Reflection No. 243 on Q 74: 1 – 6. Five Rules for Prophet’s Mission

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ قُمْ فَأَنْذِرْ  وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ  وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ وَلَا تَمْنُنْ تَسْتَكْثِرُ  وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ
Yā ayyuhal-muddaththiru qum fa-’andhir warabbaka fa-kabbir wa-thiyābaka fa-tahhir war-rujza fa-hjur wa-lā tamnun tastakthiru wa-li-rabbika fa-sbir
O you wrapped up in your mantle! Arise and warn, and magnify your Lord, and purify your cloak, and keep away from all impurity, and do not bestow favors seeking greater gain, and be patient for the sake of your Lord.
(Sūratul al-Muddaththir, No. 74, Āyāt 1-6)

These verses address the Holy prophet (s) telling him to rise up and warn people. The time had come for him to begin his mission. The Sūra follows Sūrat Muzzammil in which the Prophet (s) was also addressed as preparation for his mission. The above verses were revealed at the beginning of the mission of the Holy Prophet (s). The commandments in these verses are to equip him for the difficult journey ahead.

He was told to warn, rather than give good news, although the Prophet is both a Nadhīr (warner) and a Bashīr (giver of good tidings). But Quranic commentators believe that because it was the beginning of his mission, the Prophet was told to warn people about the wrong path they were following.

Why was the Prophet (s) wrapped up and covered? According to Tafsīr-e Namūne the verse was revealed when the leaders of Quraysh got together and decided to accuse the Prophet of being a magician. They would tell it to people who came from outside of Makkah for pilgrimage and who asked about him. The Prophet (s) was disturbed by this plot of the enemies. Allah tells him to rise up and begin his mission. Some commentators believe these verses were revealed when the Prophet (s) was told to begin by warning his close relatives.

After telling the Prophet (s) to arise and warn, Almighty Allah commands him to do five things:

a) Magnify your Lord. That is not just verbally but with his heart and actions. Consider Him greater than anything else. Above the idols, the people, the world . . . nothing can be greater or more important than the Lord. Higher and Greater even than whatever the imagination describes for Him or attributes to Him. The order is to do Takbīr, magnifying the Lord and declaring Him the Greatest. It is more comprehensive than Tasbīh, which is declaring Him free of all defects.

b) Purify your cloak. This could mean the outer garment a person wears or covers himself with. It could also include purity of the heart. The Quran mentions Taqwa or God consciousness as clothing (Q 7:26) showing that piety is a garment that covers the lowliness of the human being and protects him from exposing it. A leader who warns others must be pure in both inner and outer aspects.

c) Keep away from impurity. The word rijz translated as impurity actually means confusion or shaking. Any type of uncleanliness, physical or spiritual, shakes the human soul and moves him away from his innate purity and godliness. It is a form of confusion for it is not how the human being naturally is.

d) Do not favor to seek gain. To serve God or His creatures with an attitude of feeling superior and wanting recognition or favors in return annuls the virtue of the deed. Any work that a person is able to do is by the tawfīq granted by God is actually a favor in itself. Allah’s favors can never be counted (Q 14:34 & 16:18) and to feel one has favored God or others displays a complete lack of understanding of the greatness of Allah. In fact a believer always feels he has fallen short of what he should actually be doing. Imam al- Sādiq (a) says: Do not consider much what you do of good for the sake of Allah.

e) Be patient for the sake of your Lord. Nothing great can be achieved without patience. If a person wants to serve God and call others towards Him, he will face a lot of challenges. People will reject him, scorn him, call him names . . . and do all they can to stop his work. It requires patience to continue on the path. This applies to all believers who set off on the path towards God. An essential baggage to carry is the habit of patience. That is why Imam Ali (a) says: Patience is to faith what the head is to the body.

These are five rules for success in the mission given to the Holy Prophet (s). Use these verses to remind yourself of the love of God for His beloved Prophet (s) as He prepared him for the important task ahead. Keep the principles in mind as necessary tools for success in any type of work in the way of God.

Source: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazi (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūne.