Surah Al-Baqarah (261-274)
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ ثُمَّ لاَ يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواُ مَنًّا وَلاَ أَذًى لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ قَوْلٌ مَّعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِّن صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَآ أَذًى وَاللّهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالأذَى كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاء النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْدًا لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِّمَّا كَسَبُواْ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ (261-264)
وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ وَتَثْبِيتًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِن لَّمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ (265)
أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ جَنَّةٌ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ وَأَعْنَابٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ لَهُ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَأَصَابَهُ الْكِبَرُ وَلَهُ ذُرِّيَّةٌ ضُعَفَاء فَأَصَابَهَا إِعْصَارٌ فِيهِ نَارٌ فَاحْتَرَقَتْ كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمُ الآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ (266)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ أَنفِقُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا كَسَبْتُمْ وَمِمَّا أَخْرَجْنَا لَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَلاَ تَيَمَّمُواْ الْخَبِيثَ مِنْهُ تُنفِقُونَ وَلَسْتُم بِآخِذِيهِ إِلاَّ أَن تُغْمِضُواْ فِيهِ
وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌ (267)
الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاء وَاللّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلاً وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ (268-269)
وَمَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّن نَّفَقَةٍ أَوْ نَذَرْتُم مِّن نَّذْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُهُ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍ (270)
إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاء فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لُّكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ (271)
لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلأنفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَاء وَجْهِ اللّهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ (272)
الْجَاهِلُ أَغْنِيَاء مِنَ التَّعَفُّفِ تَعْرِفُهُم بِسِيمَاهُمْ لاَ يَسْأَلُونَ النَّاسَ إِلْحَافًا وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ سِرًّا وَعَلاَنِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (273-274)
[This is the practice of the Almighty about providing guidance. So if they do not accept it, leave them, and fully understand that] those who spend their wealth in the way of God can be compared to a grain of corn which brings forth seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains. God [in accordance with His wisdom] provides in abundance [in this manner] to whom He wills; [In reality] God is munificent and all-knowing. Those who spend their wealth in the way of God and do not follow this spending by reminders of their generosity and insults have their reward with their Lord; they shall have nothing to fear [there] nor will they be sorrowful. A kind word and forgiveness [at unpleasant instances] is better than charity followed by inflicting hurt. [You should know that] God is self-sufficient [from such charity] and [on such an attitude from you, He deprives you; however, besides this] He is very gracious. Believers! do not mar your charity by reminders of generosity and by hurting others like those who spend their wealth to show off before others and believe neither in God nor in the Last Day. Such men are like a rock covered with soil: a shower falls upon it and leaves it hard and bare. [On the Day of Judgement], they shall gain nothing from what they earned. And [in reality], God does not guide such ungrateful people. (261-264)
Those who spend their wealth to please God and to firmly attach their own souls [to the truth] are like an orchard which is on a high and level ground: if a heavy shower falls upon it, it yields up twice its normal produce; and even if a severe shower does not fall on it, a drizzle is enough [to produce fruit]. Keep this example in mind] and [rest assured that] God knows whatever you do. (265)
Would any one of you who has an orchard of dates and grapes underneath which streams of water flow, in which are fruits of all kinds and he grows old and his children are feeble wish that this orchard be blasted by a fiery whirlwind and it burn to ashes? [This will be the condition of people on the Day of Judgement who mar their spending in the way of Allah by reminders of generosity and by hurting others]. In this manner does God explain to you His revelations so that you may reflect. (266)
Believers! spend from your pure wealth and from that which We have brought out of the earth for you, and don’t even think of spending something worthless [in the way of God] which you yourselves would not receive but with closed eyes. You should know that God does not need [such spending from you] and He is glorious. (267)
Satan threatens you with poverty and tempts you to [spend on] lewd things and God promises you His forgiveness and His bounty and God is munificent and all-knowing. He [according to His law] gives an awareness of [this promise of] wisdom to whom He pleases, and he who receives this awareness indeed receives a treasure of great good. Yet none but men of sense receive a reminder [from such things]. (268-269)
[Keep this in due consideration] and [rest assured] whatever you spend and whatever vows you make [you shall be fully rewarded for them] because God is fully aware of them and [those who turn away from the guidance of God and] wrong their souls will have none to help them [in the presence of God]. (270)
If you spend openly then this too is a good thing, but to give to the poor and to give it secretly is better. [Through this], God will blot your sins and [there is absolutely no doubt that] God has knowledge of all your deeds. (271)
[If the Israelites do not accept this guidance], it is not your responsibility to guide them. In fact, God gives guidance [in accordance with His law] to whom He wills. [So while disregarding them, you Muslims should understand that] whatever you spend shall earn you only its benefit and you are [in fact] spending it to please the Lord and [for this objective] whatever you spend shall be repaid to you in full [on the Day of Judgement] and nothing at all shall be taken from what you have earned. (272)
This is [specifically] for the poor who are stranded in the cause of God and are not able to travel in the land to earn their livelihood. The ignorant take them for men of wealth on account of their modest behaviour. You can recognize them by their faces – they are not annoyingly insistent in begging. [Help them] and [be aware that] whatever you spend [for this objective will necessarily earn reward for you] because it is known to God. Those who spend their wealth [in the way of God] by day and by night, in private and in public, have their reward with God and for them there shall be no fear [there] and nor shall they be sorrowful. (273-274)
(Translated from Ghamidi’s al-Bayan by Shehzad Saleem)
. The Qur’anic words used are: فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ. This is a term of the Qur’an, and refers to everything done for the service of Islam and for the welfare of the people.
