Surah Hujurat is the 49th surah of the Quran that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina. Hujurat is the plural of ḥujrah (حُجرَة), which means rooms. It gets its name from the fourth verse of this surah which states that those who call the Prophet from behind rooms impolitely and loudly do not exercise their intellect. In this article on Islam4u, the following topics are discussed:
Facts About Surah Hujurat
Benefits of Reciting Surah Hujurat
- Ten times the reward of all those who have obeyed and disobeyed Allah: The Prophet has said, “Whoever recites surah Hujurat, Allah will reward him ten times the reward of all those who have obeyed and disobeyed Allah.1
- Being safe from epilepsy: Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad has said, “If someone who has epilepsy writes surah Hujurat and keeps it with him, he will be cured. Moreover, he will be safe from the dangers of Satan and he will not have any fear.2
- Increases milk supply of breastfeeding women and keeps a child safe from dangers: Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad has said, “If a woman who has little breast milk drinks from the water that has washed the writing of surah Hujurat, her milk will increase. If a pregnant woman drinks from that water, she and her child will both be safe from dangers.”3
The Gist of Surah Hujurat
Surah Hujurat begins by speaking about how one’s behavior should be toward the Noble Prophet. One should not speak loudly and impolitely in the presence of the Prophet. Surah Hujurat also talks about certain bad social behaviors such as being suspicious of others, spying on others, and backbiting. In one of the famous verses of surah Hujurat, Allah says that the noblest of people in His sight are the most Godwary. In other words, skin color, race, language, and ethnicity are not what determine one’s superiority over others, but rather being wary of Allah is what makes one superior to others.
Famous Verses of Surah Hujurat
Surah Hujurat has several famous verses. For example, the verse of Ukhuwwah (اُخُوَّة), meaning brotherhood; the verse of Naba’ (نَبَأ), meaning news; the verse of Ghaybah (غَيبَة), meaning backbiting; and the verse of the noblest of people in the sight of Allah, which is verse 13, are some of its famous verses.
Verse Six of Surah Hujurat
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ ﴿٦﴾
O You Who Believe! If a transgressor gives you some news, verify it lest you unknowingly harm a people then regret over that which you did.4
This verse was revealed when the Noble Prophet sent Walid ibn Uqbah to collect zakat from the Banu Mustaliq tribe. When Banu Mustaliq found out that the Prophet’s representative is coming, they went to welcome and receive him. However, Walid, who was an enemy of Banu Mustaliq during jahiliyyah or the age of ignorance, thought they want to kill him. Therefore, he returned to the Prophet and said that they do not want to pay zakat! The Prophet became angry and was about to react when verse six of surah Hujurat was revealed to him, stating that if a transgressor (such as Walid ibn Uqbah) brings you news, you must first make sure that it is true so that you do not unknowingly harm a group of people and then become regretful of harming them. This verse is known as the verse of Naba’ (news).
Verse Ten of Surah Hujurat
Verse ten of surah Hujurat says that believers are like brothers to one another. Therefore, they should not dispute with one another, but rather they should make peace with one another:
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ ﴿١٠﴾
Indeed, the believers are brothers, therefore make peace between your brothers and be pious that you may receive mercy [and the forgiveness of God].5
Being brothers means that we respect each other and be kind and compassionate to each other, just like brothers. Of course, this verse also means that believing Muslim women are also sisters of each other. Therefore, every believer is the brother or sister of other believers regardless of their race or language, or whether they live in the East or West of the world.
Verse 12 of Surah Hujurat
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٢﴾
O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And do not spy on one another or backbite. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. Be wary of Allah; indeed Allah is all-clement, all-merciful.6
This verse is known as the verse of backbiting and tells us that we must avoid such a dreadful act. Allah in this verse says that backbiting someone is just like eating their flesh while they are dead. Backbiting is said to be even worse than fornication. The Noble Prophet in a hadith explains why:
عنه صلى الله عليه و آله و سلّم:
الغِيبَةُ أشَدُّ مِن الزِّنا ، قيلَ: وكيفَ؟ قالَ: الرجلُ يَزني ثُمّ يَتوبُ فَيَتُوبُ اللّه علَيهِ، وإنّ صاحِبَ الغِيبةِ لايُغفَرُ لَهُ حتّى يَغفِرَ لَهُ صاحِبُهُ.
