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Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Other resources: Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah At-Tawbah 9:38-42 [6/16]
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Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْO you who believe!
لَكُمْ(is the matter) with you
قِيلَit is said
لَكُمُto you
ٱنفِرُواْgo forth
سَبِيلِ(the) way
ٱللَّهِ(of) Allah,
ٱثَّاقَلْتُمْyou cling heavily
ٱلْأَرْضِ‌ۚthe earth?
أَرَضِيتُمAre you pleased
بِٱلْحَيَوٲةِwith the life
ٱلدُّنْيَا(of) the world
مِنَ(rather) than
ٱلْأَخِرَةِ‌ۚthe Hereafter?
فَمَاBut what
مَتَـٰعُ(is the) enjoyment
ٱلْحَيَوٲةِ(of) the life
ٱلدُّنْيَا(of) the world
فِىin (comparison to)
ٱلْأَخِرَةِthe hereafter
قَلِيلٌa little.
إِلَّاIf not
تَنفِرُواْyou go forth,
يُعَذِّبْكُمْHe will punish you
عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا(with) a painful punishment,
وَيَسْتَبْدِلْand will replace you
قَوْمًا(with) a people
غَيْرَكُمْother than you,
وَلَاand not
تَضُرُّوهُyou can harm Him
شَيْــًٔا‌ۗ(in) anything.
وَٱللَّهُAnd Allah
عَلَىٰ(is) on
إِلَّاIf not
تَنصُرُوهُyou help him,
نَصَرَهُ ٱللَّهُAllah helped him,
أَخْرَجَهُdrove him out
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
ثَانِىَthe second
ٱثْنَيْنِ(of) the two,
هُمَاthey both
فِى(were) in
ٱلْغَارِthe cave,
يَقُولُhe said
لِصَـٰحِبِهِۦto his companion,
لَا`(Do) not
مَعَنَا‌ۖ(is) with us.`
فَأَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُThen Allah sent down
سَكِينَتَهُۥHis tranquility
عَلَيْهِupon him,
وَأَيَّدَهُۥand supported him
بِجُنُودٍwith forces
لَّمْ تَرَوْهَاwhich you did not see,
وَجَعَلَand made
كَلِمَةَ(the) word
ٱلَّذِينَ(of) those who
ٱلسُّفْلَىٰ‌ۗthe lowest,
وَكَلِمَةُwhile (the) Word
ٱللَّهِ(of) Allah
هِىَit (is)
ٱلْعُلْيَا‌ۗthe highest.
وَٱللَّهُAnd Allah
عَزِيزٌ(is) All-Mighty,
ٱنفِرُواْGo forth,
وَثِقَالاًor heavy
وَجَـٰهِدُواْand strive
بِأَمْوَٲلِكُمْwith your wealth
وَأَنفُسِكُمْand your lives
سَبِيلِ(the) way
ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ(of) Allah.
خَيْرٌ(is) better
لَّكُمْfor you,
كَانَit had been
عَرَضًاa gain
وَسَفَرًاand a journey
لَّٱتَّبَعُوكَsurely they (would) have followed you
بَعُدَتْwas long
عَلَيْهِمُfor them
ٱلشُّقَّةُ‌ۚthe distance.
وَسَيَحْلِفُونَAnd they will swear
بِٱللَّهِby Allah,
ٱسْتَطَعْنَاwe were able,
لَخَرَجْنَاcertainly we (would) have come forth
مَعَكُمْwith you.`
يُهْلِكُونَThey destroy
أَنفُسَهُمْtheir own selves
وَٱللَّهُand Allah
إِنَّهُمْ(that) indeed, they
لَكَـٰذِبُونَ(are) surely liars.

يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا مَا لَـكُمۡ اِذَا قِيۡلَ لَـكُمُ انْفِرُوۡا فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ اثَّاقَلۡـتُمۡ اِلَى الۡاَرۡضِ​ ؕ اَرَضِيۡتُمۡ بِالۡحَيٰوةِ الدُّنۡيَا مِنَ الۡاٰخِرَةِ​ ۚ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الۡحَيٰوةِ الدُّنۡيَا فِى الۡاٰخِرَةِ اِلَّا قَلِيۡلٌ‏  اِلَّا تَـنۡفِرُوۡا يُعَذِّبۡكُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِيۡمًا   ۙ وَّيَسۡتَبۡدِلۡ قَوۡمًا غَيۡرَكُمۡ وَلَا تَضُرُّوۡهُ شَيۡـئًـا​ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيۡرٌ‏  اِلَّا تَـنۡصُرُوۡهُ فَقَدۡ نَصَرَهُ اللّٰهُ اِذۡ اَخۡرَجَهُ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا ثَانِىَ اثۡنَيۡنِ اِذۡ هُمَا فِى الۡغَارِ اِذۡ يَقُوۡلُ لِصَاحِبِهٖ لَا تَحۡزَنۡ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَنَا​ ۚ فَاَنۡزَلَ اللّٰهُ سَكِيۡنَـتَهٗ عَلَيۡهِ وَاَ يَّدَهٗ بِجُنُوۡدٍ لَّمۡ تَرَوۡهَا وَجَعَلَ كَلِمَةَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوا السُّفۡلٰى​ ؕ وَكَلِمَةُ اللّٰهِ هِىَ الۡعُلۡيَا ؕ وَاللّٰهُ عَزِيۡزٌ حَكِيۡمٌ‏  اِنْفِرُوۡا خِفَافًا وَّثِقَالًا وَّجَاهِدُوۡا بِاَمۡوَالِكُمۡ وَاَنۡفُسِكُمۡ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ​ ؕ ذٰ لِكُمۡ خَيۡرٌ لَّـكُمۡ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ‏  لَوۡ كَانَ عَرَضًا قَرِيۡبًا وَّسَفَرًا قَاصِدًا لَّاتَّبَعُوۡكَ وَلٰـكِنۡۢ بَعُدَتۡ عَلَيۡهِمُ الشُّقَّةُ ​ ؕ وَسَيَحۡلِفُوۡنَ بِاللّٰهِ لَوِ اسۡتَطَعۡنَا لَخَـرَجۡنَا مَعَكُمۡ ۚ يُهۡلِكُوۡنَ اَنۡفُسَهُمۡ​ ۚ وَاللّٰهُ يَعۡلَمُ اِنَّهُمۡ لَـكٰذِبُوۡنَ‏ 
[9:38] Believers!38 What is amiss with you that when it is said to you: "March forth in the cause of Allah," you cling heavily to the earth? Do you prefer the worldly life to the Hereafter? Know well that all the enjoyment of this world, in comparison with the Hereafter, is trivial.39 [9:39] If you do not march forth, Allah will chastise you grievously40 and will replace you by another people,41 while you will in no way be able to harm Him. Allah has power over everything. [9:40] It will matter little if you do not help the Prophet, for Allah surely helped him when the unbelievers drove him out of his home and he was but one of the two when they were in the cave, and when he said to his companion: "Do not grieve. Allah is with us."42 Then Allah caused His tranquillity to descend upon him, and supported him with hosts you did not see, He humbled the word of the unbelievers. As for Allah's Word, it is inherently uppermost. Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise. [9:41] March forth whether light or heavy,43 and strive in the way of Allah with your belongings and your lives. That is best for you if you only knew it. [9:42] Were it a gain at hand or a short journey, they would have surely followed you, but the distance seemed too far to them.44 Still they will swear by Allah: "If only we could, we would surely have gone forth with you." They merely bring ruin upon themselves. Allah knows well that they are liars.

38. From here begins the discourse (Ayats 38-72) which was sent down at the time when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was engaged in making preparations for the campaign to Tabuk.

39. “The enjoyment of the life of this world” may imply two meanings. First: “When you will find that the life in the Hereafter is eternal and see that the good things and the provisions of enjoyment are countless, you will realize that the potential and the actual enjoyments of the temporary life of this world were nothing as compared with the blessings of that great kingdom. At that time you will regret why you deprived yourselves of this everlasting happiness and bliss for the sake of a very little and short lived enjoyments of the mortal life of this world.” Second: “The goods of this worldly life are of no value in the Hereafter, howsoever abundant they might be. You shall have to give up each and everything as soon as you breathe your last. For nothing of this world can go with you to the next world. Of course, you will get credit for what you sacrificed for the pleasure and love of Allah, and love of Islam.”

40. A general rule of the Islamic conduct has been derived from, “If you do not go forth, He will punish you with a painful punishment.” When the Muslims are commanded to go to Jihad by a public proclamation from their leader, it becomes an obligatory duty for those who are called upon to do Jihad, whether they belong to any particular group or region. So much so that the faith of those who do not go for Jihad without a genuine excuse becomes doubtful. But even in cases where the Muslims are called upon to go forth for Jihad and there is no command for the compulsory enrollment of every able-bodied Muslim of a particular group or region, it is a religious duty (though not obligatory), and it shall be considered to have been performed even if only some Muslims go forth for it.

41. That is, “Allah’s work does not depend on you and will be accomplished only if you do it. It is Allah’s grace and bounty that He is affording you the golden opportunity of serving the cause of His Way. Therefore if you miss this opportunity because of any foolish assumption, Allah will raise another people and bestow on them the opportunity and capability of doing His work, and you will be losers”.

42. This refers to the occasion when the disbelievers had decided to assassinate the Prophet (peace be upon him), and the very night, fixed for his assassination, he had left Makkah for Al-Madinah. By that time most of the Muslims had migrated to Al-Madinah in twos and threes and only a few helpless ones had remained behind in Makkah. As he was sure that he would be pursued, he took only Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) with him and went southward instead of following the northern route to Al- Madinah and remained hidden in the Thaur cave for three days. In the meantime the blood thirsty enemies had begun to make a thorough search for him all around Makkah and some of them reached the very mouth of the cave where he was hidden. On this critical occasion Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) naturally felt alarmed lest they should peep into the cave, and see them. But the Prophet (peace be upon him) remained as calm as before and reassured his companion, saying, “Do not grieve, indeed Allah is with us.”

43. The words, “light-armed and heavy-armed” have a very comprehensive meaning: when it is enjoined to march forth for Jihad, you must go forth anyhow, whether you like it or not: whether you are in a state of prosperity or indigence, whether you are well-equipped or ill-equipped: whether the circumstances are favorable or adverse: whether you are young and healthy or old and weak.

44. They felt the journey to Tabuk to be hard because they had to fight with the army of the great and powerful Roman Empire: because they had to journey in the scorching heat of the summer season of the desert: because there was a famine in the country and the new harvest on which they had pinned their hopes was ready for reaping.