. A narrative in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (No: 128) also explains this theme. It is reported that the Prophet (sws) said that the reward of a good deed ranges from ten times to seven hundred times.
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
This variation obviously depends on the nature of the deed, the time in which it is done and the internal and external circumstances of those who do the deed. If a good deed is done in difficult circumstances and with straitened resources, it will earn more reward and if a good deed is done in times of ease and with ample resources, its reward will be relatively less. The feelings of the people who do the deed also count. A good deed maybe done with the complete willingness of heart and enthusiasm and it may also be done half-heartedly and under compulsion. Obviously both would earn different reward. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 613)
. Consequently, the promises of God should not be held analogous to one’s own narrow vision, and one should remain assured. Boundless are the treasures of the Almighty. He can reward a person for a good deed however much He wants to. No deed of a person is hidden from Him. He is fully aware of whatever good deed a person does whether small or big and whether in private or in public.
. That is like a mean person, one should not insult and degrade a person after giving him something.
. These words portray the life of Paradise. In the opinion of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, these words also subtly allude to the fact that those who spend in the way of God will be rewarded with Paradise because they were neither ever sorrowful at spending in this manner nor did they have any fear of the future after Satan tried to allure them to be stringent. It was because of this display of courage that the Almighty would reward them up to seven hundred times and also reward them with Paradise which will relieve them of the fears of the past as well as the future.
. This is the example of a farmer who upon seeing some soil on a rock began cultivating some crops. However, with the very first outburst of rain, the soil with the crops drifted away into the valley exposing the plain rock surface underneath. The Qur’an says that similar will be the fate of people who remind people of their generosity and hurt those whom they spend upon. These people will earn no reward in the Hereafter as well. In spite of professing faith, this deed will earn no reward for them just as the deed of those disbelievers would not earn any reward who spend to show off.
. The implication is that the Almighty will not let the reward of their deeds reach them and in spite of doing a lot of good deeds they will end up with nothing.
. The Qur’anic words used are: تَثْبِيتًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ. Here the word مِّنْ is attached to the object of تَثْبِيتًا. The implication is that besides spending to please God, they also spend so that they can train themselves to control their base desires and keep themselves steadfast on the truth.
. The Qur’anic word used is: رَبْوَة. It means a high ground. While explaining the purpose for which this word is used here, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
For a high and flat ground, it is essential that the climate around it be conducive. If there is an orchard on such a ground, it makes the orchard look attractive because of the height and also protects it from floods. Moreover, since the orchard is on flat land, there is no danger of it being wiped out by drifting away in rain – a danger which is constantly faced by orchards and crops which are found on slopes. The conducive climate also helps in making the orchard more productive. Even if the climate is not conducive, the orchard still produces fruit and, if it is, the productivity is even greater. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 617)
. This is the picture of a good orchard in the view of the Arabs. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
The Arabs liked orchards on whose borders were date palms and in whose centre were vines of grapes; moreover, there should be patches for cultivation of various crops at appropriate distances and the orchard itself should be at a height; rivulets should flow beneath it and the canals of these rivulets should water the orchard. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 618)
. The implication is that one should spend from one’s wealth which is good and pure and is not worthless. Also, the wealth should be earned through rightful means.
. It is evident from this sentence that the previous sentence refers to wealth earned through trade and similar means. Earning through harvesting is a different category; for this very reason, the rate of zakah on it is different from that of wealth.
. The Qur’anic word used is أَمَرَ. Just as this word is used to connote a command and directive, it is also used to connote a suggestion and a proposal. The implication is that not only does Satan threaten people with far-fetched fears of the future and thereby tries to stop them from spending in the way of God, he also allures a person to overspending and extravagance so that a person is not able to spend for some higher cause.
. Consequently, as a result of this, he is ready to expend his wealth and give up the immediate benefits of this world and the pleasures it offers hoping for the blessings and favours of the Almighty and for gaining the success in the unseen world to come.
. Vow means that a person pledges some worship ritual or deed on the condition that if a certain wish he has made is fulfilled. Although making such vows is not a desirable thing in religion, it is obvious that if such a promise is made, it must be fulfilled.
. Because this is instrumental in inducing others to spend in the way of God.
. The reason is that spending in secret does not effect the self-esteem of the receiver, and the donor himself is protected from the ailment of showing off.
. The implication is that a deed done in secrecy is not a secret for God. Deeds done in private or public are with respect to the person himself. As far as God is concerned, nothing is hidden from Him. Whatever deed a person does and wherever he does it is fully known to Him.
. This is an assurance given to Muhammad (sws): in his capacity of a Prophet of God, his responsibility is only to communicate divine guidance to his addressees in a manner that they are left with no excuse to deny it. It is now up to them to accept this guidance or not. He need not fret himself. If they do not accept it, they will have to pay for it heavily.
. The Qur’anic words used are: لِلْفُقَرَاء الَّذِينَ أُحصِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ. The inchoative (mubtada) has been ellipsed before لِلْفُقَرَاء since it is understood to be present – a common feature of Qur’anic Arabic.
. This is a reference to the muhajirun who had been stranded in Madinah for many years and it was not possible for them to even go out of it for trade purposes, and the treaty of brotherhood which had been established between them and the ansar also could not have been of benefit for them beyond a certain limit. It was also not easy for them to find other means of livelihood within a small village like Madinah. For this very reason, the Prophet (sws) had given them residence in the mosque. In history, they are called the ashab al-suffah
. This means that they do not ask for their needs. The attribute إِلْحَافًا which qualifies their manner of asking is used to express their general situation. To express the severity of an action, such a style is often adopted in the Qur’an. The attribute does not mean that they do ask for their needs but do not ask by being annoyingly persistent.