|Name||Aya Azab Waqi'|
|punishment of Nuʿman b. Harith al-Fihri|
Quran 70:1-2 (Arabic: آیة سَأَلَ سائِل) was revealed with regard to a request of a disbeliever for divine punishment. According to the commentators, after this request, a heavenly stone struck his head and killed him.
Ibn Taymiyya rejected the view of Shiite commentators and claimed that the verse was revealed in Mecca. In response, Allama Tabatabai has mentioned that although the style of the beginning verses of this sura is similar to that of the Meccan suras, other verses of this sura show that it was revealed in Medina, such as the verses concerning zakat and the hypocrites.
Text and Translation
سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ - لِّلْكَافِرِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ
An asker asked for a punishment sure to befall—which none can avert from the faithless —.
|— Qur'an 70:1-2|
Occasion of Revelation
According to some Shiite commentators, the first verse of Quran 70 was revealed when Nuʿman b. Harith al-Fihri (or another person) objected to the appointment of Imam Ali (a) as the successor of the Prophet (s) on the Event of Ghadir and said to the Prophet (s), “You demanded that we testify to God’s unicity and to your prophethood, and we testified. Then you demanded that we carry out jihad, perform hajj, fast, prayer, and pay zakat, and we accepted. But you were not satisfied with that until you appointed this youth [i.e., Ali (a)] as your successor. Is this your own decision or God's decision?” The Prophet (s) replied that it was God’s decision. Nuʿman then said, “O God! If this is truly from you, shed us a stone from heaven!” After this request, a stone from heaven struck him and he was killed, and then this verse was revealed.
Some commentators have given another account and mentioned that the verse was related to Nadr b. Harith, who mockingly addressed the Prophet (s) in Masjid al-Haram and said, “O God! If Muhammad [a] is truthful and what he says is from you, strike us with a heavenly stone or afflict us with a painful punishment.” His request was fulfilled and a stone struck him from heaven and killed him, and then this verse was revealed. It has also been said that the verse was revealed in response to Abu Jahl who had said, “Make a fragment of the sky falls upon us, should you be truthful”.
Ibn Taymiyya's View
Ibn Taymiyya believes that the verse was not revealed on the Event of Ghadir, because Quran 70 was revealed in Mecca prior to the Prophet's (s) migration to Medina, whereas the Event of Ghadir occurred ten years after his migration to Medina. In response, Allama Tabatabai has mentioned that although the style of the beginning verses of this sura is similar to that of the Meccan suras and to the way they warn the disbelievers of the punishment of the Day of Judgment, some verses in this sura shows that it was revealed in Medina; for instance, verse twenty four speaks of zakat, which was legislated in Medina, and verses 36-38 have to do with the hypocrites, who emerged in Medina.
Ibn Taymiyya also argues that if this story was indeed true, it would be incompatible with Quran 8:33, according to which God would not punish people while the Prophet (s) was in their midst. In response, it has been said that Quran 8:33 is about all-encompassing punishments, not the ones that afflict certain individuals. This is supported by the fact that historical sources mention other individuals as well, such as Abu Zamʿa, Malik b. Talala, Hakam b. Abi l-'As, who were divinely punished during the time of the Prophet (s).
Another point made by Ibn Taymiyya is that Nuʿman b. Harith is not listed among the Companions in such sources as al-Istiʿab and his story is not famous like that of the Army of the Elephant. In response, it has been said that such sources have not listed the names of all the Companions. Moreover, according to Allama Amini in al-Ghadir, the story of Nuʿman b. Harith is reported at least by thirty famous Sunni scholars, which shows that the story was not so much unknown.
- Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 6.
- Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūnah, vol. 25, p. 6; Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 11.
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