Surah Muhammad is the 47th surah of the Quran that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina. The reason it is called surah Muhammad is that it mentions the Prophet’s name in the second verse. The surah mostly talks about the characteristics of believers and disbelievers and their fate in the Hereafter. In this article on Islam4u, the following topics will be discussed:
- Facts About Surah Muhammad
- Benefits of Reciting Surah Muhammad
- The Gist of Surah Muhammad
- Faith and Disbelief as Stated in Surah Muhammad
- How to Deal With Disbelievers in Battle
- The Difference Between Believers and Disbelievers According to Surah Muhammad
- Famous Verses of Surah Muhammad
- Worldly Life Is Play and Amusement
Facts About Surah Muhammad
Benefits of Reciting Surah Muhammad
- Whichever direction one looks sees Prophet Muhammad on the Day of Judgment: One of the benefits of reciting surah Muhammad is that when one is raised from one’s grave, in whichever direction one turns, one will see the Noble Prophet. Furthermore, it is incumbent on Allah to quench that person’s thirst from the streams of paradise.1
- Being safe from the evil of the jinn: Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad has said, “Whoever writes surah Muhammad and wears it around his neck, he shall be safe from the evil of the jinn. He will be safe whether he is sleeping or awake. Moreover, if he writes it and puts it above his head when he wants to sleep, God willing, he shall be protected from every sudden danger.”2
- Being safe from fear and dangers: Abu Abdullah Ja‘far ibn Muhammad has said, “If someone writes surah Muhammad and keeps it with himself during times of war, he will be safe from fear and dangers that are caused by war. Additionally, the doors of good things will open before him. If someone writes surah Muhammad in a container, then washes it, and then drinks from that container, he will be relieved of fear and anxiety.3
The Gist of Surah Muhammad
The general gist of surah Muhammad is enumerating the attributes of believers and disbelievers and comparing and contrasting their fate on the Day of Judgment as well as the issue of jihad and going to war with the enemies of Islam.4 The reason most verses of this surah deal with the issue of war and battle is that most verses of surah Muhammad were revealed during the Battle of Uhud.
Faith and Disbelief as Stated in Surah Muhammad
Surah Muhammad compares and contrasts faith with disbelief. Allah renders fruitless the deeds of those who disbelieve in Allah and bar others from the way of Allah:
الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَصَدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ أَضَلَّ أَعْمَالَهُمْ ﴿١﴾
Those who abandoned belief [in God] and prevented [people from following] God’s path, God will make their deeds come to naught.5
On the other hand, for those who believe in what has been revealed to Prophet Muhammad and do good deeds, Allah will absolve them of their sins and will reform their affairs:`
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَآمَنُوا بِمَا نُزِّلَ عَلَىٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۙ كَفَّرَ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَأَصْلَحَ بَالَهُمْ ﴿٢﴾
And those who believe and perform good deeds and believe in what has been revealed to Muhammad, [which is] truth from their Lord, He will absolve them of their sins and reform their affair.6
Verse three clearly explains that the reason disbelievers will not gain any benefit from their deeds is that they follow the wrong path (i.e. falsehood), while those who believe follow the truth. In this way, Allah shows people the difference between the believers and the disbelievers.
How to Deal With Disbelievers in Battle
Verse four of surah Muhammad asserts that one must deal harshly with disbelievers when one is fighting them in battle. However, when they have become your captives, you have a choice to let them free or hold them for ransom. Verse four of surah Muhammad reads:
فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَضَرْبَ الرِّقَابِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَثْخَنتُمُوهُمْ فَشُدُّوا الْوَثَاقَ فَإِمَّا مَنًّا بَعْدُ وَإِمَّا فِدَاءً حَتَّىٰ تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ وَلَوْ يَشَاءُ اللَّـهُ لَانتَصَرَ مِنْهُمْ وَلَـٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَ بَعْضَكُم بِبَعْضٍ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَلَن يُضِلَّ أَعْمَالَهُمْ ﴿٤﴾
When you encounter the disbelievers [in the battlefield] strike at their necks and when you subdue them [and take them as your captive], firmly fasten them1. Then after [battle you are allowed to] set them free graciously or hold them for ransom, [You should attack them] until the war lays down its burden [and they surrender themselves to you]. That is because if God had desired, He could have taken revenge on them Himself, but [He commanded you to fight against them in order] to test some of you by others. And [you should know that] those who are killed in the path of God, [they will prosper and] He will not make their deeds come to naught.7
The Difference Between Believers and Disbelievers According to Surah Muhammad
Those who die in the way of Allah will be rewarded as stated in verse four. They will enter paradise. Verse five and six read:
سَيَهْدِيهِمْ وَيُصْلِحُ بَالَهُمْ ﴿٥﴾ وَيُدْخِلُهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ عَرَّفَهَا لَهُمْ ﴿٦﴾
He will guide them and set right their affairs, and admit them into paradise, with which He has acquainted them.8
This shows how just and fair Allah is. Allah makes a distinction between those who believe in Him and His prophets and Imams, and those who do not believe in them. The disbelievers’ works will be useless, even if it is good on the outside. For example, if they help the poor, it will only benefit them in this world and not the Hereafter.
