Surah Al-Hujarat


Name of Chapter and Reason for its Name

This chapter is called Surah Al-Hujurat and Hujuraat is the plural of hujrah, which means an area enclosed by walls on all four sides. In this chapter, the term hujuraat refers to the rooms that were specific to each one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad. [1] Another name for this chapter is Surah Al-Akhlaq (the Chapter of Ethics) due to the numerous ethical instructions that have been mentioned in this chapter.

Chapter Number

Surah Al-Hujurat is the 49th chapter in the Quran.

Number of Verses and Place of Revelation

Both the Shia and Sunni scholars agree that this chapter has 18 verses and that all of the verses are Madani except for the 13th verse, which is Makki. [2] [3] According to Zamakhshari, this chapter was revealed after Surah al-Mujadilah. [2] According to Tabarsi, this chapter is connected to Surah al-Fath (chapter 48), because Allah concludes that Surah by mentioning Prophet Muhammad, and then He begins this chapter with the Prophet’s praise. [4]


This chapter describes some of the important rules in Islam. These laws, if applied properly, will bring prosperity to one’s individual life, as well as make the entire community morally pure. The first 5 verses speak about the etiquette's that one must have with Allah, and then instructs us about the proper etiquette's that must be there when dealing with Prophet Muhammad. Some of the other verses in this chapter deal with the manners that one must employ in one’s day to day encounter with other believers. Another part of the chapter deals with the superiority that some people have over others. This hierarchy within society plays an essential role in the collective lives of the communities, and it guides people towards a successful and pleasant life. Through this, the hierarchy distinguishes the true religion from the false, and makes the society understand the truth in the religion from false practices and traditions. Allah concludes the chapter by mentioning the reality of belief (imaan) and Islam as a reminder that the light of belief is a favour that He has bestowed upon man. [5], Page 305)) Important Concepts in this Chapter

Verses 1-5

The etiquette's that a person must maintain with regards to the Prophet of Islam. In the first 3 verses, Allah teaches the believers the respectful manner that they must have with the Holy Prophet.

Verse 1: “O you who have faith! Do not venture ahead of Allah and His Apostle and be wary of Allah. Indeed Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ١

This means that one should not act before the Prophet - rather, he should always follow the Prophet in all matters.

قال عليُ بنُ أبِي طلحةَ عَن ابنِ عباسِ رَضِيَ اللّهُ عَنهُما لا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَ رَسُولِهِ لا تقولوا خلاف الكتاب و السنة، و قال العوفِي عنه: نُهِىَ أن يَتَكَلَّمُوا بَينَ يَدَيِ كلامه، و قال مجاهد: لا تفتاتوا على رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه و سلم بشي‏ء حتى يقضي اللّه تعالى على لسانه، و قال الضحاك: لا تقضوا أمرا دون اللّه و رسوله من شرائع دينكم، و قال سفيان الثوري لا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَ رَسُولِهِ بقول و لا فعل

Ali ibn Abi Talhah narrates from Ibn Abbas that he said [regarding this verse]: “Do not venture ahead of Allah and His Apostle” that “Do not say anything that contradicts the Quran and the Sunnah.” Al-Awfi narrated from him: “It has been prohibited to speak in between his (the Prophet) words.” Mujaahid said: “Do not infringe over the Messenger of Allah even a bit unless Allah has finalized [the matter] through His words.” Al-Dahhak said: “Do not decree about anything from the laws of your religion before Allah and His messenger.” Sufyan al-Thuri says: “Do not venture ahead of Allah and His Apostle - neither through your words, nor through your actions.”

In verse 2, Allah gives the second instruction - “O you who have faith! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet…” -there is no ḥadīth or anything here for reference [6]

In the first verse, ‘bayn yaday’ (literally between two hands) means ‘in front of’ since the area between the two hands of an individual is in front of him. The verse is saying that one should not come to any decision independently from Allah and His prophet, and that one should not be hasty in commanding others to do something, or to stay away from something.

In the second verse, Allah forbids the believers from raising their voices above the voice of Prophet Muhammad. One would raise his voice over the Prophet’s for two reasons: Either one takes the Prophet to be inferior to himself, in which case one will be considered a disbeliever; or one intends to disrespect and insult the Prophet, which is in stark contrast to the respect ordained for this great personality.. The next part of the second verse says: “…and do not speak aloud to him like you shout to one another…” This is because the Prophet is not like the rest of the people, and it is necessary to dignify him in every possible manner. The last part of this verse describes the reason for these prohibitions from Allah: “…lest your works should fail without your being aware.” -no ḥadīth for reference below [7]

Verses 6-12

These verses speak about social etiquette's. In the second part of this chapter, believers are instructed regarding the etiquette's they should maintain in their communal lives. These entail:

Verses 6-8

The correct response to an unrighteous bringer of news. The sixth verse of this chapter is probably the most pivotal verse in this section, which reads: “O you who have faith! If a vicious character brings you some news, then verify it, lest you should visit [harm] on some people out of ignorance, and then become regretful for what you have done.” A faasiq is someone who goes from obeying the commands of Allah to disobeying Him. This verse indicates that a piece of information from a single source does not bring certainty, and one should not act according to it. It also implies that if one gets news that has a possibility of being untrue, then one should delay in coming to a conclusion regarding it. [8]

Verses 9-10

Resolving disputes between people. The instructions that Allah gives us regarding a conflict between two groups in which one of them is an aggressor is as follows: “If two groups of the faithful fight one another, then make peace between them. But if one party of them aggresses against the other, then fight the one which aggresses until it returns to Allah’s ordinance. Then, if they return, make peace between them fairly, and do justice. Indeed Allah loves the just.”

و هكذا ثبتَ في صحيحِ البخاري من حديث الحسن عن أبي بكرة رضي اللّه عنه قال: إنَّ رسولَ اللّهِ صَلَّى اللّهُ عليهِ و سَلَّم خَطَبَ يَومًا، و مَعَه عَلَى المِنبرِ الحسنِ بنِ علي رَضِي ِاللّهُ عَنهُما، فَجَعَلَ يَنظُرُ إليهِ مرَّة، و إلَى الناَّسِ أُخرَى و يَقولُ: «إنَّ ابني هذا سيدٌ و لعلَّ اللّهُ تعالى أن يَصلَح َبه بينَ فئتَينِ عَظيمَتَينِ مِنَ المسلمينَ»

Likewise it has been recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari that al-Hasan narrates from Abu Bakrah that he said: “The Messenger of Allah gave a speech one day while al-Hasan ibn Ali was with him on the pulpit. He was repeatedly looking at al-Hasan and then at the people; then said: ‘Verily, this son of mine is a sayyid (chief or master); and may Allah make peace between the two great groups of Muslims through him.’” [9]

و رَوَى الزهري عن سالم عن أبيه أنَّ رسولَ الله ص قال المسلمُ أخُو المُسلمِ لا يَظلمُهُ و لا يسلمُه مَن كان في حاجةِ أخِيِه كان اللهُ في حاجتِه ِ و من فرج عن مسلم كربةً فرجَ اللهُ بها عنه كربةً من كروبٍ يوم َالقيامةِ و مَن ستَرَ مسلِما ًيستٌرٌه ُاللهُ يومَ القيامةِ

Al-Zuhri narrates from Saalim, who narrates from his father that the Messenger of Allah said: “A Muslim is the brother of Muslims, he does not oppress him, and he does not surrender him. One who answers the need of his brother, Allah answers his need. One who removes a worry from a Muslim, through this Allah will remove for him a worry out of the worries on the Day of Judgement. One who covers a Muslim, Allah will cover him on the Day of Judgement.” [10]

Verse 11

Denouncing those who ridicule others. Allah forbids the believers from ridiculing and belittling other people. It has been narrated from Prophet Muhammad in Sahih al-Bukhari:

«الكبر بطر الحق و غمص الناس- و يروى- و غمط الناس»

Belittling others is haraam (forbidden) in Islam because there is a possibility that the one belittled has a higher rank and is loved more by Allah. Doesn’t match the arabic above [11]

After the command to resolve disputes and prevent disunity in verses 9 and 10, in verse 11, Allah forbids the ridicule of the believers: “O you who have faith! Let not any people ridicule another people: it may be that they are better than they are” -no ḥadīth with reference [12]

Verse 12

Suspicion, spying, and backbiting - Examples of moral vices.

قال رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه و سلم: «إياكم و الظن فإن الظن أكذب الحديث، و لا تجسسوا و لا تحسسوا و لا تنافسوا و لا تحاسدوا، و لا تباغضوا و لا تدابروا، و كونوا عباد اللّه إخوانا

The Messenger of Allah has said: “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales, and do not spy on one another, and do not look for other people’s faults, and do not compete with one another, and do not envy one another, and do not hate one another, and do not desert (shun) one another, and O servants of Allah! Be brothers.” [13]

عن أبي هريرة قال: قيل يا رسول اللّه ما الغيبة؟ قال صلى اللّه عليه و سلم: «ذكرك أخاك بما يكره» قيل: أ فرأيت إن كان في أخي ما أقول؟ قال صلى اللّه عليه و سلم إن كان فيه ما تقول فقد اغتبته، و إن لم يكن فيه ما تقول فقد بهته»

Abu Hurayrah has narrated that it was said: “O Messenger of Allah! What is backbiting?” He replied: “You mentioning something about your brother that he dislikes.” He was asked: “What if my brother is what I mentioned (about him)?” He said: “If he is as you mentioned, then you have committed backbiting; but if he is not as you say about him, then you have falsely accused him.” [14]

Zajjaj has said: “What is meant by the prohibition of suspicion is that we should not have any suspicions regarding the good-doers. However, this rule does not apply to the evil-doers, and we are permitted to suspect evil from them.”

Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, and Mujaahid say about the prohibition of spying that: “This means that we should not be on the lookout for the mistakes committed by the believers.”

The next part of this verse prohibits backbiting. Backbiting means mentioning the faults of others behind their backs without an appropriate reason. It has been narrated in a tradition that: “If you speak ill about someone who has that fault and Allah dislikes that fault, then you have done his giybah (backbiting); but if you mention a fault which he does not have, then you have slandered him.”

عن جابر قال قال رسولُ الله ص إيَّاكم و الغيبةَ فإن الغيبةَ أشدُّ من الزنا

Jabir says that the Messenger of Allah said: “Beware of backbiting, for surely backbiting is worse than adultery.” [15]

Verse 13

Taqwa (Allah-Consciousness) - the criteria for superiority between individuals. Allah’s criteria for one person being better than another one is taqwa, not one’s race or lineage.

سئل رسول اللّه صلى اللّه عليه و سلم أي الناس أكرم؟ قال: «أكرمهم عند اللّه أتقاهم»

It has been narrated that the Messenger of Allah was asked: “Who among people are the noblest?” He replied: “The noblest among them in the sight of Allah are the most Allah-conscious among them.” [16] In this verse Allah reminds us that He created human beings as different nations so that they can be differentiated from one another; He did not do this so that the nations could boast over each other.

روي عن النبي ص أنه قال يقول الله تعالى يوم القيامة أمرتكم فضيعتم ما عهدت إليكم فيه و رفعتم أنسابكم فاليوم أرفع نسبي و أضع أنسابكم أين المتقون «إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقاكُمْ»

It has been narrated from the Prophet that he said: “Allah will say on the Day of Judgement: ‘I commanded you, but you neglected that which I entrusted to you, and you promoted your own lineages. Therefore, on this Day I will promote Mine and will let go of your lineages. Where are the Allah-conscious ones? ‘Surely the noblest of you in the sight of Allah are the most Allah-wary amongst you.’” [17]

Verses 14-15

These verses speak about true belief.

-where is the arabic for the next parts?

True believers are those who retain their belief irrespective of the circumstances; and they do not complain during difficulties, and their belief does not quiver because of them. They do not have doubts about their beliefs, and they strive hard in the way of Allah with their possessions and their lives. [18]

According to Zamakhshari, when something is only on the tongue and has not yet seeped into the heart, this is called Islam; however, when this belief seeps into the heart of a person and one accepts it with the entirety of one’s inner being, then this is known as imaan (true belief). [19]

Zajjaj says that Islam stands for the expression of acceptance and submission to what the Prophet has received from Allah. If an actual acceptance in the heart accompanies this outward expression, then this is called imaan, and only such a person will be considered a true believer and Muslim. However, those who show that they are Muslims, and outwardly accept Islamic law but only for worldly gains, are outwardly Muslims, but have not accepted Islam in their hearts. They are considered outside of the boundary of Islam by Allah. In verse 14 it says: “…for faith has not yet entered into your hearts…”

…وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ…


  1. Mahmud Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Volume 4 (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi (1987), Page 357
  2. 2.0 2.1 Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Page 349
  3. Fadhl ibn Hasan Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 9 (Beirut: Muassasa al-Ilmi li al-Matbuat (1988), Page 193
  4. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 193
  5. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 18 (Qum, (1996
  6. Ismail ibn Umar Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Volume 7 (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyya, 1998), Page 341
  7. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 197
  8. Ibid., Page 200
  9. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 349
  10. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 200
  11. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 351
  12. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 204
  13. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 353
  14. Ibid., Page 354
  15. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Pages 205-206
  16. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 361
  17. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 207
  18. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 364
  19. Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Page 376