This Medinan sura takes its title from the reference to the Prophet’s private rooms in verse 4. It guides the believers on how to behave with proper respect towards their leader (verses 1–5), and with mutual respect and trust towards each other (verses 9–12). The sura stresses the unity of mankind and God’s intention that people should live together in harmony (verse 13). It criticizes the desert Arabs for their presumptuous attitude to their faith and to God (verses 14–18).
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
1 Believers, do not push yourselves forward in the presence of God and His Messenger––be mindful of God: He hears and knows all–– 2 believers, do not raise your voices above the Prophet’s, do not raise your voice when speaking to him as you do to one another, or your [good] deeds may be cancelled out without you knowing. 3 It is those who lower their voices in the presence of God’s Messenger whose hearts God has proved to be aware––they will have forgiveness, and a great reward–– 4 but most of those who shout to you [Prophet] from outside your private rooms lack understanding. 5 It would have been better for them if they had waited patiently for you to come out to them but God is all forgiving and merciful.
6 Believers, if a troublemaker brings you news, check it first, in case you wrong others unwittingly and later regret what you have done, 7 and be aware that it is God’s Messenger who is among you: in many matters you would certainly suffer if he were to follow your wishes. God has endeared faith to you and made it beautiful to your hearts; He has made disbelief, mischief, and disobedience hateful to you. It is people like this who are rightly guided 8 through God’s favor and blessing: God is all knowing and all wise.
9 If two groups of the believers fight, you [believers] should try to reconcile them; if one of them is [clearly] oppressing the other, fight the oppressors until they submit to God’s command, then make a just and even-handed reconciliation between the two of them: God loves those who are even-handed. 10 The believers are brothers, so make peace between your two brothers and be mindful of God, so that you may be given mercy.
Humankind is One Family, Do Not Gossip
11 Believers, no one group of men should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; no one group of women should jeer at another, who may after all be better than them; do not speak ill of one another; do not use offensive nicknames for one another. How bad it is to be called a mischief-maker [a] after accepting faith! Those who do not repent of this behavior are evildoers. 12 Believers, avoid making too many assumptions– some assumptions are sinful– and do not spy on one another or speak ill of people behind their backs: would any of you like to eat the flesh of your dead brother? No, you would hate it. So be mindful of God: God is ever relenting, most merciful. 13 People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. [b]
14 The desert Arabs say, ‘We have faith.’ [Prophet], tell them, ‘You do not have faith. What you should say instead is, “We have submitted,” for faith has not yet entered your hearts.’ If you obey God and His Messenger, He will not diminish any of your deeds: He is most forgiving and most merciful. 15 The true believers are the ones who have faith in God and His Messenger and leave all doubt behind, the ones who have struggled with their possessions and their persons in God’s way: they are the ones who are true. 16 Say, ‘Do you presume to teach God about your religion, when God knows everything in the heavens and earth, and He has full knowledge of all things?’ 17 They think they have done you [Prophet] a favor by submitting. Say, ‘Do not consider your submission a favor to me; it is God who has done you a favor, by guiding you to faith, if you are truly sincere.’ 18 God knows the secrets of the heavens and earth: He sees everything you do.
a. Those who cause trouble by doing any of the above actions will have earned the name of ‘mischief-maker’ (Razi).
b. Of people’s true worth and the thoughts they harbour (see also 50: 16).
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.