Monday, April 18, 2011

Sura 33 - The Clans

The title for this sura comes from the context of the sura which is clear, the battle of the Clans, also known as the Battle of the Trench.

Date, Context and Theme


The contents of this sura allow it to be dated to the famous Battle of Trench, 5-7th years of the Hijrah, a Medinan sura. This battle was initiated by the Meccans and some other tribes who wanted to defeat Muhammad once and for all. The Jewish tribe, Bani Qureyzah, broke their truce with Muhammad and supported these Arab tribes. They marched against Medinah and lay siege to it. But Muhammad had a trench dug on the side of attack and this halted their advance. After no progress for a month and difficult conditions, these tribes departed. Muhammad then marched on the towns of Jewish Bani Qureyzah and all their men were executed.

While this is the context of the sura it is not the main theme of the sura. The main theme is dealing with the complaints of “hypocritical” Muslims. There were two complaints. One had to do with questioning Muhammad’s advice about the situation under the siege, and the second was to do with Muhammad and the wives he was taking. Most of the sura deals with the issue of his wives and not the battle. The main theme is do not slander Muhammad but bless him instead.
O ye who believe! Be not as those who slandered Moses, but Allah proved his innocence of that which they alleged, and he was well esteemed in Allah's sight. 33:69

Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. 33:56


Structure


vv. 1-3 Do not listen to the unbelievers and hypocrites but listen to Allah instead.

vv. 4-6 All adoptions are now cancelled.

Vv. 7-27. Reflections on the battle of the Clans or Trench. Allah gave victory but the hypocritical Muslims did not trust Muhammad but the true Muslims did.

Vv. 28-34, Muhammad’s wives must be careful how they live among the hypocrites. They will be punished if they sin, so speak carefully, stay inside and obey Muhammad.

Vv. 35-36, The true believers must live carefully among the hypocrites too and obey Muhammad.

Vv. 37-38, Now they adoptions are cancelled Allah has given Muhammad Zayd’s wife.

vv. 39-48 Who is Muhammad? Father of none, a warner, a summoner, announcing good tidings. Therefore, listen to Muhammad and not the hypocrites.

Vv. 49-52 Marriage: Consummation makes the marriage, Muhammad alone can take whoever he likes in marriage, his wives are not to remarry

v. 53, Do not annoy the prophet, he does not like it and is too shy to say so.

vv. 53-62, Behaviour of his wives, must not remarry, can talk to their male relatives, must talk from behind a screen, must dress. Must not give the hyprocites any excuse.

* Vv. 56-58 Bless Muhammad and lift him up in the presence of the hypocrites.

* Vv. 59, Muhammad’s wives must dress with dignity.

* vv. 60-62, If the hypocrites do not stop complaining then fight them.

Vv. 63-73 The Final Hour - The hypocrites will pay and the true believers be rewards

What I found interesting.

1. Disjointed?

I have often heard non-Muslim scholars say that the Qur’an is disjoined and jumps from one topic to another. Sura 33 appears to be such a sura as it talks to and fro about the battle and then Muhammad’s wives, but I do not agree with these scholars. I think each sura does have a unity and we just need to work out what it is. In this case it is the accusations of the “hypocritical” Muslims against Muhammad. They are complaining about the battle and his wives.
Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in the world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained. 33:56

2. Adoption and Zaynab

The opening verses of the sura announce that all adoptions are now cancelled.
Allah hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body, nor hath He made your wives whom ye declare (to be your mothers) your mothers, nor hath He made those whom ye claim (to be your sons) your sons. This is but a saying of your mouths. But Allah saith the truth and He showeth the way. 33:4


I can understand why Islam wants remove idolatry, theft, gambling, but why adoption? The context behind this is quite revealing.
One day the Messenger of God went out looking for Zayd (his adopted son). Now there was a covering of haircloth over the doorway, but the wind had lifted the covering so that the doorway was uncovered. Zaynab (Zayd’s wife) was in her chamber, undressed, and admiration for her entered the heart of the Prophet. (Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, vol. viii, p. 4)

Here we see why adoption is forbidden in Islam. Muhammad saw his daughter-in-law undressed and “admiration for her entered” his heart. Zayd offers to give Zaynab to Muhammad but this is scandalous as Muhammad would be marrying his daughter-in-law. Muhammad then receives a message from God saying that all adoptions are canceled. He then receives another word saying that Allah has given him Zaynab.
... So when Zeyd had performed that necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled. 33:37

It seems that the practice of adoption is cancelled so that Muhammad can be righteous. That is, the law confirms to Muhammad.

3. The Privileged Prophet

In 33:50 there is a big list of all the women that Muhammad can take as a wife or slave. The list is very broad but it is clear that it is,
... a privilege for you (Muhammad) only, not for the (rest of) believers ... 33:50

33:51 then says that Muhammad does not have to share his time equally with wives but can visit for sex whichever wife he wishes. So here we see that Muhammad has sexual privileges that no other Muslim is allowed to have.
Narrated Aisha (Muhammad’s wife): ... I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 311, Khan)

4. Do not annoy the prophet.
O Ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah's sight would be an enormity. (Qur’an 33:53)

Muhammad did not like being annoyed.

These examples of “revelations” demand questions to be asked. It really seems to me that Muhammad received revelations that fulfilled his desires. Revelations that allowed him to take another man’s wife, to have sexual privileges and to not be annoyed. It seems to me that these words are from Muhammad not God.

5. Bless the prophet

Maybe the reason the “hypocritical” Muslims were complaining was that they were not convinced that a Muhammad should be so privileged. This sura makes it very clear that you are not to question Muhammad about any of this. He is the best example and you must bless him.
The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers. And the owners of kinship are closer one to another in the ordinance of Allah than (other) believers and the fugitives (who fled from Mecca), except that ye should do kindness to your friends. This is written in the Book (of nature). 33:6

Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. 33:21

And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest. 33:36

There is no reproach for the Prophet in that which Allah maketh his due. That was Allah's way with those who passed away of old - and the commandment of Allah is certain destiny - 33:38

Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. 33:56

This last verse explains why Muslims say, “peace be upon him” whenever they mention Muhammad’s name. The problem I have is the context. If the context was just, bless Muhammad, that would be ok, but the context here is do not question Muhammad, instead bless him. Therefore saying “peace be upon him” is actually a method of stopping any examination of Muhammad.

When we consider all of these previous points we see that no one is allowed to question Muhammad or annoy him, and that he is allowed special sexual privileges. We must be honest here and not make excuses. No other prophet is given these types of privileges. This type of behaviour is normally associated today with a cult leader.

6. The True Believers and Hypocrites

As we have seen there was a lot in this sura about true and hypocritical Muslims. The hypocrites are reminded that they are under a covenant. This is a very important verse for understanding the concept of covenant in the Qur’an and for seeing how it compares to the Bible.
And when We exacted a covenant from the prophets, and from thee (O Muhammad) and from Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus son of Mary. We took from them a solemn covenant; 33:7

The true believers will be rewarded, the hypocrites punished.
There were the believers sorely tried, and shaken with a mighty shock. And when the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, were saying: Allah and His messenger promised us naught but delusion. 33:11-12

That Allah may reward the true men for their truth, and punish the hypocrites if He will, or relent toward them (if He will). Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 33:24

On the day when their faces are turned over in the Fire, they say: Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and had obeyed His messenger! 33:66

So Allah punisheth hypocritical men and hypocritical women, and idolatrous men and idolatrous women. But Allah pardoneth believing men and believing women, and Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 33:73

Here is another verse that threatens war on the hypocrites.
If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbours in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter. (33:60-61, 2:278-279, 9:73, 49:9)

It is important to realise that the Qur’an and Hadith actually command war on hypocrite Muslims. I say this because I keep hearing people say, “that person is not a Muslim because he attacked other Muslims”. This fails to engage with the many verses of the Qur’an which command such action. See The War on Muslims. It also raises the practical question of who are the "true" Muslims who have the duty to fight "hypocritical" Muslims? Who decides?

