Allah Almighty states:
وَ لَا یَاْتَلِ اُولُوا الْفَضْلِ مِنْكُمْ وَ السَّعَةِ اَنْ یُّؤْتُوْۤا اُولِی الْقُرْبٰى وَ الْمَسٰكِیْنَ وَ الْمُهٰجِرِیْنَ فِیْ سَبِیْلِ اللّٰهِ ﳚ-وَ لْیَعْفُوْا وَ لْیَصْفَحُوْاؕ-اَلَا تُحِبُّوْنَ اَنْ یَّغْفِرَ اللّٰهُ لَكُمْؕ-وَ اللّٰهُ غَفُوْرٌ رَّحِیْمٌ(۲۲)
And those amongst you who possess excellence and have capacity should not take oath (in not) giving to the relatives, and the needy, and the emigrants in the path of Allah. And they should forgive and overlook, do you not like that Allah may forgive you? And Allah is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 18, Surah Al-Noor, Verse 22)
Cause of revelation
This verse was revealed about Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. The account is as follows: Sayyiduna Mistah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was the son of the maternal aunt of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. He was poor, a Muhajir and from the Sahabah who fought in the Battle of Badr. Siddeeq Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ used to bear his expenses, but when the hypocrites slandered Sayyidatuna Aaishah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا, Sayyiduna Mistah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ also sided with the slanderers. Siddeeq Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was very upset about this and swore an oath that he would not spend anything on Mistah again. Upon this, this verse was revealed that those who have religious virtue and financial ability should not swear oaths that they will not spend on their relatives, the poor and those migrating in the way of Allah Almighty. If these people make a mistake, forgive and pardon them. O people of virtue! Do you not love to be forgiven by Allah Almighty? When the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم recited this verse, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ immediately said: ‘Indeed, I wish that Allah Almighty would forgive me and I will never end whatever good I used to do for Mistah.’ (Bukhari, vol. 3, p. 285, Hadees 4750)
Points derived from the verse
This verse is a clear proof of the greatness and virtue of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ; for the Lord of the worlds Himself has declared him as one of the people of virtue. It is the belief of the Ahl-us-Sunnah that after the Prophets and Messengers عَـلَـيْهِمُ السَّلَام, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ is superior to all human beings, and this belief is established from the Qur`an, Ahadees and Ijma’ [consensus] of the Ummah. ‘Allamah Ibn-e-Hajar Haytami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه said: ‘The scholars of the Ummah agree on the belief that the most superior in the Ummah is Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, followed by Sayyiduna Umar Ibn-e-Khattab رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ.’ (Al-Sawa’iq-ul-Ma’rifah, p. 169)
This verse and its cause of revelation also prove that Siddeeq-e-Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ was forgiven and of those destined for Paradise, as Allah Almighty promised forgiveness to the one who pardons, and Siddeeq-e-Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ pardoned in the first instance. Also, the perfection of his virtue became evident through this action that as soon as he heard the [aforementioned] verse, his heart softened and he immediately submitted. The truth of the matter is that this is the conduct observed upon the command of Allah Almighty and His Messenger by the people of devotion and fidelity, embodiments of veracity and purity, and the seekers of honour, contentment and the Lord Almighty; and Siddeeq-e-Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ is the leader of the honoured people.
The verse also teaches the rich and the wealthy that when Allah Almighty has blessed them with financial prosperity, they should not limit it to themselves, rather they should take care of the poor and the needy. It also denotes to not allow one’s personal affairs or resentment to become an obstacle in charity, as is usually the case that if a wealthy person is helping a poor stranger or relative and the poor person behaves annoyingly, then all the generosity and help is ceased. Such behaviour is against the way of Allah Almighty’s chosen servants.
Whoever swears an oath to not do a certain act but then finds out that it is better for him to do so, then he should go ahead with it and pay expiation for the oath. The Merciful Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated, ‘Whoever takes an oath (to do something) and finds out the other thing to be better than it, then he should expiate the oath and do the other thing.’ (Muslim, p. 694, Hadees 4272)
Good conduct towards and maintaining ties with relatives should not be neglected, even if cruelty becomes evident from them, as is clear from the verse and its context. The Merciful Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘One maintaining ties is not he who takes revenge, but he is he who maintains the bond of kinship when it is severed from him.’ (Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 98, Hadees 5991)
In another Hadees, it is stated, ‘Do not be the people running after one another, i.e., (do not adopt this way that) if people treat us well, we will treat them well; and if they do wrong to us, we will do wrong to them; rather, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good to you, and do not behave unjustly if they mistreat you.’ (Tirmizi, vol. 3, p. 405, Hadees 2014)
‘عفو’ (forgiving) and ‘صفح’ (pardoning) are two words mentioned in the verse. ‘عفو’ (forgiving) means ‘not punishing’ and ‘صفح’ (pardoning) means ‘not punishing as well as not rebuking and reprimanding.’ The status of ‘صفح’ is higher than ‘عفو’. (Al-Mufridat fi Ghareeb al-Quran, p. 486)
Sayyiduna Yusuf عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام said whilst doing ‘صفح’ (pardoning) among his brothers:
قَالَ لَا تَثْرِیْبَ عَلَیْكُمُ الْیَوْمَؕ-
‘There is no criticism on you this day!
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 13, Surah Yusuf, Verse 92)
At the time of the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم expressed the same ‘عفو و صفح’ with the people of Makkah, so he first asked the oppressing disbelievers of Makkah: ‘What will I do with you today.’ They replied: ‘اَخٌ كَرِيْمٌ وَابْنُ اَخٍ كَرِيْمٍ’ i.e., ‘You are a benevolent brother and the son of a benevolent father.’ Upon this, the Merciful Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘لَاتَثْرِيْبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ فَاذْهَبُوْا اَنْتُمُ الطُّلَقَآءُ’ ‘There is no blame on you today. Go! You are all free.’ (Zurqaani A’la Mawahib, vol. 3, p. 449, summarised)
The last thing is particularly faith-enlightening for us and can change the course of our lives. That is, if we want that Allah Almighty forgive us, we must start forgiving people. The Most Merciful has mercy on those that are merciful, Allah Almighty is gentle towards those who are gentle, Allah Almighty withholds His wrath from those who restrain their anger, Allah Almighty blesses the dinning mat of the one who feeds the hungry, He expands the wealth of those who give charity to the poor, and He helps those who help others. Let us become those who want good for others and who convey benefit to others. The rain of prosperity will begin to shower upon us by Allah Almighty.
May Allah Almighty make us pious for the sake of the blessed life of Siddeeq-e-Akbar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّ