This work is merely a compilation and not a scholarly treatise written personally by me on the Quran. It has been compiled and edited keeping in mind the average English speaking person, whether Muslim or non-Muslim who finds himself at a loss when trying to understand the message implied in many of the verses of the Quran. Every chapter is preceded by an introductory article which has been compiled mainly from the reputed scholar Abu Ala Maududi’s work supplemented with information found lacking at their appropriate places. To bring out the elegance of the Quran to some degree, I have used the English translation of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (edited and revised by The Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA). The English translation of a verse is followed by the commentary to the verse. The commentary to the verses have been compiled from various commentaries and are not my personal handiwork. I have used the commentary of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan as a framework (although in an edited form). Besides these, I have also derived suitable portions from the commentaries of Mohammad Asad, Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Tafsir Ibn-Kathir, Tafsir Ibn-Tabari, Tafsir of Zamakshari and other reliable sources. This is because a single author is not able to comment comprehensively on every topic. So I thought it necessary to incorporate the commentary of others to make the commentary fully detailed and comprehensive. The most authentic and well-versed commentaries among these (coupled with some editing) have been compiled into one compact form keeping the continuity of the words. Every effort has been made to select the best interpretation of the verses which is in accordance with the established sunnah of the Prophet and on which there is a consensus among the majority of the scholars of Islam. In many cases the commentary has been incorporated almost verbatim from its source for want of better alternatives. The sources have not been mentioned at every place where they have been used as mentioning all of them would make the study very cumbersome. I have tried to furnish as much additional information for a particular verse as would be required for a Muslim to know in general. Those verses that speak of incidents mentioned in the Bible and the Torah have been supplemented with the respective verses from these sources and the points of difference have been elucidated in order to bring about a correlation between the Semitic religions and to encourage the study of comparative religion. I have also quoted the authentic traditions of the Prophet as and where required and often highlighted the words to emphasise the reason for citing the hadith (tradition or authentic narration of the Prophet) and to correlate a verse with their practical implications as demonstrated by the Prophet. For this purpose I have selected only the authentic and unanimously agreed upon hadiths, restricting myself mainly to Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. I must point out that just as there are unforced errors in translation from Arabic to English in the Quran which often give rise to misconceptions, so too there may be errors in translations of the hadiths. Again there are instances when the Prophet uses figurative speech to get the message across to his followers who were mainly commoners. So such narrations should not be construed
literally. The translation of Sahih Bukhari has been done by Muhammad Muhsin Khan who has also translated the Quran. I have some reservations about his choice of words in translation, which often depict a picture far from the actual thing. The verses of the Quran that occur frequently in the numerous hadiths from Sahih Bukhari use his translation of the Quran. The Sahih Muslim has been translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui. As of now these are the only complete translations of these hadiths that are available and as such I have been forced to use them, hoping that there will be better translations available in the future. If a particular hadith appears to be strange or somewhat confusing or contradictory, I suggest the readers clarify the correct meanings and implications of the hadith and the context of narration before drawing wrong conclusions. Explaining each and every hadith is beyond the scope of this work. It should be clearly understood that no Sahih Hadith ever contradicts the Quran. These misconceptions mainly occur due to inaccurate translation or incomplete narration. Most of the misconceptions and general queries have been addressed with detailed explanations which have been compiled from the best sources and have been agreed upon. Some important topics have been dealt with in the Appendices at the end of the chapter. The objective has been to present a comprehensive reference manual of the Quran for the ordinary reader so that he or she does not have to refer to various sources in order to understand a verse and can thus enjoy the divine message of the Quran, while understanding every verse in their proper context, leaving no room for doubt or conjecture. I hope this book is of help to all those who wish to seek the Truth but are hindered by language barriers. All Praises are due to Allah! Author
The title "The Family of Imran" has been derived from references, in verses 33 and 35, to this common origin of a long line of prophets. Like the names of many other surahs, it is merely a name to distinguish it from other surahs and does not imply that the family of Imran has been discussed in it.
Period of Revelation
This surah is the second or (according to some authorities) the third to have been revealed at Medina, apparently in the year 3 H.; some of its verses, however, belong to a much later period, namely, to the year preceding the Prophet's death (10 H.).This surah consists of four discourses :-
The first discourse (vv.1-32) was probably revealed soon after the Battle of Badr. The second discourse (vv.33-63) was revealed in 9 AH on the occasion of the visit of the deputation from the Christians of Najran. The third discourse (vv.64-120) appears to have been revealed immediately after the first one. The fourth discourse (vv.121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud.
Though these discourses were revealed at different periods and on different occasions, they are so interlinked with regard to their aim, object and central theme that they make together one continuous whole. This surah has been especially addressed to two groups --- the people of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) and the followers of Muhammad (pbuh). The message has been extended to the Jews and the Christians in continuation of the invitation in AlBaqara, in which they have been admonished for their erroneous beliefs and evil morals and advised to accept as a remedy the Truth of the Quran. They have been told here that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) taught the same right way of life that had been preached by their own Prophets; that it alone was the Right Way, the way of Allah; hence any deviation from it will be wrong even according to their own Scriptures. The second group, the Muslims, who had been declared to be the best Community in Al-Baqarah and appointed torch-bearers of the Truth and entrusted with the responsibility of reforming the world have been given additional instructions in continuation of those given in the preceding Sura. The Muslims have been warned to learn a lesson from the religious and moral degeneration of the former communities and to refrain from treading in their footsteps. Instructions have also been given about the reformative work they had to perform. Besides this they have been taught how to deal with the people of the Book and the hypocrites who were putting different kinds of hindrances in the way of Allah. Above all they have been warned to guard against those weaknesses which had come to the surface in the Battle Uhud.
The following is the background of the Surah: 1. The Believers had met with all sorts of trials and hardships about which they had been forewarned in Al- Baqarah. Though they had come out victorious in the Battle of Badr they were not out of danger yet. Their victory had aroused the enmity of all those powers in Arabia which were opposed to the Islamic Movement. Signs of threatening storms had begun to appear on all sides and the Muslims were in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. It looked as if the whole Arabian world around the tiny state of Al- Madinah which was no more than a village state at that time-was bent upon blotting out its very existence. This state of war was also adversely affecting its economy which had already been badly disturbed by the influx of the Muslim refugees from Makkah. 2. Then there was the disturbing problem of the Jewish clans who lived in the suburbs of AlMadinah. They were discarding the treaties of alliance they had made with the Holy Prophet after his migration from Makkah. So much so that on the occasion of the Battle of Badr these people of
the Book sympathized with the evil aims of the idolaters in spite of the fact that their fundamental articles of the Faith-Oneness of Allah Prophethood Life-after- death-were the same as those of the Muslims. After the Battle of Badr they openly began to incite the Quraish and other Arab clans to wreak their vengeance on the Muslims. Thus those Jewish clans set aside their centuries-old friendly and neighborly relations with the people of Al-Madinah. At last when their mischievous actions and breaches of treaties became unbearable the Holy Prophet attacked the Bani- Qainuqa'a the most mischievous of all the other Jewish clans who had conspired with the hypocrites of Al-Madinah and the idolatrous Arab clans to encircle the Believers on all sides. The magnitude of the peril might be judged from the fact that even the life of the Holy Prophet himself was always in danger. Therefore his Companions slept in their armors during that period and kept watch at night to guard against any sudden attack and whenever the Holy Prophet happened to be out of sight even for a short while they would at once set out in search of him. 3. This incitement by the Jews added fuel to the fire which was burning in the hearts of the Quraish and they began to make preparations to avenge the defeat they had suffered at Bad. A year after this an army of 3 000 strong marched out of Makkah to invade Al-Madinah and a battle took place at the foot of Mount Uhd. The Holy Prophet came out of Al-Madinah with one thousand men to meet the enemy. While they were marching to the battle-field three hundred hypocrites deserted the army and returned to Al- Madinah but there still remained a small band of hypocrites among the seven hundred who accompanied the Holy Prophet. They played their part and did their worst to create mischief and chaos in the ranks of the Believers during the Battle. This was the first clear indication of the fact that within the fold of the Muslim Community there was quite a large number of saboteurs who were always ready to conspire with the external enemies to harm their own brethren. 4. Though the devices of the hypocrites had played a great part in the set-back at Uhud the weaknesses of the Muslims themselves contributed no less to it. And it was but natural that the Muslims should show signs of moral weakness for they were a new community which had only recently been formed on a new ideology and had not as yet got a thorough moral training. Naturally in this second hard test of their physical and moral strength some weaknesses came to the surface. That is why a detailed review of the Battle of Uhud was needed to warn the Muslims of their shortcomings and to issue instructions for their reform. It should also be noted that this review of the Battle is quite different from the reviews that are usually made by generals on similar occasions.
This Sura is the sequel to Al-Baqarah and the invitation therein is continued to the people of the Book. In Al- Baqarah the Jews were pointedly invited to accept the Guidance and in this Sura the Christians have particularly been admonished to give up their erroneous beliefs and accept the Guidance of the Quran. At the same time the Muslims have been instructed to nourish the virtues that may enable them to carry out their obligations and spread the Divine Guidance.
Topics and their interconnection
In these introductory verses the fundamental truths about Allah, revelation and Life-after-Death have been reiterated to serve as fitting preliminaries, leading to the main topics discussed in the surah. (1-32)
This discourse is particularly addressed to the Christians and invites them to accept Islam. It clears Jesus and his mother not only of the stigma maliciously set upon them by the Jews, but also refutes the erroneous Christian creed of the Divinity of Jesus which had been formulated because of his miraculous birth. For this purpose the instances of John the Baptist to a barren woman and an extremely aged man and that of Adam without father and mother have been cited to show that there is nothing in the birth of Jesus without a father to entitle him to Divinity. (33-65) In these verses the people of the Book, the Jews, have been invited to give up their sinister ways and accept the divine Guidance. At the same time the Muslims have been warned to be on their guard against their malicious intentions, erroneous ways and absurd objections. (66-101) The Muslims have been instructed to learn lessons from the history of the people of the Book and also to guard themselves against their machinations, and to prepare and train themselves to establish virtue and eradicate evil. (102-120) In this portion, a review of the Battle of Uhud hase been made to teach and reassure the Muslims that the machinations of their enemies could do them no harm, if they would practice restraint and fortitude and have fear of Allah. It has been pointed out that the setback they had suffered was due to the lack of some moral qualities and the existence of some evils. Since the main cause of the defeat was the greed of the archers, guarding the pass, the taking of interest has been prohibited to eradicate this evil. (121-175) The main theme of the verses (109-120) has been resumed to reassure the Muslims against the dangerous plots of their enemies. (175-189) This is the conclusion of the surah and is not directly connected with the verses immediately preceding it but with the theme of the surah as a whole. (190-200)
1 Alif, Lam, Mim. ¹ These abbreviated letters are called Al-Muqattat or mystic letters. Their actual meaning is not clear but scholars
have put forward many theories to explain them. A detailed explanation on them can be found in Appendix 1 at the end of this chapter.
2 Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-Subsisting, the Supporter of all. 3 It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Torah (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus)¹ before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion² (of judgment between right and wrong).
It is to be borne in mind that the Gospel frequently mentioned in the Quran is not identical with what is known today as the Four Gospels, but refers to an original, since lost, revelation bestowed upon Jesus and known to his contemporaries under its Greek name of Evangelion ("Good Tiding"), on which the Arabicised form Injil is based. It was probably the source from which the Synoptic Gospels derived much of their material and some of the teachings attributed to Jesus. The fact of its having been lost and forgotten is alluded to in the Quran in 5:14.
In some editions the break between verses 3 and 4 occurs here in the middle of the sentence, but in the edition of Hafiz Uthmqan, followed by the Egyptian Concordance Fath-ur-Rahman, the break occurs at the word Furqan. In verse-divisions our classicists have mainly followed rhythm. As the word Furqan from this point of view is parallel to the word Intiqam, which ends the next verse. I have accepted the verse-division at Furqan as more in consonance with Quranic rhythm. It makes no real difference to the numbering of the verses, as there is only a question of whether one line should go into verse 3 or verse 4.
² Furqan: Criterion 4 Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest chastisement, and Allah is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution. 5 From Allah, verily nothing is hidden on earth or in the heavens. 6 He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. 7 He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of clear meaning); they are the foundation¹ of the Book: others are not entirely clear. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is not entirely clear, seeking discord, and searching for its interpretation, but no one knows its true meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge² say: "We believe in it; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. ¹
This passage gives us an important clue to the interpretation of the Holy Quran. Broadly speaking it may be divided into two portions, not given separately, but intermingled: viz. (1) the nucleus or foundation of the Book, literally "the mother of the Book". (2) the part which is not entirely clear. It is very fascinating to take up the latter, and exercise our ingenuity about its meaning, but it refers to such profound matters that are beyond human language and though people of wisdom may get some light from it, no one should be dogmatic, as the final meaning is known to Allah alone. The Commentators usually understand the verses "of clear meaning" (muhkam) to refer to the categorical orders of the Shariat (or the Law), which are plain to everyone's understanding. But perhaps the meaning is wider: the "mother of the Book" must include the very foundation on which all Law rests, the essence of Allah's Message, as distinguished from the various illustrative parables, allegories, and ordinances.
Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 70:
Allah's Apostle recited the Verse:--
"It is He who has sent down to you the Book. In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundation of the Book, others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the Truth ) follow thereof that is not entirely clear seeking affliction and searching for its hidden meanings; but no one knows its hidden meanings but Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it (i.e. in the Qur'an) the whole of it (i.e. its clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord. And none receive admonition except men of understanding." (3.7)
Then Allah's Apostle said, "If you see those who follow thereof that is not entirely clear, then they are those whom Allah has named [as having deviation (from the Truth)] 'So beware of them."
² One reading, rejected by the majority of Commentators, but accepted by Mujahid and others, would not make a
break at the point here marked Waq Lazim, but would run the two sentences together. In that case the construction would run: "No one knows its hidden meanings except Allah and those who are firm in knowledge. They say", etc.
8 "O Lord!" (they say), "Let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us Mercy from Thee: for Thou art the Grantor of bounties without measure. 9 "Our Lord! Thou art He that will gather mankind together against a day about which there is no doubt; for Allah never fails in His promise." 10 Those who reject Faith,- neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah: They are themselves but fuel for the Fire. 11 (Their plight will be) no better than that of the people of Pharaoh, and their predecessors: They denied our Signs, and Allah called them to account for their sins. For Allah is strict in punishment. 12 Say to those who reject Faith: "Soon will ye be vanquished and gathered together to Hell,-an evil bed indeed (to lie on)!
13 "There has already been for you a Sign in the two armies that met (in combat) ¹: One was fighting in the cause of Allah, the other resisting Allah; these saw with their own eyes twice their number². But Allah doth support with His aid whom He pleaseth. In this is a lesson for such as have eyes to see." ¹
This refers to the battle of Badr in Ramadhan in the second year of the Hijra. The little exiled community of Makkan Muslims, with their friends in Madinah had organised themselves into a God-fearing community, but were constantly in danger of being attacked by their Pagan enemies of Makkah in alliance with some of the disaffected elements (Jews and Hypocrites) in or near Madinah itself. The design of the Makkans was to gather all the resources they could, and with an overwhelming force, to crush and annihilate Muhammad and his party. To this end Abu Sufyan was leading a richly-laden caravan from Syria to Makkah. He called for armed aid from Makkah, The battle was fought in the plain of Badr, about 150 kilometers south-west of Madinah. The Muslim force consisted of only about 313 men, mostly ill-armed, but they were led by Muhammad, and they were fighting for their Faith. The Makkan army, well-armed and well-equipped, numbered over a thousand and had among its leaders some of the most experienced warriors of Arabia, including Abu Jahl, the inveterate foe and persecutor of Islam. Against all odds the Muslims won a brilliant victory, and many of the enemy leaders, including Abu Jahl, were killed.
² It was impossible, without the miraculous aid of Allah, for such a small and ill-equipped force as was the Muslim
band, to defeat the large and well-found force of the enemy. But their faith, firmness, zeal, and discipline won them divine aid. Enemy prisoners stated that the enemy ranks saw the Muslim force to be many times larger than it was.
14 Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet ¹: Women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but with Allah is the best of the goals (to return to). ¹
The pleasures of this world are first enumerated: women for love; sons for strength and pride; hoarded riches, which procure all luxuries; the best and finest pedigree horses; cattle, the measure of wealth in the ancient world, as well as the means and symbols of good farming in the modern world; and broad acres of well-tilled land. By analogy, we may include, for our mechanized age, machines of all kinds,-tractors, motor- cars, aeroplanes, the best internal-combustion engines, etc., etc. In "heaped-up hoards of gold and silver," the Arabic word translated hoards is quintar , which literally means a Talent of 1.200 ounces of gold.
15 Say: Shall I give you glad tidings of things far better than those? For the righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord, with rivers flowing beneath; therein is their eternal home; with spouses purified; and the good pleasure of Allah. For in Allah's sight are (all) His servants,16 (Namely), those who say: "Our Lord! we have indeed believed: Forgive us, then, our sins, and save us from the agony of the Fire;"-
17 Those who show patience, firmness and self-control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of Allah); and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning¹. ¹ The expression bi'l-ashar is usually taken to mean "at the times before daybreak", or simply "before daybreak".
This is in agreement with the Prophet's recommendation to his followers (forthcoming from several authentic Traditions) to devote the latter part of the night, and particularly the time shortly before dawn, to intensive prayer. But while the word sahar (also spelled sahr and suhr), of which ashar is the plural, undoubtedly denotes "the time before daybreak", it also signifies - in the spellings sahar and suhr - "the core of the heart", "the inner part of the heart", or simply "heart" (refer Lisan al -Arab; also Lane IV, 1316). In the context of the above Quran verse - as well as of 51:18 - this latter rendering may also be applied as opposed to the conventional one. Benefits of prayer late in the nights and before daybreak:
a) Bukhari-Volume 2, Book 21, Number 246:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: "Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?"
b) Bukhari-Volume 2, Book 21, Number 231:
Narrated Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As:
Allah's Apostle told me, "The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of David and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of David. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days."
18 There is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah ¹, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise. ¹ “the witness of Allah” --- i.e. through the nature of His creation, which shows plainly that it has been brought into
being by a consciously planning Power.
19 The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book ¹ dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them.² But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account. ¹ Most of the classical commentators are of the opinion that the people referred to are the followers of the Bible, or
of parts of it - i.e., the Jews and the Christians. It is, however, highly probable that this passage bears a wider import and relates to all communities which base their views on a revealed scripture, extant in a partially corrupted form, with parts of it entirely lost.
All these communities at first subscribed to the doctrine of God's oneness and held that man's self-surrender to Him (Islam in its original connotation) is the essence of all true religion. Their subsequent divergencies were an outcome of sectarian pride and mutual exclusiveness.
20 So if they dispute with thee, say: "I have submitted My whole self to Allah and so have those who follow me." And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned 1: "Do ye (also) submit yourselves?" If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah's sight are (all) His servants.
The People of the Book may be supposed to know something about the previous religious history of mankind. To them the appeal should be easy and intelligible, as all Religion is one, and it is only being renewed in Islam. But the appeal is also made to the Pagan Arabs, who are unlearned, and who can well be expected to follow the example of one of their own, who received divine enlightenment, and was able to bring new knowledge to them. A great many of both these classes did so. But the few who resisted Allah's grace, and actually threatened and persecuted those who believed, are told that Allah will look after His own.
21 As to those who deny the Signs of Allah and in defiance of right, slay the prophets,¹ and slay those who teach just dealing with mankind, announce to them a grievous chastisement. ¹ Examples of the Prophets slain were: "the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel
unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar":
Matt. xxiii. 35. Ref. Q 2:61. Again, John the Baptist (Yahya, noble, chaste, a prophet, of the goodly company of the righteous. Q. 3: 39), was bound, imprisoned, and beheaded, and his head presented to a danci ng harlot: Matt. xiv. 1-11.
22 They are those whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the Hereafter nor will they have anyone to help. 23 Hast thou not turned thy vision to those who have been given a portion of the Book?¹ They are invited to the Book of Allah, to settle their dispute, but a party of them turn back and decline (the arbitration). ²
¹ “A portion of the Book”: I conceive that Allah's revelation as a whole throughout the ages is "The Book". The Law
of Moses, and the Gospel of Jesus were portions of the Book. The Quran completes the revelation and is par excellence the Book of Allah.
² The Commentators mention a particular incident when a dispute was submitted by the Jews for arbitration to the
Holy Prophet. He appealed to the authority of their own books, but they tried to conceal and prevaricate. The general lesson is that the People of the Book should have been the first to welcome in Muhammad the living exponent of the Message of Allah as a whole, and some of them did so: but others turned away from guilty arrogance, relying on corrupted texts and doctrines forged out of their own fancies, though they were not conformable to reason and good sense. Ed: One such incident can be found in the authentic hadiths regarding stoning of a married person who had committed illicit sexual intercourse. This may or may not be the incident referred to here.
Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 79:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar:
The Jews brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from among them who had committed illegal sexual intercourse. The Prophet said to them, "How do you usually punish the one amongst you who has committed illegal sexual intercourse?" They replied, "We blacken their faces with coal and beat them," He said, "Don't you find the order of Ar-Rajm (i.e. stoning to death) in the Torah?" They replied, "We do not find anything in it." 'Abdullah bin Salam (after hearing this conversation) said to them. "You have told a lie! Bring here the Torah and recite it if you are truthful." (So the Jews brought the Torah). And the religious teacher who was teaching it to them, put his hand over the Verse of Ar-Rajm and started reading what was written above and below the place hidden with his hand, but he did not read the Verse of Ar-Rajm. 'Abdullah bin Salam removed his (i.e. the teacher's) hand from the Verse of Ar-Rajm and said, "What is this?" So when the Jews saw that Verse, they said, "This is the Verse of Ar-Rajm." So the Prophet ordered the two adulterers to be stoned to death, and they were stoned to death near the place where biers used to be placed near the Mosque. I saw her companion (i.e. the adulterer) bowing over her so as to protect her from the stones.
24 This because they say: "The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days": For their forgeries deceive them as to their own religion. 25 But how (will they fare) when we gather them together against a Day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned, without (favour or) injustice? 26 Say: "O Allah! Lord of Power (and Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low
whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all Good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power. 27 "Thou causest the night to gain on the day, and thou causest the day to gain on the night; Thou bringest the living out of the dead, and Thou bringest the dead out of the living; and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest, without measure." 28 Let not the Believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than Believers¹: if any do that, they shall have no relation left with Allah except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (to fear) Him ²; for the final goal is to Allah. ¹ The Arabic word Awliya is often incorrectly translated as friends (Awliya is the plural and its singular is Wali and
the concept is Walaah). As a result, many people are under the misconception that this verse commands Muslims to distance themselves from Non-Muslims and to avoid friendship with them. This is far from the truth, as we shall see after examining the meaning of the word Awliya. The Quran says:
3:122 ...Allah was their Wali (protector), and in Allah should the faithful (ever) put their trust.
This verse indicates that a wali is one in whom trust is placed for protection, as the Quran always declares God the protector, wali, of the righteous. As Dr. Saeed Ismail Sieny concludes his discussion on Walaah by writing:
“As we have discovered above, the root of the word "al-walaah" does not include love, support, etc., and that the core meaning rests on guardianship.” (Sieny, The Relationship Between Muslims and Non-Muslims; Toronto, Al-
Attique Publishers Inc., 2000, p. 102, emphasis added).
The correct translation of the word "wali" is not "friend" but it is someone who is very close and intimate. It is also used to mean "guardian, protector, patron, lord and master". In the Quran this word is used for God, such as :
“Allah is the Protector (or Lord and Master) of those who believe. He takes them out from the dep ths of darkness to light…” (Al- Baqarah 2: 257)
There are many other references in the Quran that give this meaning. The same word is also sometimes used in the Quran for human beings, such as
“And whosoever is killed unjustly, We have granted his next kin "wali" the authority (to seek judgment or punishment in this case)…” (Al-‘Isra' :33)
It becomes clear that the word Awliya cannot be taken as simply referring to friendship, as it contains a much more complex meaning, including dependence and guardianship.
Therefore, the referred verse does not prohibit friendship with Non-Muslims at all. Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:
“The Qur'an does not say that non-Muslims cannot be Muslims' friends, nor does it forbid Muslims to be friendly to non-Muslims. There are many non-Muslims who are good friends of Muslim individuals and the Muslim community. There are also many good Muslims who truly and sincerely observe their faith and are very friendly to many nonMuslims at the same time. Islam teaches us that we should be friendly to all people. Islam teaches us that we should deal even with our enemies with justice and fairness.”
² Bukhari-Volume 9, Book 93, Number 500:
The Prophet said, "There is none having a greater sense of Ghairah* than Allah, and for that reason He has forbidden shameful deeds and sins (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) And there is none who likes to be praised more than Allah does."
*Ghairah: A feeling of great fury and anger when one’s honour and prestige are injured or challenged.
29 Say: "Whether ye hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it all: He knows what is in the heavens, and what is on earth. And Allah has power over all things.
30 "On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done, and all the evil it has done, it will wish there were a great distance between it and its evil. But Allah cautions you (to fear) Him. And Allah is full of kindness to those that serve Him." 31 Say: "If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." 32 Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger": But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith. 33 Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of 'Imran above all people,34 Offspring, one of the other¹: And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. ¹ The Prophets in the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dispensation form one family literally. But the argument is wider.
All men of faith form one family. The names which appear in this sentence circumscribe, by implication, all the prophets mentioned in the Quran in as much as most of them were descendants of two or more of these patriarchs. The House of `Imran comprises Moses and Aaron, whose father was `Imran (the Amram of the Bible), and Aaron's descendants, the priestly caste among the Israelites - thus including John the Baptist, both of whose parents were of the same descent ( the reference, in Luke i, 5, to John's mother Elizabeth as one "of the daughters of Aaron"), as well as Jesus, whose mother Mary - a close relation of John - is spoken of elsewhere in the Quran (19:28) as a "sister of Aaron": in both cases embodying the ancient Semitic custom of linking a person's or a people's name with that of an illustrious forebear. The reference to the House of `Imran serves as an introduction to the stories of Zachariah, John, Mary, and Jesus.
35 Behold! the wife of 'Imran¹ said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service²: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things." ¹ Now we begin the story of Jesus. As a prelude we have the birth of Mary and the parallel story of John the Baptist,
Yahya the son of Zakariya. Yahya's mother Elizabeth was a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke i. 36), and therefore John and Jesus were cousins by blood, and there was a spiritual cousinhood in their birth and career. Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke i. 5), of a priestly family which went back to Aaron the brother of Moses and son of Imran. Her husband Zakariya was actually a priest, and her cousin Mary was presumably also of a priestly family. By tradition Mary's mother was called Hannah (in Latin, Anna, and in English, Anne), and her father was called Imran. Hannah is therefore both a descendant of the priestly house of Imran and the wife of Imran.
² Muharrar --- freed from all worldly affairs and specially dedicated to Allah's service. She expected a son, who
was to be a special devotee, a miraculous son of the old age of his parents, but Allah gave her instead a daughter. But that daughter was Mary the mother of Jesus, the chosen one among the women: 3:42.
