130 You who believe, do not consume usurious interest, doubled and redoubled. Be mindful of God so that you may prosper– 131 beware of the Fire prepared for those who ignore [Him]– 132 and obey God and the Prophet so that you may be given mercy. 133 Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the righteous, 134 who give, both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger and pardon people– God loves those who do good– 135 those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful or wrong themselves– who forgives sins but God?– and who never knowingly persist in doing wrong. 136 The reward for such people is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will remain. How excellent is the reward of those who labor!
137 God’s ways have operated before your time: travel through the land, and see what was the end of those who disbelieved. 138 This is a clear lesson to people, and guidance and teaching for those who are mindful of God. 139 Do not lose heart or despair– if you are true believers you have the upper hand– 140 if you have suffered a blow, they too have suffered one like it. [a] We deal out such days among people in turn, for God to find out who truly believes, for Him to choose martyrs [b] from among you– God does not love evildoers– 141 for Him to cleanse those who believe and for Him to destroy the disbelievers. 142 Did you think you would enter the Garden without God first proving which of you would struggle for His cause and remain steadfast? 143 Before you encountered death, you were hoping for it. Well, now you have seen it with your own eyes.
144 Muhammad is only a messenger before whom many messengers have been and gone. If he died or was killed, [c] would you revert to your old ways? If anyone did so, he would not harm God in the least. God will reward the grateful. 145 No soul may die except with God’s permission at a predestined time. If anyone strives for the rewards of this world, We will give him some of them. If anyone strives for the rewards of the Hereafter, We will give him some of them: We will reward the grateful.
146 Many prophets have fought, with large bands of godly men alongside them who, in the face of their sufferings for God’s cause, did not lose heart or weaken or surrender: God loves those who are steadfast. 147 All they said was, ‘Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our excesses. Make our feet firm, and give us help against the disbelievers,’ 148 and so God gave them both the rewards of this world and the excellent rewards of the Hereafter: God loves those who do good.
149 You who believe, if you obey the disbelievers, they will make you revert to your old ways and you will turn into losers. 150 No indeed! It is God who is your protector: He is the best of helpers. 151 We will strike panic into the disbelievers’ hearts because they attribute partners to God although He has sent no authority for this: their shelter will be the Fire– how miserable is the home of the evildoers! 152 God fulfilled His promise to you: you were routing them, with His permission, but then you faltered, disputed the order, and disobeyed, once He had brought you within sight of your goal [d] – some of you desire the gains of this world and others desire the world to come– and then He prevented you from [defeating] them as a punishment. He has now forgiven you: God is most gracious to the believers.
153 You fled without looking back while the Messenger was calling out to you from behind, and God rewarded you with sorrow for sorrow. [He has now forgiven you] so that you may not grieve for what you missed or for what happened to you. God is well aware of everything you do. 154 After sorrow, He caused calm to descend upon you, a sleep that overtook some of you.
Another group, caring only for themselves, entertained false thoughts about God, thoughts more appropriate to pagan ignorance, and said, ‘Do we get a say in any of this?’ [Prophet], tell them, ‘Everything to do with this affair is in God’s hands.’ They conceal in their hearts things they will not reveal to you. They say, ‘If we had had our say in this, none of us would have been killed here.’ Tell them, ‘Even if you had resolved to stay at home, those who were destined to be killed would still have gone out to meet their deaths.’ God did this in order to test everything within you and in order to prove what is in your hearts. God knows your innermost thoughts very well. 155 As for those of you who turned away on the day the two armies met in battle, it was Satan who caused them to slip, through some of their actions. God has now pardoned them: God is most forgiving and forbearing.
156 You who believe, do not be like those who disbelieved and said of their brothers who went out on a journey or a raid, ‘If only they had stayed with us they would not have died or been killed,’ for God will make such thoughts a source of anguish in their hearts. It is God who gives life and death; God sees everything you do. 157 Whether you are killed for God’s cause or die, God’s forgiveness and mercy are better than anything people amass. 158 Whether you die or are killed, it is to God that you will be gathered.
159 By an act of mercy from God, you [Prophet] were gentle in your dealings with them– had you been harsh, or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed and left you– so pardon them and ask forgiveness for them. Consult with them about matters, then, when you have decided on a course of action, put your trust in God: God loves those who put their trust in Him.
a. This part of the sura refers to the Battle of Uhud, where the Muslims were defeated, having disobeyed the Prophet’s orders.
b. The noun shahid is much more complex than the term ‘martyr’ chosen to render it in this context. The root sh–h–d conveys ‘to witness, to be present, to attend’, but also ‘to testify’ or ‘to give evidence’. Thus the ‘martyrs’ here are chosen by God to witness Him in heaven, are given the opportunity to give evidence of the depth of their faith by sacrificing their worldly lives, and will testify with the prophets on the Day of Judgement.
c. In the Battle of Uhud, it was rumoured that Muhammad had been killed.
d. The archers disobeyed the Prophet’s order to remain in their positions until the end. They thought the Muslims had won and dashed to get the booty. This allowed their enemies to regroup and attack, so winning the battle.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.