Anger
(ghaḍab, ghayẓ, sakhaṭ)

Fatimah Ahmadshah

The Qur'an uses three terms to denote anger: Ghaḍabghayẓ, and sakhaṭ. These are explained in the following sections: i. Definitions and Usage; ii. Human Anger; iii. Divine Wrath; iv. Bibliography.

Definitions and Usage

Ghaḍab (“anger”) is derived from the root letters gh-ḍ-b, signifying intensity and strength, and indicates the intensification of displeasure (Ibn Fāris, Maqāyīs). A person who is ghaḍib, ghaḍūb, or ghaḍbān is one easily moved to anger or whose anger is intense (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān). Al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī (d. ca.502/1108) defines anger as excitement (thawarān) of the blood  in the heart  out of desire for vengeance (Mufradāt). Derivatives of the root gh-ḍ-b occur twenty-four times in the Qurʾān.

Ghayẓ (“rage”) is derived from the letters gh-y-ẓ, which denote the anguish one causes another (Ibn Fāris, Maqāyīs). Al-Jawharī (d. 393/1003) defines ghayẓ as the concealed anger of someone who cannot express it openly (Ṣiḥāḥ). Al-Rāghib specifies that ghayẓ is the most intense form of ghaḍab, being the passion one feels when angry, and taghayyuẓ as meaning to express one’s rage (Mufradāt). Derivatives of gh-y-ẓ occur eleven times in the Qur'an. Allah’s wrath is never described in the Qurʾān as ghayẓ. All eleven occurrences of this word or its derivatives refer to the anger of humans or objects (as in the well-nigh bursting fury of the fire of hell mentioned in Q 25:12 and Q 67:8). The wrath of Allah is always praiseworthy and just, whereas human anger clouds the mind and interferes with one’s judgment, and must therefore be restrained (Ghazālī, Iḥyāʾ 3:191).

Sakhaṭ/sukhṭ is the opposite of riḍā (see Contentment), and means to dislike something and be displeased with it. However, its intransitive form is synonymous with ghaḍab (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān; al-ʿAskarī, al-Furūq al-lughawiyya p. 130). Al-Rāghib defines sakhaṭ as vehement anger that warrants punishment (in the eyes of the angered), but when used of the Almighty means to bring down His punishment (wa huwa min Allāh taʿālā inzāl al-ʿuqūba) (Mufradāt). Derivatives of the root s-kh-ṭ occur four times.

In differentiating between these terms, al-Thaʿālibī (350-429/961-1038) considers ghaḍab to be a general term signifying anger, while sukhṭ and ghayẓ indicate its various states: the former is its first degree, mere displeasure, and the latter is anger that is latent because one cannot avenge oneself (Fiqh al-lugha p. 189). Al-ʿAskarī (d. ca.395/1005) further distinguishes ghaḍab from ghayẓ in that the first is a vengeful desire that harm befall another while the second is closer to sorrow (al-Furūq al-lughawiyya p. 130) wherein one despairs of gaining revenge (Zabīdī, Tāj, sub gh-ḍ-b). 


Human Anger

Anger is considered to be an emotional response to which all human beings are susceptible, and is not always considered a reprehensible passion. Al-Ghazālī (450-505/1058-1111) states that anger is a latent force in human beings which, when stimulated, leads to the excitement of the heart’s blood and its spreading through the veins and upper extremities of the body, turning the face and eyes red (Iḥyāʾ 3:189). This conforms with the hadith which states: “Anger is an ember in the heart of the son of Ādam: do you not see the redness of his eyes and the swelling of his jugular veins?” (Tirmidhī, Fitan, mā akhbara al-Nabī ṣallā Allāh ʿalayh wa-sallam aṣḥābah bi-mā huwa kāʾin ilā yawm al-qiyāma). Al-Ghazālī also notes that so long as humans have preferences and find some things more agreeable than others, disliking their opposites, they will continue to experience anger and rage if confronted with scarcity—for these feelings naturally occur when one is robbed of what one values or is faced with what one disfavors. Therefore, anger cannot be absolutely uprooted, nor should it be left unchecked either. Rather, like other passions that need to be controlled and directed (see Avarice and Greed; Envy; Happiness and Sadness; Love, Lust, and Desire), it should be appropriately groomed to moderation (Iḥyāʾ 3:191-192).

The Qurʾān does not forbid such feelings altogether, but gives general directives as to how a true believer should respond to them. Q 42:37, for example, describes the believers as those who, when they are angry (ghadibū), forgive. The God-fearing (muttaqūn; see Fear; Righteousness and Virtue), who are promised gardens as expansive as the heavens and the earth, are described in the Qurʾān as those who repress their anger (al-kāẓimīn al-ghayẓ) and pardon people (Q 3:134). Al-Baghawī (d. 516/1122) explains the expression kaẓm al-ghayẓ as follows: “Kaẓm means to contain something when it overflows, and kaẓm al-ghayẓ means being filled with rage but holding it back without revealing it” (Tafsīr). Thus the God-fearing restrain their rage and do not avenge themselves even when able to do so. Rather, they are patient and forbearing, holding no malice towards aggressors (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr; Ālūsī, Rūḥ). Further indicating the reward awaiting such persons, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “He who represses his anger despite being able to exercise it will be called by Allah the Exalted before all of creation on the Day of Judgment, to choose of the Houris whomever he desires” (Tirmidhī, Birr wal-ṣila, bāb fī kaẓm al-ghayẓ). Ibn ʿĀshūr (1296-1393/1879-1972) states that to succeed in suppressing overwhelming rage demonstrates the strength of one’s will and ability to subdue one’s desires, making it among the best of human virtues (Tafsīr, sub Q 3:134)—as mentioned in the well-known hadith: “The strong man is not one who overpowers people by brute force; the strong man is he who controls himself when angry” (Bukhārī, Adab, al-ḥadhar min al-ghaḍab).

The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught how to control one’s anger. For instance, he directed believers (i) to mitigate its effects by remaining silent (Aḥmad, Musnad ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAbbās 4:39 §2136); (ii) to combat it by saying: “I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan” (aʿūdhu bi-Llāh min al-shayṭān al-rajīm) (Bukhārī, Adab, al-ḥadhar min al-ghaḍab); (iii) to douse it by performing ablution (wuḍūʾ), as in the hadith: “Anger is from Satan, Satan was created from fire, and verily fire is extinguished with water. So if any of you get angry, you should perform ablution” (Abū Dāwūd, Adab, mā yuqāl ʿind al-ghaḍab); or (iv) to divert it by changing position, as in the hadith: “If any of you is angered while standing then he should sit, and if his anger does not subside he should lie down” (Abū Dāwūd, Adab, mā yuqālu ʿinda al-ghaḍab). These verses and narrations complement the hadith according to which the Prophet, peace be upon him, repeated thrice to a man seeking advice : “Do not become angry [at all]” (Bukhārī, Adab, al-ḥadhar min al-ghaḍab). While anger is a passion natural to humans, Ibn Rajab (736-795/1335-1393) observes that this hadith can be understood as an injunction to work to develop those qualities of character that would keep him from getting angry even when provoked—or, alternately, to demand that a person control whatever rage he may experience, so that he does not act on his anger (Jāmiʿ al-ʿulūm wal-ḥikam p. 178). Ibn Ḥajar (d. 852/1449) adds that this advice may possibly have been intended specifically for that particular individual, who was perhaps irascible by nature (Fatḥ al-bārī, Adab, al-ḥadhar min al-ghaḍab).

Although Muslims are urged to subdue their fury in all circumstances, one may yet seek equitable retaliation: and if you punish, then punish with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, surely it is better for the patient (Q 16:126). However, Q 2:194 warns against the risk of transgressing just limits while pursuing such measures (see Aggression; Boundaries of Allah): then whoever aggresses against you, [you may] aggress against him with the like of that which he aggressed against you; but fear Allah. So long as moderation is exercised, retaliation is one’s lawful right. Indeed, anger and vengeance are praiseworthy when directed wholly to a just cause.

Ibn Rajab asserts that it is imperative that believers’ anger be for the sake of defending their religion, and that their retaliation be restricted to those who disobey Allah Almighty and His Prophet, peace upon him—as mentioned in Q 9:14-15: Fight them! Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them, and heal the breasts of a believing people; and He will remove the rage (ghayẓ) from their hearts (Jāmiʿ al-ʿulūm wal-ḥikam p. 181). This is said to have been revealed regarding the believers of the Khuzāʿa tribe, who were attacked by the tribe of Banū Bakr with the assistance of the Quraysh in breach of the treaty (see Alliance and Treaty) made between the Quraysh and the Prophet, peace be upon him. Consequently, the believers were ordered to set out to Makka to avenge their allies among the Khuzāʿa and relieve their hearts of the rage caused by this violation of trust (Ṭabarī and Qurṭubī, Tafsīrs, sub Q 9:15). Al-Rāzī (d. 606/1210) understands this verse as confirming the sincerity of the Companions, because their hearts were filled with anger and enthusiasm to protect their religion and promote its cause, which is a sign of true believers (Tafsīr).

Another example of such anger is that of the Prophet Mūsā , peace be upon him, who is described as being angry (ghaḍbān) and grieving (Q 7:150 and 20:86) when he returned to his people to find them worshipping the figure of a calf (see Calf of the Children of Isrāʾīl) (see below for the Divine wrath also incurred in this incident). “The Man of the Fish” (Dhūl-Nūn), that is, the Prophet Yūnus, peace be upon him, is said to have left his people in anger (mughāḍiban) (Q 21:87), which al-Qurṭubī (d. 671/1273) explains to have been a response to his people’s persistent disbelief in Allah (Tafsīr). Ibn al-Qayyim (691-751/1292-1350) describes such anger “for the sake of Allah”—that is, for no selfish reason—as a type of “ghayra for Allah” (jealous indignation and care for that which is sacred), which is a high degree of faith (Madārij al-sālikīn 3:45).

The hypocrites, on the other hand, are described as becoming outraged only for their own selves and interests (see Hypocrisy and Hypocrites): And there are those amongst them who accuse you in the matter of alms. If they are given thereof, they are pleased; and if they are not given thereof, behold, they are angered (yaskhaṭūn) (Q 9:58). Commentators hold that this verse was revealed regarding one of the hypocrites known as dhūl-huwayṣira—Ḥurqūṣ b. Zuhayr—who accused the Prophet, peace be upon him, of unjustly distributing the spoils of the battle of Ḥunayn(see Booty) (Baghawī, Tafsīr; Bukhārī, Manāqib, ʿalāmāt al-nubuwwa fī-l-Islām). Al-Zamakhsharī (d. 527/1132) states that the hypocrites were angry because the Prophet, peace be upon him, increased the share of the people of Makka in order to soften the Makkans’ hearts—which showed that the hypocrites’ content and discontent were contingent not on the benefit of Islam or its followers but on the amount of material gain that they were able to acquire (Kashshāf). Q 3:119 describes those hypocrites who were exasperated by the coalescence and concord of the believers: And when they meet you they say: “We believe,” but when they are alone they bite their fingers in rage (ghayẓ) against you. Al-Ālūsī (1217-1270/1802-1854) explains that the hypocrites were enraged because of the unity of the believers and because Allah’s protective support of them meant that their enemies could not avenge themselves (Rūḥ).

Such rage is common to hypocrites and disbelievers, the latter of whom are described in Q 33:25 when Allah reminds the believers of His blessing: And Allah repulsed those who disbelieved in their rage (bi-ghayẓihim); they gained no advantage. And Allah sufficed the believers in fighting. And Allah is ever Strong, Mighty. Ibn ʿĀshūr states: “The disbelievers had taken pains to form their coalition (aḥzāb), fund their cause, and endure a lengthy siege of Madina, in hopes of conquering the city and annihilating the believers—and so were infuriated when Allah sent on them fierce winds and troops of angels that forced them to retreat” (Tafsīr). This misdirected anger is also mentioned in Q 22:15: Whoever thinks that Allah will not assist him (Muḥammad) in this world and the hereafter, let him stretch out a rope to the roof [of his dwelling], then let him cut [it] off (i.e., hanging himself). Then let him see if his plan will remove that which enrages him (mā yaghīẓ). Al-Zamakhsharī understands this to mean: “Allah will support His Prophet in both worlds, and those of his envious enemies who think or wish otherwise, and are enraged at his success, may try their best to stop it—as an infuriated person might try to hang himself out of frustration—but will find that their efforts are useless” (Kashshāf).

