Al-Mumtahanah is the 60th surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 13 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Medina.
THE KEY-WORD by which this surah has been known from earliest times is based on the injunction “examine them” in verse 10. Revealed some months after the conclusion of the Truce of Hudaybiyyah (see introductory note to surah 48)—that is, not earlier than the year 7 H. and probably as late as the beginning of 8 H.
Al-Mumtahinah is in its entirety devoted to the problem of the believers’ relations with unbelievers. Although, as was quite natural, most of the Prophet’s Companions visualized these problems under the aspect of the historical events of which they were witnesses, the import of the injunctions laid down in this surah cannot be restricted to that particular historical situation but has, as always in the Qur’an, a definite bearing on how believers of all times should behave.
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 1
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاءَ تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِمْ بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءَكُمْ مِنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۙ أَنْ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِي ۚ تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِمْ بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنْتُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْهُ مِنْكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ
Yaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo laa tattakhizoo ‘aduwwee wa ‘aduwaakum awliyaaa’a tulqoona ilaihim bilmawaddati wa qad kafaroo bima jaaa’akum minal haqq, yukhrijoonar Rasoola wa iyyaakum an tu’minoo billaahi rabbikum in kuntum kharajtum jihaadan fee sabeelee wabtighaaa’a mardaatee; tusirroona ilaihim bilma waddati wa ana a’alamu bimaaa akhfaitum wa maaa a’lantum; wa many yaf’alhu minkum faqad dalla sawaaa’as sabeel
1. O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take My enemies—who are your enemies as well1—for your friends, showing them affection even though they are bent on denying whatever truth has come unto you, [and even though] they have driven the Apostle and yourselves away, [only] because you believe in God, your Sustainer!2
If [it be true that] you have gone forth [from your homes] to strive in My cause, and out of a longing for My goodly acceptance, [do not take them for your friends,] inclining towards them in secret affection: for I am fully aware of all that you may conceal as well as of all that you do openly. And any of you who does this has already strayed from the right path.3
1 Lit., “and your enemies”—implying that people who deliberately reject God’s messages are ipso facto inimical to those who believe in them.
2 Historically, this is a reference to the forced emigration of the Prophet and his followers from Mecca to Medina. In a more general sense, however, it is an allusion to the potential persecution of believers of all times by “those who are bent on denying the truth”, i.e., those who are averse to religious beliefs as such.
3 As is shown in verses 7-9, this prohibition of taking unbelievers for friends relates only to such of them as are actively hostile towards the believers (cf. Surah Al-Mujadilah : 22 and the corresponding note).
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 2
إِنْ يَثْقَفُوكُمْ يَكُونُوا لَكُمْ أَعْدَاءً وَيَبْسُطُوا إِلَيْكُمْ أَيْدِيَهُمْ وَأَلْسِنَتَهُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَوَدُّوا لَوْ تَكْفُرُونَ
Iny yasqafookum yakoonoo lakum a’daaa’anw wa yabsutooo ilaikum aydiyahum wa alsinatahum bissooo’i wa waddoo law takfuroon
2. If they could but overcome you, they would [still] remain your foes, and would stretch forth their hands and tongues against you with evil intent: for they desire that you [too] should deny the truth.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 3
لَنْ تَنْفَعَكُمْ أَرْحَامُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ ۚ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
Lan tanfa’akum arhaamukum wa laaa awlaadukum; yawmal qiyaamati yafsilu bainakum; wallaahu bimaa ta’maloona baseer
3. But [bear in mind that] neither your kinsfolk nor [even] your own children will be of any benefit to you on Resurrection Day, [for then] He will decide between you [on your merit alone]: and God sees all that you do.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 4
قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَآءُ مِنْكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ إِلَّا قَوْلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ لَأَسْتَغْفِرَنَّ لَكَ وَمَا أَمْلِكُ لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ ۖ رَبَّنَا عَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ
Qad kaanat lakum uswatun hasanatun feee Ibraaheema wallazeena ma’ahoo iz qaaloo liqawmihim innaa bura ‘aaa’u minkum wa mimmaa ta’budoona min doonil laahi kafarnaa bikum wa badaa bainanaa wa bainakumul ‘adaawatu wal baghdaaa’u abadan hattaa tu’minoo billaahi wahdahooo illaa qawla Ibraheema li abeehi la astaghfiranna laka wa maaa amliku laka minal laahi min shai; rabbanaa ‘alaika tawakkalnaa wa ilaika anabnaa wa ilaikal maseer
4. Indeed, ‘you have had a good example in Abraham and those who followed him, when they said unto their [idolatrous] people: “Verily, we are quit of you and of all that you worship instead of God: we deny the truth of whatever you believe; and between us and you there has arisen enmity and hatred, to last until such a time4 as you come to believe in the One God!”
