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Al-Tabligh Verse

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Al-Tablīgh verse (Arabic: آیة التَّبليغ, propagation verse) is the 67th verse of Qur'an 5 (Sura al-Ma'ida) and one of the last verses revealed to the Prophet (s). According to this verse, the Prophet (s) was obliged to proclaim an important message to people. The verse explicitly denotes the importance of the message that if the Prophet (s) had not proclaimed it, he would not have performed his mission. According to Shi'a and some Sunnis, it is revealed in farewell Hajj just before the 18th Dhu l-Hijja 10 AH/19th March 632. Shi'a believe that the subject of the message was succession of the Prophet (s) by 'Ali (a), so after the revelation of this verse the Prophet (s) announced 'Ali (a) as his vicegerent and successor in Ghadir Khumm.

Contents

Translation

Occasion of Revelation

Shi'a exegetes and narrators believe that the al-Tabligh verse was revealed in farewell Hajj in Ghadir Khumm regarding the announcement of Imam 'Ali's (a) succession of the Prophet (s).[1] Some Sunni exegetes have agreed with that as well.[2] According to Shi'a sources, after that the Prophet (s) postponed the announcement of Imam 'Ali's succession because he was afraid of hypocrites's conspiracy, Jabra'il (Gabriel) delivered this verse to him in which God has emphasized on proclaiming of 'Ali's guardianship and protecting the Prophet (s) from hypocrites. Based on this, "Proclaim that which has been sent down to you from your Lord" means the guardianship and succession of 'Ali (a) which was revealed to the Prophet (s) earlier but he was worried about its announcement as people might have said he had chosen his cousin for his succession.[3]

Other Possibilities

Other possible causes have been put forth for the revelation of this verse, however, these causes have been criticized by Muslim and Shi'a scholars.

Revelation in Mecca

Based on some hadiths, it is said that the al-Tabligh verse was sent down in Mecca obliging the Prophet (s) to propagate the truths of the religion among unbelievers and polytheists. According to these hadiths, some guards were appointed to protect him against his enemies, but after the revelation of this verse he discharged them and said that God will protect him from his enemies. Moreover, he was obliged to inform unbelievers and polytheists about the truths of the religion without any fear.[4]

Criticism

Exegetes unanimously believe that Qur'an 5 was revealed in Medina[5] and according to some hadiths narrated from 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, it was the last revealed sura.[6] Therefore it is wrong to assume that the al-Tabligh verse was sent down in Mecca and that, for many years, it was recited alone without being joined to any sura.[7] Moreover, some scholars counted the hadiths about the guards protecting the Prophet (s) in Mecca as gharib (strange) and munkar (denied).[8]

Proclamation among Ahl al-Kitab

As stated by some, al-Tabligh Verse was revealed in Medina[9] with the purpose of obliging the Prophet (s) to convey the revealed truths to people of the book (Jews and Christians) with no fear.[10] According to Abu Hayyan, the message that the Prophet (s) was supposed to convey was the ruling of Rajm (stoning) and Qisas (retaliation in kind), which was sent down in Torah and Gospel but were distorted and changed by Jews and Christians.[11] He argues that verses before and after this verse are also about Ahl al-Kitab and that the topic of this verse should not differ from the subject of those verses.

Criticism

According to historical sources, following the battles between Muslims and Jews including the Battle of Khaybar and Banu Qurayza, Jews lost their power and grandeur and by the occupation of their castles and expulsion of many of them, their influence waned.[12] Christians also did not have power in Hijaz and especially in Medina. The only instance in which these Christians confronted Muslims was the event of Mubahala, which was canceled at the former's request.[13] Considering the fact that Muslims were very powerful in the final years of the Prophet's (s) life, there was no reason for the Prophet (s) to worry about propagating the truths of religion among Jews and Christians. Moreover, the al-Tabligh Verse is not alien to preceding and following verses. The context of the verses is about rebuking Jews and Christians and probably they thought that by the demise of the Prophet (s), Muslims will lose their power and domination and that they can return to power. But the al-Tabligh verse, which is about appointment of a leader for the Muslim Umma succeeding the Prophet (s), negated their assumptions. This interpretation is consistent with the al-Ikmal verse, which was revealed after the announcement of Imam 'Ali's (a) guardianship.[14]

Important Points

Importance of this Mission

This verse explicitly denotes the importance and sensitivity of the message; for failure to deliver this message has been considered equal to not fulfilling the whole prophetic mission assigned by God. Therefore, the message can not be considered as a message about theological issues such as monotheism, prophethood or the resurrection or jurisprudential issues such as the rulings on prayer, fasting and Hajj, because Qur'an 5 is the last sura revealed to the Prophet (s) but those rulings have been sent down before the revelation of Qur'an 5. It can be said that it should be about an issue which is , in addition to importance and novelty, considered as a complement to the Prophet's (s) prophetic mission which is nothing but the leadership of the Muslim umma after the Prophet (s).

