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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

59. The Gathering [of Forces] (1 – 21)

A Medinan sura, the bulk of which is taken to refer to the Jewish clan of Banu al-Nadir, who originally agreed with the Prophet that they would fight neither for nor against him, yet, after the Meccan defeat of the Muslims in the Battle ofUhud, made an alliance with the Meccans. They also tried to kill the Prophet while he was in their area. He asked them to leave and they agreed, but Ibn Ubayy, the head of the ‘hypocrites’ of Medina, promised them that, if they fought the Muslims, he and his camp would fight with them (verses 11– 13), and, if they had to leave Medina, he and his camp would leave with them. Because the Banu al-Nadir had repeatedly broken their agreements, the Muslims besieged them in Medina (in AH4/626 CE), Ibn Ubayy did not keep his promise, and the Banu al-Nadir agreed to leave, some going to Syria and some to Khaybar. In this sura, God stresses that any gains were His doing and so should be distributed in accordance with His instructions (verses 6–10). The end of the sura, consequently, emphasizes obedience and awe towards God (verses 21–4). The sura takes its name from the gathering of forces in verse 2.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies God; He is the Almighty, the Wise. 2It was He who drove those of the People of the Book who broke faitha They were unfaithful to their agreements with the Prophet (see the introduction to this sura). out from their homes at the first gathering of forces —you [believers] never thought they would go, and they themselves thought their fortifications would protect them against God. God came up on them from where they least expected and put panic into their hearts: their homes were destroyed by their own hands, and the hands of the believers. Learn from this, all of you with insight! 3If God had not decreed exile for them, He would have tormented them [even more severely] in this world. In the Hereafter they will have the torment of the Fire 4because they set themselves against God and His Messenger: God is stern in punishment towards anyone who sets himself against Him.

5Whatever you [believers] may have done to [their] palm trees — cutting them down or leaving them standing on their roots —was done by God's leave, so that He might disgrace those who defied Him. 6You [believers] did not have to spur on your horses or your camels for whatever gains God turned over to His Messenger from them. God gives authority to His messengers over whoever He will: God has power over all things. 7Whatever gains God has turned over to His Messenger from the inhabitants of the villages belong to God, the Messenger, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the traveller in need—this is so that they do not just circulate among those of you who are rich—so accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and abstain from whatever he forbids you. Be mindful of God: God is severe in punishment.

8The poor emigrants who were driven from their homes and possessions, who seek God's favour and approval, those who help God and His Messenger — these are the ones who are true—[shall have a share]. 9Those who were already firmly established in their homes [in Medina], and firmly rooted in faith, show love for those who migrated to them for refuge and harbour no desire in their hearts for what has been given to them. They give them preference over themselves, even if they too are poor: those who are saved from their own souls' greed are truly successful. 10Those who came after them say, ‘Lord, forgive us our sins and the sins of our brothers who believed before us, and leave no malice in our hearts towards those who believe. Lord, You are truly compassionate and merciful.’

11Have you [Prophet] considered the hypocrites who say to their fellows, the faithless among the People of the Book, ‘If you are driven out, we shall go with you—we would never listen to anyone who sought to harm you — and if you are attacked, we shall certainly come to your aid’? God bears witness that they are in fact liars: 12if they are driven out, they will never leave with them; if they are attacked, they will never help them. Even if they did come to their aid, they would soon turn tail and flee — in the end they would have no help. 13Fear of you [believers] is more intense in their hearts than fear of God because they are people devoid of understanding. 14Even united they would never fight you, except from within fortified strongholds or behind high walls. There is much hostility between them: you think they are united but their hearts are divided because they are people devoid of reason. 15Like those who went just before them,a This probably refers to the Banu Qaynuqa, another Jewish tribe banished for their treachery. It could also refer to the pagans at Badr. they have tasted the result of their conduct and a painful punishment awaits them. 16Like Satan, who says to man, ‘Do not believe!’ but when man disbelieves, says, ‘I disown you; I fear God, the Lord of the Worlds,’ 17both will end up in the Fire, there to remain. That is the reward of evildoers.

18You who believe! Be mindful of God, and let every soul consider carefully what it sends ahead for tomorrow; be mindful of God, for God is well aware of everything you do. 19Do not be like those who forget God, so God causes them to forget their own souls: they are the rebellious ones — 20there is no comparison between the inhabitants of the Fire and the inhabitants of Paradise— and the inhabitants of Paradise are the successful ones. 21If We had sent this Qurʾan down to a mountain, you [Prophet] would have seen it humbled and split apart in its awe of God: We offer people such illustrations so that they may reflect.

Notes:

a They were unfaithful to their agreements with the Prophet (see the introduction to this sura).

a This probably refers to the Banu Qaynuqa, another Jewish tribe banished for their treachery. It could also refer to the pagans at Badr.

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