The only exception was5 Abraham’s saying to his father “I shall indeed pray for [God’s] forgiveness for thee,6 although I have it not in my power to obtain anything from God in thy behalf.”
[And Abraham and his followers prayed:] “O our Sustainer! In Thee have we placed our trust, and unto Thee do we turn: for unto Thee is all journeys’ end.
4 Since the adverb abadan is immediately followed by the particle hatta (“until such a time as…”), it is obviously erroneous to give it the meaning of “forever”, as has been hitherto done in all translations of the Qur’an into Western languages. In view of the original connotation of the noun abad as “time” or “long time”, i.e., of indefinite duration (Jawhari, Zamakhshari’s Asas, Mughni, etc.), abadan is best rendered in the present context as “to last [until] …”, etc.
5 Lit., “Except for”: i.e., an exception from Abraham’s statement, “between us and you there has arisen enmity and hatred, to last…”, etc. In other words, his filial love prevented Abraham from including his father in his declaration of “enmity and hatred”: although later—after his father had died as an idolater – Abraham could not but disavow him (cf. At-Tawbah : 114).
6 Cf. Surah Maryam : 47-48.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 5
رَبَّنَا لَا تَجْعَلْنَا فِتْنَةً لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا رَبَّنَا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
Rabbana laa taj’alnaa fitnatal lillazeena kafaroo waghfir lanaa rabbanaa innaka antal azeezul hakeem
5. O our Sustainer! Make us not a plaything7 for those who are bent on denying the truth! And forgive us our sins, O our sustainer: for Thou alone art, almighty, truly wise!”
7 Lit., “temptation to evil” (fitnah): cf. 10: 85, where the term fitnah has the same meaning as in the present instance.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 6
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ ۚ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
Laqad kaana lakum feehim uswatunhasanatul liman kaana yarjul laaha wal yawmal aakhir; wa many yatawalla fa innal laaha huwal ghaniyyul hameed
6. In them, indeed, you have a good example for everyone who looks forward [with hope and awe8] to God and the Last Day. And if any turns away, [let him know that] God is truly self-sufficient, the One to whom all praise is due.”
8 As in the similar phrase in Surah Al-Ahzab : 21, this double connotation is implied in the verb rajawa and all the noun-forms derived from it.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 7
عَسَى اللَّهُ أَنْ يَجْعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ عَادَيْتُمْ مِنْهُمْ مَوَدَّةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ قَدِيرٌ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Asal laahu any yaj’ala bainakum wa bainal lazeena ‘aadaitum minhum mawaddah; wallahu qadeer; wallahu ghafoorur raheem
7. [But] it may well be that God will bring about [mutual] affection between you [O believers] and some of those whom you [now] face as enemies: for, God is all-powerful—and God is muchforgiving, a dispenser of grace.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 8
لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
Laa yanhaakumul laahu ‘anil lazeena lam yuqaatilookum fid deeni wa lam yukhrijookum min diyaarikum an tabarroohum wa tuqsitooo ilaihim; innal laaha yuhibbul muqsiteen
8. As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity:9 for, verily, God loves those who act equitably.
9 The expression “God does not forbid you'” implies in this context a positive exhortation (Zamakhshari). See also note 29 on Surah Al-Mujadilah : 22.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 9
إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَنْ تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
Innamaa yanhaakumul laahu ‘anil lazeena qaatalookum fid deeni wa akhrajookum min diyaarikum wa zaaharoo ‘alaa ikhraajikum an tawallawhum; wa many yatawallahum fa ulaaa’ika humuz zaalimoon
9. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers!