36 When she was delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"- and Allah knew best what she brought forth- "And is
not the male like the female¹. I have named her Mary², and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Satan, the Rejected."³ ¹ The female child could not be devoted to Temple service under the Mosaic law, as she intended. But she was
marked out for a special destiny as a miracle-child, to be the mother of the miracle-child Jesus. She was content to seek Allah's protection for her against all evil. There is a certain sense of pride in the girl on the part of the mother.
² The Arabic name for Mary is Maryam which means
a female servant of Allah.
³ Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 71:
Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:
Abu Huraira said, "The Prophet said, 'No child is born but that, Satan touches it when it is born where upon it starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her Son." Abu Huraira then said, "Recite, if you wish: "And I seek Refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast." (3.36)
37 Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned¹. Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure." ¹ As is evident from verse 44 of this surah, the guardianship of Mary was entrusted to Zachariah - who was not only
her relative but also a priest attached to the Temple after lots had been drawn to decide which of the priests should have the responsibility for this girl who, in consequence of her mother's vow, was to be dedicated to Temple service.
38 There did Zakariya pray to his Lord, saying: "O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a progeny that is pure: for Thou art He that heareth prayer! ¹ ¹ The birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, and of Jesus, the prophet of
Israel, whom Israel rejected, occurred in that order chronologically, and are told in that order, They are all inter connected. Zakariya prayed for no ordinary son. He and his wife were past the age of parenthood. Seeing the growth of Mary, he prayed for some child from Allah,- "from Thee, a progeny that is pure". To his surprise, he is given a son in the flesh, ushered in by a special Sign.
39 While he was standing in prayer in the chamber¹, the angels called unto him: "Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya, witnessing the truth of a
Word from Allah², and (be besides) noble, chaste, and a prophet,- of the (goodly) company of the righteous." ¹Al-Mihrab – A praying place or private room. ² Notice "a Word from Allah", not "the Word of Allah", the epithet that mystical Christianity uses for Jesus. As
stated in 3: 59 below, Jesus was created by a miracle, by Allah's word "Be", and he was.
40 He said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son, seeing I am very old, and my wife is barren?" "Thus," was the answer, "Doth Allah accomplish what He willeth." 41 He said: "O my Lord! Give me a Sign!" "Thy Sign," was the answer, "Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three days but with signals¹. Then celebrate the praises of thy Lord again and again, and glorify Him in the evening and in the morning." ¹ This event of Zachariah being given a sign may be construed literally as being struck dumb as mentioned in the
Bible in Luke i, 20-22 or as interpreted by Abu Muslim (quoted with approval by Razi), according to whom Zachariah was merely enjoined not to speak to anyone during the period of three days, and not struck dumb as in the New Testament narrative: thus the "sign" was purely spiritual, and was to consist in Zachariah's utter selfabandonment to prayer and contemplation.
42 Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations. ¹ ¹ Mary the mother of Jesus was unique, in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention
of the customary physical means. This of course does not mean that she was more than human, any more than that her son was more than human. She had as much need to pray to God as anyone else. The Christian dogma, in all sects except the Unitarian, holds that Jesus is God and the son of God. The worship of Mary became the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, which calls Mary the Mother of God. This seems to have been endorsed by the Council of Ephesus in 431C.E., in the century before Muhammad was born to sweep way the corruptions of the Church.
a) Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 642:
I heard the Prophet saying, "Mary, the daughter of 'Imran, was the best among the women (of the world of her time) and Khadija is the best amongst the women (of this nation)."
b) Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 623:
Narrated Abu Musa:
Allah's Apostle said, "Many amongst men reached (the level of) perfection but none amongst the women reached this level except ‘Asia, Pharaoh's wife, and Mary, the daughter of 'Imran. And no doubt, the superiority of 'Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. a meat and bread dish) to other meals."
43 "O Mary! worship Thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down." 44 This is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which We reveal unto thee ¹(O Messenger!) by inspiration: Thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary²: Nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point).³ ¹ This parenthetic passage, addressed to the Prophet, is meant to stress the fact that the story of Mary, as narrated in
the Quran, is a direct outcome of revelation and, therefore, inherently true in spite of all the differences between this account and that given in the scriptures regarded by the Christians as authentic.
² The phrase rendered above as "they cast lots" reads literally, "they cast their reeds" - obviously a reference to an
ancient Semitic custom, perhaps similar to the divination by means of blunt arrows practiced by the pre-Islamic Arabs and comprehensively described in Lane III, 1247. The pronoun "they" relates to the priests, of whom Zachariah was one.
³ Christian apocryphal writings mention the contention between the priests as to the honor of taking charge of Mary,
and how it was decided by means of rods or reeds in favour of Zakariya.
45 Behold! the angels¹ said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ² Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah³; ¹ Some critics pose a question regarding this verse to the effect --- How many angels were talking to Mary? When
the Quran speaks about the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary, Sura 3:42,45 speaks about (several) “angels” while it is only one angel mentioned in Surah Maryam 19:17-21 which says :
“She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: "I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah." He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son. She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be):
Thy Lord saith, 'that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us':It is a matter (so) decreed."
