anti Islamic Jewish mind prevailed over every moral consideration
and the Bani Quraizah were persuaded to break the treaty.
The Holy Prophet received news of this. He at once told Sad
bin Ubadah, Sad bin Muadh, Abdullah bin Rawahah and Khawwat
bin Jubair, chiefs of the Ansar, to go and find out the truth.
He advised them that if they found Bani Quraizah still loyal
to the treaty, they should return and say so openly before
the Muslim army; however, if they found that they were bent
upon treachery they should only inform him so that the common
Muslims would not be disheartened. On reaching there the Companions
found the Bani Quraizah fully bent on mischief They told the
Companions openly, "There is no agreement and no treaty between
us and Muhammad." At this they returned to the Islamic army
and submitted their report to the Holy Prophet, saying, "'Adal
and Qarah." That is, "The Quraizah are bent upon doing what
the Adal and Qarah had done with the preachers of Islam at
This news spread among the Muslims and caused great consternation
among them, for they had been encircled and their city had
been endangered on the side where there existed no defensive
arrangement and where they had also sent their families to
take shelter in the forts. This further increased the activities
of the hypocrites and they started making psychological attacks
to break the morale of the Muslims. One said, "How strange!We
were being foretold that the lands of Caesar and Chosroes would
fall to us, but here we are that not one of us can go out even
to relieve himself."
Another one asked for permission to leave his post at the Trench
so that he could go and protect his own house which was in
danger. Another one started making secret propaganda to the
effect: "Settle your affair with the invaders yourselves and
hand over Muhammad to them." This was a highly critical hour
of trial, which exposed every person who harbored any hypocrisy
in his heart. Only the true and sincere Muslims remained firm
and steadfast in their resolve and devotion.
In the meantime Nuaim bin Masud, a member of the Ashja branch
of the Ghatafan tribe, became a Muslim and came before the
Holy Prophet and submitted: "No one as yet knows that I have
embraced Islam: You can take from me whatever service you please." The
Holy Prophet replied: "Go and sow the seeds of discord among
the enemy."' So, first of all, Nu'aim went to the Quraizah
with whom he was on friendly terms, and said to them, "The
Quraish and the Ghatafan can become wearied of the siege and
go back, and they will lose nothing, but you have to live here
with the Muslims.
Just consider what will be your position if the matter turns
that way. Therefore, I would advise you not to join the enemy
until the outsiders should send some of their prominent men
as hostages to you." This had the desired effect upon the Bani
Quraizah and they decided to demand hostages from the united
front of the tribes. Then he went to the chiefs of the Quraish
and the Ghatafan and said to them, "The Bani Quraizah seem
to be slack and irresolute. May be they demand some men as
hostage from you, and then hand them over to Muhammad (upon
whom be Allah's peace) to settle their affair with him.
Therefore, be very firm and cautious in your dealing with them." This
made the leaders of the united front suspicious of Bani Quraizah.
and they sent them a message, saying, "We are tired of the
long siege; let there be a decisive battle; let us, therefore,
make a general assault simultaneously from both the sides." The
Bani Quraizah sent back the word, saying, "We cannot afford
to join the war unless you hand over some of your prominent
men to us as hostages." The leaders of the united front became
convinced that what Nuaim had said was true. They refused to
send hostages. And the Bani Quraizah, on the other side, also
felt that Nuaim had given them the correct counsel. Thus, the
strategy worked: it divided the enemy against itself.
The siege was prolonged for more than 25 days. It was winter.
The supply of food and water and forage was becoming more and
more scarce everyday and division in the camp was also a great
strain on the state of morale of the besiegers. Then, suddenly
one night a severe windstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning
hit the camp. It added to the cold and darkness. The wind overthrew
the tents and put the enemy in disarray. They could not stand
this severe blow of nature. They left the battleground even
during the night and returned to their homes.
When the Muslims awoke in the morning, there was not a single
enemy soldier to be seen on the battlefield. The Holy Prophet,
finding the battlefield completely empty, said: "The Quraish
will never be able to attack you after this: now you will take
the offensive." This was a correct assessment of the situation.
Not only the Quraish but the united front of all the enemy
tribes had made their final assault against Islam and had failed.
Now they could no longer dare invade Madinah; now the Muslims
were on the offensive.
Raid on Bani Quraizah
When the Holy Prophet returned from the Trench, Gabriel came
to him in the early afternoon with the Divine Command the the
Muslims should not lay aside the arms yet but should deal with
the Bani Quraizah as well. On receipt of this Command, the
Holy Prophet got announced: "Everyone who is steadfast in obedience
should not offer his Asr Prayer till he reaches the locality
of the Bani Quraizah." Immediately after this, he despatched
Hadrat Ali with a contingent of soldiers as vanguard towards
When they reached there, the Jews climbed on to their roof
tops and started hurling abuses on the Holy Prophet and the
Muslims, but their invectives could not save them from the
consequences of their treachery. They had committed breach
of the treaty right at the most critical moment of the war,
joined hands with the invaders and endangered the entire population
When they saw the contingent of Hadrat Ali, they thought that
they had come only to overawe them. But when the whole Islamic
army arrived under the command of the Holy Prophet himself
and laid siege to their quarters, they were very frightened.
They could not stand the severity of the siege for more than
two or three weeks. At last, they surrendered themselves to
the Holy Prophet on the condition that they would accept whatever
decision Hadrat Sad bin Muadh, the chief of the Aus, would
They had accepted Hadrat Sad as their judge because in the
pre-Islamic days the Aus and the Quraizah had been confederates
and they hoped that in view of the past ties he would help
them quit Madinah as had happened in the case of the Bani Qainuqa
and the Bani an-Nadir before. The people of the Aus themselves
wished that Hadrat Sad treat their previous allies leniently.
But Hadrat Sad had just experienced and seen how the two Jewish
tribes who had been allowed to leave Madinah previously had
instigated the other tribes living around Madinah and summoned
the united front of ten to twelve thousand men against the
He was also aware how treacherously this last Jewish tribe
had behaved right on the occasion when the city was under attack
from outside and threatened the safety of the whole of its
population. Therefore, he decreed that all the male members
of the Quraizah should be put to death, their women and children
taken prisoners, and their properties distributed among the
Muslims. The sentence was carried out duly. When the Muslims
entered their strongholds they found that the treacherous people
had collected 1,500 swords, 300 coats of mail, 2,000 spears
and 1,500 shields in order to join the war.
If Allah's succour had not reached the Muslims, all this military
equipment would have been used to attack Madinah from the rear
right at the time when the polytheists were making preparations
for a general assault on the Muslims after crossing the Trench.
After this disclosure there remained no doubt that the decision
of Hadrat Sad concerning those people was absolutely correct.
Though the period of two years between the Battles of Uhud
and the Trench was a period of disturbance and turmoil and
the Holy Prophet and his Companions could hardly relax in peace
and security even for a day, the work of reform as a whole
and the reconstruction of the Muslim society continued uninterrupted.
This was the time when the Islamic laws pertaining to marriage
and divorce were complemented; the law of inheritance was introduced,
drinking and gambling were prohibited, and the new laws and
regulations concerning many other aspects of the economic and
social life were enforced.
In this connection, an important thing that needed to be reformed
was the question of the adoption of a son. Whoever was adopted
by the Arabs as a son was regarded as one of their own offspring:
he got share in inheritance; he was treated like a real son
and real brother by the adopted mother and the adopted sister;
he could not marry the daughter of his adopted father and his
widow after his death. And the same was the case if the adopted
son died or divorced a wife. The adopted father regarded the
woman as his real daughter-in-law. This custom clashed in every
detail with the laws of marriage and divorce and inheritance
enjoined by Allah in Surahs Al-Baqarah and An-Nisa.
It made a person who could get no share in inheritance entitled
to it at the expense of those who were really entitled to it.
It prohibited marriage between the men and the women who could
contract marriage perfectly lawfully. And, above all, it helped
spread the immoralities which the Islamic Law wanted to eradicate.
For a real mother and a real sister and a real daughter cannot
be like the adopted mother and the adopted sister and the adopted
daughter, however one may try to sanctify the adopted relations
as a custom. When the artificial relations endued with customary
sanctity are allowed to mix freely like the real relations,
it cannot but produce evil results. That is why the Islamic
law of marriage and divorce, the law of inheritance and the
law of the prohibition of adultery required that the concept
and custom of regarding the adopted son as the real son should
be eradicated completely.
This concept, however, could not be rooted out by merely passing
a legal order, saying, The adopted son is not the real son.
The centuries old prejudices and superstitions cannot be changed
by mere word of mouth. Even if the people had accepted the
command that these relations were not the real relations, they
would still have looked upon marriage between the adopted mother
and the adopted son, the adopted brother and the sister, the
adopted father and the daughter, and the adopted father- in-law
and the daughter-in- law odious and detestable.
Moreover, there would still exist some freedom of mixing together
freely. Therefore, it was inevitable that the custom should
be eradicated practically, and through the Holy Prophet himself.
For no Muslim could ever conceive that a thing done by the
Holy Prophet himself, and done by him under Allah's Command,
could be detestable. Therefore, a little before the Battle
of the Trench, the Holy Prophet was inspired by Allah that
he should marry the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid
bin Harithah (may Allah be pleased with him), and he acted
on this Command during the siege of the Bani Quraizah. (The
delay probably was caused for the reason that the prescribed
waiting period had not yet ended, and in the meantime the Holy
Prophet had to become busy in the preparation for war).
Storm of Propaganda at the Marriage
of Hadrat Zainab
As soon as the marriage was contracted, there arose a storm
of propaganda against the Holy Prophet. The polytheists, the
hypocrites and the Jews, all were burning with jealousy at
his triumphs which followed one after the other. The way they
had been humbled within two years after Uhud, in the Battle
of the Trench, and in the affair of the Quraizah, had made
them sore at heart.
They had also lost hope that they could ever subdue him on
the battlefield. Therefore, they seized the question of this
marriage as a god send for themselves and thought they would
put an end to his moral superiority, which was the real secret
of his power and success. Therefore, stories were concocted
that Muhammad, God forbid, had fallen in love with his daughter-in-law,
and when the son had come to know of this, he divorced his
wife, and the father married his daughter-in-law.
The propaganda, however, was absurd on the face of it. Hadrat
Zainab was the Holy Prophet's first cousin. He had known her
from childhood to youth. So, there could be no question of
his falling in love with her at first sight. Then he himself
had arranged her marriage with Hadrat Zaid under his personal
influence, although her whole family had opposed it. They did
not like that a daughter of the noble Quraish should be given
in marriage to a freed slave. Hadrat Zainab herself was not
happy at this arrangement.
But everyone had to submit to the Holy Prophet's command. The
marriage was solemnized and a precedent was set in Arabia that
Islam had raised a freed slave to the status of the Quraishite
nobility. If the Holy Prophet had in reality any desire for
Hadrat Zainab, there was no need of marrying her to Hadrat
Zaid; he himself could have married her. But in spite of all
this, the shameless opponents invented stories of love, spread
them with great exaggeration and publicized them so vehemently
that even some Muslims also began to accept them as true.
Preliminary Commandments of Purdah
The fact that the tales invented by the enemies also became
topics of conversation among the Muslims was a clear sign that
the element of sensuality in society had crossed all limits.
If this malady had not been there, it was not possible that
minds would have paid any attention whatever to such absurd
and disgusting stories about a righteous and pure person like
the Holy Prophet. This was precisely the occasion when the
reformative Commandments pertaining to the law of Hijab or
Purdah were first enforced in the Islamic society. These reforms
were introduced in this Surah and complemented a year later
in Surah An-Nur, when a slander was made on the honor of Hadrat
Aishah.(For further details, see Introduction to Surah An-Nur).
Domestic Affairs of the Holy Prophet
There were two other problems which needed attention at that
time. Though apparently they pertained to the Holy Prophet's
domestic life, it was necessary to resolve them for the domestic
and mental peace of the person, who was exerting every effort
to promote the cause of Allah's Religion and was day and night
absorbed in this great mission. Therefore, Allah took these
two problems also officially in His own hand.
The first problem was that economically the Holy Prophet at
that time was in straitened circumstances. During the first
four years he had no source of income whatever. In 4 A. H.
after the banishment of the Bani an-Nadir, a portion of their
evacuated lands was reserved for his use by the Command of
Allah, but it was not enough for his family requirements. On
the other hand, the duties of the office of Prophethood were
so onerous that they were absorbing all his energies of the
mind and body and heart and every moment of his time, and he
could not make any effort at all for earning his livelihood.
In conditions such as these when his wives happened to disturb
his mental peace because of economic hardships he would feel
doubly strained and taxed.
