Day 26 – Surah Noor: A Light For The Community’s Morality 

Context of Revelation

In the 7th year after hijra, Aisha the wife of the prophet PBUH went through a very difficult experience when she was accused of being unchaste (the whole event is referred to as the Hadith of Al-Ifk); the slander was spread like wild fire in the whole Madinah community and unfortunately some Muslims fell into the traps of the Satan and carried the news around. The Surah was revealed to declare the innocence of the wife of the prophet PBUH and introduce a whole set of rules and regulations that will protect the honor of the individual and the modesty of the community.

The following verse clearly mentions that the whole rumor is nothing but a lie;  

 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا بِالإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ لا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّا لَّكُم بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ
It was a group from among you that concocted the lie – do not consider it a bad thing for you [people]; it was a good thing––and every one of them will be charged with the sin he has earned. He who took the greatest part in it will have a painful punishment [24:11]
 
Where is the “good thing” in an event that slandered the wife of the prophet PBUH? It was an opportunity for the whole community to reflect on themes such as modesty, gossip, confirming the news that we carry, etc… the outcome of that tough experience was priceless lessons learned for the Muslim generations to follow
 
How to Respond to Rumors

لَوْلا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ ظَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بِأَنفُسِهِمْ خَيْرًا وَقَالُوا هَذَا إِفْكٌ مُّبِينٌ
When you heard the lie, why did believing men and women not think well of their own people and declare, ‘This is obviously a lie’? [24:12]
 
This verse praises a particular household among the believers: Abu Ayyoub and his wife, may Allah be pleased with them. When hearing the rumors He asked his wife: if you were the wife of the prophet Muhammad PBUH, would you really do what they’re saying, and she said: “definitely not”! so he said: “I know that Aisha is better than you”; then SHE asked him: “if you were in Safwan’s place would you do that?” and he said “definitely NOT”, and she said “Safwan is better than you”..
When you assume good of your Muslim brothers, you are showing that you have a genuine, true nature that is full of faith, and that faith is emanating to the world around you. 
 
SEVEN Steps to Address the Morality Crisis

The Surah presents the laws of punishment for committing the sin of adultery and fornication. While was mentioned in the earlier section, the Surah goes beyond that to provide a complete solution to establish morality in a society.  Islam does not solve issues like this by instating punishments “Hudud” but goes beyond that towards a holistic approach:

  1. Guidance on requesting permission and controlling access of youngsters to their parents’ bedroom
  2. Lowering one’s gaze to be protected from temptation
  3. Facilitate marriage of young men and women and remove the financial burden
  4. Fight prostitution, end the abuse of women and any act of objectifying them
  5. Encourage Hijab and modesty
  6. Fight the spread of shamelessness and gossip through the media
  7. Limit the punishment on adultery to very strict conditions that are hardly met

One you understand the approach followed by our beautiful Islamic teachings to protect the community from shamelessness, you will appreciate the light that Allah has sent to us, and you will fall in love with everything that is related to this beautiful book: 

1) Requesting permission

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّى تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَى أَهْلِهَا
Believers! do not enter other people’s houses until you have asked permission to do so and greeted those inside– that is best for you: perhaps you will bear this in mind. [24:27]
 
Respecting people’s privacy is an important protection that closes many doors of exposing embarrassing situations. This is not only meant for outsiders, but even for youngsters inside the house:
 
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلاثَ مَرَّاتٍ مِن قَبْلِ صَلاةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُم مِّنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِن بَعْدِ صَلاةِ الْعِشَاء
Believers, your slaves and any who have not yet reached puberty should ask your permission to come in at three times of day: before the dawn prayer; when you lay your garments aside in the midday heat; and after the evening prayer.. [24:58]
 
2) Lowering one’s gaze 

The lustful gaze at the opposite gender builds up the temptation and causes further step in the slippery slope towards fornication. Allah commands the believers (both men and women) to guard their eyes:
قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ
Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do [24:30]
 
3) Facilitating Marriage

وَأَنكِحُوا الأَيَامَى مِنكُمْ وَالصَّالِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَائِكُمْ
Marry off the single among you and those of your male and female slaves who are fit [for marriage]. If they are poor, God will provide for them from His bounty: God’s bounty is infinite and He is all knowing. [24: 32]
 
4) Fighting Prostitution

ولا تُكْرِهُوا فَتَيَاتِكُمْ عَلَى الْبِغَاء إِنْ أَرَدْنَ تَحَصُّنًا لِّتَبْتَغُوا عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا 
Do not force your slave-girls into prostitution, when they themselves wish to remain honorable, in your quest for the short-term gains of this world, although, if they are forced, God will be forgiving and merciful to them. [24:33]
 
5) Encouraging Hijab and Modesty

This Surah was one of the two Surahs that mentioned clearly the dress code for Muslim women. You see a detailed description for the Khimar (the head cover) and how it should be extended to cover the chest. You see also that Hijab was ordained as a part of a complete package that protects modesty:

وَلا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلاَّ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
And tell believing women that they should lower their glances, guard their private parts, and not display their charms beyond what [it is acceptable] to reveal; they should let their headscarves fall to cover their necklines [24:31]
 
6) Warn from Spreading Shamelessness in the Media  

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ
A painful punishment waits in this world and the next for those who like indecency to spread among the believers: God knows and you do not [24:19]
 
7) Apply Very Strict Rules for Verification Before Pleading Anyone to be Guilty

After all of the above, if anyone insists on committing the sin of adultery despite having other issues covered (i.e. there is no excuse for sinning since marriage is available and prostitution is ended etc…), then they deserve to be punished according to Islam. BUT when does the punishment apply? When FOUR witnesses who are trustworthy and honest see the ACTUAL sin being committed (i.e. leaving NO ROOM for assumptions). How difficult is it to fulfill this condition? VERY DIFFICULT! How many times did it happen in Muslim history? ZERO!

So we understand that the objective of the Hudud is more of a deterring force, rather than being a sadistic way to torture people, as some prefer to accuse Islam of doing. Surah Noor mentions:

لَوْلا جَاؤُوا عَلَيْهِ بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاء فَإِذْ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِالشُّهَدَاء فَأُولَئِكَ عِندَ اللَّهِ هُمُ الْكَاذِبُونَ
 And why did the accusers not bring four witnesses to it? If they cannot produce such witnesses, they are the liars in God’s eyes. [24:13]
 
 
Door of Repentance is WIDE Open

In the same Surah that talks about the strict and firm rulings, Allah repeatedly mentions how his forgiveness is always available for those who sin and how the doors of repentance are wide open: [24:5], [24:31], [24:10], [24:20].
 
God is the Light

This Surah provides the necessary light for a community that otherwise would be immersed in different layers of darkness. This is the wisdom behind calling this beautiful Surah, the Light, and of course Allah knows best.  

God is the Light of the heavens and earth. His Light is like this: there is a niche, and in it a lamp, the lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star, fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither east nor west, whose oil almost gives light even when no fire touches it– light upon light– God guides whoever He will to his Light; God draws such comparisons for people; God has full knowledge of everything. [24:35]

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Thank you for providing explanations and a few translations in this post! I’m currently writing an assignment for my class about religious culture and I wanted to explore Islam more. While I was looking for answers online about it, I felt somewhat lost. Maybe it’s because I just don’t understand how it can be applied in our lives. At least now I know how it works. Once again, thank you! You probably also helped in saving my grade.

You’re welcome. Hope that you found the answers you’re looking for.
if you have any more questions feel free to contact me again and I’ll try to help as much as I can

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