The Fuqaha (jurists) have stated, ‘A person who inflicts any pain on the Holy Prophet (S.A), suggests any fault in his person or attributes, whether expressly or in an implied manner, becomes a Kafir, and according to the verse (v.57 of Sura Ahzab), the curse of Allah will be upon him in this world as well as in the hereafter. (As stated by Qazi Thana’ullah in At Tafseer Al Mazhari – Ma’ariful Quran vol.7 pg. 237)
The curse of Allah upon a person in this world means that the person shall be cast away from the mercy of Allah and shall have the anger and wrath of Allah upon him. He will also be humiliated and disgraced in this world. Besides living under Allah’s curse in this world, those people will also face the curse of Allah in the hereafter. They shall be made to suffer severely in the hereafter, and shall be thrown into a painful punishment in Hell.
Having mentioned about causing harm to Allah and His Messenger in the previous verse, Sura Al Ahzab goes further in verse 58 to mention about causing harm to other believers. The verse states:
58. And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, shall bear on themselves the crime of slander and plain sin.
The verse speaks about those who cause harm to the believers by accusing/blaming them for that which they did not say/do. Such people will carry upon them the consequences/burden of the false slander and sin which they have committed.
Here, the verse makes it abundantly clear that it is totally unlawful and sinful for one to cause annoyance and harm to a believing man or woman when they are not deserving of it. It means that when a believer is not guilty of a statement or an action, then it will be sinful for another person to lay an accusation upon him in this regard. Included in this, is the act of finding faults in believers in order to dishonor and disgrace them, and to put them to shame. This is also sinful and must not be done by anyone. (Tafseer Ibn Jareer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 54 Dar Ihya Turath Al Arabi Beirut Lebanon)
Regarding this, the Prophet (S.A) has given many warnings, and has commanded the Muslims to refrain from such sinful practices. On one occasion, the Prophet (S.A) ascended the pulpit and said, ‘O those who have declared Islam with their tongues, whereas it has not penetrated their hearts! Do not harm the Muslims, do not slander (defame) them, and do not spy on their private affairs. Those who wish to reveal his Muslim brother’s faults will have Allah revealing his faults; and the person whose faults Allah reveals will be humiliated even though he may be sitting in his own home’. (Tirmizi – Anwarul Bayaan vol.4 pg. 271 Darul Ishaat Karachi)
It is narrated from Aisha (R.A) that the Prophet (S.A) once said to his companions, ‘Which is the worst usury in the sight of Allah?’ The companions replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best’. The Prophet (S.A) then said, ‘The worst usury in the sight of Allah is to regard the dishonoring of a Muslim to be lawful’. (That is, to regard it permissible to defame and dishonor a Muslim). (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 518 Amjad Academy Lahore 1982)
In another tradition, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said, ‘A true Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands all Muslims are safe, and a true Mu’min is one from whom people remain unharmed and safe in the matter of their lives and their properties’. (Tirmidhi)
The Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (S.A) have condemned all sorts of harms that are caused to Muslims such as backbiting, slandering, harboring ill feelings etc. It is totally haram and unlawful to narrate and transmit from the believing men and women such words or actions which they did not do, in order to take out faults and to humiliate them. This is a great slander against them. Muslims should therefore safeguard their tongues from defaming and speaking ill of fellow Muslims.
Sura Al Ahzab continues in verse 59 and states:
59. O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Here, Allah has commanded the Prophet (S.A) to tell his wives, daughters and all believing women that they must cover themselves with their large shawls and sheets when they exit their homes to attend to some need. This is done so that they will be distinguished from the women of the days of ignorance (i.e. the non-Muslim women) and the slave women.
As mentioned by the commentators, the manner of ‘drawing the shawl/sheet/cloak’ over is that they must wear it from over the head and let it cover the entire body until the toes. In this way, the entire body will be covered except the eyes or one eye.
The Arabic word used in the Holy Quran to refer to the large shawl/sheet is ‘Jalabeeb’. This is the plural of the word ‘Jilbaab’ which means a loose outer garment, worn over the head scarf/veil. This is the explanation given by Abdullah bin Masood (R.A), Ubaidah, Qatada, Hasan Basri, Saeed bin Jubair, Ibraheem An Nakhi, Ata Al Khurasani and others. This is also the explanation given by Hafiz Ibn Katheer and he says that it is just like the large shawl that is worn. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 518 Amjad Academy Lahore 1982)
Having mentioned to all believing women that they must cover themselves in the manner described in the verse, Allah says, ‘That will be better that they should be known so as not to be annoyed’. While explaining this, the great scholar As Suddi writes, ‘There were some of the transgressors of Madina who used to come out at night on the streets of Madina when it became dark. They will then interfere and tease the slave women passing on the road, and would do the same to the free women mistaking them for slave women. The houses in Madina were close together and were restricted to one area. During the period of the night, when the women passed on the streets while going to relieve themselves, the transgressors will follow them and tease them. However, when they saw a woman covered with the Jilbaab (large outer garment), they recognized that she was a free woman and refrained from interfering with her. As for those who were not covered with the Jilbaab, the transgressors would say that these were slave women and hence, interfered with them. Thus, with the law of covering with the ‘large outer garment’, the Muslim women were recognized as free women and were not teased by the transgressors on the streets. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 518 Amjad Academy Lahore 1982)
It is for this reason Allah said, ‘This is better so that they may be recognized (as free women) so that they would not be annoyed (by the transgressors). The verse then states, ‘And Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful’. He will forgive what has passed already when they (the women) did not have the knowledge about covering themselves in this manner. He will not take them to account for what has happened in the days of ignorance because He is Most Merciful.
Sura Ahzab goes further in verse 60 and states:
60. If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al-Madinah, cease not, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbours but a little while.
The above verse speaks of the mischiefs of the hypocrites in Madina and states that they were people with a disease in their hearts, and they used to spread rumours in Madina to create mischief (fitna). As mentioned by many commentators, the verse does not speak about three different types of people, namely, those who were hypocrites, those who had a disease in their hearts and those who used to spread rumours in Madina. Instead, it was only one type of people, but they possessed three different traits. They were a people who made Islam manifest but hid their disbelief. Hence, they were hypocrites. This hypocrisy was actually a disease in their hearts, and they used to spread rumours in Madina. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 219 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)