The other problem was that before marrying Hadrat Zainab, he
had four wives already in the houses: Hadrat Saudah, Hadrat
Aishah, Hadrat Hafsah, and Hadrat Umm Salamah. Hadrat Zainab
was his fifth wife. At this the opponents raised the objection,
and the Muslims also started entertaining doubts, that as for
others it had been forbidden to keep more than four wives at
a time, but how the Holy Prophet himself had taken a fifth
Subject Matter and Topics
These were the questions that were engaging the attention of
the Holy Prophet and the Muslims at the time Surah Al-Ahzab
was revealed, and replies to the same form the subject matter
of this Surah.
A perusal of the theme and the background shows that the Surah
is not a single discourse which was sent down in one piece
but it consists of several injunctions and commandments and
discourses, which were sent down, one after the other, in connection
with the important events of the time, and then were put together
in one Surah. Its following parts stand out clearly distinguished
from one another:
Verses 1-8 seem to have been sent down before the Battle of
the Trench. Their perusal, keeping the historical background
in view, shows that at the time of their revelation Hadrat
Zaid had already divorced Hadrat Zainab. The Holy Prophet was
feeling the necessity that the concepts and customs and superstitions
of ignorance concerning the adoption of the son should be eradicated,
and he was also feeling that the delicate and deep sentiments
the people cherished about the adopted relations merely on
emotional grounds would not be rooted out until he himself
took the initiative to eradicate the custom practically.
But at the same time he was hesitant and considering seriously
that if he married the divorced wife of Hadrat Zaid then, the
hypocrites and the Jews and the mushriks who were already bent
on mischief would get a fresh excuse to start a propaganda
campaign against Islam. This was the occasion of the revelation
of vv. 1-8.
In verses 9-27 an appraisal has been made of the Battle of
the Trench and the raid against the Bani Quraizah. This is
a clear proof that these verses were sent down after these
The discourse contained in vv. 28-35 consists of two parts.
In the first part, Allah has given a notice to the wives of
the Holy Prophet, who were being impatient of the straitened
circumstances, to the effect:"Choose between the world and
its adornments, and Allah, His Prophet and the Hereafter. If
you seek the former, you should say so openly: you will not
be kept back in hardship even for a day, but will be sent off
And if you seek the latter, you should cooperate with Allah
and His messenger and bear patiently." In the second part,
initial steps were taken towards the social reforms whose need
was being felt by the minds moulded in the Islamic pattern
themselves. In this regard, reform was started from the house
of the Holy Prophet himself and his wives were commanded to
avoid behaving and conducting themselves in the ways of the
pre Islamic days of ignorance, ,to remain in their houses with
dignity, and to exercise great caution in their conversation
with the other men. This was the beginning of the Commandments
Verses 36-48 deal with the Holy Prophet's marriage with Hadrat
Zainab. In this section the opponents' objection about this
marriage have been answered; the doubts that were being created
in the minds of the Muslims have been removed; the Muslims
have been acquainted with the Holy Prophet's position and status;
and the Holy Prophet himself has been counseled to exercise
patience on the false propaganda of the disbelievers and the
In verse 49 a clause of the law of divorce has been laid down.
This is a unique verse which was sent down on some occasion
probably in connection with the same events.
In verses 50-52 a special regulation of marriage has been laid
down for the Holy Prophet, which points out that he is an exception
to the several restrictions that have been imposed on the other
Muslims in regard to marital life.
In verses 53-55 the second step was taken towards social reform.
It consists of the following injunctions: Restriction on the
other men to visit the houses of the Holy Prophet's wives;
Islamic etiquette concerning visits and invitations; the law
that only the near relatives could visit the holy wives in
their houses; as for the other men, they could speak to or
ask them a thing from behind a curtain; the injunction that
the Holy Prophet's wives were forbidden for the Muslims like
their mothers; and none could marry any of them after him.
In verses 56-57 warning was given to stop criticizing the Holy
Prophet's marriage and his domestic life, and the believers
instructed not to indulge in fault finding like the enemies
of Islam, but to invoke the blessings of Allah for their Prophet;
moreover, they were instructed that they should avoid falsely
accusing one another even among themselves, not to speak of
the person of the Prophet.
In verse 59 the third step for social reform was taken. All
the Muslim women were commanded that they should come out well
covered with the outer garments and covering their faces whenever
they came out of their houses for a genuine need.
After this till the end of the Surah the hypocrites and other
foolish and mean people have been rebuked for the propaganda
that they were carrying on at that time against Islam and the