Does that mean that the Quran is contradicting itself. Let us analyse: It must be understood that the plural used in this verse is not a plural of multiplicity but plural of respect and exaltation. This plural form of the word is used to describe only one angel, specifically, angel Gabriel. Such constructs are used in the Arabic language as a symbol of dignity and respect for that person. This is a popular Arabic grammatical construct called "al-majaz al-mursal" which falls under the subheading of Arabic grammar titled "Balaghah" and which we can not get into here since it requires a basic knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar. Suffice it to say that there are at least two quick clues to this matter which even non-Arabic speaking people can appreciate. The first one is that in the first set of verses, verses 3:46-48 say: "The angels said... Mary said... HE replied" meaning that we are speaking about an angel designated as "he" and not "they" in the same very verses themselves. Secondly, a similar construct can be found elsewhere in the Quran which can hopefully clarify this construct to nonArabic speakers. For example, in Al-Nahl (16:120) we read: "Verily Abraham was a nation obedient to Allah and he was not of the polytheists." We notice here that prophet Abraham (pbuh) is described as a "nation." Does this mean that he is literally a few hundred thousand people? No. This is a Quranic term of exaltation and elevation for Abraham above all humans such that he is higher in regard and reward with God than an entire nation of mortals. In the same manner, the status of the angel Gabriel with God is of a similar stature among the angels. There are many other similar constructs in the Arabic language, many of which are applied to angel Gabriel in more than one location in the Quran to set him apart from all other angels. These examples include special grammatical constructs as well as special titles (such as the title of "Holy Spirit"). For example, president Clinton is a Washington politician. No one doubts this fact. However, have you ever heard someone say: "President Clinton has just concluded a meeting with senior advisors and other Washington politicians"? Obviously this is a "contradiction" right? If we refer to these other men as "Washington politicians" then we can not then claim that president Clinton too is a "Washington politician." That would contradict this statement. He must be something "other than" a Washington politician, right? Obviously this is faulty logic. Such constructs are used even in the English language to "set apart" or "dignify" a given individual of special importance over a group of his peers. The fact that President Clinton was mentioned separately from the other Washington politicians is only intended to convey a special status for him over and above "run off the mill" Washington politicians. He is the "President." He is "special." This and other similar constructs are used numerous times in the Quran in reference to Angel Gabriel in order to set him apart as a very special and highly esteemed angel with God. For example, in Al-Nahl (66:4) we read: "If you both repent unto God then your
hearts have indeed heeded. But if you assist one-another against him (Muhammad, pbuh) then verily Allah is his Patron, and Gabriel, and the righteous believers, and the angels after that shall come to [his] aid."
And in Al-Baqarah (2:98): "Whosoever is an enemy to Allah, His angels, His Messengers, Gabriel, Michael, then verily, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers." Here we see angel Michael too set apart with a special status and mention. Angel Gabriel is an angel. So is angel Michael. Muslims have no doubt about that. However, Gabriel is not just any angel. He is a special angel. An angel with a special purpose, unique titles, high stature with God and the patron of the prophets. This is how God dignifies and exalts those who serve Him in truth, integrity, and sincerity. Similar to these examples, we find in the Quran that not all prophets are alike. For example, some prophets have been given distinction over others and are mentioned in isolation from the rest as a sign of exaltation for them. For example, God says in the Quran in Al-Baqarah (2:253):
"Those messengers! We preferred some of them over others. Some were those who were spoken to by God, others He raised by degrees. And unto Jesus the son of Mary We bestowed the clear proofs and assisted him with the holy Spirit (Gabriel)..."
And in Al-Israa(17:55):
"And your Lord knows best who are in the heavens and the earth. And indeed, We have preferred some of the prophets above others, and to David We gave the Psalms."
Also, in Al-Imran(3:84):
"Say: 'We believe in Allah and in that which was sent down upon us and that which was sent down upon Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob, and that which was given unto Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord...."
Does this mean that Moses, Jesus, Abraham, etc. are not "prophets"? No. This is simply the nature of the language of the Quran and one of the methods used to distinguish them above the rest. Getting back to our current example, we find that in both of the quoted verses angel Gabriel is referred to through popular Arabic constructs of respect and exaltation. In the first it is demonstrated in the use of the plural construct, in the second it is demonstrated in the use of his official title of "Holy Spirit," where we see that the verse says that "We (God) sent unto her (Mary) Our
Hence, anyone who is aware of Arabic grammar would never find a contradiction in the verses because he knows that such plural forms are plurals of respect and exaltation and not plurals of multiplicity.
Literally, "whose name shall be 'The Anointed One' (Al-Masih)". The designation Al-Masih is the Arabicized form of the Aramaic Meshiha which, in turn, is derived from the Hebrew Mahsiah, "the anointed" - a term frequently applied in the Bible to the Hebrew kings, whose accession to power used to be consecrated by a touch with holy oil taken from the Temple. This anointment appears to have been so important a rite among the Hebrews that the term "the anointed" became in the course of time more or less synonymous with "king". Its application to Jesus may have been due to the widespread conviction among his contemporaries (references to which are found in several places in the Synoptic Gospels) that he was descended in direct – and obviously legitimate - line from the royal House of David. (It is to be noted that this could not have related to his mother's side, because Mary belonged to the priestly class descending from Aaron, and thus to the tribe of Levi, while David descended from the tribe of Judah.) Whatever may have been the historical circumstances, it is evident that the honorific "the Anointed" was applied to Jesus in his own lifetime. In the Greek version of the Gospels - which is undoubtedly based on a now-lost Aramaic original – this designation is correctly translated as Christos (a noun derived from the Greek verb chriein, "to anoint").
"Nearest to Allah"-- not physically nor geographically, but spiritually. Compare this with "And (Jesus) sat on the (Mark 16:19). The bulk of Christendom has misunderstood this verse as well as many others in the Bible. In eastern languages "right hand" meant a place of honor, which the Holy Quran more fittingly describes as "Of the company of those nearest to Allah." The above verse confirms that Jesus is the Christ, and that he is the Word which God bestowed upon Mary.
right hand of God."
46 "He shall speak to the people in childhood ¹ and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous." ² ¹Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 645:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "None spoke in cradle but three: (The first was) Jesus, (the second was), there a man from Bani Israel called Juraij. While he was offering his prayers, his mother came and called him. He said (to himself), 'Shall I answer her or keep on praying?" (He went on praying) and did not answer her, his mother said, "O Allah! Do not let him die till he sees the faces of prostitutes." So while he was in his hermitage, a lady came and sought to seduce him, but he refused. So she went to a shepherd and presented herself to him to commit illegal sexual
intercourse with her and then later she gave birth to a child and claimed that it belonged to Juraij. The people, therefore, came to him and dismantled his hermitage and expelled him out of it and abused him. Juraij performed the ablution and offered prayer, and then came to the child and said, 'O child! Who is your father?' The child replied, 'The shepherd.' (After hearing this) the people said, 'We shall rebuild your hermitage of gold,' but he said, 'No, of nothing but mud.'(The third was the hero of the following story) A lady from Bani Israel was nursing her child at her breast when a handsome rider passed by her. She said, 'O Allah ! Make my child like him.' On that the child left her breast, and facing the rider said, 'O Allah! Do not make me like him.' The child then started to suck her breast again. (Abu Huraira further said, "As if I were now looking at the Prophet sucking his finger (in way of demonstration.") After a while the people passed by, with a lady slave and she (i.e. the child's mother) said, 'O Allah! Do not make my child like this (slave girl)!, On that the child left her breast and said, 'O Allah! Make me like her.' When she asked why, the child replied, 'The rider is one of the tyrants while this slave gir is falsely accused of l theft and illegal sexual intercourse."
² The ministry of Jesus lasted only about three years, from 30 to 33 years of his age, when in the eyes of his enemies
he was crucified. But the Gospel of Luke (ii. 46) describes him as disputing with the doctors in the Temple at the age of 12, and even earlier, as a child, he was "strong in spirit, filled with wisdom" (Luke ii. 40). Some apocryphal Gospels describe him as preaching from infancy.
47 She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?"¹ He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: ² When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!³ ¹
She was addressed by angel Gabriel, who gave her God's message. In reply she speaks as to God. In reply, apparently the angel gives God's message.
² In the context of the story of Mary in Al `Imran, the announcement made to her, as well as the parallel one to
Zachariah (verses 39-40 above), is meant to stress God's unlimited power of creation -specifically, in both cases, His power to create the circumstances in which His will is to manifest itself - and thus to bring about any event, however unexpected or even improbable it might seem at the time of the announcement.
³ Compare this verse with the Biblical version as stated in Luke 1:34-35 :
34"How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" 35"And the angel answered and said into her : 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee"
Note that the Biblical version gives the atheist a reason to argue --- He may go on to pose questions such as "How did the Holy Ghost come upon Mary?" "How did the Highest overshadow her?" We know that literally it does not mean that: that it was an immaculate conception, but the language used here, is distasteful. Now contrast this with the language of the Quran as stated in the above verse --- “…When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,'
and it is!”
This is the Muslim concept of the birth of Jesus. For God to create a Jesus, without a human father, He merely has to will it. If He wants to create a million Jesus' without fathers or mothers, He merely wills them into existence. He does not have to take seeds and transfer them, like men or animals by contact or artificial insemination . He wills everything into being by His word of command "Be" and "It is". This is the same concept as can be found in the very first Book of the Holy Bible, Genesis 1:3 "And God said, Let there BE light: and there WAS light" What did He say? He said "Be" and "It was". He did not have to articulate the words. This is the Muslim’s way of understanding the word "Be", that He willed everything into being.
48 "And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel, 49 "And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): " 'I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave¹: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I bring the dead to life by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe;² ¹ This miracle of the clay birds is found in some of the apocryphal Gospels; those of curing the blind and the lepers
and raising the dead are in the canonical Gospels. The original Gospel (see 3:48) was not the various stories written afterwards by disciples, but the real Message taught direct by Jesus.
² This verse emphasises the point that whenever Jesus performed a miracle, he informed the people that it was by
God’s permission. He made it clear to his followers that he was not doing the miracles by himself, in the same way that the earlier Prophets made it clear to those around them. There are also texts present in the New Testament which prove that Jesus did not act out of his own power. Jesus is quoted in John 5:30, as saying: “I can of mine own self do nothing...” and in Luke 11:20, as saying, “… I
with the finger of God cast out devils, ….”
In Acts 2:22, Paul writes: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with
mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know...”
50 " '(I have come to you), to attest the Torah which was before me¹. And to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me. ¹
There are numerous examples from the Bible where Jesus instructs his followers to obey the Divine Law as revealed in the Torah. He also declares that his purpose was not to nullify the previous laws but to fulfill them. Jesus was reported in the Gospel according to Matthew 19:16-17, to have made obedience to the divine laws the key to paradise: “16 Now behold, one came and said to him, Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have
eternal life? 17 So he said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” ( Emphasis added)
Also in Matthew 5:19, Jesus Christ was reported to have insisted on strict obedience to the commandments saying,
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ( Emphasis added)
In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus stated: “17 Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am come not
to destroy, but to fulfill (the Law).18 For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”
However, Paul, who claimed to be a disciple of Jesus, systematically cancelled the laws. In his letter to the Romans, chapter 7:6, he stated, “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” ( Emphasis added)
51 " 'It is Allah Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him¹. This is a Way that is straight.' " ