The Prophet (S.A) said, ‘One prophet shall come on the Day of Judgement with a single man (as his community). Another prophet shall come with two men; others with more. The nation of each of the prophets shall be summoned and asked, ‘Did this prophet convey (the message) to you?’ They shall reply ‘no’. Then he shall be asked, ‘Did you convey (the message) to your people?’ He (the prophet) shall reply ‘yes’. He would be asked, ‘Who is your witness?’ He (the prophet) will reply, ‘Muhammad and his community’; whereupon, Muhammad and his community would be summoned and asked, ‘Did this man (prophet) convey (the message) to his people?’ They shall reply ‘yes’. They will be asked, ‘How do you know?’ They would reply, ‘Our Prophet came to us and told us that the messengers have indeed conveyed (the message)’.
Concerning this attribute of the Prophet (S.A), Allah also says in Sura Baqara, ‘Thus We have made you a middle nation that you may be a witness against mankind and that the Messenger may be a witness against you’. (2:143)
Another meaning for Shahid can be applicable to the recognition and knowledge of the A’maal (actions) of every individual of his Ummah on a daily basis. The deeds are presented to the Prophet (S.A) every morning and evening and according to some narrations, every week, and he would be made a witness for the Ummah on the Day of Judgement. (Ruhul Ma’ani, Ma’ariful Quran)
Allah mentions the attribute of the Prophet (S.A) as being ‘Mubashir’ (the giver of glad tidings). Many of the books of Tafseer including Ruhul Ma’ani, Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Baghwi, Nurul Anwar etc, have mentioned that it means the Prophet (S.A) is the one who gives the good news and glad tidings of paradise for the obedient ones from the Ummah. They have also mentioned that the Prophet (S.A) is a ‘Nadheer’ (warner) to the deniers and disbelievers of a great punishment on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (S.A) is also considered as a giver of glad tidings upon Imaan (belief) in Allah that they will get Jannah. With this meaning, it becomes applicable not only to his Ummah but to the entire of mankind. He is also a warner for his Ummah by putting fear of Allah’s punishment in the hearts of his followers (Muslims) if they violate or disobey the injunctions of the Shariah.
In verse 46 it is mentioned that he is also ‘Daa’i iallah’ (one who invites to Allah). This means that the Prophet (S.A) calls toward the Tawheed of Allah and towards His oneness. (Tafseer Baghwi, Ma’ariful Quran)
The author or Ruhul Ma’ani has added to the above that he calls the people to all the Sifaat (attributes) of Allah and the doing of actions upon which Iman is essential. He says that it is the intended meaning of what has been mentioned by Hazrat Ibn Abbas and Qatada that it refers to the Kalimah Shahada ‘Laa ilaha illallah’ (There is no God but Allah).
This act of calling to Allah has been connected to the phrase ‘by His permission’ means ‘you call mankind to worship their Lord because He (Allah) has commanded you to do so’. That calling to Allah is an order which must be adhered to. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Baghwi)
Other commentators have mentioned that the phrase ‘by his permission’ means that the Prophet (S.A) calls and invites towards Allah with His permission since the act of inviting towards Allah is a difficult task and would only be successful if Allah makes it easy to be done. The Prophet (S.A) can only be successful in his objective if Allah removes the difficulty on the path of preaching and teaching and replaces it with ease and with His help. (Ruhul Ma’ani, Ma’ariful Quran, Tafseer Saawi)
In verse 46 Allah also describes the Prophet (S.A) as ‘Sirajan Muneera’ (an illuminating lamp). The word ‘Siraj’ means a lamp and ‘Muneer’ means that which illuminates or make bright. According to Allama Saawi, the word ‘Siraj’ is used to mean the sun in its apparent usage but can mean a lamp in a metaphorical sense. The inner radiance of the Holy Prophet (S.A) is far brighter than the sun. The sun illuminates only the surface of the world, whereas his blessed heart and mission illuminate the inside of the whole world and the hearts of the faithful, which becomes easily accessible and voluntary like a lamp, whereas the sun is impossible to reach and the light is not available at all times. (Tafseer Saawi alal Jalaalain)
It has been mentioned that this phrase refers to the Quran as an ‘illuminating lamp’ and not to the Prophet (S.A). Qaadi Thanaullah has stated in Tafseer Mazhari that the Prophet’s function of ‘calling towards Allah’ pertains to his speech and outward acts, his attribute of being an ‘illuminating lamp’ pertains to his blessed heart. Just as the sun illuminates the whole world, in the same way, the hearts of the faithful become illuminated by the radiant light of his heart. He explained further that it is for this reason the Sahabahs were the direct beneficiaries of his company in this world and are superior and more exalted than the entire Ummah; because their hearts were illuminated and graced by his (prophet’s) heart directly, while the rest of the Ummah received this radiant light indirectly through the noble companions and their successors. (Ma’ariful Quran)
It has also been explained that it refers to Hedayah (guidance). With this meaning, it is understood that the Prophet (S.A) was a source of guidance like a light which illuminated the darkness of Jahiliyyah (ignorance), kufr (disbelief), Dhulm (transgression) and replaced them with the light of Iman (faith) in Allah and obedience. Even though the Rasool (S.A) has passed away from this world, he is alive in his grave like the other prophets. The believers can continue receiving the radiant light of his blessed heart even in this world. The share of each individual would be in accordance with the intensity of love and reverence he has towards the Holy Prophet as well as the abundance of salutation (Darood) he offers to him.
These attributes which have been mentioned in the Holy Quran have also been mentioned in the previous scriptures. In a narration reported by Ataa bin Yasar, he said that one day he met Abdullah Ibn Amr al Aas and asked him about the attributes of the Prophet (S.A) as mentioned in the Tawrah. He said, ‘Certainly, I will tell you. By Allah, some of the attributes of the Prophet (S.A) mentioned in the Quran are also found in the Tawrah’. He then mentioned the following extract, ‘O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, as a warner and as a refuge and protection for the illiterate Arabs. You are My slave and messenger. I have named you ‘Mutawakkil’ (one whose trust is upon Allah). You are neither ill-tempered nor hard natured nor one who raises noise in the markets; you do not repay evil with evil rather you pardon and forgive. Allah would not take you back from the world until He has straightened out the crooked people through you and they say ‘Laa ilaha illallah’ (There is no god but Allah). Allah will open blind eyes and deaf ears and locked hearts through you’. (Bukhari)
While these are the attributes directly relating to the Prophet (S.A), the believers are encouraged to emulate his blessed example. They should also follow him in being one who bears witness to tawheed by having firm Iman; by giving glad tidings to themselves as well as others with virtues; by being warners of Allah’s wrath and punishments through abstinence from sins and enjoining others towards the same; by calling towards Allah through faith, words and deeds; and by becoming enlightened by faith and passing this on to others.
Sura Al Ahzab continues in verses 47 – 48 and state:
47. And announce to the believers the glad tidings, that they will have from Allah a Great Bounty.
48. And obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and harm them not (till you are ordered). And put your trust in Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as a Wakil (Disposer of affairs).
After mentioning five of the attributes of the Prophet (S.A) in the previous verses, Allah then instructs the Prophet (S.A) to bid glad tidings to the believers of great bounties. This instruction comes after his attributes as though Allah is asking him to fulfil the role for which he has been sent, i.e. as a giver of glad tidings. (Tafseer Saawi; Ma’ariful Quran).
The believers should be encouraged towards good actions by reminding them of the rewards for actions, virtues and benefits of obedience. In the tafseer Siraajam Muneer, it is mentioned that Allah has asked the Prophet (S.A) to convey glad tidings to the believers without mentioning any command to warn the ones who go astray. This is a means of respect and honour for the believers. In Anwarul Bayaan, it is mentioned that glad tidings would be that ‘they will be saved from disbelief and polytheism (shirk) in this world and admitted into the paradise in the hereafter’.
Allah commanded the Rasool (S.A) in other places of the Quran to give glad tidings to the believers. Allah says: ‘And give glad tidings to those who believe and do righteous actions that they would have the gardens’. (2:25). ‘And give glad tidings to the Saabireen (patient ones) (2:153). ‘And give glad tidings to the Mukhbiteen (humble ones before Allah) (22:34). ‘And give glad tidings to the Muhsineen (the good doers) (22:37)
In verse 47 Allah instructs the Prophet (S.A) to give glad tidings to the believers of a great bounty. According to the author of Ruhul Ma’ani, ‘great bounty’ refers to abundance of gifts. According to Hassan and Qatada it refers to Jannah and what is given in it. He uses the Ayah, ‘And those who believe and do righteous actions will be in gardens; for them is whatever their hearts desire from their Lord. That is (indeed) a great bounty’. (Sura Shura verse 22). It is also mentioned that ‘great bounty’ means a favour above the rest of the nations in sequence, honour, the increased rewards for their good deeds with respect to excellence and goodness. (Ruhul Ma’ani; Fathul Qadeer)
The term ‘give glad tidings’ is not only used to indicate bounties and rewards but it can be used to indicate punishment in a metaphorical sense. For instance, Allah says, ‘And give glad tidings to the hypocrites of a painful punishment’ (4:138); ‘Give glad tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment’ (9:3). In this case the phrase ‘give glad tidings’ can be interpreted as, give the news to the Munaafiqeen and Kaafireen that they would be punished with a painful punishment.
In verse 48, Allah commands the Prophet (S.A) that he must not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites. At the same time he should not do harm to them but should rather rely upon Allah to decide the matter and for success in his mission. Here Allah prohibits the Prophet (S.A) from following and obeying the enemies of Islam. That is, he should not obey them in their disgracing, mocking, discrediting and rejection of the truth of Islam. (Fathul Qadeer). Hafiz Ibn Katheer explains ‘Do not obey them’ as ‘do not pay any attention to them’.
The Prophet (S.A) was sinless and was also protected by Allah from any disobedience to Him. Then the command ‘not to obey’ was a reminder of the existence of the human nature. The author of Ma’ariful Quran writes in explanation of this command to the Prophet (S.A), ‘It was, though, not possible for the Prophet (S.A) to obey the infidels and hypocrites, or to give up preaching and inviting the people, yet if there was a chance of that, in order to avoid people’s sarcasm and taunts, that he might have inclined towards avoiding the marriage of Zainab (R.A), which was a divine rule of the Shariah. This has been alluded to as obeying the infidels and hypocrites.