The Prophet's Worry

Due to the sensitivity of the issue, the Prophet (s) was worried about delivering the message, but God dispelled his worry by this phrase "Allah shall protect you from people." As it was demonstrated, the verse is not about the polytheists of Quraysh nor about people of the book, the referent of "people" is hypocrites within the Islamic society. The Prophet (s) was worried about their opposition and sabotage because:

  • Imam 'Ali (s) was known as a serious and inflexible person in religious matters.[15]
  • Some new Muslim (specially from Quraysh) had grudge against 'Ali (a) as he had killed their relatives in the battles.
  • 'Ali was young (when the Prophet (s) passed away he was 33). The Arab society was not going to easily accept him, since for them, age and senility was one of the most important requirements for leadership. This attitude towards leadership was reflected in objections which arose twice during the Prophet's (s) life: during the Battle of Tabuk when 'Ali (a) was appointed as the Prophet's successor in Medina, and appointment of Usama b. Zayd as the commander of the army in the last days of the Prophet's (s) life.[16]

See Also

Notes

  1. See: Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 179; ʿAyyāshī, Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī, vol. 1, p. 331-332.
  2. See: Suyūṭī, al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 2, p. 298; Ālūsī, Rūḥ al-maʿānī. Vol. 6, p. 194.
  3. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, vol. 3, p. 344.
  4. See: Suyūṭī, al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 2, p. 298; Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 567-569; Thaʿālabī, Jawāhir al-ḥisān, vol. 1, p. 442.
  5. Ibn ʿAṭīyya, al-Muḥarrar al-wajīz, vol. 5, p. 5; Qurṭubī, al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, vol. 3, p. 30.
  6. Tirmidhī, al-Jāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ, vol. 5, p. 261.
  7. Ibn ʿĀshūr, Tafsīr al-taḥrīr, vol. 6, p. 256.
  8. Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 132.
  9. Abū Ḥayyān, Tafsīr al-baḥr al-muḥiṭ, vol. 3, p. 529.
  10. Ṭabarī, Jāmiʿ al-bayān, vol. 6, p. 198; Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātiḥ al-ghayb, vol. 12, p. 401.
  11. Abū Ḥayyān, Tafsīr al-baḥr al-muḥiṭ, vol. 3, p. 529.
  12. Qurʾān, 33:26-27, 59:2-4.
  13. Qurʾān, 3:61.
  14. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, vol. 3, p. 346.
  15. Abū l-Futūḥ al-Rāzī, Rawḍ al-Jinān, vol. 4, p. 276.
  16. Ṭabarī, Tārikh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 3, p. 186.

References

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  • Abū Ḥayyān, Muḥammad b. Yūsuf. Tafsīr al-baḥr al-muḥiṭ. Beirut: [n.p], 1983.
  • Abū l-Futūḥ al-Rāzī, Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī. Rawḍ al-Jinān wa rawḥ al-Janān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Shaʿrānī & ʿAlī Akbar al-Ghaffārī. Tehran: [n.p], 1382-1387 Sh.
  • ʿAyyāshī, Muḥammad b. Masʿūd al-. Tafsīr al-ʿAyyāshī. Edited by Hāshim Rasūlī Maḥallātī. Tehran: al-Maktaba al-ʿIlmīyya al-Islāmīyya, 1363 Sh.
  • Fakhr al-Rāzī, Muḥammad b. ʿUmar al-. Mafātiḥ al-ghayb (al-Tafsīr al-kabīr). Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, [n.d].
  • Ibn ʿĀshūr, Muḥammad Ṭāhir. Tafsīr al-taḥrīr wa l-tanwīr. Tunis: [n.p], 1984.
  • Ibn ʿAṭīyya, ʿAbd al-Ḥaq b. Ghālib. Al-Muḥarrar al-wajīz fī tafsīr al-kitāb al-ʿazīz. Edited by Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Salām ʿAbd al-Shāfī. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1422 AH.
  • Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, Ismāʾīl b. ʿUmar. Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-ʿaẓīm. Khalīl al-Mis. Beirut: Dār al-Qalam, [n.d].
  • Qummī, ʿAlī b. Ibrāhīm al-. Tafsīr al-Qummī. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1412 AH.
  • Qurṭubī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-. Al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Beirut: [n.p], 1965.
  • Suyūṭī, Jalāl al-Dīn al-. Al-Durr al-manthūr fī l-tafsīr bi-l-maʾthūr. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1414 AH.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Jāmiʿ al-bayān. Edited by ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī. [n.p]: Dār al-Hijr li-l-Ṭibāʿa wa l-Nashr, 1422 AH.
  • Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārikh al-Ṭabarī (Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk). Edited by Muḥammad Abū l-Faḍl Ibrāhīm. Beirut: Rawāʾiʿ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1387 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt li-Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth, 1417 AH.
  • Thaʿālabī, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Aḥmad al-. Jawāhir al-ḥisān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Abū Muḥammad al-Ghamārī al-Idrīsī al-Ḥasanī. Beirut: [n.p], 1416 AH.
  • Tirmidhī, Muḥammad b. ʿĪsā al-. Al-Jāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ. Shākir Aḥmad Muḥammad. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1408 AH.
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