The disbelievers were enraged by the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, whom Allah likened to a seed which sends forth its shoot, then strengthens it, so it becomes thick and stands firm on its stem, delighting the sowers, that He may enrage (li-yaghīẓ) the disbelievers with them (Q 48:29). Al-Baghawī comments that the believers were initially few and so the disbelievers were optimistic of their failure, but their frustration grew with the gradual increase of believers in numbers and strength (Tafsīr). Moreover, regarding those believers of Madina and of the Bedouins who essayed forth in battle the Qurʾān declares: they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue nor hunger in the cause of Allah, nor do they tread any path which angers (yaghīẓ) the disbelievers, nor do they inflict any injury upon an enemy, but a righteous deed is recorded for them (Q 9:120). Ibn ʿĀshūr asserts that treading (waṭʾ) in the cause of Allah means to move forward on the territory of the enemy. It could also be a metaphor for humiliating the enemy and gaining victory over them (Tafsīr). Some Ḥanafī jurists understand this verse as making the traversing of enemy territory tantamount to gaining an advantage over them, and thus cite it as proof that reinforcements to a Muslim army deserve a share of the spoils of war even if they only arrive after victory has been won (al-Sarakhsī, al-Mabsūṭ 10:35-36).


Divine Wrath

Al-Rāzī posits a general rule regarding incidental psychological attributes (al-aʿrāḍ al-nafsāniyya), such as happiness, anger, mercy, and jealousy: only the outcomes of such attributes (sifāt) are signified with reference to Allah (see Beautiful Names of Allah). Human anger, he writes, begins with the blood boiling in one’s heart and leads to a desire to harm the object of one’s anger; but since such agitation of the heart cannot be attributed to the Almighty, references to Allah’s wrath must be understood as referring to the punishment which results from His displeasure (Tafsīr; see also Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf, sub Q 1:7). Allah’s wrath is not to be taken lightly, as it is always associated in the Qurʾān with the gravest of sins, and is in many cases accompanied by the promise of humiliation, severe torment, Allah’s curse, or eternal damnation.

The Qurʾān associates Allah’s anger with certain sins to highlight their gravity. For example, Q 4:93 announces: whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense shall be Hell, to abide therein; and Allah’s wrath is upon him (wa ghaḍiba Allāhu ʿalayhi), and [He] has cursed him, and prepared for him a great punishment. Likewise, Q 8:15-16 states: O you who believe, when you meet those who disbelieve in battle, do not turn your backs to them. Whoever turns his back to them on such a day—unless maneuvering for battle or aligning [himself] with a company—has indeed incurred wrath (ghaḍab) from Allah and his abode is hell, and wretched [indeed] is that destination. Al-Ālūsī comments that anyone who flees the battlefield deserves Allah’s anger, unless the enemy be more than double their number, this exception being negatively inferred from Q 8:66: So if there be of you a hundred steadfast, they shall overcome two hundred (Rūḥ, sub Q 8:16). Another example of such Divine “anger” incurred through sin is given in Q 7:71, where the Prophet Hūd, peace be upon him, tells his people: “Torment and wrath (ghaḍab) have fallen upon you from your Lord. Do you dispute with me over names which you have named—you and your fathers—for which no warrant from Allah has been revealed? Then await [its consequences]; verily, I am with you among those who wait.” Al-Rāzī comments that although this Prophet had cogently argued for the oneness of Allah (see Tawḥīd), his people insisted on blindly following their polytheistic ancestors and dared him to bring forth Allah’s punishment if he was truthful, whereupon their Prophet informed them that their idolatry had indeed earned them the wrath of the Almighty (Tafsīr, sub Q 7:70-71). Also regarding idolatry, the Qurʾān describes those of the Children of Isrāʾīl who broke their promise to their Prophet Mūsā, peace upon him, by worshipping the shape of a calf, to deserve anger (ghaḍab) from their Lord and humiliation in the life of this world (Q 7:152; cf. 20:86). These three sins—deliberate murder of a believer, fleeing the battlefield, and polytheism (shirk)—are among the grave deeds which the Prophet Muḥammad, upon him peace and blessings, described as “the seven destructive sins (al-sabʿ al-mūbiqāt)” (see Enormities) (Bukhārī, Waṣāyā, qawl Allāh taʿālā inna al-ladhīna yaʾkulūna amwāla al-yatāmā ẓulman).

