41. Ha-Mim

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran


The name of this Sura is composed of two words Ha-Mim and As-Sajdah which implies that it is a Sura which begins with Ha-Mim and in which a verse requiring the performance of sajdah (prostration) has occurred.

Period of Revelation

According to authentic Traditions it was sent down after the affirmation of the Faith by Hadrat Hamzah and before the affirmation of the Faith by Hadrat Umar. Muhammad bin Ishaq the earliest biographer of the Holy Prophet has related on the authority of Muhammad bin Ka'b al-Qurzi the famous follower of the Companions that one day some of the Quraishchiefs were sitting in their assembly in the Masjid al-Haram while in another corner of the Mosque there was the Holy Prophet sitting by himself. This was the time when Hadrat Hamzah had already embraced Islam and the people of the Quraishwere feeling upset at the growing numbers of the Muslims. On this occasion Utbah bin Rabi'ah (the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan) said to the Quraishchiefs: "Gentlemen if you like I would go and speak to Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) and put before him some proposals; maybe that he accepts one of them to which we may also agree and so he stops opposing us." They all agreed to this and Utbah went and sat by the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet turned to him he said: "Nephew you know the high status that you enjoy in the community by virtue of your ancestry and family relations but you have put your people to great trouble: you have created divisions among them and you consider them to be fools: you talk ill of their religion and gods and say things as though all our forefathers were pagans. Now listen to me and I shall make some suggestions. Consider them well: maybe that you accept one of them." The Holy Prophet said: "Abul Walid say what you want to say and I shall listen to you." He said Nephew if by what you are doing you want wealth we will give you enough of it so that you will be the richest man among us; if you want to became an important man we will make you our chief and will never decide a matter without you; if you want to be a king we will accept you as our king; and if you are visited by a jinn whom you cannot get rid of by your own power we will arrange the best physicians and have you treated at our own expense. 'Utbah went on speaking in this strain and the Holy Prophet went on listening to him quietly. Then he said Have you said O Abul Walid what you had to say? He replied that he had. The Holy Prophet said: "Well now listen to me."Then pronouncing Bismilah ir Rehman-ir-Raihm he began to recite this very Sura and Utbah kept on listening to it putting his hands behind his back and leaning on them as he listened. Coming to the verse of prostration (v. 38) the Holy Prophet prostrated himself; then raising his head said This was my reply O Abul Walid now you may act as you please. then Utbah arose and walked back towards the chiefs the people saw him from afar and said: "By God! Utbab's face is changed. He does not look the same man that he was when he went from here." Then when he came back and sat down the people asked What have you heard? He replied By God! I have heard something the like of which I had never heard before. By God it's neither poetry nor sorcery nor magic. O chiefs of the Quraish listen to what I say and leave this man to himself. I think what he recites is going to have its effect. If the other Arabs overcome him you will be saved from raising your band against your brother and the others will deal with him. But if he overcame Arabia his sovereignty would be your sovereignty and his honour your honour. Hear- ing this the chiefs spoke out:"You too O father of Walid have been bewitched by his tongue."Utbah replied I have given you my opinion; now you may act as you please. (Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 313-314). This story has been narrated by several other tradi- tionists also on the authority of Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah in different ways with a little variation in wording. In some traditions it has also been related that when during the recitation the Holy Prophet had come to verse 13 viz."If they turn away say to them: I warn you of

Theme and Subjet Matter

In the discourse that Allah sent down in response to what Utbah said no attention whatever was paid to the absurd proposals that he had made to the Holy Prophet. For what he had said was in fact an attack on the Holy Prophet's intention and his intellect. His assumption was that as there was no possibility of his being a Prophet and the Quran being Allah's Revelation inevitably the motive of his invitation must either be the desire to obtain wealth and political power or God forbid he had lodt his reason. In the first case he wanted to make a bargain with the Holy Prophet; in the seconcd he was insulting him when he said that the Quraishchiefs would have been cured of his madness at their own expense. Obviously when the opponents come down to such absurd things no gentleman would like to answer them but would ignore them and say what he himself had to say. Therefore ignoring what Utbah said this Sura makes antagonism its subject of discussion which the unbelieving Quraishwere showing stubbornly and wickedly in order to defeat the message of the Qur'an. They would say to tho Holy Prophet You may try however hard you try: we would not listen to you. We have put coverings on our hearts and we have closed our ears. There is a wall between you and us which would never let us meet together. They had given a clear notice to the Holy Prophet to the effect: "You may continue your mission of inviting the people to yourself but we would go on opposing you as hard as we can to frustrate your mission." For this object they had devised the following plan: Whenever the Holy Prophet or a follower of his would try to recite the Qur'an before the people they would at once raise such a hue and cry that no one could bear anything. They were desperately trying to misconstrue the verses of the Qur'an and spread every kind of misunderstanding among the people. They misconstrued everything and found fault even with the straightforward things. They would isolate words and sentences from their right context from here and there and would add their own words in order to put new meanings on them so as to mislead the people about the Quran and the Messenger who presented it. They would raise strange objections a specimen of which has been presented in this Sura. They said If an Arab presents a discourse in Arabic what could be the miracle in it?Arabic is his mother tongue. Anyone could compose anything that he pleased in his mother tongue and then make the claim that he had received it from God. It would be a miracle if the person would suddenly arise and make an eloquent speech in a foreign tongue which he did not know. Then only could one say that the discourse was not of his own composition but a revelation from God. Here is a resume of what has been said in answer to this deaf and blind opposition: (1)The Qur'an is most certainly the Word of God which He has sent down in Arabic. The ignorant people do not find any light of knowledge in the truths that have been presented in it plainly and clearly but the people of understanding are seeing this light as well as benefiting by it. It is surely Allah's mercy that He has sent down this Word for the guidance of man. If a person regarded it as an afliction it would be his own misfortune. Good news is for those who benefit by it and warning for those who turn away from it. (2) If you have put coverings on your hearts and have made yourselves deaf it is none of the Prophet's job to make the one hear who does not want to hear and the one who does not want to understand understand forcibly. He is a man like you; he can make only those to hear and understand who are inclined to hear and understand. (3) Whether you close down your eyes and ears and put coverings on your hearts the fact however is that your God is only One God and you are not the servant of any one else. Your stubbornness cannot change this reality in any way. If you accept this truth and correct your behaviour

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