Maternal and paternal uncles are also blood relatives of their nieces, and as such, they will be exempted from adopting hijab for them. These uncles were not mentioned in the verse because they were considered as one’s father and hence, would be treated in a like manner. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 205)
The verse further stated that the law of hijab for women will also be lifted with regards to other women. As mentioned by the commentators of the Holy Quran, ‘other women’ mentioned in the verse refers to Muslim women. As for non-Muslim women, a Muslim woman should adopt hijab for them. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 506; Safwatut Tafseer vol.12 pg. 71; Tafseer Al Bahrul Muheet vol.8 pg. 501; Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 51 Dar Ihya At Turath Beirut Lebanon).
The verse also stated that a Muslim woman will not have to adopt hijab in front of her female slave. Having described to women (especially the wives of the Prophet S.A) those in front of whom hijab is not required, Allah informs all of them that they must fear Him. They should not transgress the laws of Allah by taking the above mentioned allowances to others that are not their blood relatives (Maharim).
The ‘relaxing’ of the laws of hijab is specific to the categories mentioned in the verse (v.55). Therefore, Muslim women should not extend this to others from among strangers or distant relatives who are not their blood relatives. They should not neglect the laws of hijab when it must be adopted. In all cases, they should fear Allah with respect to the laws He has given, and be fully obedient to Him. For indeed, ‘He is a witness over everything’. He sees all that they (the women) do with respect to adopting hijab or neglecting it. All actions are known to Him; those that are done in private and in public. He sees their diligence and care taken to adopt the laws of hijab, and He also sees their slackness, laziness and disregard for these teachings. To all, He shall give their due recompense and take them to account for their actions. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 53 Dar Ihya At Turath Beirut Lebanon; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 205 Maktaba Rasheediya Pakistan)
Sura Ahzab goes further in verse 56 to mention the great honor and lofty status of Prophet Muhammad (S.A). The verse states:
56. Allah sends His Salah (Blessings) on the Prophet (Muhammad S.A) and also His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salah on him (Muhammad S.A), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting.
The verse informs the believers (and the entire mankind) that Allah sends ‘Salah’ (blessings) upon the noble Prophet (S.A) and His angels do the same. As such, the order is given to all believers that they ‘must’ send ‘Salah’ (blessings) to him and also greet him with salutations. The translation given for the above verse is,
‘Certainly Allah and His angels send ‘Salah’ upon the Prophet (S.A). O you who believe! Send ‘Salah’ upon the Prophet (S.A) and greet him’.
The word ‘Salah’ in the Arabic Language has different meanings like that of mercy, prayer, supplication and praise. When used, the meaning will differ based on the person it is used for. In this regard, the commentators of the Holy Quran have stated that when the word ‘Salah’ is used for Allah (like in the verse, ‘Allah sends Salah upon the Prophet S.A)’, it means mercy, love, raising of one’s status etc. When the word ‘Salah’ is connected to the angels, it means dua (supplication) and asking for forgiveness for a person. When used (or connected) to the believers, it means making supplication for Allah’s blessings and mercy and showing love and respect. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 205 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Baluchistan Pakistan)
Hafiz Ibn Katheer has also explained the word ‘Salah’ which has been used in the verse. He said, ‘Imam Bukhari has stated that Abul Aaliya has said, ‘Allah’s Salah (or sending Salah upon a person) is that He praises him in front of the angels, and the angel’s ‘Salah’ (i.e. their sending Salah upon a person) is that they make dua for him’.
Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) further quoted the statement of Imam Tirmizi and said, ‘Abu Isa At Tirmizi said, ‘and it is narrated from Sufyan Ath Thawri and others from the people of knowledge that ‘Salah’ of the Lord is Rahma (mercy) and ‘Salah’ of the angels is Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 506 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan 1982)
With these explanations, the meaning of the verse is, ‘Verily Allah sends mercy upon His Prophet. He exalts him, and elevates his status. The revered angels of Allah make dua for the Prophet (S.A) and seek forgiveness for him. They request Allah to extol His servant and Messenger, and to bestow upon him the highest status’. (Safwah At Tafaseer vol.2 pg. 71 Darul Quran Al Kareem Beirut 1981)
While commenting on this verse, the great Mufassir Allama Saawi (A.R) states, ‘In this verse there is the greatest proof that the Prophet (S.A) is the ‘place of the descending of Allah’s mercies’ and he is the most honored of Allah’s creation. It is so because the ‘Salah’ of Allah which comes to a prophet is Allah’s mercy which is joined with honor, respect and greatness. However, when it comes to one other than a prophet, it is only general mercy’. (Hashiya As Saawi Ala Tafseer Al Jalaalain vol.3 pg. 287 Darul Fikr)
Imam Qurtubi has also stated, ‘In this verse, Allah has honored His Prophet in his life and after his death, and has mentioned the Prophet’s status with Him’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 205)
Having informed the believers of the great status the Prophet (S.A) has in His sight, Allah orders the believers to send ‘Salah’ upon him and greet him in a manner that is befitting his rank. The believers are ordered to supplicate to Allah to send blessings upon the Prophet (S.A) and to give ‘Salaams’ to him. With respect to the manner of ‘Salaams’ to the Prophet (S.A), this has been taught by the Prophet (S.A) as it is mentioned in the Tashahud that the believers recite in Salaah.
In the Tashahud or At Tahiyaat, the Sahabahs, as well as all believers, were taught to send greetings to the Prophet (S.A) by saying: ‘As Salaamu Alaika Ayuhan Nabiyu Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuhu’ (Peace and salutations be upon you O Prophet, and May the Mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you). Regarding the manner of sending ‘Salah’ upon the Prophet (S.A), this has also been taught to the believers, as it is evident in many traditions.
In this respect, it is narrated from the companion, Kaab bin Ujrah (R.A) that it was said (by some companions), ‘O Messenger of Allah, as for Salaam (peace and salutations) upon you, we recognize (and know how to do) this. But how should we send Salah upon you?’ Upon this, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Say, ‘Allahumma Salli ala Muhammad wa ala Aali Muhammad kama salaita ala Aali Ibraheema Innaka Hameedum Majeed. Allahumma Baarik ala Muhammad wa ala Aali Muhammad kama baarakta ala Aali Ibraheem Innaka Hameedum Majeed’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 507 – from the narration of Bukhari, Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan 1982)
In another tradition, Abu Masood Al Ansari (R.A) said, ‘The Messenger of Allah came to us while we were in the gathering of Saad bin Ubadah (R.A). Bushair bin Saad (then said to the Prophet S.A), ‘Allah has ordered us to send Salah upon you, O Messenger of Allah, but how can we send Salah upon you?’ Abu Masood said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (S.A) remained silent until we wished that Bushair did not ask the question. Then the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Say, ‘Allahumma Salli ala Muhammad wa ala Aali Muhammad kama salaita ala Ibraheema wa Baarik ala Muhammad wa ala Aali Muhammad kama baarakta ala Ibraheem wa ala Aali Ibraheem fil Aalameen Innaka Hameedum Majeed’. The Prophet (S.A) then said, ‘As for ‘Salaam’ (peace and salutations) you already know this’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 207). Imam Al Qurtubi says that similar traditions have been narrated from the companions (Sahabahs) Kaab bin Ujra, Abu Humaid As Sa’idi, Abu Saeed Al Khudri, Ali bin Abi Talib, Abu Huraira, Buraida Al Khuza’i, Zaid bin Kharija (R.A). (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 207 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan). These traditions have also been mentioned by Hafiz Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 507,508 – Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan)