61.1 Narrated ‘Irbad bin Sariyah
That the Prophet (ﷺ) would recite the Musabbihat* (Chapters 17, 57, 59, 61, 62, 64 & 87) before sleep and say “Indeed there is an Ayah in them that is better than one thousand Ayat.”
*Quran Surahs that start with the glorification of Allah
61.2 Abu Harb b. Abu al-Aswad reported on the authority of his father that Abu Musa al-Ash’ari sent for the reciters of Basra. They came to him and they were three hundred in number. They recited the Qur’an and he said:
You are the best among the inhabitants of Basra, for you are the reciters among them. So continue to recite it. (But bear in mind) that your reciting for a long time may not harden your hearts as were hardened the hearts of those before you. We used to recite a surah which resembled in length and severity to (Surah) Bara’at. I have, however, forgotten it with the exception of this which I remember out of it:” If there were two valleys full of riches, for the son of Adam, he would long for a third valley, and nothing would fill the stomach of the son of Adam but dust.” And we used so recite a surah which resembled one of the surahs of Musabbihat, and I have forgotten it, but remember (this much) out of it:” Oh people who believe, why do you say that which you do not practise” (lxi 2.) and” that is recorded in your necks as a witness (against you) and you would be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection” (xvii. 13).
61.3 Abdullah bin Salam said:
“A group of us Companions of the Messenger of Allah sat talking, and we said: ‘If we knew which deed was most beloved to Alllah then we would do it.’ So Allah, Most High, revealed: Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah. And He is Almighty, the All-Wise. O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?” Abdullah bin Salam said: “So the Messenger of Allah recited it to us.” Abu Salamah (one of the narrators) said: “So Ibn Salam recited it to us.” Yahya (one of the narrators) said: “So Abu Salamah narrated it to us.” Ibn Kathir said: “So Al-Awza’i recited it to us.” Abdullah said: “So Ibn Kathir recited it to us.”
61.4 ‘A’isha reported:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The (system) of night and day would not end until the people have taken to the worship of Lat and ‘Uzza. I said: Allah’s Messenger, I think when Allah has revealed this verse:” He it is Who has sent His Messenger with right guidance, and true religion, so that He may cause it to prevail upon all religions, though the polytheists are averse (to it)” (61:9 & ix. 33), it implies that (this promise) is going to be fulfilled. Thereupon he (Allah’s Apostle) said: It would happen as Allah would like. Then Allah would send the sweet fragrant air by which everyone who has even a mustard grain of faith in Him would die and those only would survive who would have no goodness in them. And they would revert to the religion of their forefathers.
61.5 Al-Wahidi records
(All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifieth Allah, and He is the Mighty, the Wise) [61:1-4]. Muhammad ibn Ja‘far informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zakariyya> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Daghuli> Muhammad ibn Yahya> Muhammad ibn Kathir al-San‘ani> al-Awza‘i> Yahya ibn Abi Kathir> Abu Salamah> ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam who said: “We sat — a group of Companions of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace — and reminded each other. We said: ‘If only we knew the most beloved works to Allah, glorified and exalted is He, for we would then perform them’. Allah, exalted is He, therefore, revealed (Lo! Allah loveth them who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure) [61:4] up to the end of the Surah. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, read it to us”. (O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not?) [61:2-4]. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “Some Muslims used to say: ‘If we knew the most beloved works to Allah, exalted is He, we would spend our wealth and persons in their sake’. And so Allah, exalted is He, directed them to the most beloved works to Him, saying (Lo! Allah loveth them who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure…) But when Muslims were tested at the Battle of Uhud, they retreated, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not?)”.
61.6 Imam Ahmad recorded
That `Abdullah bin Salam said, “We asked, `Who among us should go to the Messenger and ask him about the dearest actions to Allah’ None among us volunteered. The Messenger sent a man to us and that man gathered us and recited this Surah, Surat As-Saff, in its entirety.”’
(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
61.7 Ibn Mardawih related from Ibn Abbas that
People said, “If we knew the deed that is most liked and beloved to Allah, we would certainly do it.” So Allah revealed
﴾ إن الله يحب الذين يقاتلون في سبيله صفّا كأنهم بنيان مرصوص ﴿
Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly. (61:4)
But then the people turned away. So Allah revealed
﴾ يا أيها الذين آمنوا لم تقولون ما لا تفعلون ﴿
O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? (61:2)