2. “ Do people imagine that they will be left off on saying: ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?”
3. “ And certainly We tried those before them, and assuredly Allah knows those who speak truly, and assuredly He knows the liars.”
The Occasion of Revelation and Commentary:
Some of the commentators have mentioned a narration according to which the
beginning eleven verses of this Sura were revealed in Medina. These verses are
about the Muslims who were in Mecca but, though they expressed Islam they did
not agree to migrate to
Some other commentators believe that the second verse is about ‘Ammār Yāsir and a group of other first Muslims who embraced Islam and were seriously tortured by the enemies of Islam.
Some other commentators have said that the eighth verse of the Sura has been revealed upon the belief of Sa‘d-ibn-’Abī-Waqqās.
But the study of these verses themselves shows that there is no indication in them upon the relation of these verses with emigration. They only point to the pressures that the believers received from the side of the enemies at that time, and even from the side of their parents who were polytheists.
And, alsoif theseverses referto thehypocrites, itis probable that they point to a group of persons with superficial belief who were among Muslims in Mecca. They were sometimes with Muslims and sometimes with the disbelievers, and whenever each of them were in a better position they turned to them.
However, the flowing and union of the verses of this holy Sura necessitates to consider all of them Meccan; and the abovementioned narrations, which have not any flowing with each other, cannot disturb this union.
Again, at the beginning of this holy Sura, we confront the abbreviated letters (Alif, Lām, Mīm) that we have stated their commentaries from different viewpoints. In this regard, for example, you can refer to the beginning of Sura Al-Baqarah, No. 2, Sura ’Āl-i-‘Imrān, No. 3, and Sura Al-’A‘rāf, No. 7.
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After mentioning the abbreviated letters, one of the most important issues of the man’s life is referred to, i.e. the calamities, pressures and Divine trials. At first, it says:
‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?”
Then immediately the verse points to this fact that trial is a permanent way of treatment of Allah. Trial is not allocated to the community of Muslims; it is something that all former nations had, too. The verse says:
Allah had tried them in violent furnaces of trials, too, and they were also under the pressure of the cruel, ignorant, unaware, and obstinate enemies. The field of examination has always been open and some groups have ever participated in this field.
The Arabic word /fitnah/ means ‘to melt gold in order to separate its impure parts’; and since the real essence of man is recognizedin difficultiesand calamities from the false mottoes, it is called ‘fitnah’.
It must be so, too, because in the case of claiming Faith everyone can introduce himself the best believer, the best striver, and the best advocator devotee of a group of people. The weight, value and worth of this claim must be estimated by means of examination. Yes, it is true that:
assuredly He knows the liars.”
It is evident that Allah, the Almighty, knows everything, even the things before the creation of mankind. The purpose of knowledge here is the objective manifestation of the affairs and their external existence. In other words, it is the practical effects and evidences of the deeds. That is, whoever has it in his interior must pour it out externally. This is the meaning of ‘knowledge’ with respect to these aspects when they are used about Allah.
The reason of this issue is also clear, because reward and retribution have no meaning unless the inner intentions and esoteric qualities are practically seen in man’s action.
Trial is for proving the intrinsic intentions and qualities of a person to be true.
In other words, this world is like a ‘university’ or a ‘farm’. In a university the talents open to blow, the competencies grow, and whatever is in the stage of potentiality reaches the stage of actuality.
In this farm the seeds must be planted. The shots and sprouts must come out of their inside. These sprouts come out fromthe land, growto besome smallplants, and finally become
some tall fruitful trees. These things are not possible without experience and examination.
By this course we understand that the Divine trials are not only for knowing persons, but they are for fostering the talents and that they are to open to blow.
Therefore, when we examine something, it is for finding out an unknown thing in it, but when Allah examines, it is not for finding out an unknown thing, because His knowledge encompasses everything, but it is for fostering the talents and causing the potentialities to reach to actualities.
The statement of the generality of trial for all nations and communities had a very considerable effect on the Muslims of Mecca, who were in a severe minority at that time, and attending to this fact made them steadfast and patient in front of the enemies of Islam. Yet, this was not allocated to the believers of Mecca, but every group and nation is somehow involved in this Allah’s way of treatment, and the trials of Allah come to meet them in different sorts.
Some people may be in some environments which are polluted from any point of view, and the temptations of making mischief surround them from all sides. Their great trial is that, in such an atmosphere and in such conditions, they do not tend to the pollutions of the environment and protect their own nobility and purity.
A group may involve in the pressure of deprivations, while they see that if they agree to exchange the capitals of their noble selves, their poverty and deprivation will quickly disappear, but this is for the price of losing their Faith, piety, freedom, nobility, and honour; and this very thing is their trial.
On thecontrary, another group may be enjoyed of affluence and different kinds of bounties when material possibilities can be at their reach. Do they try to fulfil the duty of thanksgiving
in this circumstance? Or will they be drowned in negligence, haughtiness, self-conceit, egotism, lusts, etc. with alienation unto the society and their own selves both?
Another group encounter some countries that have enjoyed aglaring material civilization and a considerable social welfare while they have no virtue and mortality and are far from Allah. Here a strong and mysterious attraction drags them toward this kind of life for them and their own society which provides it with them for the price of neglecting all the principles which they believe in, and for the price of accepting the disgrace of dependence. This is also a kind of trial.
Afflictions, pains and toils, wars and conflicts, dearth and scarcity, tyrannical governments which invite people to their own slavery and captivity and call them to submit their own tyrannical programs, and, finally, the strong waves of sensual desire and lust, all of them are a few means of trial in the way of the servants of Allah. It is in the same events that Faith, personality, piety, purity, trust, and nobility of persons are recognized.
But for gaining victory in these hard trials, there is no way but having continuous effort and endeavour and relying on the particular grace of Allah.
It is interesting that some commentators have narrated a tradition in ’Usul-i-Kāfī from Immaculate Imam who upon the commentary of the above verse said: “They will be tried the like that gold is tried (in furnace).” Then he said: “They will be purified the like that gold is purified (under the pressure of fire).”
However, those who think that by mere claim of expression of faith they will be in the row of believers and will
 'Usūl-i-Kāfī, according to narration of Nūr-uth-Thaqalayn, Vol. 4, P. 148
be admitted in Paradise with the prophets, truthful ones, and martyrs are seriously in err.
Imam Amīr-ul-Mu’minīn Ali (a.s.) said: “By Allah, Who sent the Prophet with Faith and truth, you will be severely subverted, bitterly shaken as in sieving and fully mixed as by spooning in a cooking pot till your low persons become high and high ones become low, …”
He (a.s.) said this statement just after that people had paid allegiance to him and were waiting to see how Ali (a.s.) treated with division of the Treasury of the Muslims and ranks and positions. They wanted to see whether it was treated with the former criterions or upon the bitter criterion of Islamic Justice.
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 Hahj-ul-Balāqah, sermon 16