The Stories behind Surah An-Nur (Verses 11 onwards continued)

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

اللهم صلي على سيدنا محمد وعلى اله وصحبه وسلم

Allahumma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wasallim

O Allah, send your peace and blessings upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and companions

The Stories behind Surah An-Nur (Verses 11 onwards)

This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Online Lecture on 26th December 2020. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Maryam, Surah Taha, Surah Al-Anbiya’, Surah Al-Hajj and Surah Al-Mu’minun can be found here. The summaries of the previous lectures of Surah An-Nur can be found here.

Recap of the Previous Lecture

Incident One: Conflict between a Muhajir and an Ansar Companion

Last week, we stopped the lecture at Rasulullah SAW’s return from the Battle of Banu Al-Mustaliq. There had been a few crises on the journey back to Madinah. The first was a fight between an Ansar man and a Muhajir man. This conflict was swiftly resolved by Rasulullah SAW, who had demanded that the companions stop rallying their own people against one another.

Rasulullah SAW had immediately gathered the troops to resume on their journey, instead of stopping to rest. This incident caused resentment to brew in the hearts of the hypocrites, especially that of Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, who then started to spread incitements against the Muhajirun. He claimed that Rasulullah SAW was favouring the Muhajirun who were taking for granted the sacrifice the Ansar had made for them.

Incident Two: Sayidatina Aisyah was Left Behind

The second incident that we spoke of happened when this caravan stopped at a rest stop for a break. Sayidatina Aisyah RA had climbed out of her howdah to relief herself. On her way back, she had noticed that the locket that she had been wearing was now missing.

She spent some time looking for it, and when she finally found it and returned to the campsite, she found that everyone had left without her. She sat at that spot awaiting the caravan’s return. While waiting, she fell asleep.

She was awoken by a Sahabah called Safwan RA who, upon finding Sayidatina Aisyah asleep by herself, had exclaimed in shock “Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi roji’un!”. Safwan RA had silently escorted Sayidatina Aisyah RA back to join the caravan.

Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul had seen this as an opportunity to insinuate mischief. He initiated whispers implying that something must have happened between Sayidatina Aisyah and Safwan RA. Soon after, word got around that Sayidatina Aisyah had had an affair with Safwan behind Rasulullah SAW’s back.

Incident Three: Abdullah bin Ubayy was Blocked from Entering Madinah

The third incident was with Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul’s son, Abdullah ibn Abdillah RA. Unlike his father, Abdullah ibn Abdillah was a righteous companion, RA. Being at the head of the caravan, he had stopped at the Medinan border upon his arrival to Madinah, to welcome the companions RA home.

He had eagerly greeted each of them and welcomed them with open arms. The moment he saw his father though, he became angry and blocked his father’s path. He declared that he was not going to allow his father to enter Madinah unless the permission to enter was granted by Rasulullah SAW. When news of this arrived to Rasulullah SAW, he SAW granted his permission and allowed Abdullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul to enter Madinah. This was where we stopped the story.

Main Characters Featured in the Ensuing Story

Figure 1: Whiteboard Illustration of the main characters of the events that will follow.

We then went through a list of names, or characters that would star in the proceeding story. If you remember, we talked about three of the wives of the prophet: Sayidatina Khadijah RA (Rasulullah SAW’s first wife), Sayidatina Aisyah RA (Abu Bakar’s daughter) and Sayidatina Zainab bte Jahsy (who had previously been married to Sayidina Zaid ibn Haritha, the adopted son of Rasulullah SAW).

We talked about the cousin of Abu Bakar, named Ummu Mistah, the mother of Mistah bin Uthaathah. When Uthaathah had passed on, Abu Bakar RA had taken it upon himself to sponsor and provide for Mistah and his mother RA.

We talked about Zainab bte Jahsy being known for her mutual competitiveness and jealousy with Sayidatina Aisyah RA. She had a sister called Hemnah bte Jahsy, who was her loyal defender and always sided with Sayidatina Zainab. Hemnah and Zainab’s mother, Umaimah bin Abdul Muttalib, was the sister of Rasulullah SAW’s father, Abdullah bin Abdul Muttalib, making them both Rasulullah SAW’s cousins.

We also spoke of Ummu Aiman, who married Zaid ibn Haritha after his divorce with Zainab binte Jahsy. Together, Ummu Aiman and Zaid bin Haritha had a son called Usamah bin Zaid, who was much beloved to Rasulullah SAW and was named “Al-Hibb bin Al-Hibb” – the Beloved son of the Beloved. So that was a glimpse of a portion of the family tree of Rasulullah SAW.

Continuation of the Story

Rumours of the Supposed Affair Spreads Across Madinah

So, the story goes like this, upon the caravan’s arrival back in Madinah, Sayidatina Aisyah RA had fallen sick. While she had been resting at home in her sickness, the rumour of her supposed affair with Safwan spread like wildfire in her absence. This news did not merely spread by word-of-mouth. Some of the believing companions of Rasulullah SAW had gotten wind of this and they too started sharing what they had heard with others. This is why, in Surah At-Taubah, Allah SWT tells us that the hypocrites are people whom when added to the troops of any battle, do not give any benefit at all to the troops. Perhaps, their addition could even bring more problems to them. In Surah At-Taubah, Allah SWT says:

لَوْ خَرَجُوا۟ فِيكُم مَّا زَادُوكُمْ إِلَّا خَبَالًۭا وَلَأَوْضَعُوا۟ خِلَـٰلَكُمْ يَبْغُونَكُمُ ٱلْفِتْنَةَ وَفِيكُمْ سَمَّـٰعُونَ لَهُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌۢ بِٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ

And had they set out with you, they would have added nothing for you but trouble, and they would have hurried about in your midst (spreading corruption) and sowing sedition among you. Still, among you there are those who love to listen to them. Allah is aware of the wrongdoers. [9:47]

Allah SWT mentioned that even though the hypocrites were cruel in their actions, amongst the believers, there had in fact been a portion who believed in what the hypocrites had said and took part in propagating the slander.

So now, if we return to the names listed above on the whiteboard, there were two people on the board who were amongst those who were involved in relaying the slander; they were Hemnah bte Jahsy (cousin and sister-in-law of Rasulullah SAW) and Mistah bin Uthaathah (second cousin of Aisyah RA, and the beneficiary of aid from Sayidina Abu Bakar). There had been a third companion who was involved in spreading what we now call fake news; his name was Hasan bin Thabit.

So Aisyah RA had been unaware of all the news that had been spreading behind her back. Rasulullah SAW, who had been out and about, started feeling anxious and upset, feeling helpless about what was happening. Rasulullah SAW had no way of either denying or accepting the news. He did not know who started it, and even if he did find the source, he did not know why other people were also corroborating the news.

Rasulullah SAW Consults His Most Trusted Companions

What happened next was that Rasulullah SAW, during this painful period in his marriage, had consulted with some of the people in his household. Amongst the people he had consulted had been Sayidina Usamah bin Haritha.

Even though Usamah was still noticeably young, he SAW trusted Usamah RA’s opinion, and asked what he thought regarding the news of the affair. Usamah replied, “O Rasulullah, I only know of Aisyah as someone noble. It is not possible for Sayidatina Aisyah to do such a thing! O Rasulullah, why not you ask someone who is often in the presence of Aisyah – Aisyah RA’s maid, Burairah.”

Rasulullah SAW approached Burairah to ask her opinion. Burairah RA, answered similar to what Zaid had said, “Aisyah is a good person, there is no doubt that she would never commit such an act. She is pure and innocent, just that she is young, and people can easily throw accusations at her.”

She asked him to have pity on her. Burairah mentioned that Aisyah was so young that there was a time she was asked to take care of some wheat; she had fallen asleep on duty and did not even wake up until a sheep/goat had come and eaten the wheat.

Rasulullah SAW then went to Zainab bte Jahsy, whom we know was competitive and jealous of Aisyah RA. He asked her RA of her opinion regarding Aisyah RA in the context of this news. Hemnah, Zainab’s closest sister was amongst those who had spread the news regarding Aisyah’s supposed affair.

On the other hand, Zainab and Aisyah were known to have issues and conflicts between them. Yet, when asked by Rasulullah SAW regarding Aisyah, Zainab RA defended Aisyah RA. She told him, “O Rasulullah, Aisyah is a noble woman. I know her as someone who would never commit such an act!”.

Jealousy was a common thing; when different wives compete to get their husband’s attention, it is only natural to feel jealous and competitive. It is a normal occurrence for them to use sarcastic remarks against one another, get riled up, refusing to talk to one another. (Disclaimer: I am not speaking from my own experience, but from what I have heard from others.) To a believer, the truth is still the truth; it cannot be compromised based on jealousy.

Another person that was asked by Rasulullah SAW regarding Aisyah in this incident was Sayidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA, the son-in-law of Rasulullah SAW. He RA had grown up with Rasulullah SAW in his father, Abu Talib’s home, and been raised by Rasulullah SAW after he married Khadijah RA.

Sayidina Ali understood the agony in the heart of Rasulullah SAW, having to deal with the spread of these rumours without being able to prove her innocence. In a hadith, it was mentioned that this incident lasted for 30 to 50 days. Imagine how big of an ordeal it was for Rasulullah SAW.

Sayidina Ali said, “O Rasulullah SAW, Allah SWT would never restrict you. There are many other ladies out there.”. This answer was different from the ones he had previously received from Usamah, Zainab and Burairah RA. Whatever that had been said by Sayidina Ali was eventually heard by Sayidatina Aisyah RA.

This had sparked the uneasiness she had against him. Scholars say that this could have been one of the reasons that sparked the conflict between the Muslims after the death of Rasulullah SAW, where two troops were gathered, one led by Sayidina Ali RA and another by Sayidatina Aisyah RA. This is a separate story, but in this story, Sayidatina Aisyah was hurt by Sayidina Ali’s comments.

Aisyah RA Discovers the Truth

So in this story there are four antagonists: Abdullah bin Ubayy and the three companions named previously. Sayidatina Aisyah RA had been unaware of the drama happening outside.

One day, Sayidatina Aisyah, in her sickness, had been with Ummu Mistah, her father’s cousin. In the night, Sayidatina Aisyah had been accompanied by Ummu Mistah to go relief themselves. At that moment, Ummu Mistah had stumbled and said, “Let Mistah be ruined!”.

Aisyah, upon hearing this, said, “How could you say such a thing? Mistah is a good man, he had fought in Badr and Uhud! He fought alongside my husband… It’s not nice for you to say these things about your own son!”.

Hearing this, Ummu Mistah had been shocked, she asked, “O Aisyah, have you not heard about what the people are saying about you? Do you not know what Mistah has been saying to others about you?”. Aisyah was surprised to hear this.

Ummu Mistah then told her the truth, “Throughout Madinah, word has been spreading around that you have been unfaithful to Rasulullah SAW, that you have cheated on him with Safwan. And my son Mistah has been one of the people spreading this falsehood.”.

Can you imagine the shock of Aisyah at this moment? She was a loyal and good wife, and in her sickness and absence, words of falsehood had spread around about her. And amongst those who were spreading the slander had been Mistah, her own second cousin!

Sayidatina Aisyah immediately returned to her father’s home, asking him if what was being said was true. Sayidatina Aisyah’s mother comforted her and calmed her down, asking her to remain patient since she knew this was not the truth.

She said, “Not everyone has a life in which they are truly loved by their husband.” She was telling Aisyah not to worry, for her husband was going to remain loyal in trusting her. There were only a few people out there who were adored by their husband the way Aisyah RA had been.

But Sayidatina Aisyah RA was unsettled. It was only then that she realised that since their return to Madinah, Rasulullah SAW had not been as affectionate with her as he usually had been. He would only drop by, to ask how she was doing, and then leave. He would not court her or joke around with her. Aisyah RA refused to return home to Rasulullah after that.

Aisyah RA Confronts Rasulullah SAW

When Rasulullah SAW came to Sayidina Abu Bakar’s home to ask for her, Sayidatina Aisyah asked him, “Is it true what they say? Is this the reason why you have not been caring for me and giving me your attention?”.