His holiness, peace be upon him and his progeny said, “Backbiting is worse than fornication.” They asked him, “How so?” He answered, “A man commits fornication and then repents and Allah accepts his repentance. However, the backbiter will not be forgiven until the one he backbit forgives him.”7
Verse 13 of Surah Hujurat
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ ﴿١٣﴾
O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware.8
Allah first says that He created human beings as males and females and created nations and tribes just so that they could identify themselves from one another. Imagine if all people looked the same and were from one nation and tribe. How could they tell each other apart? Therefore, Allah says that He made human beings in different races, colors, nations, and tribes. However, what makes them superior to each other is not their nationality, gender, or race, but rather it is their Godwariness and piety that makes them nobler in the sight of Allah. Therefore, in the sight of Allah, whoever is more Godwary is dearer and nobler to Him.
Who Are Believers?
Verse 14 of surah Hujurat asserts that not all Muslims are believers, that is, those whom faith has entered their hearts. Rather, they are Muslims who have embraced and submitted themselves to Allah. A believer, on the other hand, is different. Verse 15 states what makes a person a believer:
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ ﴿١٥﴾
Indeed, the [true] believers are those who believe in God and His messenger and do not harbor doubt afterwards, and they strive with their wealth and their lives in the path of God. It is they who are the truthful.9
A true believer does not doubt what he believes in even for a split second. Moreover, he strives in the path of Allah not just with his wealth and money, but also his own life. If a person has such characteristics, he is a true believer. Otherwise, he is just a Muslim.
Those Who Have Become Muslim Have not Done the Prophet a Favor
Verse 17 of surah Hujurat reads:
يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيْكَ أَنْ أَسْلَمُوا ۖ قُل لَّا تَمُنُّوا عَلَيَّ إِسْلَامَكُم ۖ بَلِ اللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ هَدَاكُمْ لِلْإِيمَانِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ﴿١٧﴾
They count it as a favor to you that they have submitted [and accepted Islam, but you should] say [to them], “Do not count your acceptance of Islam as a favor to me, [rather you should know that] it is God who confers it a favor to you that He has guided you to belief, if you are truthful.10
In simple terms, Allah is saying that we should not think that we have done the Prophet a favor by submitting to Allah and accepting Islam. Rather, Allah has done us a favor by guiding us to become believers. If it were not for Allah’s guidance, we would never become Muslims and believers. Therefore, we must thank Allah for guiding us and doing us a great favor to be Muslims and believers.
Surah Hujurat is a surah that one can learn many things from it. The surah begins by telling us how we should behave in the presence of the Prophet. It tells us that we should not raise our voice when we are in the presence of the Prophet because it is rude and an impolite act. Furthermore, the surah tells us:
- We should do research before accepting the news given to us by a transgressor.
- Believers are brothers according to verse ten of this surah. Therefore, they should make peace with each other.
- Backbiting is like eating the dead flesh of one’s brother making it one of the most despicable acts in the sight of Allah.
- The noblest person in Allah’s sight is the most Godwary and pious, not a person of a specific nationality or ethnicity.
- Allah has done us a favor by guiding us to the religion of Islam.
- Majma‘ al-Bayān, vol. 9, p. 214.
- Tafseer al-Burhān, vol. 5, p. 99.
- Quran 49:6 (Foroutan).
- Quran 49:10 (Foroutan).
- Quran 49:12 (Qara’i).
- Al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb, vol. 3, p. 511.
- Quran 49:13 (Qara’i).
- Quran 49:15 (Foroutan).
- Quran 49:17 (Foroutan).