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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 110

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 110
Syed Qutb
Sura # 110                       
                                  an Nasr

             In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!

          When the victory granted by Allah and the Conquest come
   and you see people embracing the religion of Allah in large numbers
    then celebrate the praises of your Lord, and seek His forgiveness.
                       He is ever disposed to Mercy.
                        In the Shade of the Qur'an

  This short surah brings the good news to Allah's Messenger concerning the
  advent of victory, the Conquest and peoples' collective acceptance of
  Allah's religion. It instructs him to turn towards his Lord in a devoted
  adoration and a humble request for His forgiveness. The surah also presents
  the nature and the righteousness of this Faith and its ideology - how high
  humanity ascends to an ideal and brilliant summit unattainable otherwise
  than by responding to the call of Islam.

  Of the several traditions regarding the revelation of this surah, we quote
  that of Imam Ahmad which goes as follows:
    Aisha said that the Messenger of Allah used to repeat very frequently,
    towards the end of his life, 'Exaltations and praises be to Allah, whose
    forgiveness I ask; I repent of my sins.' He also said, 'My Lord told me
    I would see a sign in my nation. He ordered me to praise Him, the
    Forgiving, and ask His pardon when I see this sign. Indeed, I have. When
    the victory granted by Allah and the Conquest come ... (transmitted by

  Ibn Katheer said in his commentary on the Qur'an:
    The Conquest', it is unanimously agreed, is a reference to the conquest
    of Makka. The Arab tribes were awaiting the settlement of the conflict
    between Quraish and the Muslims, before accepting Islam, saying: 'If he,
    Muhammad, prevails over his people, he would indeed be a prophet.'
    Consequently, when that was accomplished they accepted Islam in large
    numbers. Not two years were to pass after the conquest of Makka when the
    whole Arabian Peninsula was dominated by Islam, and, all thanks to
    Allah, every Arab tribe had declared its belief Islam.

  Al-Bukhari in his Sahih related
    Amr ibn Salamah said that when Makka was conquered, every tribe hastened
    to declare acceptance of Islam to Allah's Messenger. They were waiting
    for it to take place saying, Leave them to themselves. He would indeed
    be a prophet if he prevailed over them.
  This version is the one which agrees chronologically with the beginning of
  the surah in the sense that its revelation was a sign of something to
  follow with some instructions to the Prophet, on what he should do when
  this event took place.
  There is, nevertheless, another fairly similar version in agreement with
  the one we have chosen and it is that by Ibn 'Abbas which says:
    Umar used to let me join the company of elders who were present at Badr,
    some of whom felt uneasy and asked why I should be allowed with them
    when I was young. But ' Umar said to them, 'You know that he is of high
    standing.' One day 'Umar invited them all and invited me as well. I felt
    that he wanted to show them who I was so he asked them, 'What do you
    make of Allah's saying, ' When the victory granted by Allah and the
    Conquest come?' Some of them replied, 'He ordered us to praise Him and
    seek His forgiveness when He helps us to triumph and bestows His favours
    on us.' The others remained silent. Then 'Umar asked me, 'Do you agree
    with this view, Ibn Abbas?' I answered in the negative. 'Umar asked me
    again. 'What then do you say?' I replied, 'It was a sign from Allah
    to His Messenger indicating the approach of the end of his life meaning,
    when the victory from Allah and the Conquest come, you; end is near,
    so extol the praises of your Lord and seek His forgiveness.' 'Umar
    commented, 'I have known no more than what you have said. (transmitted
    by al Bukhari).

  So it is possible that the Messenger, having witnessed his Lord's sign,
  realized that he had fulfilled his mission on this earth and that it was
  time for him to leave, which was what Ibn 'Abbas actually meant.

  However, there is another account narrated by Al-Hafiz al Baihaqi also
  attributed to Ibn 'Abbas who according to it said
    When this surah was first revealed, the Messenger of Allah called
    Fatimah and said, 'My death has been announced to me.' She was seen
    to start crying, then she smiled. She explained later, 'I cried when
    he told me of his approaching death. But he said to me, 'Be restrained,
    because you will be the first of my family to join me', so I smiled.'
  According to the last tradition quoted the time of the revelation of the
  surah is actually fixed as coming later than the sign, that is, the
  Conquest and the people's collective movement into Islam. When events took
  place in this fashion the Messenger of Allah knew that his life would soon
  come to a close. But again the first account is more authentic and fits in
  more suitably with the outline of the beginning of the surah, especially
  as the Fatimah incident is related in a different form which gives more
  weight to what we have suggested. This other form goes as follows:
    Umm Salamah, the Prophet's wife said: The Messenger of Allah called
    Fatimah to him sometime during the year of the Conquest and he said
    something to her. She cried. Then he spoke to her again and she was
    smiling. After he had died, I asked her about the incident and she
    explained 'The Messenger of Allah told me he was soon to die, so I
    cried. Then he told me that I would be the next most celebrated woman
    in Paradise after Mariam (Mary), the daughter of Imran, so I smiled.'

  This narration agrees with the general meaning of the Qur'anic text and
  with what Imam Ahmad related which appears in the Sahih of Muslim - that
  is, there was a sign (in the surah) between Allah and His Messenger and
  when the Conquest was accomplished the latter knew that he was soon to
  meet his Lord, so he spoke to Fatimah in the manner described by Umm

  Let us now consider the actual text of the surah and the injunction it
  gives for all time:
    When the victory granted by A Allah and the Conquest come, and you
    see people embracing the religion of Allah in large numbers. Then,
    celebrate the praises of your Lord and seek His forgiveness. He is
    ever disposed to mercy.
  The beginning of the first verse implicitly presents a concept of what goes
  on in this universe: the events that take place in this life, and the
  actual role of the Messenger of Allah and his followers in the progress of
  Islam, and to what extent it depends on their efforts. "When the victory
  granted by Allah", denotes that it is Allah's victory and Allah is the One
  who brings it about in His own good time, in the form He decides and for
  the purpose He determines. The Prophet and his companions have nothing to
  do with it at all, and they obtain no personal gain from it. It suffices
  them that He does it through them, appoints them as its guards and entrusts
  it to them. This is all they acquire from the victory of Allah, the
  Conquest and the people's acceptance en masse of His religion.

  According to this concept, the duty of the Messenger and his companions
  whom Allah chose and gave the privilege of being the instruments of His
  victory, was to turn to Him at the climax of victory in praise, expressing
  gratitude and seeking forgiveness. Gratitude and praise are for His being
  so generous as to have chosen them to be the standard bearers of His
  religion; for the mercy and favour He did to all humanity by making His
  religion victorious; and for the Conquest of Makka and the people's
  collective acceptance of Islam.
  His forgiveness is sought for the various unrevealed, defective feelings,
  such as vanity, which sometimes creep into one's heart at the overwhelming
  moment of victory attained after a long struggle. Human beings can hardly
  prevent this happening and therefore Allah's forgiveness is to be sought
  for it. Forgiveness also has to be sought for what might have been
  insinuated into one's heart during the long and cruel struggle and for
  petulance resulting from the belatedness of victory or the effects of
  convulsive despair, as the Qur'an brings out elsewhere:
    Or think you that you will enter Paradise while yet there has not come
    to you the like of that which came to those who passed away before you?
    Affliction and adversity befell them; they were shaken as with earth
    quake, till the Messenger (of Allah) and those who believed along with
    him said: 'When will Allah's help come?' Now surely  Allah's help is
    near. (2:214)
  It is also necessary to seek Allah's forgiveness for one's shortcomings in
  praising Allah and thanking Him for His favours which are perpetual and
    And if you were to count the favours of Allah, never will you be able
    to number them. (16:18)
  However much one's efforts in this respect, they are never adequate.
  Another touching thought is that seeking forgiveness at the moment of
  triumph arouses in one's mind the feeling of impotence and imperfection
  at a time when an attitude of self-esteem and conceit seems natural. All
  these factors guarantee that no tyranny will afflict the conquered. The
  victorious is made to realize that it is Allah who has appointed him,
  a man who has no power of his own and is devoid of any strength, for a
  pre determined purpose; consequently the triumph and the conquest as
  well as the religion are all His, to Whom all things ultimately return.

  This is the lofty, dignified ideal the Qur'an exhorts people to toil
  towards and attain, an ideal in which man's exaltation is in neglecting
  his own pride and where his soul's freedom is in his subservience to
  Allah. The goal set is the total release of human souls from their egoistic
  shackles, their only ambition being to attain Allah's pleasure. Along with
  this release there must be exerted a striving which helps man to flourish
  in the world, promote human civilisation and provide a rightly-guided,
  unblemished, constructive, just leadership devoted to Allah.

  In contrast, man's efforts to liberate himself while in the grip of egoism,
  shackled by his zest for worldly things, or overpowered by his cravings,
  turn out to be absolutely in vain unless he sets himself free from self and
  lets his loyalty to Allah override everything else, particularly at the
  moment of triumph and the collecting of booty.
  Such a standard of behaviour, which Allah wants humanity to aspire towards
  and to attain, was the characteristic feature of the Prophets at all times.

  So it was the case with Prophet Yussuf (Joseph), when all he wanted was
  achieved and his dream came true:
    and he placed his parents high on the throne of dignity and they fell
    down prostrate before him. He said: 'Father! This is the fulfillment of
    my dream of old. My Lord has made it come true. He has been gracious to
    me. He has released me from prison and has brought you from the desert
    after Satan had stirred-up strife between me and my brothers. My Lord
    is gracious with all that He plans to do. He is full of knowledge and
    wisdom. (12:100)
  Then, at that moment of climax, Yussuf took himself away from the
  jubilations and from the embracing arms to turn towards his Lord, praising
  him with a pure feeling of gratitude:
    My Lord! You have given me something of sovereignty and power and have
    taught me something of the interpretation of visions. Creator of the
    heavens and the earth! You are my Protector in this world and the here
    after. Let me die in submission and join the righteous. (12:101)

  Thus vanished the feeling of predominance and reputation and the happiness
  brought by his reunion with his family, and the picture we are left with is
  of that individual, Yussuf, praying to Allah to help him remain submissive
  to Him until he dies and to let him, out of His mercy and grace, join His
  righteous servants. So, it was also with Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon), when
  he saw the Queen of Sheba's throne brought into his very reach in a flash:
    And when he (Sulaiman) saw it set in his presence he said: 'This is
    of the bounty of my Lord, that He may try me whether I give thanks
    or remain ungrateful. He who gives thanks does so for his own good,
    and he who is ungrateful ... my Lord is all sufficient and bountiful.

  And so indeed it was with Muhammad all through his life. In the moment of
  triumph, as the Conquest of Makka was accomplished, he entered it on the
  back of his camel with his head bowed down. He forgot the joy of victory
  and thankfully bowed his head seeking his Lord's forgiveness, though he
  had just conquered Makka, the city whose people had openly and unashamedly
  persecuted and expelled him. This also was the practice of his companions
  after him.
  Thus, upon belief in Allah, was that great generation of humanity raised
  very high, reaching an unparalleled standard of greatness, power and





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