Al-Najwā Verse | 58:12

1. Al-Najwā Verse

Al-Najwā Verse (Arabic: آية النَّجْوَا) is the verse of Quran 58:12, which is also known as al-Munajat Verse.

According to this verse, when wealthy Muslims wanted to privately consult the Prophet of Islam (s) they were obligated to pay charity to the poor.

However, Muslims, other than Imam Alī (a), refused to comply with the command.

Thus, in the subsequent verse, God reprehends Muslims for the disobedience of the ruling, cancels the obligation of the charity, and abrogates the implication of the preceding verse.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَةً ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَطْهَرُ ۚ فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O believers! When you want to consult the Rasool in private, offer something in charity before your consultation, that is best and purest for you.

But if you lack the means, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

— Quran 58:12

2. Occasion of the Revelation

The occasion of the revelation of the verse is said to be as follows:

a group of wealthy Muslims visited the Prophet (s) and consulted him in private by cutting the line of the poor, and this offended the poor.

Moreover, the Prophet (s) was upset by their garrulousness and sitting there for too long.

Thus, al-Najwā Verse was revealed, which is also known as al-Munajat Verse, commanding the wealthy to pay charity to the poor prior to their private consultation with the Prophet (s).

Some exegetes have specified that some of these people sought to gain superiority over others by their private consultations with the Prophet (s).

The Prophet (s) did not prohibit them out of generosity although he was upset, until they were prohibited by the Quran.

3. Reason for the Ruling of Charity

According to Makārim Shīrāzī, the reason why it was obligatory to pay the charity prior to private consultations with the Prophet (s) was that it was purer for Muslims:

For on the one hand, the charity resulted in divine rewards and goodness for the wealthy, and an aid for the poor,

and on the other, it led to the purity of the hearts of the wealthy from love of this-world possessions and the purity of the hearts of the poor from remorse.

Allāma Tabataba’i believes that such charity was made obligatory because it would approximate the hearts of the wealthy and the poor to each other and obviate their grudges.

In the subsequent verse, God exempts those in need from paying the charity so that they are not deprived of privately talking to the Prophet (s) about their important problems or needs.

At the end, the revelation of the verse was a test to determine the extent of love for the Prophet (s) by Muslims.

4. Abrogation of the Ruling

Al-Najwā Verse was abrogated by its subsequent verse (the verse of Quran 58:13),

أَأَشفَقتُم أَن تُقَدِّموا بَينَ يَدَي نَجواكُم صَدَقاتٍ ۚ فَإِذ لَم تَفعَلوا وَتابَ اللَّهُ عَلَيكُم فَأَقيمُوا الصَّلاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكاةَ وَأَطيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسولَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبيرٌ بِما تَعمَلونَ

Do you hesitate to give out in charity before your private consultation with him?

If you cannot afford it - Allah will forgive you - so establish Salah and pay Zakāh, and obey Allah and His Rasool.

Allah is well aware of all your actions.

/Quran 58:13/

After the legislation of the ruling of paying charity prior to private consultation with the Prophet (s), no Muslim acted upon it except Alī (a):

Thus, in the subsequent verse, Muslims who refused to pay the charity from the fear of poverty were strongly reprehended,

and then the ruling of the obligation of paying such charity was cancelled, and their sins in the disobedience of the command was forgiven,

and instead, the verse emphasizes on acting upon other obligations, avoiding forbidden actions, and obeying God and His Prophet (s).

A number of exegetes believe that the revelation of the verse was tentative from the outset, because it was a test for Muslims, and when the test was over, the ruling was abrogated.

Moreover, the continued obligation of paying charity prior to private consultations with the Prophet (s) would lead to problems for the Muslim community,

since sometimes it was necessary or urgent for Muslims to privately meet the Prophet (s), and if the charity ruling remained in force, those urgencies could be relinquished and people or the Islamic community could be harmed.

5. The Only Person who Acted on al-Najwā Verse

According to al-Tabrisī, the majority of Shiite and Sunni exegetes maintain that the only person who acted on this verse was Imam Alī (a).

Imam Alī (a) himself said,

"there is a verse in the Quran on which no one acted and will never act.

I had one dinar and changed it to ten dirhams, and whenever I wanted to privately consult the Messenger of God (s), I paid one dirham as charity."