Apostasy is another grave sin that incurs Divine anger: Whoever disbelieves in Allah after believing—except he who is forced thereto while his heart is at rest with faith—but whoever opens his breast to disbelief, on them is wrath (ghaḍab) from Allah and theirs shall be a mighty torment (Q 16:106). This verse is reported to have been revealed concerning the believer ʿAmmār b. Yāṣir (d. 78/706) who, under torture, complied with the demands of the Makkan pagans by insulting the Prophet, may peace be upon him, and praising their deities. Upon telling the Prophet what he had done, he was asked, “How do you find your heart?” He answered, “At peace with faith.” The Prophet, peace be upon him, then said, “If they should repeat [their torture], then you may also repeat [your apparent disbelief]” (Ḥākim, Mustadrak, Tafsīr Sūrat al-Naḥl). But as the exegetes note, those who understand the faith but then turn away from it wholeheartedly for the sake of this world, preferring it to the hereafter, deserve Allah’s anger and severe punishment (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, sub Q 16:106-107).

Wrath befalls those who vainly challenge the truth: And those who dispute concerning Allah after He has been accepted, their dispute is null before their Lord, and on them is wrath (ghaḍab), and theirs shall be a severe torment (Q 42:16). According to Ibn ʿĀshūr, this pertains to those disbelievers who disputed the oneness of Allah and hoped for the return of the Age of Ignorance (see Jāhiliyya) after people had accepted Islam; and it may also refer to the People of the Bookthat is, to those Jews and Christians who disputed the religion of Allah by trying to raise doubts about it and who claimed superiority for their respective dispensations (Tafsīr). Forming alliances with disbelievers against the Muslims also makes one the object of Divine wrath: Q 5:80, according to some scholars, refers to those Jews (such as Kaʿb b. al-Ashraf (d. 3/624) and his associates) who would urge the pagans to mobilize their forces against the believers: You see many of them taking the disbelievers as helpers. Surely evil is that which their souls have sent forward for them, that Allah is wroth with them (sakhiṭa Allāhu ʿalayhim) and in torment they will abide (Rāzī, Tafsīr; Abū Ḥayyān, Baḥr).

Q 48:6 condemns the hypocrites and idolaters, men and women, who harbor an evil suspicion about Allah in terms similar to Q 4:93 above: Allah’s wrath is upon them (ghaḍiba Allāhu ʿalayhim) and He has cursed them and prepared Hellfire for them; a wretched destination. This suspicion (ẓann; see Conjecture; Suspicion) is explained in Q 48:12 as being their presumption that Allah Almighty would not grant victory to His Prophet (see Conquest): that the believers would not return to Makka to conquer it after the treaty of Ḥudaybiya, and that the disbelievers would eradicate the Muslims (Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf; Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 48:6). Many exegetes understand “Allah’s displeasure” in Q 3:162 (Is then one who followed the pleasure of Allah like one who earned the displeasure (sakhaṭ) of Allah, and whose abode is hell?—and wretched is [that] destination!) to refer primarily to the act of illegally taking from the spoils of war, as mentioned in the preceding verse (Tafsīrs of Ṭabarī, Baghawī, and Rāzī).

The wrath of Allah is invoked in the fifth oath of “divorce by mutual repudiation” (liʿān, see Marriage and Divorce), wherein a husband is called to swear four times accusing his wife of adultery (see Adultery and Fornication), the fifth time invoking Allah’s curse upon himself if he be lying. The wife is then called to swear four times that her husband’s accusation is false, the fifth time adding similarly that the anger of Allah be upon her (anna ghaḍaba Allāhi ʿalayhā) if he was of the truthful (Q 24:9). Al-Biqāʿī (d. 885/1480) reasons that the woman in this matter is threatened with particular vehemence to encourage admitting the truth—for a man would not bring upon himself such scandal unless his accusation were true—and because adultery is the essence of social corruption (Naẓm).

