Understanding the Coherence of the Quran with Surah Ahzab

The Quran is a finely knit and ordered book. How could it not be? It is after all the word of the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth with no flaws in them. It is then only logical that His Word be the in the best piece of literature to the last letter. How can it be that Allah, who perfected even the nucleus of an atom, not give us a perfect book in terms of literature and guidance. His creation and attributes are perfect in every manner.

Although traditionally almost all our scholars felt it unnecessary for the Quran to have any coherence or structure, a few of them did try to find it. It was much later in the late 19th century that a scholar form India, Imam Hamiduddin Farahi, was inspired not only to discover but also formulate the coherence of the Quran. However one must understand that he did not set out to find the coherence in the Quran. He was master of the Arabic of Quraysh. Thus, when he read the Quran through the Arabic of the Quraysh the divine arrangement and coherence of the Book of Allah become as evident as the sun in the sky. He formulated this coherence and made many other discoveries in the Quran that no one had yet seen. His student, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, perfected his methodology and the Imam Islahi’s student, Javed Ahamd Ghamidi, further enhanced the methodology and made some discovers of his own. 

We have already discussed the various tools and principles developed by these scholars in our previous article. In this article we will use those tools and principles and try to observe the coherence in the Quran. For this purpose we are going to look into Surah Ahzab. The reason to choose this surah is because on the exterior this Surah seems to all mixed up. There seems to be no theme or continuous flow of thought. By applying the tools and principles we will try to make sense of this surah.

Surat ul Ahzab

Main Theme   :  Supporting and defending the Prophet (sws) against Hypocrites and Rejecters. 

Sub Theme*   : 1. Reminding the Muslims the status of the Prophet (sws) and how they should behave and uphold their pledge to him (sws).

                          2. Rules and Regulations with respect to the Main Theme.

*The sub theme is just an elaboration of the Main Theme. It does not form a separate theme.

Original Addressees    : The Muslims for the time of the Prophet (sws) ,

                                       the Prophet (sws) and his household ,

              the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws)


In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

1 O Prophet, have fear of God and do not yield to those who deny the truth and the hypocrites. God is all-knowing and all-wise. 2 Follow what is revealed to you from your Lord. God is aware of all that you do. 3 Put your trust in God; God is sufficient as a Guardian.


This paragraph forms the introduction of the Surah.


4 God has not placed two hearts in any man’s body, nor has He made your wives—from whom you keep away by saying, ‘Be as my mother’s back’—your [real] mothers, neither He has made your adopted sons as your own sons. These are merely words which you utter with your mouths: but God speaks the truth and gives guidance to the right path. 5 Call them after their own fathers; that is closer to justice in the sight of God. If you do not know their fathers, regard them as your brothers in faith and your protégés. You will not be blamed if you make a mistake, you will be held accountable only for what in your hearts you have done intentionally. God is forgiving and merciful.

Section I : Defining the Hypocrites 

“God has not placed two hearts in any man’s body” is the definition of Hypocrisy. Allah lists out the ways in which hypocrisy manifests itself during the time of the prophet (sws). Allah then gives His verdict in this verse itself and guides the Believers to the correct attitude and path.


6 The Prophet has a higher claim on the believers than [they have on] their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. Blood relatives are closer to one another in God’s Book than are believers and the Emigrants except that you want to show your friends a kindness. That is decreed in the Book.

Continuing theme of the previous paragraph.

Restating and explaining the status of the Prophet (sws) and his household for the Muslims.  

Though here the direct addressees are the Muslim of the time of Prophet (sws) the style of the paragraph shows that it was indirectly aimed at the hypocrites also.


7 We took a solemn pledge from the prophets, from you and Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, the son of Mary— We took a solemn pledge from all of them. 8 So that God might ask those men of truth as to [what response] their truthfulness [had received on earth]. But for those who deny the truth, He has prepared a woeful punishment.

Section II : Lessons from the Battle of Ahzab

Warning to the Hypocrites about the consequences for their behavior.


9 O You who have attained to faith, remember God’s blessings upon you when mighty armies massed against you. We sent a violent wind against them and hosts that you could not see. God sees all that you do. 10 When they came against you both from above you and from below you, your eyes rolled [with fear] and your hearts leapt up to your throats, and you entertained [ill] thoughts about God. 11 There the faithful were put to the proof and they were shaken as if by an earthquake.

Continuation of the same theme of the previous paragraph.

Reminding the Muslims of the time of the Prophet (sws) of the favors of Allah.

Indirectly waring the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws) to mend their ways.  


12 The hypocrites and people with sickness in their hearts said, ‘God and His Messenger have promised us nothing but delusions.’ 13 Others said, ‘People of Yathrib, you cannot withstand [the enemy] here: so go back!’ Yet others asked leave of the Prophet, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed and [defenseless].’ They were in truth not exposed: they only wished to flee. 14 If their town had been stormed, and they had been incited to sedition, they would have rebelled with little hesitation. 15 They had already vowed before God that they would never turn their backs: and a vow made to God must be answered for. 16 Say, ‘Flight shall not avail you: if you manage to escape from death or killing, you will enjoy life only for a short while 17 Say, ‘Who is there to shield you from God if He wishes to harm you? If God wishes to show you mercy, who can prevent Him.’ Besides God they shall find none to protect them, and none to bring them succor.

Direct waring to the hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Using the events of Battle of Ahzab to showcase the favor of Allah and the behaviors of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Revealing the general behavior of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).


18 God knows exactly who among you hold the others back, who say to their brethren, ‘Come over to our side,’ and they seldom take part in the fighting. 19 Begrudging you all help, but when danger comes, you can see them looking at you with rolling eyes as if in their death throes; but once their fear has passed, they come to you and do glib talking in their greed for wealth. Such men have no faith, so God has foiled their actions. This is indeed easy for God. 20 They thought the confederate tribes would never withdraw. Indeed, if the confederates should come again, they would prefer to be in the desert, among the Bedouins. There they would ask news of you [from a distance]. But if they were with you, they would take very little part in the fighting.

Continuation of the same theme of the previous paragraph.

Direct waring to the hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Using the events of Battle of Ahzab to showcase the favor of Allah and the behaviors of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Revealing the behavior of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).


21 You have indeed in the Prophet of God a good example for those of you who look to God and the Last Day, and remember God always. 22 When the believers saw the confederates, they said, ‘This is what God and His Messenger have promised us. Surely the promise of God and His Messenger has come true.’ It served to increase them in faith and submission. 23 Among the believers there are men who have been true to the pledge they made with God. Among them are such as have fulfilled their vow, and some who [still] wait, without having changed [their resolve] in the least. 24 God will surely reward the truthful for their truthfulness and punish the hypocrites, if He so wishes or He may accept their repentance, for God is forgiving and merciful.

Reminding the Muslims of the time of the Prophet (sws) about the status of the Prophet (sws).

Waring the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).


25 God turned back those who denied the truth in their rage, without their having gained any advantage. God was enough to [protect] the believers in battle. God is strong and all-powerful. 26 He brought down from their strongholds those People of the Book who supported the aggressors and filled their hearts with terror. Some of them you killed and others you took captive. 27 He made you heirs to their lands, and their houses, and their possessions and lands on which you had not set foot before. God has power over all things.

Reminding and revealing the favor of Allah.

Indirectly showing that the Prophet (sws) in on the truth and supported by the will of Allah.


28 O Prophet, say to your wives, ‘If you seek the life of this world and all its finery then come, I will make provision for you, and release you honorably. 29 But if you seek God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then know that God has prepared a great reward for those of you who do good deeds.’ 30 Wives of the Prophet! Any one of you who commits a flagrant act of misconduct shall be doubly punished. That is easy enough for God.

Section III : Status of the Wives of the Prophet (sws)

Protecting and waring the household of the Prophet (sws) against the schemes of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).


31 But those of you, who obey God and His Messenger and do good deeds, shall be doubly rewarded. For them We have made an excellent provision. 32 Wives of the Prophet, you are not like any other women. If you fear God, do not be too soft-spoken in case the ill-intentioned should feel tempted. Speak in an appropriate manner.

Guiding and putting restriction on the household of the Prophet (sws) to protect them against the schemes of the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Reminding the household of the prophet (sws) of his status and in extension their status due to their association with him.


33 Stay in your homes and do not flaunt your charms as in the former times of ignorance. Attend to your prayers, pay the zakat and obey God and His Messenger. Women of the [Prophet’s] Household, God seeks only to remove all impurity from you, and to make you completely pure. 34 Bear in mind all that is recited in your homes of the revelations of God and of wisdom. God is all pervading and all aware.

Reminding the household of the prophet (sws) of his status and in extension their status due to their association with him.

Putting restrictions on the household of the Prophet (sws) to protect them against the schemes of the Hypocrites.


35 Surely, for men and women who have surrendered [to God] — believing men and believing women, obedient men and obedient women, truthful men and truthful women, patient men and patient women, humble men and humble women, charitable men and charitable women, fasting men and fasting women, men and women who guard their chastity, men and women who are ever mindful of God—God is ready with forgiveness and an immense reward. 36 It is not fitting for a believing man or woman to exercise any choice in his or her own affairs once God and His Messenger have reached a decision upon them. Anyone who disobeys God and His Messenger is in manifest error.

Closing paragraph of the Section III


 37 You said to the man who had been favored by God and by you, ‘Keep your wife to yourself and have fear of God.’ You sought to hide in your heart what God wished to reveal. You were afraid of people, whereas it would have been more proper to fear God. When Zayd divorced his wife, We gave her to you in marriage, so that there should be no restriction on believers marrying the spouses of their adopted sons when they have divorced them. The commandment of God must be fulfilled. 38 No blame shall be attached to the Prophet for doing what is sanctioned for him by God. This was God’s way with those who went before him— and the command of God is a decree determined. 39 Those who conveyed God’s messages and fear Him only: God suffices as a reckoner. 40 Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but is God’s Messenger and the seal of the Prophets. God has knowledge of all things.  

Section IV : Incident of Zayd (r.a)

Clearing the Prophet (sws) of the allegations put by the Hypocrites of this time, with relation to the incident of Zayd (r.a).



41 Believers, remember God often. 42 Glorify Him morning and evening. 43 It is He who sends blessings to you, as do His angels, so that He may bring you out of the darkness into the light. He is most merciful to the believers. 44 On the Day they meet Him, they will be welcomed with the greeting, ‘Peace!’ He has prepared an honourable reward for them.

Addressing the Muslims of the time of Prophet (sws) on how to keep away from hypocrisy. 


45 O Prophet, We have sent forth you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and a warner. 46 As one who calls people to God by His leave, and guides them like a shining light. 47 Convey to the believers the good news that God has bounteous blessings in store for them. 48 Do not yield to those who deny the truth and the hypocrites: ignore their hurtful talk. Put your trust in God; God is your all sufficient guardian.

Reminding the Prophet himself (sws) of the nature and status of his mission.

Defending the Prophet (sws) against the constant attacks of the Hypocrites. 



49 Believers, if you marry believing women, and divorce them before the marriage is consummated, you are not required to observe a waiting period: make provision for them and release them in an honourable way.

         Section V : Marriages of the Prophet (sws)

Linking the previous incident of divorce of Zayd (r.a). Answering the Hypocrite propaganda due to the imitate marriage proposal of the Prophet to Syeda Zaynab (r.a) without observing the waiting period.


50 Prophet, We have made lawful for you the wives to whom you have given their dowers, as well as those whom your right hand possesses from among the captives of war whom God has bestowed upon you. and [We have made lawful to you] the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, provided the Prophet wants to marry her. This applies only to you and not to the rest of the believers. We know what We have prescribed for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands may possess, in order that there may be no blame on you. God is most forgiving, most merciful.

Clearing the haze around the marriages of the Prophet (sws).

Response to the Hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws) who were accusing him.


51 You may defer [the turn of] any of them that you please, and you may receive any you please: and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose [turn] you have set aside. That is more proper, so that their eyes may be cooled, and so that they may not grieve, and so that they will be satisfied with what you have given them. God knows what is in your hearts; and God is all knowing, and forbearing. 52 It is not lawful for you to marry more women after this, nor to change them for other wives, even though their beauty may please you, except any that your right hand possesses. God is watchful over all things.

Continuation of the theme of the previous paragraph.



53 Believers, do not enter the houses of the Prophet, unless you are invited for a meal. Do not linger until a meal is ready. When you are invited, enter and when you have taken your meal, depart. Do not stay on, indulging in conversation. Doing that causes annoyance to the Prophet, though he is too reticent to tell you so, but God is not reticent with the truth. When you ask [the wives of the Prophet] for anything, ask them from behind a curtain. That will be purer for your hearts as well as their hearts. It is not right for you to cause annoyance to the Messenger of God or for you ever to marry his wives after him. Indeed that would be an enormity in the sight of God. 54 Whether you reveal anything or hide it, God is aware of everything .

Section VI : Protection of the Prophet’s wives

Reminding the Muslim of the time of the Prophet (sws) about the status of the Prophet.

These restrictions were put in place to differentiate between the Hypocrites and the Muslims during the time of the Prophet (sws).


55 There shall be no blame on them for appearing before their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women or those whom their right hands may possess. Women, fear God. God observes all things.

Directives for the Prophet’s (sws) wives .


 56 God and His angels bestow blessings on the Prophet. O believers, you also should invoke blessings on him and give him greetings of peace. 57 Those who annoy God and His Messenger shall be cursed by God in this world and in the Hereafter. God has prepared for them a humiliating punishment. 58 Those who affront believing men and believing women without their having deserved it [done any wrong] shall bear the weight of slander and flagrant sin.

Section VII : Protection of Muslim Women

Reminder and waring to the Muslims of the time of the Prophet (sws) about his status.

Indirect waring to the hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).



59 O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and wives of the believers that they should draw over themselves some of their outer garments [when in public], so as to be recognized and not harmed. God is most forgiving and most merciful. 60 If the hypocrites and those who have tainted hearts and the scandal mongers of Madinah do not desist, We shall surely give you authority over them and their days in that city will be numbered. 61 Accursed, wherever they are found, they will be seized and killed 62 Such has been God’s way with those who have gone before them. You shall find no change in the ways of God.

Directives to protect the Prophet’s (sws) household and the Muslim Women of the time of the Prophet (sws) against the Hypocrites and mischief makers of the time of the prophet.

Warning to the mischief makers of the time of the Prophet (sws).


63 People will ask you about the Hour. Say, ‘God alone has knowledge of it. Who knows? The Hour may well be near at hand.’ 64 God has rejected those who deny the truth and prepared for them a blazing Fire. 65 There they will live forever, and they will find therein neither friend nor helper. 66 On the Day when their faces are turned over in the Fire, they shall say: ‘Oh, would that we had obeyed God, and obeyed the Messenger!’ 67 They shall say, ‘Our Lord, we paid heed to our leaders and our elders, but they led us away from the right path. 68 Our Lord, give them double punishment and curse them with a mighty curse.’


Warning to the Muslims of the time of the Prophet (sws) against asking too many unnecessary questions, especially about the Day of Judgment.

Indirect address to the hypocrites of the time if the Prophet (sws).

Warning to the leaders of the Hypocrites


69 Believers, do not behave like those who slandered Moses. God cleared him of their allegations. He was honorable in the sight of God. 70 Believers, fear God, and say the right word. 71 He will bless your works for you and forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys God and His Messenger has indeed achieved a great success.

Waring the Muslims of the time of the Prophet (sws) to heed to any allegations against the Prophet (sws).

Indirect address to the hypocrites against trying to accuse the Prophet (sws). God is protecting him.


72 We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to bear it, because they were afraid of it. But man bore it: he surely proved unjust and ignorant. 73 God will punish the hypocrites, both men and women, and polytheists, both men and women, but God will turn in His mercy to believing men and believing women; God is most forgiving and most merciful.             

Final comment on the nature of man.

Final warning to the hypocrites of the time of the Prophet (sws).

Surah Ahzab is generally considered as a haphazard collection of verses with lots of laws and directives. With the above analysis the whole surah now can be understood as single unit. Each verse is logically placed and revolves around the same theme. There is a definite introduction and conclusion to the surah. No more one meaning can be derived from the verses in this manner. Each verse is dependent on the theme of the surah and does not deviate from. We have seen how Sections and Paragraphs can be clearly marked by way slight shift in discourse but never spinning away from the main theme. We hope that this analysis will change the perception of the readers of the Quran and help them understand it better.



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