Hold fast, all together, to Allah’s cord, and do not be divided [into sects]. And remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers with His blessing. And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, whereat He saved you from it. Thus does Allah clarify His signs for you so that you may be guided. (3:103)

Al-Mizan English Volume 6

Allamah Tabataba’i’s detailed commentary on Qur’anic verse 3:103 delves into the thematic elements of unity, guidance, and divine favor within the Islamic community. The verse, which instructs believers to “hold fast by the cord of Allah all together and be not divided,” is interpreted by Tabataba’i as an encouragement for communal unity and cohesion, anchored by adherence to the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Tabataba’i explains that the “cord of Allah” metaphorically represents the Qur’an, which acts as a spiritual and ethical lifeline that connects believers to God. This connection is essential for maintaining societal harmony and individual salvation. He emphasizes that this divine cord is not just a pathway to personal righteousness but a binding force that holds the community together, preventing the fragmentation that can lead to spiritual peril.

The verse also reminds believers of the grace Allah bestowed upon them when they were on the verge of destructive conflicts—described as being on the “brink of a pit of fire”—and how divine intervention transformed them from enemies into brethren. This historical reflection serves as a powerful motivator for maintaining unity. Tabataba’i posits that remembering these past mercies helps believers appreciate their current state of brotherhood as a continuous divine favor, not merely a historical event.

A significant aspect of Tabataba’i’s exposition is his critique of blind faith. He advocates for a faith that is rooted in understanding and reason. The Qur’an, in his view, educates believers by linking commandments to their underlying wisdoms, thereby fostering an informed obedience that is based on insight rather than compulsion. This method, he argues, enables believers to grasp the interconnectedness of divine laws and the overarching principles of monotheism.

Furthermore, Tabataba’i highlights the social dimensions of the verse. He discusses how the Qur’anic command to unity and remembrance of Allah’s favors is not only about preventing theological disagreements but also about building a resilient society that can withstand external and internal challenges. The unity urged by the verse is depicted as a preventive measure against societal decay and moral corruption that can arise from disunity and strife.

Finally, Tabataba’i connects the theological instruction in the verse with the personal experiences of the believers. He suggests that their lived experiences of transformation and redemption reinforce the theological and moral imperatives the verse conveys. This connection between personal transformation and divine commandment illustrates a holistic approach to faith, where personal history and divine guidance converge to chart a path towards communal and individual righteousness.

In sum, Allamah Tabataba’i’s commentary on verse 3:103 of the Qur’an offers a comprehensive look at the theological, social, and moral dimensions of unity as mandated by divine guidance. It underscores the necessity of understanding and reason in faith, the importance of historical consciousness, and the role of divine favor in shaping a cohesive and resilient Muslim community.


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