Sura Al-Baqarah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-251

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Similarly, if a person enters an area affected by plague because of some pressing need while he firmly believes that death will not come to him just because he is coming here since death is subservient to the will of Allah, it will be permissible for him to go there.

(3) The third principle inferred from this verse is: that it is also not permissible to desert Jihad from fear of death. This question has been taken up elsewhere in the noble Qur'an in greater details, where some special situations have been exempted.

The subject dealt with in this verse reappears in yet another verse which deals with those who run away from Jihad or do not take part in it. It is said:

الَّذِينَ قَالُوا لِإِخْوَانِهِمْ وَقَعَدُوا لَوْ أَطَاعُونَا مَا قُتِلُوا ۗ قُلْ فَادْرَءُوا عَنْ أَنفُسِكُمُ الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

Some people (who did not themselves take part In jihad) say (about those who do take part in jihad, and die as shahcds) 'These people did not listen to us, therefore, they were killed. If they had listened to us, they would have not been killed.' (The blessed Prophet (SM) was commanded to) tell them: 'If you have the power to escape death, why worry about others, worry about your own selves and rescue yourselves from death, (that is, whether or not you go in jihad does not matter; death will come to you even when sitting home).

It is a marvel of nature that the greatest commander of the Muslim army in the early days of Islam, Sayyidna Klalid ibn Walid رضي الله عنه who was known as the 'sword of Allah' and who spent his entire Islamic life in jihad , did not meet his death as a shahid on the battlefield! He died on his sick-bed, at his home. Close to his hour of death, lamenting over his dying on bed, he said to his family: 'I participated in so many great battles in jihad. I do not have a single part on my body, which has no wound-mark inflicted by swords and spears; but here I am, dying like a donkey on my bed. May Allah Almighty give no rest to cowards. Let them hear my advice.'

The incident relating to the Bani Israel was brought in this verse as an introduction. In the next verse appears the injunction relating to jihad and qitGl (fighting in the way of Allah) which was the real purpose in introducing this story, that is: Do not take going on jihad as going into the jaws of death and do not assume that running away from jihad will deliver you from your appointed time of death. Better still, obey the injunctions of Allah Almighty and achieve the best of both the worlds. Allah Almighty is the Hearer and Knower of all you say and do.

The third verse (245), which follows, deals with the merits of spending in the way of Allah.

Verses 245
[٢٤٥]مَّن ذَا الَّذِي يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا فَيُضَاعِفَهُ لَهُ أَضْعَافًا كَثِيرَةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَقْبِضُ وَيَبْسُطُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ

Who is the one who would give Allah agood loan so that Allah multiplies it for him many times? And Allah withholds and extends, axd to Him you are to be returned.

Commentary
1. In يُقْرِضُ اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا (who would give Allah a good loan?, the word 'loan' refers to good heeds and to the act of spending in the way of Allah. This was expressed figuratively as qard (literally, 'loan'), otherwise everything belongs to Allah. It simply means that whatever you spend will surely be returned to you (in the form of a reward in the Hereafter) just as a loan is surely returned. The promise of increased or multiplied return appears in a hadsh which declares that a date spent in the way of Allah is so increased by Allah Almighty that it outgrows the mountain of Uhud.

Giving 'loan' to Allah Almighty has also been explained as the giving of actual loan to His slaves i.e. the human beings and thereby helping them in their hour of need. So, the act of giving loan has been credited with great merit in Hadith. The noble Prophet (SM) said:

For every Muslim, who gives loan to another Muslim, it will be equal to having given sadaqah (charity) twice. (Mazhari with reference to Ibn Majah)

2. Hearing this verse, says Ibn al-'Arabi, people split in three groups. The first group is that of those unfortunate people who, after hearing this verse, said: 'Muhammad's Lord is poor, and we are rich.' The reply to this comment was given by another verse:

لَّقَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ وَنَحْنُ أَغْنِيَاءُ
Allah has surely heard the saying of those who said, "Allah is poor and we are rich". (3:181)

The second group is that of those who, hearing this verse, electcd to act against it and adopted miserliness as their way of life. The love and greed of material possessions so tied them down that they remained deprived of the very ability to spend in the way of Allah.

The third group is that of sincere Muslims who lost no time and acted as directed by the verse giving the best of their possessions in the way of Allah, such as is the case of Companion Abu al-Dahdah and others. When this verse was revealed, Sayyidna Abu al-Dahdah رضي الله عنه presented himself before the Holy Prophet (SM) and asked him: 'O  Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed to you, does Allah Almighty need loan from us, although He is Ghani the one who needs no loan?' The Holy Prophet (SM) said: 'Yes, Allah Almighty does wish to grant you entry in Paradise through it.' Hearing this, Sayyidna Abu al-Dahdah رضي الله عنه said. 'Let the Messenger of Allah (SM) stretch his hand forward.' He stretched his and forward. Now Abu al-Dahdah. started saying:

'I own two date farms. I own nothing except these. I give the loan of these two farms of mine to Allah Almighty.'

The Holy Prophet (SM) said to him: 'Dedicate one of these as wnqf (endowment) in the way of Allsh and keep the other to take care of your family needs.' Abu al-Dahdah said: "You be my witness that I 'spend' the better of the two farms which has six hundred date trees in the way of Allah." He said: 'Allah will bless you with Paradise in return.'

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