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Al-Najwa Verse

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Al-Najwa Verse
Verse's Information
Name al-Najwa Verse
Sura Qur'an 58
Verse 12
Juz' 28
Content Information
Cause of
Revelation
Paying charity for private consultation with Prophet (s)
Place of
Revelation
Medina
Topic Ethics
Others Virtues of Imam Ali (a)

Al-Najwā Verse (Arabic: آية النَّجْوَا) is the twelfth verse of Qur'an 58, which is also known as al-Munajat Verse. According to this verse, when wealthy Muslims wanted to privately consult the Prophet of Islam (s) they were obligated to pay charity to the poor. However, Muslims other than Imam 'Ali (a) refused to comply with the command. Thus, in the subsequent verse, God reprehends Muslims for the disobedience of the ruling, cancels the obligation of the charity, and abrogates the implication of the preceding verse.


Text and Translation

Occasion of the Revelation

The occasion of the revelation of the verse is said to be as follows: a group of wealthy Muslims visited the Prophet (s) and consulted him in private by cutting the line of the poor, and this offended the poor.[1] Moreover, the Prophet (s) was upset by their garrulousness and sitting there for too long. Thus, al-Najwa Verse was revealed, which is also known as al-Munajat Verse,[2] commanding the wealthy to pay charity to the poor prior to their private consultation with the Prophet (s).[3] Some exegetes have specified that some of these people sought to gain superiority over others by their private consultations with the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) did not prohibit them out of generosity although he was upset, until they were prohibited by the Qur'an.[4]

Reason for the Legislation of the Ruling of Charity Prior to Private Consultation

According to Makarim Shirazi, the reason why it was obligatory to pay the charity prior to private consultations with the Prophet (s) was that it was purer for Muslims. For on the one hand, the charity resulted in divine rewards and goodness for the wealthy, and an aid for the poor, and on the other, it led to the purity of the hearts of the wealthy from love of this-world possessions and the purity of the hearts of the poor from remorse.[5] 'Allama Tabataba'i believes that such charity was made obligatory because it would approximate the hearts of the wealthy and the poor to each other and obviate their grudges.[6]

In the subsequent verse, God exempts those in need from paying the charity so that they are not deprived of privately talking to the Prophet (s) about their important problems or needs. At the end, the revelation of the verse was a test to determine the extent of love for the Prophet (s) by Muslims.[7]

Abrogation of the Ruling

Al-Najwa Verse was abrogated by its subsequent verse (the verse 13 of Qur'an 58),

أَأَشفَقتُم أَن تُقَدِّموا بَينَ يَدَي نَجواكُم صَدَقاتٍ ۚ فَإِذ لَم تَفعَلوا وَتابَ اللَّهُ عَلَيكُم فَأَقيمُوا الصَّلاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكاةَ وَأَطيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسولَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبيرٌ بِما تَعمَلونَ

Were you apprehensive of offering charities before your secret talks? So, as you did not do it, and Allah was clement to you, maintain the prayer and pay the zakat, and obey Allah and His Apostle. And Allah is well aware of what you do.

After the legislation of the ruling of paying charity prior to private consultation with the Prophet (s), no Muslim acted upon it except 'Ali (a).[8] Thus, in the subsequent verse, Muslims who refused to pay the charity from the fear of poverty were strongly reprehended, and then the ruling of the obligation of paying such charity was cancelled, and their sins in the disobedience of the command was forgiven, and instead, the verse emphasizes on acting upon other obligations, avoiding forbidden actions, and obeying God and His Prophet (s).[9]

A number of exegetes believe that the revelation of the verse was tentative from the outset, because it was a test for Muslims, and when the test was over, the ruling was abrogated. Moreover, the continued obligation of paying charity prior to private consultations with the Prophet (s) would lead to problems for the Muslim community, since sometimes it was necessary or urgent for Muslims to privately meet the Prophet (s), and if the charity ruling remained in force, those urgencies could be relinquished and people or the Islamic community could be harmed.[10]

The Only Person who Acted on al-Najwa Verse

According to al-Tabrisi, the majority of Shiite and Sunni exegetes maintain that the only person who acted on this verse was Imam 'Ali (a).[11] Imam 'Ali (a) himself said, "there is a verse in the Qur'an on which no one acted and will never act. I had one dinar and changed it to ten dirhams, and whenever I wanted to privately consult the Messenger of God (s), I paid one dirham as charity."[12]

Notes

  1. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 189.
  2. Ḥillī, Nahj al-ḥaq, p. 182-183; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 35, p. 376; Maybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 10, p. 20-21.
  3. Wāḥidī, Asbāb al-nuzūl, p. 220-221.
  4. Ālūsī, Rūḥ al-maʿānī, vol. 14, p. 224.
  5. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 23, p. 448.
  6. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 189.
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 23, p. 448.
  8. Suyūṭī, al-Durr al-manthūr, vol. 6, p. 185.
  9. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 189-190.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 23, p. 452.
  11. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 9, p. 380.
  12. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 29, p. 495.

References

  • Ālūsī, Maḥmūd b. ʿAbd Allāh al-. Rūḥ al-maʿānī fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-ʿaẓīm. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1415 AH.
  • Fakhr al-Rāzī, Muḥammad b. al-ʿUmar al-. Mafātīḥ al-ghayb. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1420 AH.
  • Ḥillī, al-Ḥasan b. Yūsuf al-. Nahj al-ḥaq wa kashf al-ṣidq. Qom: Dār al-Hijra, 1407 AH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1371 Sh.
  • Maybudī, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad. Kashf al-asrār wa 'uddat al-abrār. Tehran: Amīr Kabīr, 1371 Sh.
  • Suyūṭī, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Abī Bakr al-. Al-Durr al-manthūr fī tafsīr al-maʾthūr. Qom: Kitābkhāna-yi Āyat Allāh Marʿashī Najafī, 1404 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Naṣir Khusruw, 1372 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāʾī, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1390 AH.
  • Wāḥidī, Alī b. Aḥmad. Asbāb al-nuzūl al-Qurʾān. Translated by Zakāwatī Qarāgūzlu. Tehran: Nashr-i Nay, 1383 Sh.