Famous Verses of Surah Muhammad
Surah Muhammad, like other surahs of the Quran has famous verses. One of the most famous verses is verse seven of this surah:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ ﴿٧﴾
O You Who Believe! If you help God He will help you and make you steadfast.9
What is helping Allah? Why should Allah need our help if He is needless? The answer to this question is that we are in need of Allah’s help. Therefore, by helping Allah’s cause and moving along His path, He will help us back. This is one of the divine precedents or sunnah of Allah. Therefore, if you move along the path of Allah and help His cause, you will surely achieve success in the end. Achieving martyrdom is the greatest success that one can achieve. Thus, one should not think that dying in the path of Allah is a failure. No, it is the greatest success. The next two verses (8-9) also mention how the disbelievers’ deeds will come to naught and will fail them in the Hereafter. Therefore, once again Allah draws a clear distinction between believers and disbelievers.
The Fate of Disbelievers and Those Before Them in Surah Muhammad
Verse ten of surah Muhammad reads:
أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ دَمَّرَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ أَمْثَالُهَا ﴿١٠﴾
Have they not traveled on the earth to see how was the fate of those who were before them? God entirely destroyed them, and the disbelievers will have its like.10
This is a very famous verse that verses similar to it have been revealed to the Prophet in other surahs. There is a lesson to be learned from those who were before us. When we travel on the earth and see what Allah did to the past nations, it sets a good example to all of us that we should not follow what they followed. The people of Thamūd, ‘Ād, Sodom, Aykah (اَيکَة), and the people of Moses, that is, Pharaoh and his people, all are examples that we should not follow. Their fate was wretchedness in this world and the Hereafter. Allah punished them for their sins and they face harsher punishment in the Hereafter.
Those Who Follow the Truth Are not Equal to Those Who Follow Their Desires
Verse 14 of surah Muhammad reads:
أَفَمَن كَانَ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ كَمَن زُيِّنَ لَهُ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَهْوَاءَهُم ﴿١٤﴾
Is he who stands on a manifest proof from his Lord like someone to whom the evil of his conduct is made to seem decorous, and who follow their desires?11
Once again, we see that Allah draws a distinction between those who believe in Him and follow the truth, and those who follow their carnal desires. Some people say, “Allah is very compassionate and He will not punish even the wrongdoers on the Day of Judgment.” This verse and many other verses go up against such a notion and say those who are good and those who are bad will not be treated in the same way. This is because Allah’s justice demands such a thing. Verse twelve says in this regard:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُدْخِلُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يَتَمَتَّعُونَ وَيَأْكُلُونَ كَمَا تَأْكُلُ الْأَنْعَامُ وَالنَّارُ مَثْوًى لَّهُمْ ﴿١٢﴾
Indeed, God will admit those who believe and perform good deeds into gardens through which rivers flow. And those who disbelieve enjoy and eat as the cattle eat, and the Fire will be their dwelling place.12
It would not be fair if both the doers of good and bad both are admitted into paradise. This goes against logic. Therefore Allah says the Godwary and the wrongdoers will be treated according to their deeds and that they are not equal.
A Description of Paradise in Surah Muhammad
Allah says in verse 15 of surah Muhammad:
مَّثَلُ الْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي وُعِدَ الْمُتَّقُونَ ۖ فِيهَا أَنْهَارٌ مِّن مَّاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّن لَّبَنٍ لَّمْ يَتَغَيَّرْ طَعْمُهُ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ خَمْرٍ لَّذَّةٍ لِّلشَّارِبِينَ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ عَسَلٍ مُّصَفًّى ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ كَمَنْ هُوَ خَالِدٌ فِي النَّارِ وَسُقُوا مَاءً حَمِيمًا فَقَطَّعَ أَمْعَاءَهُمْ ﴿١٥﴾
A description of the paradise promised to the Godwary: therein are streams of unstaling water, and streams of milk unchanging in flavour, and streams of wine delicious to the drinkers, and streams of purified honey; there will be for them every kind of fruit in it, and forgiveness from their Lord. [Are such ones] like those who abide in the Fire and are given to drink boiling water which cuts up their bowels?13
Allah in this beautiful verse gives a description of paradise, saying that it is promised to the Godwary. There are various streams in paradise, each having different things for one to drink. There are streams of:
- Pure and clean water that does not smell
- Milk whose flavor does not change
- Wine that pleases its drinkers
- Purified honey
At the end of the verse, Allah once again says, “Are those who abide in hell who are given boiling water to drink that cuts their bowels the same as those in heaven?”
Do They not Contemplate the Quran?
Another famous verse in surah Muhammad is verse 24 of this surah. The verse reads:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا ﴿٢٤﴾
Do they not contemplate [the teachings of] the Qur’ān? Or are there locks on their hearts [which prevent them from perceiving the truth]?14
This verse is talking about those who are hypocrites and who do not contemplate the Quran. It criticizes them by saying that their hearts are locked up and are not open to accepting the truth. This verse is a warning to all those who do not tread the path of the Quran and do not pay heed to the teachings of the Quran. The Quran teaches us that if we are Godwary, worship Allah only, perform our religious duties, and refrain from committing sins, we will achieve prosperity in both worlds. Otherwise, hell will be our abode.
Obey Allah and the Prophet
One of the famous verses of surah Muhammad is verse 33:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ ﴿٣٣﴾
Obey Allah and obey the Apostle, and do not render your works void.15
This verse says that in addition to obeying Allah based on what has been stated in the Quran, one must also follow the Prophet because he is the explainer and interpreter of the Quran. Moreover, the details of certain rulings have not been mentioned in the Quran. Therefore, we must see what the Prophet says about them. For example, the Quran states that one should uphold the prayer, but it does not say how one should pray. Therefore, we must see what the Prophet says about prayer. Some ignorant people think that the Quran suffices as a book that explains religion. However, these people are neglectful of the fact that the Quran itself tells us that we should also see what the Prophet as well as those vested with authority ask us to do.16
Worldly Life Is Play and Amusement
إِنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ ۚ وَإِن تُؤْمِنُوا وَتَتَّقُوا يُؤْتِكُمْ أُجُورَكُمْ وَلَا يَسْأَلْكُمْ أَمْوَالَكُمْ ﴿٣٦﴾
Indeed, the life of the world is play and amusement, [so be careful lest it deceives you] and if you believe and be pious, He will give you your wage and He will not ask you for your wealth.17
The life in this world compared to the life in the Hereafter is nothing but play and amusement. True life is in the Hereafter. If people are Godwary and have faith in Allah, Allah will not ask them anything concerning their wealth on the Day of Judgment. In fact, we will all be brought to account for our deeds on the Day of Judgment. One of the things that Allah will do on that day is asking each and every one of His servants what they did with their wealth and money. However, those who are truly pious and Godwary will not be asked for their wealth. We must remember that one of the signs of being Godwary is using our wealth in the way of Allah. If we do not do that, then we are not truly Godwary.
Surah Muhammad is a very instructive surah. It tells us that belief and disbelief are two completely conflicting phenomena. Allah says in surah Muhammad that believers will be rewarded with heaven and all its blessings, while the disbelievers will enter hell and will be punished severely. By reciting surah Muhammad and acting upon its teachings, we will, God willing, become prosperous and felicitous in our lives.
- Majma‘ al-Bayaan, vol. 9, p. 159.
- Tafseer al-Burhan, vol. 5, p. 53.
- Al-Amān min Akhṭār al-Asfār wa al-Azmān, p. 89.
- Al-Mīzān, 1390 AH, vol. 18, p. 222.
- Quran 47:1 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:2 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:4 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:5-6 (Qara’i).
- Quran 47:7 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:10 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:14 (Qara’i).
- Quran 47:12 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:15 (Qara’i).
- Quran 47:24 (Foroutan).
- Quran 47:33 (Qara’i).
- Cf. Quran 4:59.
- Quran 47:36 (Foroutan).