Quranic Reflection No 680. Āyat 73:10 – Practical Guidelines in Difficulties


People react differently to change. While some may be ready to accept new ideas, others choose to resist change. When the Holy Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam spread the message of Islam in Makkah, the people resisted his message and resorted to ridicule and verbal abuse. It is said that only forty men and eleven women accepted the message of Islam during the first six years of his mission. They resisted in different ways, placing their fingers in their ears (Q71:7), or responding to his rational arguments by saying that they were following the path of their ancestors (Q2:170). They were so obstinate in their ways, that the Prophet of Allah is reported to have said: No Prophet was troubled the way I was troubled.” (Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, 39:56)

Allah ‘subhānahu wata‘ālā selected His Prophets in accordance to their capacity and continuously guided them on how to best approach their community. Sūrat Al-Muzzammil was revealed to the Holy Prophet (s) as a source of guidance and comfort in the early days of Islam. The opening verses of this surah counsel the Prophet on how to respond to the negative and stubborn ways of his people. 

Allah (swt) gave spiritual and practical instructions to the Prophet. The spiritual instructions included emphasis on the night prayer (Q73:2) and constant remembrance of the Almighty as the ultimate source of help. (Q73:7) The practical instructions admonished the Holy Prophet (s) to be patient over what they say, and to keep away from them in a graceful manner (Q73:10). This verse contains both an inward discipline and an outward discipline. 

I. The inward discipline was to be patient over what they say. One of the meanings of patience is to be tolerant in the face of hardship and to avoid complaining.  It was seen in the life of the Holy Prophet (s) that he was thankful in every situation. In fact, he would say: Alhamdullilahi ‘alā kulli hāl – Praise be to Allah in every state. 

Patience also means to persevere and continue to obey the commands of Allah ‘azza wajall, regardless of the circumstances. This is known as al-sabr fi al-ta‘at (patience in obedience). In this verse, Allah (swt) encourages the Prophet to continue preaching the message of Islam without compromise and without losing hope. It is human tendency to seek immediate results, and to want people to change in a short period of time. God, the Almighty, instructed the Prophet to be patient with the polytheists. Even if they did not accept his preaching initially, they may accept the message with time. This was exemplified during the expedition to Taif, when the Prophet (s) was received with stones and sticks. When Jibrā’īl asked him to pray against the people of Taif, he said: I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendants, people who will worship Allah, the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him. (Al Bidayatu Wan Nihayah, Ibh Kathir, 1:52)

2.  The outward discipline is to keep away from them in a graceful manner. ‘Keeping away’ does not mean isolating himself from the people and staying away from them. The term هَجْرًۭا جَمِيلًۭا or a beautiful distancing is a form of distancing oneself from the evils and dangers of the people. This segment of the verse directs the Prophet (s) not to reciprocate their behaviour. If they spoke to him in an ill manner or harassed him, he should respond to it with good manners and gentle etiquettes. (Tafsīr al-Mīzān)

His example is the example of a gardener, who works closely with roses that are surrounded by thorns. He does not refrain from plucking the roses because some thorns may pierce him and cause him to bleed. Rather, he continues to work with the roses but is more alert and cautious about the presence of thorns around them. (Tafsīr-e Namūneh)

We pray to the Almighty to ease, strengthen and make our contributions within our communities impactful through patience and grace.  Our continued prayers are for the oppressed Palestinians, Rohingyas, Sudanese, etc. who remain hopeful despite the atrocious injustices and oppressions they continue to endure, with dignity and fortitude. 

Resources: Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān. Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.