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4:139 Seek Honour from Allah alone

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Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay,- all honour is with Allah.

Seek Honour from Allah alone

Close friendly relations with disbelievers and polytheists have been forbidden in the second verse (139). Warning has been served on those
who do so. Right along, after giving the reason why people get involved
with this disease, the practice has been declared ineffectual and absurd. The words of the text are: (Are
they seeking honour in their company? But, indeed, all honour belongs
to Allah). To explain, we can say that the urge to meet and be friendly
with disbelievers and polytheists is generally prompted by the
assumption that their outwardly visible influence, power and collective
strength may give honour and power to those who have close relations
with them. Almighty Allah has exposed the reality behind this absurd
notion by saying : You want to acquire honour from those who themselves have no honour. ‘Izzah which means might and mastery, belongs to none but Allah and whenever some sort of might and
mastery is given to any person, it is given by Allah. With the scheme of
things being such, it would certainly be a gross lack of reason to go
about acquiring honour by displeasing the owner and giver of real
honour and stooping down to the level of scroungers for temporal
honour through His enemies?

The same subject has appeared in the Qur’anic Surah al-Munafiqin
with one addition as follows:

For Allah is all honour, and for His Messenger, and for
believers – but, the hypocrites do not know 63:8.

By adding the messenger and the believefs with Almighty Allah in
this verse, it has been emphasized that Allah is the only owner possessor of real honour and it is He Who bestows on whosoever He wills a certain part of that honour. Since the Messenger of Allah and
those who believe in them are dear in the sight of Allah, therefore,
honour and mastery are given to them. As for the disbelievers and the
polytheists, they themselves do not have this kind of honour, then,
what sort of honour can one get by acting in league with them? Therefore, Sayyidna ‘Umar (RA) said:

Whoever seeks honour through human beings (His servants)
is disgraced by Allah. (Jassas)

As in Mustadrak al-Hikim, Sayyidna ‘Umar (RA) said to Sayyidna Abi ‘Ubaydah, the Governor of Syria:

You were the lowest (in numbers) \and the weakest (in
strength) among the people (of the world), then Allah made
you exceed in numbers and strength with (the grace of) Islam;
and you were the meanest (in status) among the people (of the
world), then Allah raised you in honour with (the grace of)
Islam. So, understand this very clearly: If you seek honour
from any source other than Allah, Allah will disgrace you.

Explaining the meaning of this verse, the famous commentator,
Abu Bakr al-Jassas has said in Hakim al-Qur’an that the verse forbids
the seeking of honour through friendship with disbelievers and
sinners. However, the seeking of honour and power through Muslims
is not forbidden because this verse of Surah al-Munafiqun has made it
clear that Almighty Allah has blessed His messenger and the believers with honour. (Jassas, p 352, v.2)

If the ‘Izzah or honour mentioned here means the everlasting
honour of the life-to-come, the ‘Akhirah, then, its applicability to
Allah’s messenger and the believers in the life of the present world is
quite obvious, for the honour of the ‘akhirah can never become the lot
of any disbeliever or polytheist. Conversely, if it is tsken to mean
honour in the present life of the world, then, barring transitional
periods and accidental happenings, this honour and mastery is, ultimately, the right of Islam and Muslims alone. Until such time that Muslims remained Muslims in the true sense, the whole world
witnessed the spectacle. Then, there shall be the later period when
Muslims will reassemble around true Islam under the leadership of
Sayyidna ‘Isa (pbuh) ascendancy will again be theirs. That Muslims
appear to be weak during the interim period, because of their weakness of faith and involvement with sins, does not go against it.


Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .2 surah 4 verse 139). English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-2.pdf (

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