Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FATAH (VICTORY). Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 4
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER XLVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FATAH (VICTORY). Revealed at Madína. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 4 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ENTITLED SURAT AL FATAH (VICTORY).
This chapter takes its name from the statement in the first verse. A similar statement in ver. 27 would give the same title.
This chapter is composed of two parts, written at different times. I am not certain as to the precise point of division, whether at the beginning of ver. 20 or of ver. 25: on the whole, I prefer the former. According to this plan, the first portion of the chapter consists of vers. 1-19, which relates to the victory of the Muslims over the Jews at Ḳhaibar, and to the expedition previously made to Makkah, which ended in the truce of Hudaibiyah. This truce, though a deep humiliation to the Muslims at the time, turned out to be a master-stroke of policy, and might therefore be termed a victory.
The second portion of this chapter, consisting of vers. 20-29, was added on here, perhaps, by the compilers of the Qurán, because it related also to a victory—the victory of the Muslims over the sacred city of Makkah. The reasons for this division will appear from a perusal of the notes. The chapter as a whole is well named. Arabia was not yet conquered, but the final victory of the Muslims was now so well assured as to require no prophetic vision to foretell it.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Noëldeke assigns vers. 1-17 to a period immediately after the expedition to Hudaibiyah, in the month of Zul Q’ada, a.h. 6. The remainder of the chapter he places after the victory of the Muslims over the Jews of Ḳhaibar, in the early part of a.h. 7.
I am unable to follow Noëldeke here, for reasons expressed in the notes on the chapter. I would assign vers. 1-19 to a period immediately following the victory at Ḳhaibar, a.h. 7, a victory which restored the prestige of the Muslims, lost in a measure at Hudaibiyah, and at the same time afforded an opportunity to punish the Bedouin Arabs for their previous disloyalty. Vers. 20-29 I would assign to a period immediately following the conquest of Makkah, but preceding the battle of Hunain, a.h. 8.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory, (2) that God may forgive thee thy preceding and thy subsequent sin, and may complete his favour on thee, and direct thee in the right way; (3) and that God may assist thee with a glorious assistance. (4) It is he who sendeth down secure tranquillity into the hearts of the true believers, that they may increase in faith beyond their former faith; (the hosts of heaven and earth are God’s; and God is knowing and wise): (5) that he may lead the true believers of both sexes into gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever; and may expiate their evil deeds from them: (this will be great felicity with God:) (6) and that he may punish the hypocritical men, and the hypocritical women, and the idolaters, and the idolatresses, who conceive an ill opinion of God. They shall experience a turn of evil fortune; and God shall be angry with them, and shall curse them, and hath prepared hell for them: an ill journey shall it be thither!
∥ (7) Unto Godbelong the hosts of heaven and earth; and God is mighty and wise. (8) Verily we have sent thee to be a witness, and a bearer of good tidings, and a denouncer of threats; (9) that ye may believe in God and his Apostle; and may assist him, and revere him, and praise him morning and evening. (10) Verily they who swear fealty unto thee, swear fealty unto God: the hand of Godis over their hands. Whoever shall violate his oath will violate the same to the hurt only of his own soul: but whoever shall perform that which he hath covenanted with God, he will surely give him a great reward.
∥ (11) The Arabs of the desert who were left behind will say unto thee, Our substance and our families employed us, so that we went not forth with thee to war; wherefore, ask pardon for us. They speak that with their tongues which is not in their hearts. Answer, Who shall be able to obtain for you anything from Godto the contrary, if he is pleased to afflict you, or is pleased to be gracious unto you? Yea, verily, God is well acquainted with that which ye do. (12) Truly ye imagined that the Apostle and the true believers would never return to their families: and this was prepared in your hearts: but ye imagined an evil imagination; and ye are a corrupt people. (13) Whoso believeth not in God and his Apostle, verily we have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers. (14) Unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth: he forgiveth whom he pleaseth, and he punisheth whom he pleaseth: and God is inclined to forgive, and merciful. (15) Those who were left behind will say, When ye go forth to take the spoil, Suffer us to follow you. They seek to change the word of God. Say, Ye shall by no means follow us: thus hath God said heretofore. They will reply, Nay: ye envy us a share of the booty. But they are men of small understanding. (16) Say unto the Arabs of the desert who were left behind, Ye shall be called forth against a mighty and a warlike nation; ye shall fight against them, or they shall profess Islám. If ye obey, God will give you a glorious reward: but if ye turn back, as ye turned back heretofore, he will chastise you with a grievous chastisement. (17) It shall be no crime in the blind, neither shall it be a crime in the lame, neither shall it be a crime in the sick, if they go not forth to war: and those who shall obey God and his Apostle, he shall lead them into gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoso shall turn back, he will chastise him with a grievous chastisement.
∥ (18) Now God was well pleased with the true believers when they sware fidelity to thee under the tree; and he knew that which was in their hearts; wherefore he sent down on them tranquillity of mind, and rewarded them with a speedy victory, (19) and many spoils which they took: for God is mighty and wise. (20)God promised you many spoils which ye should take; but he gave you these by way of earnest; and he restrained the hands of men from you: that the same may be a sign unto the true believers; and that he may guide you into the right way. (21) And he also promiseth you other spoils, which ye have not yet been able to take: but now hath God encompassed them for you; and God is almighty. (22) If the unbelieving Makkans had fought against you, verily they had turned their backs; and they would not have found a patron or protector: (23) according to the ordinance of God, which hath been put in execution heretofore against opposers of the prophets; for thou shalt not find any change in the ordinance of God.(24)It was he who restrained their hands from you, and your hands from them, in the valley of Makkah; after that he had given you the victory over them: and God saw that which ye did. (25) These are they who believed not, and hindered you from visiting the holy temple, and also hindered the offering being detained, that it should not arrive at the place where it ought to be sacrificed. Had it not been that ye might have trampled on divers true believers, both men and women, whom ye know not, being promiscuously assembled with the infidels, and that a crime might therefore have lighted on you on their account, without your knowledge, he had not restrained your hands from them: but this was done that God might lead whom he pleased into his mercy. If they had been distinguished from one another, we had surely chastised such of them as believed not with a severe chastisement. (26) When the unbelievers had put in their hearts an affected preciseness, the preciseness of ignorance, and God sent down his tranquillity on his Apostle and on the true believers; and firmly fixed in them the word of piety, and they were the most worthy of the same, and the most deserving thereof: for God knoweth all things.
∥ (27) Now hath God in truth verified unto his Apostle the vision wherein he said, Ye shall surely enter the holy temple of Makkah, if God please, in full security; having your heads shaved and your hair cut: ye shall not fear: for God knoweth that which ye know not; and he hath appointed you, besides this, a speedy victory. (28)It is he who hath sent his Apostle with the direction, and the religion of truth; that he may exalt the same above every religion: and God is a sufficient witness hereof.(29) Muhammad is the Apostle of God: and those who are with him are fierce against the unbelievers, but compassionate towards one another. Thou mayest see them bowing down, prostrate, seeking a recompense from God, and his good-will. Their signs are in their faces, being marks of frequent prostration. This is their description in the Pentateuch, and their description in the Gospel: they are as seed which putteth forth its stalk and strengtheneth it, and swelleth in the ear, and riseth upon its stem; giving delight unto the sower. Such are the Muslims described to be: that the infidels may swell with indignation at them. God hath promised unto such of them as believe and do good works pardon and a great reward.
[(1) ]A manifest victory. “This victory, according to most received interpretation, was the taking of the city of Makkah. The passage is said to have been revealed on Muhammad’s return from the expedition of al Hudaibiyah, and contains a promise or prediction of this signal success, which happened not till two years after; the preterite tense being therein used, according to the prophetic style, for the future.
[(2) ]That God may forgive thee. “That is to say, that God may give thee an opportunity of deserving forgiveness by eradicating of idolatry, and exalting his true religion, and the delivering of the weak from the hands of the ungodly, &c.”—Sale.
[(5) ]Expiate their evil deeds. See note on chap. iii. 194.
[(10) ]Who swear fealthy, &c. “The original word signifies publicly to acknowledge or inaugurate a prince by swearing fidelity and obedience to him.”—Sale.
[(11) ]The Arabs of the desert, &c. “These were the tribes of Aslam, Juhainah, Muzainah, and Ghifár, who, being summoned to attend Muhammad in the expedition of al Hudaibiyah, stayed behind, and excused themselves by saying their families must suffer in their absence, and would be robbed of the little they had (for these tribes were of the poorer Arabs); whereas in reality they wanted firmness in the faith and courage to face the Quraish.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(15) ]Those . . . left behind, viz., “in the expedition of Ḳhaibar. The Prophet returned from al Hudaibiyah in Dhu’l Hajja, in the sixth year of the Hijra, and stayed at Madína the remainder of that month and the beginning of Muharram, and then set forward against the Jews of Ḳhaibar with those only who had attended him to Hudaibiyah; and having made himself master of the place, and all the castles and strongholds in that territory, took spoils to a great value, which he divided among those who were present at that expedition, and none else.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(16) ]A warlike nation. “These were Banu Hunífa, who inhabited al Yamáma, and were the followers of Musailama, Muhammad’s competitor; or any other of those tribes which apostatised from Muhammadanism; or, as others rather suppose, the Persians or the Greeks.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(18) ]When they sware fidelity, &c. “Muhammad, when at al Hudaibiyah, sent Jawwás Ibn Umaiya the Ḳhudháite to acquaint the Makkans that he was come with a peaceable intention to visit the temple; but they, on some jealousy conceived, refusing to admit him, the Prophet sent Othmán Ibn Affán, whom they imprisoned, and a report ran that he was slain: whereupon Muhammad called his men about him, and they took an oath to be faithful to him, even to death; during which ceremony he sat under a tree, supposed by some to have been an Egyptian thorn, and by others a kind of lote-tree.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(20) ]God promised you many spoils, &c. “These words, which point to the rule (chap. viii. and notes there) that all the spoils, save the Prophet’s fifth, should be distributed among the Muslims, are a sufficient refutation of the statement made by Mr. Bosworth Smith (Muhammad and Muhammadanism, p. 231), that “in his capacity even of temporal ruler, Muhammad rarely gave material rewards to his followers.” The fact is, that at this stage, and ever afterwards, the chief attraction of Islám was the hope of conquest and rich booty.
[(22) ]Rodwell translates, If the infidels shall fight against you, they shall assuredly turn their backs. The Hindustání and Persian translations agree with Sale.
[(24) ]He restrained, &c. Jaláluddín says that fourscore of the infidels came privately to Muhammad’s camp at al Hudaibiyah, with an intent to surprise some of his men, but were taken and brought before the Prophet, who pardoned them and ordered them to be set at liberty; and this generous action was the occasion of the truce struck up by the Quraish with Muhammad; for thereupon they sent Suhail Ibn Ámrú and some others (and not Arwá Ibn Masúd, as is said by mistake in another place (Prelim. Disc., p. 89), for his errand was an actual defiance) to treat for peace.
[(25) ]The place where, &c. “Muhammad’s intent, in the expedition of al Hudaibiyah, being only to visit the temple of Makkah in a peaceable manner, and to offer a sacrifice in the valley of Mina, according to the established rites, he carried beasts with him for that purpose; but was not permitted by the Quraish either to enter the temple or to go to Mina.”—Sale.
[(26) ]God sent down his tranquillity, &c. “This passage was occasioned by the stiffness of Suhail and his companions in wording the treaty concluded with Muhammad; for when the Prophet ordered Ali to begin with the form, In the name of the most merciful God, they objected to it, and insisted that he should begin with this, In thy name, O God; which Muhammad submitted to, and proceeded to dictate, These are the conditions on which Muhammad, the Apostle of God, has made peace with those of Makkah; to this Suhail again objected, saying, ‘If we had acknowledged thee to be the Apostle of God, we had not given thee any opposition:’ whereupon Muhammad ordered Ali to write, as Suhail desired, These are the conditions which Muhammad, the son of Abdallah, &c. But the Muslims were so disgusted thereat, that they were on the point of breaking off the treaty, and had fallen on the Makkans, had not God appeased and calmed their minds; as it follows in the text.
[(27) ]The vision. “Or dream which Muhammad had at Madína, before he set out for al Hudaibiyah, wherein he dreamed that he and his companions entered Makkah in security, with their heads shaven and their hair cut. This dream, being imparted by the Prophet to his followers, occasioned a great deal of joy among them; and they supposed it would be fulfilled that same year: but when they saw the truce concluded, which frustrated their expectation for that time, they were deeply concerned; whereupon this passage was revealed for their consolation, confirming the vision, which was not to be fulfilled till the year after, when Muhammad performed the visitation, distinguished by the addition of al Qadá, or completion, because he then completed the visitation of the former year, when the Quraish not permitting him to enter Makkah, he was obliged to kill his victims, and to shave himself at al Hudaibiyah.”—Sale.
[(28) ]Exalt the same above every religion. Islám, being the only true religion, the religion of all the prophets, is now to be exalted, through the instrumentality of Muhammad, above every other religion. Makkah having now fallen, he considers his religion as triumphant in Arabia, and may be in the world.
[(29) ]Muhammad is the Apostle of God. The speaker being God, this form is peculiar, if Muhammad be the person addressed, unless, indeed, we regard these words as the witness-bearing of God. The passage would then read, “God is a sufficient witness hereof; for he declareth that Muhammad is the Apostle of God,” &c.