Disbelief and transgression are also cause for Allah’s wrath. Referring to the Israelites in this regard are Q 2:61: And humiliation and misery was brought down upon them, and they earned the wrath (ghaḍab) of Allah. That was because they used to disbelieve in the signs of Allah, and kill the Prophets without just cause. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress (cf. Q 3:112); and Q 20:81: Eat of the good things We have provided for you, and do not transgress therein lest My wrath (ghaḍabī) come upon you; and whomever My wrath (ghaḍabī) comes upon has indeed perished. Al-Zamakhsharī defines transgressing regarding Allah’s blessings as overstepping the limits set by Him, whether by outright denial, ungratefulness, stinginess, wastefulness, or unlawful use (Kashshāf, sub Q 20:81). Certain Jews of the time of the Prophet Muḥammad, peace be upon him, were also disparaged for their disbelief: Wretched is that for which they sold their souls, that they should disbelieve in that which Allah has revealed, grudging that Allah should reveal of His bounty (faḍl) to whomever He wills of His slaves. So they have deserved wrath upon wrath (ghaḍab). And for the disbelievers there is disgraceful torment (Q 2:90). Al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) comments that those Jews used to implore Allah for victory over the idolaters through a long-awaited Messenger who was described and whose coming was foretold in their scriptures (see Books). He writes that their resentment at Allah’s choosing His last Prophet from the descendants of Ismāʿīl instead of Isḥāq, upon both of them peace, led them to disbelieve in the Prophet Muḥammad and his message despite their knowing that it was certainly the truth (Tafsīr).   

Because such Jews are many times described as having incurred Allah’s anger, and in the light of the Prophet’s explanation of the following verse, many commentators understand general references to “those who earned Allah’s anger” as relating to the Jews. The Prophet, peace be upon him, explained the references in the final verse of the first sura: Guide us to the straight way: the way of those upon whom You have bestowed Your favor, not of those who earned [Your] anger (al-maghḍūb ʿalayhim), nor of those who went astray (Q 1:7) as: “The Jews are the ones who earned His anger and the Christians are those astray” (Tirmidhī, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, fātiḥat al-kitāb). At the same time, Ibn ʿĀshūr explains, these paradigmatic references are not exclusive, especially in the context of a supplication for Divine Guidance. Thus “those who earned [Your] anger” (al-maghḍūb ʿalayhim) includes all who intentionally disbelieve and defy Allah while knowing the truth; “the astray” (al-ḍāllīn) includes all who are misguided because of their heedlessness or misunderstanding of Allah’s message (Tafsīr).

In this vein, commentators understand Have you not seen those who befriend a people upon whom is the wrath of Allah (ghaḍiba Allāhu ʿalayhim)? They are neither of you nor of them, and they swear to falsehood knowingly (Q 58:14) as referring to those hypocrites who would support the Jewish tribes and impart to them secrets of the believers due to their mutual enmity towards the Muslims (Tafsirs of Ṭabarī, Baghawī, Rāzī, Ibn Kathīr, and Ibn ʿĀshūr). Al-Baghawī states that Q 5:60 is a response to those Jews who claimed to the Prophet’s Companions that they had never seen followers of any religion less fortunate than them or a religion worse than theirs, whereupon Allah rebuked them for their impudence and reminded them of their sinful ancestors: Say:Shall I inform you of [one who is] worse than that in retribution from Allah? Those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath (ghaḍiba ʿalayh), and those of whom He transformed into apes and swine, and those who worshipped false deities; such are worse in rank, and more astray from the right path” (Q 5:60) (Tafsīr; see also Ibn ʿĀshūr, Tafsīr).

Many exegetes also consider Q 60:13 (O you who believe, do not befriend a people with whom Allah is wrathful (ghaḍiba Allāhu ʿalayhim). Verily they have lost hope in the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers lose hope for those in the grave) to refer to certain believers who befriended the Jews (Ṭabarī and Baghawī, Tafsīrs; Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf). Al-Wāḥidī (d. 468/1076) reports that this verse was revealed regarding some of the poverty-stricken believers who maintained close relations with the Jews and would transmit to them information about the Muslims in order to continue receiving provisions of their crops (Asbāb nuzūl). Ibn ʿĀshūr adds that they may have done so unaware of their actions’ consequences, so Allah brought them to their attention, forbidding them to ally themselves with those Jews who, because of their evil deeds, had lost all hope of receiving any good in the Hereafter (Tafsīr). Other commentators consider it possible that this verse is of more general import and is a warning to believers against any disbeliever who has incurred the wrath of Allah (Ibn ʿAṭiyya, Muḥarrar; Tafsīrs of Ibn Kathīr, Qurṭubī, and Bayḍāwī).


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See also

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