This holy verse, because of containing the phrase /nabtahel/ in its Arabic text, is known in Islamic literature as the verse of 'mutual Cursing', /mubahilah/ The Arabic term /mubahilah/ means: to leave the personal tendencies and attracting the attention towards invocation and supplication before Allah (s.w.t.) for asking curse and perdition unto the one who is not right.1
In commentary books from both Sunni and Shi'ah school of thought as well as in some books of tradition and history books, it is cited that in the tenth year A.H., from the side of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household), some Muslims were commissioned to go to Najran, a region in Yemen! in order to preach Islam The Christian inhabitants of Najran set out a religious mission from their side to attend Medina and discuss with the prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his household).
After some debates and disputes between them and the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household), they felt hesitation and sought for pretexts. Then, this verse was revealed, stating:
﴾And whoever disputes with you concerning him, after what has come to you of knowledge, say: 'Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, and our selves and your selves, then let us invoke in earnest and lay the curse of Allah upon the liars.﴿
That is, any curse which would reach either of two parties showed that that party was not right. Thus, the revelation of this verse put an end to that discussion thereby.
As soon as the missionaries of the Christians of Najran heard the suggestion of performing the mutual curse from the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) looked at each other while they were surprised They asked the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his household) for respite to contemplate and consult over the subject. Then, when they were dismissed from the presence of the Messenger of Allah, they began consulting with each other The Chief Monk, the Leader of the selected holy group of the Christians told them that they could accept the suggestion. Then, if the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his household) came for cursing with ceremonies and followed by a large group of people, they would not be worried about it and knew that nothing might happen.
But, if they saw that he came to the spot with a few people, they would give up the act of /mubahilah/ and compromise with him.
On the day of cursing, they saw that the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him and his household) entered the appointed spot followed by two boys, a young man and a lady. Those two boys were Hassan and Hussein, (a.s.) the young man was Ali-ibn-Abitalib (a.s.), and the lady was Fatimah (a.s.), the Prophet's daughter.
When the Chief Monk saw them, he exclaimed:
"By God! I see the faces that, if they pray to God for mountains to move from their places, the mountains will immediately move."
"If they curse you, you will be wiped out of existence to the last day of the life of the earth."
Therefore, the Christians asked Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) to give up the idea of the agreed /mubahilah/ (mutual cursing) and they announced they were ready for compromise. They offered to pay two thousand suits ach of which cost, more or less, at forty dirhams (drachma) every year (in addition to some other things)... .
This event is cited in commentary books of both great sects of Islam: Sunnites and Shi'ites.2
According to some of the Islamic traditions, the day of Mubahilah (mutual curse) was the twenty fourth or twenty fifth day of Zil-Hajj, and its place, at the time of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) was somewhere outside of Medina which has located inside the city now. At this place, there has been built a mosque by the name of Masjid-ul-'Ijabah which is about two kilo meters far from the Holy Tomb of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) in Masjid-un-Nabiy.
'Mutual curse' /mubahilah/ was not confined to that time. Some of Islamic traditions indicate that every believer can apply it, too, if the one wishes. In Nur-uth-ThaqaIayn, vol. 1, p 351 a tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is narrated upon this subject who has issued a few instructions about it.
In Usul-Kafi, vol 2, section ' mutual curse ', there are also cited five traditions which denote that every believer can apply 'mutual curse' with the opponents, too, by improving oneself through observing the fast for three days. Its order is such that: at twilight he puts his right hand fingers in his opponent's fingers and recites the concerning special supplication.
There may arise a question that when Fatimah (a.s.) was the only woman attended in that event, why does the Qur'an has applied the plural form of the word; " nisa'ana " (our women)? The answer is that there are some examples of this specimen in the Qur'an where Allah refers to a single person in the form of plural, like Sura Al-I-Imran, No 3, verse 181 wherein Allah (s.w.t.) says: ﴾... those who say: 'God is poor...﴿ while only one Jewish person had said that aspersive sentence. Or, the Qur'an, referring to Abraham (a.s.) as an Ummah in himself standing alone against his world, says:
﴾Abraham was indeed a model, ... ﴿ 3
1. Ali-ibn-'Abitalib (a.s.) has been counted as the 'self ' of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his household): "Our selves"
2. When logic, reasoning, and miracle do not make a person accept the Truth, he must be threatened to destruction.
3. The last winning means and the forceful weapon of a true believer is supplication.
4. If you stand firm, the enemy, because of not being right, will retreat.
5. By that great event, the Lord and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his household) made us understood that these holy persons were the assistants and the associates of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his household) in inviting people to the Truth and to his sacred goal. They, following him, were ready to face with dangers, and continued the path of his movement.
1- Majma'-ul-Bayan, vol. 702, P. 452
2- The author of Al-Mizan has cited in his commentary hook, Al-Mizan, vol 3, P 257 that this event has been reported similarly by 51 Companions of the Prophet. Also, in commentary books by Fakhr- Razi, Aloosi, Maraqi, and in Kitab-ul-kamil, by Ibn-'Athir, Vol 2, P. 293, in Mustadrak Hakim,vol.
3, P.150, in Musnad Ahmad-ibn-Hanbal, vol One, P.185, and also in Ruh-ul-Bayan,Al-minar, Commentary of Ibn-Kathir, and in many other Islamic sources, this event has been recorded and it has been confirmed that the Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him and his household) Ali-ibn-'Abitalib, Fatimah Zahra, Hassan and Husayn (a.s.) were the ones whose prayers were answered This is a worthy document evidence for the greatness and magnificence of Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.) In Ihghagh-ul-Hagh, vol 3, p 49 the names of 61 respected people from the Sunnis school of thought are mentioned who all said this verse is on the greatness of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a.s.)
3- Sura Nahl, No. 16, verse 120