[018:023] And never say of anything, "I shall do such and such thing tomorrow."
[018:024] Except (with the saying), "If Allâh wills!" And remember your Lord when you forget and say: "It may be that my Lord guides me to a nearer way of truth than this."
The reason for the revelation of this verse is that the Quraish sent to Jews (of Madeena) asking them to send things to test the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) in his knowledge of Allah. They told the Quraish to ask him about three things:
Group of young men who sought refuge in a cave
A man who owned east and west
And the Ruh
They asked him about it and he (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) said: “I am going to tell you tomorrow”. An important note here that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) did not know the Ghaib. He didn’t say Insha’Allah though so Allah taught him a lesson and withheld the revelation for 15 days and he wasn’t’ able to go back and respond to them, so he couldn’t fulfill his promise to tell them about it.
And Allah also says in the Qur’aan:
[029:048] Neither did you (O Muhammad [sal-Allâhu 'alayhi wa sallam]) read any book before it (this Qur'ân) nor did you write any book (whatsoever) with your right hand. In that case, indeed, the followers of falsehood might have doubted. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) was illiterate and had no knowledge of the Ghaib except for what Allah informed him of. This was a test of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) and it was a proof that he was truthful (conveying things from Allah truly) as he could have invented stories, but he instead waited 15 days for the revelation. This shows he would not say anything of the unseen except with Allah’s revelation.
This story may resemble the Prophet Sulayman (alayhis salaam) who said he was going to impregnate 90 of his women who would then give birth to boys who would fight in Allah’s cause. An angel said to him “say: insha’Allah” but he did not say it and when he did this only one of the women became pregnant with half a child. So Allah teaches them not to say something will happen except that it is in accordance with the will of Allah.
What do you do when you forget to say insha’Allah? So in Islam, once we remember to do something what do we do? We do it right away. For example,
the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) said whoever slept in past the time of prayer then he is to make it up as soon as he remembers. The generality, although there are some exceptions, is that once you remember of your obligation then you go and do it.
Another example: scholars say so if you say I am going to make Hajj in Ramadhan and if you forget to say insah’Allah and two weeks pass and you remember you forgot to say it, then you say it then.
So Allah informed the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) after that reminder.
Ayah 25-26 Translated in two basic ways:
“[018:025] And they stayed in their Cave three hundred (solar) years, adding nine (for lunar years).
This translation seems to be choice of Ibn Katheer, Ibn Taymiyyah and other scholars.
This was not the choice of Sheikh Uthaymeen (rahimahuAllah) who said:
There is no indication that’s what Allah intended by this passage and even with 300 we need more conviction and explanation from Allah, and to say this is to speak about Allah’s’ Book without having enough conviction.
The second angle is the way Allah counts the months is by the lunar months and no regard is given to the solar months. So when they say 300 solar years plus nine this goes against our origin of counting by lunar years.
And Allah says in Suratul-Baqarah:
[002.189] They ask you (O Muhammad [sal-Allâhu 'alayhi wa sallam]) about the new moons. Say: "They are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage."It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness) that you enter the houses from the back, but Al-Birr (is the quality of the one) who fears Allâh. So, enter houses through their (proper) doors, and fear Allâh that you may be successful.
This shows the base is lunar years, keeping track by phases/ turning of the moon.
So all of the deen of Islaam is based on lunar years.
Next Allah identifies the length of time. Some scholars say we can’t say it was 309 and historically the Jews claim that it was 309 years. Some scholars say that Allah has confirmed it with saying 309 years Himself and He said: [018:026] Say: "Allâh knows best how long they stayed… “, so we take this number and believe it. Seems to be no mention or quote of Jews here where Allah says it was 309 years and Allah uses a “wow” so it seems that it is indeed the statement of Allah connecting to what was said before it.
Again these ayah affirms that Allah has the knowledge of the unseen and not the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salaam) except for that which Allah informs him of.
[018:026] Say: "Allâh knows best how long they stayed. With Him is (the knowledge of) the unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)! They have no Walî (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector) other than Him, and He makes none to share in His Decision and His Rule." Who is “They” from “They have no Wali…” askes Ibn Uthaymeen? Normally in Arabic refers to the most recent thing mentioned (hum). Before this “they” is used to refer to the people of the cave and how they stayed in their cave for 309 years and a pronoun is also used before for those in the heavens and the earth.
That which is correct is it is referring to those which are in the heavens and the earth (believers and disbelievers).
And the Sheikh says Allah is the Wali (disposer of affairs) for everyone called wilaayah ‘amma (general). And wilaayah qassa is the caretaker/ disposer of affairs, in a specific way (and this is for the Muslims).
And Allah says:
[002.257] Allâh is the Walî (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliyâ (supporters and helpers) are Tâghût (false deities and false leaders), they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.
So here Allah being the Wali is mentioned specifically for the believers (wilaayah qassa) and for the Mushrik are the Taaghut.
[018:027] “And recite what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad [sal-Allâhu 'alayhi wa sallam]) of the Book (the Qur'ân) of your Lord (i.e. recite it, understand and follow its teachings and act on its orders and preach it to men). None can change His Words, and none will you find as a refuge other than Him.”
The order to make tillawah is here. Some people understand this as reciting with real recitation and they also read the ayah from Suratul-Baqarah:
[002.121] Those (who embraced Islâm from Banî Israel) to whom We gave the Book [the Taurât (Torah)] [or those (Muhammad's Companions) to whom We have given the Book (the Qur'ân)] recite it (i.e. obey its orders and follow its teachings) as it should be recited (i.e. followed), they are the ones who believe therein. And whoso disbelieve in it (the Qur'ân), those are they who are the losers.
If you see some of the Egyptian Qur’aan concerts, they may put this ayah as introduction to the presentation. And you could find that their recitation is very precise, yet they may be clean-shaven by choice and they use this ayah to perhaps testify to their goodness, but it in fact could be used to show them their disobedience as the ayah means as explained by Ibn Abbas (radiyAllahu anhu):
“They recite it as it should be recited …”-means they follow it as it should be (truly) followed.
If you were to apply siyaak here (in keeping what came before it and after it) we have Allah saying after this ayah not to pervert the meanings of the Qur’aan and after that there is the order to have sabr. So if you put it in its context here, the recitation being ordered here is in actions, (to follow Allah’s book) and that doesn’t negate reciting it well as that also is from the implementation of the Qur’aan. The ones who truly believe in the Book are those who practice it.
And Ibn Mas‘ood (radiyAllahu anhu) said the meaning of the recitation of the Qur’aan is:
that you declare what is in it as being halal as being halal
that you declare what is in it as being haram being haram