The only Ayah of Quran that was revealed inside the Kaaba

Do you know which is the only ayah in the Quran that was revealed inside the Kaaba in Masjid al-Haraam, the Sacred Mosque or Baitullah, the House of Allah?

Today let us learn about this ayah, understand the amazing reason for which it was revealed, and also appreciate the miracle that exists to this day!

In pre-Islamic times the Arabs used to regard the sanctity of Kaaba but in their own way. During the days of Hajj, the services of providing water to the pilgrims was entrusted to Abbas (radhiallahu anhu), the uncle of the Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam.

The custodial duty of keeping the keys to the House of Allah and, of opening and closing it during fixed days had been given to ‘Uthman bin Talhah.

The Command to Return the Trusts to Whomever They Are Due

After the conquest of Makkah, when Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wassallam took the keys of the door of Kaaba from Uthman bin Talhah, opened its door and entered Kaaba, Allah revealed this ayah instructing His beloved Messenger to return the trust (in this case, the Key) to its rightful trustee:

“Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice. Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allah) gives you! Truly, Allah is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer.” [Surah An-Nisa’ 4:58]

Allah commands that the trusts be returned to their rightful owners. Al-Hasan narrated that Samurah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Return the trust to those who entrusted you, and do not betray those who betrayed you.”

Imam Ahmad and the collectors of Sunan recorded this Hadith. This command refers to all things that one is expected to look after, such as Allah’s rights on His servants: Praying, Zakah, fasting, penalties for sins, vows and so forth. The command also includes the rights of the servants on each other, such as what they entrust each other with, including the cases that are not recorded or documented. Allah commands that all types of trusts be fulfilled. Those who do not implement this command in this life, it will be extracted from them on the Day of Resurrection.

It is recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah said, “The rights will be rendered back to those to whom they are due, and even the sheep that does not have horns will take revenge from the horned sheep.”

Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Jurayj said about this Ayah, “It was revealed concerning `Uthman bin Talhah from whom the Messenger of Allah took the key of the Kaaba and entered it on the Day of the victory of Makkah. When the Prophet went out, he was reciting this Ayah, “Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due”. He then called `Uthman and gave the key back to him.”

Ibn Jarir also narrated that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “When the Messenger of Allah went out of the Kaaba, he was reciting this Ayah, “Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due”. May I sacrifice my father and mother for him, I never heard him recite this Ayah before that.”

It is popular that this is the reason behind revealing the Ayah (4:58). Yet, the application of the Ayah is general, and this is why Ibn `Abbas and Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah said, “This Ayah is for the righteous and wicked,” meaning it is a command that encompasses everyone.

The Order to Be Just

Allah said, “and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice.” commanding justice when judging between people.

Muhammad bin Ka`b, Zayd bin Aslam and Shahr bin Hawshab said; “This Ayah was revealed about those in authority”, meaning those who judge between people. A Hadith states, “Allah is with the judge as long as he does not commit injustice, for when he does, Allah will make him reliant on himself.”

A statement goes, “One day of justice equals forty years of worship.” Allah said,

“Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allah) gives you!”; meaning, His commands to return the trusts to their owners, to judge between people with justice, and all of His complete, perfect and great commandments and laws.

Allah’s statement, “Truly, Allah is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer.” means, He hears your statements and knows your actions.

Listen to this Beautiful Recitation:

Let us understand the historical background of this Ayah more. According to a personal statement of ‘Uthman bin Talhah, the Kaaba was opened every Monday and Thursday during the period of Jahilliyah and people would use the occasion to have the honour of entering the sacred House.

Once before Hijrah, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam came with some of his Companions in order to enter the Kaaba. ’Uthman bin Talhah had not embraced Islam until that time. He stopped the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam from going in, displaying an attitude which was very rude. The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam showed great restraint, tolerated his harsh words, then said: “O ‘Uthman, a day will come when you would perhaps see this key to the Baitullah in my hands when I shall have the power and choice to give it to anyone I choose.”

‘Uthman bin Talhah said: “If this happens, the Quraysh will then be all uprooted and disgraced.”

He (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said: “No, the Quraysh will then be all established and very honorable indeed.”

Saying this, he went into the Baitullah.

After that, says Talhah, “When I did a little soul-searching, I became convinced that whatever he has said is bound to happen. I made up my mind that I am going to embrace Islam then and there. But, my own people around me vehemently opposed the idea and everybody joined in to chide me on my decision. So, I was unable to convert to Islam. When came the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam called for me and asked for the key to Baitullah, which I presented to him.”

So he Sallallahu alayhi wassallam went into the Baitullah, offered his prayers there, and when he came out, he returned the key to Talhah saying: “Here, take it. Now this key will always remain with your family right through the Last Day. Anyone who will take this key from you will be a tyrant.” (By this he meant that nobody has the right to take back this key from Talhah)

He also instructed him to use whatever money or things he may get in return for this service to Baitullah in accordance with the rules set by the Shari’ah of Islam.

‘Uthman bin Talhah says: “When I, with the key in my hand, started walking off all delighted, he called me again, and said: “Remember ‘Uthman, did I not tell you something way back? Has it come to pass, or has it not?” Now, I remembered what he had said before Hijrah when he had said: “A day will come when you will see this key in my hand.””

I submitted: “”Yes, there is no doubt about it. Your word has come true.” And that was the time when I recited the Kalimah and entered the fold of Islam.” (Mazhari, from Ibn Sa’d).

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radhiallahu anhu) says: “That day, when the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wassallam came out of the Baitullah, he was reciting, this very verse: “Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice. Verily, how excellent is the teaching which He (Allah) gives you! Truly, Allah is Ever All-Hearer, All-Seer.” [Surah An-Nisa’ 4:58]. I had never heard him recite this verse before this.”

Obviously, this verse was revealed to him inside the Kaaba exactly at that time. Obeying the Divine command in the verse, Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alayhi wassallam called ‘Uthman bin Talhah again and made him the trustee of the key. This was the background in which this verse was revealed.

At this point let us bear in mind an important rule on which there is consensus. The rule is that even if a Quranic verse is revealed in a particular background, the rule laid down by it in general terms must be taken as of universal application and must not be restricted to that particular event.

The key of the door of Kaaba is still in the possession of the family of the original Key-Bearer, Uthman bin Talhah (radhiyallaahu anhu). Even the king of Saudi Arabia needs permission from this blessed family to have the key to enter Kaaba. Subhanallah!

Watch the video of this event as described by Mufti Ismail ibn Musa Menk.

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir
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