Sura Al-Maidah (Tafseer-ul-Maariful Quran), Part-64

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Pointing out to the reality of realities, it was clearly stressed that all these high qualities of character, their timely use and the ultimate success in the Islamic expedition through them were things which are not achieved by simple reliance on planning or power or numbers. This is nothing but the grace of Allah. It is He who bestows this blessing upon whom He wills.

Marks of True Muslims
In the previous four verses discussed so far, Muslims have been forbidden to maintain intimate friendship with disbelievers. A positive approach has been taken in the fifth verse (55) where those with whom Muslims can have intimate friendship and special camaraderie have been identified. Mentioned first is Allah and then, His blessed Prophet, for Allah is and He alone can be the real friend, guardian and guide of a true Muslim, all the time and under all conditions. Other than the relationship with Him, every relationship and every friendship is perishable. As for the bond of fidelity to the Holy Prophet (SM) is concerned, that too is, in reality, connected with Allah and not separated. In the last sentence of the verse, the sinceremost friends and fellows of Muslims have been identified as those who are true Muslims - not simply Muslims in name. They have three qualities which mark them out. These are:

الذين يقيمون الصلاة ويؤتون الزكاة وهم راكعون

Those who establish Salah and pay Zakah and bow before Allah.

It means that they: (1) Fulfill the obligation of Salah punctually observing all etiquettes ('Addab) and conditions (Shara'it) which must be observed in it; (2) Pay Zakah out of their wealth; and (3) they are humble and modest and never become proud and arrogant over their good deeds.

The word, Ruku in the concluding statement of this verse (55) : وهم راكعون translated as 'those who bow before Allah' could be taken in more than one sense. Therefore, some of the leading commentators have said that Ruku refers to the functional Ruku' (bowing position) at this place which is a basic element (Rukn : pillar) of Salah. And the sentence: وهم راكعون (and those who bow before Allah) has been placed after: يقيمون الصلاة (those who establish Salah) because the purpose is to distinguish the Salah of Muslims from the prayer offered by others. As for the essential prayer which Muslims call Salah is something the Jews and Christians also do, but it has no Ruku in it. Ruku' is a distinctive element of the Islamic prayer known as Salah. (Mazhari).

But, the majority of commentators says that Ruku at this place does not mean the technical Ruku of Salah. Rather, it means to bow, to be modest and humble in the lexical sense. Abi Hayyan in Tafsir alBahr al-Muhit and Al-Zamakhshari in Tafsir al-Kashshaf have gone by this meaning. The same view has been adopted in Tafsir Mazhari and Tafsir Bayan al-Qur'an. Thus, the meaning of this sentence comes to be that these people do not feel proud of their good deeds; their natural disposition is, rather, modesty and humility.

It appears in some narrations that this sentence has been revealed about Sayyidna 'Ali رضي الله عنه in the background of a particular event. It is said that Sayyidna 'Ali رضي الله عنه was busy making Salah on a certain day. When he bowed in Ruki', someone needy turned up and asked for something. He, within that state of Ruku, took out a ring from one of his fingers and tossed it towards him. He could have taken care of the need of this person after having finished his Salah, but he did not wish to make even that much of a delay in removing the need of a poor faqir. This act of 'racing towards good deeds' was pleasing in the sight of Almighty Allah and it was through this sentence that it was appreciated.

The Sanad or authority of this narration is a debated issue among

Ulama and Muhaddith in, but, should this narration be taken as correct or sound, it would essentially mean that deserving of the close friendship of Muslims are common Muslims who fulfill the obligations of Salah and Zakah particularly and regularly and among them, Sayyidna 'Ali is specially more deserving of this friendship as has been said by the Holy Prophet (SM) in another authentic Hadith: من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه (To whomever I am a friend, then, 'Ali too is a friend of his) (narrated by Ahmad, as in Mazhari). In yet another hadith, the Holy prophet has been reported to have said: اللهم وال من والاه وعاد من عاداه (O Allah, befriend whoever befriends him and take as enemy whoever shows enmity to him).

Perhaps, Sayyidna 'Ali رضي الله عنه has been blessed with this honour because the Fitnah to appear in the future was unveiled before him and he knew that there will be people who will nurse enmity with him and will not hesitate in even rising in rebellion against him as it did happen during the uprising of the Khawarij.

Anyway, the revelation of the present verse even if it is related to this event is worded in a general sense which includes all Companions of the Prophet, and all Muslims. This is not particular to any one individual under a specific command. Therefore, when someone asked Sayyidna Imam Baqar: "Do the words: الذين امنوا those who believe) in this verse mean Sayyidna 'Ali رضي الله عنه" He said: "He too, as included under 'believers', is within the purview of this verse."  

People of Allah shall prevail ultimately
The next verse (56) gives the good news that such people will overcome the world as come forward in obedience to the Qur7anicinjunctions given in this verse and stay away from forging close friendship with others by limiting themselves to taking Allah, His Messenger and those who have faith in them as their genuine friends. The words of the verse are: وَمَن يَتَوَلَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَإِنَّ حِزْبَ اللَّهِ هُمُ الْغَالِبُونَ

And whoever takes Allah and His Messenger and those who believe as friends, then, the People of Allah, are the ones to prevail.

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