7. The seal of the prophets

This is the famous verse from which Muslims understand that Muhammad is the last prophet.
Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. 33:40

In the Hadith literature, the “seal” is a literal seal or birthmark on Muhammad
Narrated As-Sa'ib:My aunt took me to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! My nephew is- ill." The Prophet touched my head with his hand and invoked Allah to bless me. He then performed ablution and I drank of the remaining water of his ablution and then stood behind his back and saw "Khatam An-Nubuwwa" (The Seal of Prophethood) between his shoulders like a button of a tent. (Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 7, bk. 70, no. 574, Khan)

Abdullah b. Sarjis reported: ... I then went after him (Muhammad) and saw the Seal of Prophethood between his shoulders on the left side of his shoulder having spots on it like moles. (Sahih Muslim: bk. 30, no. 5793, Siddiqui)

8. The Sunnah

This verse is a key verse for the sunnah.
Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. 33:21

The Sunnah is the practices of Muhammad. Muslims are required to imitate him.

7 comments:

  1. There is so much in this post that I want to address and so much to explain, that keeping it organized and coherent might prove difficult.

    >Muhammad then attacked the Bani Qureyzah and executed all their men.

    Not accurate. The tribe asked to be judged by one of their former allies, a man amongst the Aws tribe. He decided to judge them according to the Torah. The judgement that was carried out was his and on the request of the Bani Qureyzah themselves. Before this event or after, the prophet pbuh never treated any people harshly (e.g. the people of makah and taif being prime examples). It was not his decision.

    >There were two complaints. One had to do with questioning Muhammad’s advice about the situation under the siege, and the second was to do with Muhammad and the wives he was taking.

    Please state explicitly when you are conjecturing. This is not stated in the surah anywhere that the hypocrites had these two complaints.

    >I have often heard non-Muslim scholars say that the Qur’an is disjoined and jumps from one topic to another. Sura 33 appears to be such a sura as it talks to and fro about the battle and then Muhammad’s wives, but I do not agree with these scholars.

    Verses were not revealed together in bunches as you might already know. One verse being revealed at one time while another being revealed days or weeks or months later. While each surah shares a common theme there are many verses or group of verses which seem to suddenly speak of something unrelated. This is a way to make it more clear that you need to know the wider context in many of verses. Which is why many of your assumptions, lacking any context or even an attempt to understand the context, are in correct

    >The opening verses of the sura announce that all adoptions are now cancelled.
    'Cancelled' is not accurate. What the quern is saying is that an adopted child, which you may raise as your own, is still not the same as an actual offspring. Muslims are not prohibited from 'adoption' here. Its just made clear to them that this is not a blood relation. So an adopted child must still follow the laws related to family affairs. If you step back for a second you'll see this has many wider implications regarding not just marriage but inheritance, parental responsibility etc. An adopted son is not obliged to fulfill is father's will, that falls on the actual offsprings. In this case you need to understand the arab culture of the time and what implications this had.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I want to address the marriage of the prophet pbuh and Lady Zainab. There's a lot to say but I'll start but clearly stating that all the hadith you mention are false. As a side not, you wont find any such hadith in shia books. Unfortunately they are present in the books of my sunni brothers, but to their credit they themselves deem these hadith as false. Now there are two reasons for this:
    1- There is a science to evaluate whether a hadith is accurate with extensive rules. One of the basic rules is that the hadith must have an un-interupted chain of narrators. These hadith do not fulfil that criteria. In other words, this is fabricated. There were tens of thousands if not more, fabricated hadiths floating around during the middle ages. The cause of this is documented, enmity with the prophet pbuh by his opponents who had not truly converted, political expedience by power hungry caliphs etc. More detail on this can be provided if you want.
    2-The second reason is logical. And here I'll need to give you context which probably dont have. Lady Zainab was the prophet's pbuh cousin and was born when he was 12. So they knew each other well before he declared Islam. This means he definitely had seen her before and seeing her all of a sudden would not have been a surprise to her (especially since pre-islamic women did not observe the hijab). This fact alone throughs a huge wrench in thee hadiths. The second point of fact is that it was the prophet pbuh himself who arranged the marriage of zaid with lady Zainab. The reason for this was mainly to shatter the arab class hierarchy and remove the taboo of right aristocrats marrying from the lower class. Since Islam does not recognize class, only piety. As far as this goal was concerned this marriage did prove successful: After this marriage Bilal (an african former slave and well respected companion) got married to sister of abulrehman bin auf(a prominent aristocrat), miqdad (another former slave) got married to the daughter of zubair (a prominent aristocrat).
    But because of this same reason Zaid and lady Zainab did not get along. In spite of attempts to reconcile them, they got divorced. At this point God ordered the prophet to marry lady Zainab to shatter the other Arab taboo and to declare that although adoption and raising a child is encouraged and virtuous, islamic law still diffrentiates between them and actual offsprings. Now I should point out here that Islamic law is quite detailed here, with different rules for children who were breast fed by the adopting mother and those that were not. I wont get into all of that.
    Feel free to ask questions if you feel I havent sufficiently addressed this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. >It is important to realise that the Qur’an and Hadith actually command war on hypocrite Muslims. I say this because I keep hearing people say, “that person is not a Muslim because he attacked other Muslims”. This fails to engage with the many verses of the Qur’an which command such action.

    Samuel, you seem lie a smart guy. The verse you quote before these comments is clearly nullifying what you are saying. Heres the verse again:
    If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbours in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter. (33:60-61, 2:278-279, 9:73, 49:9)

    The VERY FIRST part of this should be clear you up. If they do not cease! If they do not cease. Which means 1) their actions still need to be proven in an islamic court and 2) must be unrepentant.
    Please act smart and treat you readers with some respect. I am trying very hard to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you put sense before other motives.

    ReplyDelete
  4. mr green i have a point about the adoption.

    it seems like there is a misunderstanding taking place. my understanding is contrary to the common belief that Islam forbids adoption. What islam forbids is "equating your adopted son to your biological son."
    this equality will have consequences as far as the incest laws are concerned.
    the incest laws in Islam prohibit the marriage of a man to any woman who was ever married to his own biological son. This prohibition does not carry through when the son is just an adopted son and not a biological son.

    people had a misconception and they made a culture that equated between the adopted son and the biological son. This culture created problems because it implied that his mother in adoption would not need to observe hijab from him and the father would not be able to marry his widows ever and many other implications.

    To remove this misconception a command was given to mohamad to marry zaynab after the divorce. This was so that it will be clear to anyone that "your adopted son is not your son but a complete stranger as far as the incest laws go"

    similar to the case of prophet David (peace be upon him) mohamad got accused of causing the divorce due to self desire.

    let me remind you of the story of David who also stands falsely accused after 2000 years from his death.

    in Davids time Marrying a divorcee or widow was a Taboo worse than anything
    probably worse than sodomy and fornication.
    This man made culture started eating into the society like cancer as there were many widows that were left unmarried due to the prohibition. These widows would naturally try to attract men or turn to corruption due to the lack of legal alternatives. This phenomena meant a rise in sexual corruption which is the primary reason for the destruction of the family and hence the society.
    God ordered David to marry the widow of his right hand commander who had been martyred in a battle.

    dDavid married the widow to break the evil culture that was eating into the flesh of the society and he made it easier for other men to marry widows.
    (there is a big chance that the christian prohibition of divorce is related in some way to this event because both judaism and islam allow divorce)

    now look at the old testament and see what David is being accused of:

    that he was praying then a bird came so he cut his prayer to hunt the bird , the bird landed on a fence, behind the fence there is a naked beautiful woman bathing, David keeps looking at her and starts to like her. he asks about her and he is told that its the wife of his right hand commander, he purposely sends his right hand commander to the dangerous front line and gets him killed and then he gets his goal of marrying his widow!!!

    so its not a surprise that Tabari or other muslims who rely on some Israelite narrations would bring a similar accusation to Mohammad as to that of David,

    please tell me what you think, all along this is my understanding of Mohammad and Davids marriage to the divorcees of their allies, that god commanded them to do so to break a specific man made evil culture which would prevent the marriage of widows and increase corruption in society. thats why the verse in the quran says to mohamad:
    " and when zayed divorced her we married her to you so that there will be no more embarrassment upon the believers to marry the wives of their adopted sons once she is divorced from him" Quraan

    my email is alimohamad40@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. your understanding of the Quran is quite a shame actually......quite a shame (this is why aliens wont visit us)

    ReplyDelete