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 10
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا جَاءَكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ مُهَاجِرَاتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ ۖ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِهِنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِنَاتٍ فَلَا تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ ۖ لَا هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ ۖ وَآتُوهُمْ مَا أَنْفَقُوا ۚ وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ تَنْكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ ۚ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوا بِعِصَمِ الْكَوَافِرِ وَاسْأَلُوا مَا أَنْفَقْتُمْ وَلْيَسْأَلُوا مَا أَنْفَقُوا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ حُكْمُ اللَّهِ ۖ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo izaa jaaa’akumul mu’minaatu muhaajiraatin famtahinoo hunn; Allaahu a’lamu bi eemaani hinn; fa in ‘alimtumoo hunna mu’minaatin falaa tarji’oo hunna ilal kuffaar; laa hunna hillul lahum wa laa hum yahilloona lahunna wa aatoohum maa anfaqoo wa laa junaaha ‘alaikum an tankihoohunna izaaa aataitumoohunna ujoorahunn; wa laa tumsikoo bi ‘isamil kawaafir; was’aloo maaa anfaqtum walyas’aloo maaa anfaqoo; zaalikum hukmul laahi yahkumu bainakum; wallaahu ‘aleemun hakeem
10. O YOU who have attained to faith! Whenever believing women come unto you, forsaking the domain of evil,10 examine them, [although only] God is fully aware of their faith;11 and if you have thus ascertained that they are believers, do not send them back to the deniers of the truth, [since] they are [no longer] lawful to their erstwhile husbands,12 and these are [no longer] lawful to them. None the less, you shall return to them whatever they have spent [on their wives by way of dower];13 and [then, O believers,] you will be committing no sin if you marry them after giving them their dowers.
On the other hand, hold not to the marriage-tie with women who [continue to] deny the truth,14 and ask but for [the return of] whatever you have spent [by way of dower]—just as they [whose wives have gone over to you] have the right to demand15 [the return of] whatever they have spent.
Such is God’s judgment: He judges between you [in equity]—for God is all-knowing, wise.
10 Lit., “as emigrants” (muhajirat). For an explanation of my rendering this term as above, see Surah Al-Baqarah , note 203.
11 Under the terms of the Truce of Hudaybiyyah, concluded in the year 6 H. between the Prophet and the pagan Quraysh of Mecca, any Meccan minor or other person under guardianship who went over to the Muslims without the permission of his or her guardian was to be returned to the Quraysh (see introductory note to Surah Al-Fath). The Quraysh took this stipulation to include also married women, whom they considered to be under the “guardianship” of their husbands. Accordingly, when several Meccan women embraced Islam against the will of their husbands and fled to Medina, the Quraysh demanded their forcible return to Mecca.
This the Prophet refused on the grounds that married women did not fall within the category of “persons under guardianship”. However, since there was always the possibility that some of these women had gone over to the Muslims not for reasons of faith but out of purely worldly considerations, the believers were enjoined to make sure of their sincerity; and so, the Prophet asked each of them: “Swear before God that thou didst not leave because of hatred of thy husband, or out of desire to go to another country, or in the hope of attaining to worldly advantages: swear before God that thou didst not leave for any reason save the love of God and His Apostle” (Tabari). Since God alone knows what is in the heart of a human being, a positive response of the woman concerned was to be regarded as the only humanly attainable—and, therefore, legally sufficient—proof of her sincerity. The fact that God alone is really aware of what is in a human being’s heart is incorporated in the shar’i principle that any adult person’s declaration of faith, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, makes it mandatory upon the community to accept that person—whether man or woman—as a Muslim on the basis of this declaration alone.
12 Lit., “to them”. Thus, if a wife embraces Islam while her husband remains outside its pale, the marriage is considered, from the Islamic point of view, to have been automatically annulled.
13 Such an annulment is to be subject to the same conditions as a khul’ (dissolution of marriage, at the wife’s instance, from her Muslim husband—see note 218 on the second paragraph of Surah Al-Baqarah : 229): that is to say, since the non-Muslim former husband is presumed to have been innocent of any breach of his marital obligations as such, the wife is to be considered the contract-breaking party and has, therefore, to refund the dower (mahr) which she received from him at the time of concluding the marriage. In case of her inability to do so, the Muslim community is obliged to indemnify the erstwhile husband: hence the plural form in the imperative “‘you shall return” (lit., “give”).
14 I.e., such of the pagan wives of Muslim converts as refuse to abandon their beliefs and their non-
Muslim environment, in which case the Muslim husband is to regard the marriage as null and void. As for Muslim wives who, abandoning their husbands, go over to the unbelievers and renounce their faith, see verse 11.
15 Lit., “and let them demand…”, etc.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 11
وَإِنْ فَاتَكُمْ شَيْءٌ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ فَعَاقَبْتُمْ فَآتُوا الَّذِينَ ذَهَبَتْ أَزْوَاجُهُمْ مِثْلَ مَا أَنْفَقُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي أَنْتُمْ بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ
Wa in faatakum shai’un min azwaajikum ilal kuffaari fa ‘aaqabtum fa aatul lazeena zahabat azwaajuhum misla maaa anfaqoo; wattaqul laahal lazeee antum bihee mu’minoon
11. And if any of your wives should go over to the deniers of the truth, and you are thus afflicted in turn,16 then give unto those whose wives have gone away the equivalent of what they had spent [on their wives by way of dower],17 and remain conscious of God, in whom you believe!
16 Lit., “and you are thus taking your turn”, i.e., like the unbelievers whose wives have gone over to the Muslims and renounced their erstwhile faith.
17 Since, as a rule, the unbelievers cannot really be expected to indemnify a husband thus deserted, the Muslim community as a whole is bound to undertake this obligation. As a matter of fact, there were only six such cases of apostasy in the lifetime of the Prophet (all of them before the conquest of Mecca in 8 H.); and in each case the Muslim husband was awarded by the communal treasury, on orders of the Prophet, the equivalent of the dower originally paid by him—(Baghawi and Zamakhshari).
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 12
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ يُبَايِعْنَكَ عَلَىٰ أَنْ لَا يُشْرِكْنَ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَسْرِقْنَ وَلَا يَزْنِينَ وَلَا يَقْتُلْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ وَلَا يَأْتِينَ بِبُهْتَانٍ يَفْتَرِينَهُ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِنَّ وَأَرْجُلِهِنَّ وَلَا يَعْصِينَكَ فِي مَعْرُوفٍ ۙ فَبَايِعْهُنَّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُنَّ اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Yaaa ayyuhan nabbiyyu izaa jaaa’akal mu’minaatu yubaayigh’naka ‘alaaa allaa yushrikna billaahi shai ‘anw wa laa yasriqna wa laa yazneena wa laa yaqtulna awlaadahunna wa laa ya’teena bibuhtaaniny yaftaree nahoo baina aydeehinna wa arjulihinna wa laa ya’seenaka fee ma’roofin fa baayigh’ hunna wastaghfir lahunnalla hunn allaah; innallaaha ghafoorur raheem
12. O Prophet! Whenever believing women come unto thee to pledge their allegiance to thee,18 [pledging] that [henceforth] they would not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught but God, and would not steal,19 and would not commit adultery, and would not kill their clildren,20 and would not indulge in slander, falsely devising it out of nothingness:21 and would not disobey thee in anything [that thou declarest to be] right—then accept their pledge of allegiance, and pray to God to forgive them their [past] sins: for, behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.
18 This connects with verse 10 above, and particularly with the words, “examine them… and if you have thus ascertained that they are believers…”, etc. (see note 11). Thus, after having “ascertained” their belief as far as is humanly possible, the Prophet—or, in later times, the head of the Islamic state or community—is empowered to accept their pledge of allegiance (bay’ah)” which concludes, as it were, the “examination”. It should be noted that this pledge does not differ essentially from that of a male convert.
19 In this context, according to Razi, the term “stealing” comprises also all acquisition of gains through cheating or other unlawful means.
20 Sc., “as the pagan Arabs often did, burying their unwanted female offspring alive” (see also note 147 on Al-An’arn : 151).
21 Lit., “between their hands and their feet”: i.e., by their own effort, the “hands” and “feet” symbolizing all human activity.
Surah Al-Mumtahanah Ayat 13
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَوَلَّوْا قَوْمًا غَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ قَدْ يَئِسُوا مِنَ الْآخِرَةِ كَمَا يَئِسَ الْكُفَّارُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْقُبُورِ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena amanoo laa tatawallaw qawman ghadibal laahu ‘alaihim qad ya’isoo minal aakhirati kamaa ya’isal kuffaaru min as haabil quboor
13. O YOU who have attained to faith! Be not friends with people whom God has condemned!22 They [who would befriend them] are indeed bereft of all hope of a life to come23—just as those deniers of the truth are bereft of all hope of [ever again seeing] those who are [now] in their graves.24
22 Cf. Surah Al-Mujadilah : 14 and the corresponding note 25, which explains the reference to those “who would be friends with people whom God has condemned”.
23 I.e., only people without any real belief in a life to come can remain “neutral” between right and wrong.
24 I.e., because they utterly reject the idea of resurrection.
Source: The Message of the Quran By Muhammad Asad