Rasulullah SAW responded first by saying the Shahadah – there is no God but Allah. Rasulullah SAW said, “O Aisyah, surrender this to Allah. If you are truly innocent, then Allah SWT will purify you. And if you, O Aisyah, had committed a sin, then make Taubah to Allah SWT. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Let me ask you dear brothers and sisters – particularly to my dearest sisters – if you had been in this situation, how would you have reacted? How would a wife react to her husband saying such a thing? “If you had not done any wrong, then know that Allah will protect you, but if you did commit the sin, and you know this, then go seek forgiveness.”.

Upon hearing this response, Sayidatina Aisyah RA had broken down into tears. She was devastated to hear that Rasulullah SAW did not believe her 100%. In front of her parents and husband, she said firmly, “Is this how you all treat me? Perhaps only when I have said that I did do it, only then would you believe me? I swear by Allah that I have not done such a thing!”

She was disappointed that Rasulullah SAW did not immediately defend her, instead he said, “if this then… otherwise then…”. Rasulullah SAW still had doubts about her and was not 100% convinced of her innocence.

She continued to say, “I leave this to Allah! I can only afford to say what was once said by Prophet Ya’qub AS long ago, ‘Fasobrun jameel. Wallahul musta’aanu a’laa maa taSifuun.’ [Surah Yusuf, 12:18] (i.e., So patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe.)”. Sayidatina Aisyah RA says that all she has left to do is to have patience with a beautiful patience and to seek Allah’s help.

She then ran to her room and lay crying on her bed. Refusing to even look at Rasulullah SAW. Her heart had been wounded by his words. It was then that the next verses of Surah An-Nur were revealed. When these verses were revealed, Rasulullah SAW was relieved and said to Aisyah, “O Aisyah, give thanks and be joyous; Allah has purified you!”. He then recited the verses. So, at that moment, Aisyah’s innocence had been proven.

Aftermath of the Revelation of Verses 11 onwards

The three people who had spread slander, Mistah bin Uthaathah, Hasan bin Thabit and Hemnah bte Jahsy RA had been given the Qazaf penalty – 80 strokes of the cane. They had spread false accusation regarding Sayidatina Aisyah having an affair, and she had been proven innocent by Allah SWT. After that, the three companions had made Taubah.

As believers, we do make mistakes. Sometimes they are small mistakes, other times, they may be bigger mistakes. As previously mentioned, there were even companions who committed Zina.

There were companions who committed Qazaf. And they did not just slander anyone, they slandered Sayidatina Aisyah, the wife of Rasulullah SAW. This slander wreaked havoc in the household of Rasulullah SAW for about a month!

The companions had remained as companions despite them having been named in this hadith as having committed a grave sin. The sin that was committed had been in the past. They had made Taubah and returned to Allah and had been forgiven by Allah SWT.

In fact, Sayidina Hasan bin Thabit had been a poet who had written many poems praising Rasulullah SAW. After he had gone through his penalty and made Taubah, he continued writing poems, this time, he would write many poems to praise and honour Sayidatina Aisyah RA.

So now we have the mastermind of the slander, Abdullah bin Ubayy. There are several narrations telling us what had happened to him. Some say that he too was given the 80 strokes penalty.

However, most narrations say that he had not been given any penalty. Mistah and Hemnah RA had been family members of Rasulullah SAW and Aisyah RA, and Hasan bin Thabit, a famous companion. Yet all three of them had been given the penalty.

On the contrary, Abdullah bin Ubayy, the initiator of the slander, had not been. Why do you think this is so? Should he not have received the worst of punishments? He had been inciting conflict and discontent since way before this incident. Why did Rasulullah SAW let him off the hook? The answer will be revealed when we reunite in the next lecture insyaaAllah. Following that, we will be looking into the verses of Surah an-Nur verses 11 onwards.

So we will end here insyaaAllah, I apologise for the suspense that you have to endure, but we do not have sufficient time to go on. Until we meet again next week, Allah SWT bears witness that I love all of you for the sake of Allah. May Allah SWT bless and honour our companionship for his sake. Ameen. Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh.


Summary by: Arina Adom

Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables her to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.

Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS. She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.

Arina Adom – Linkedin Profile

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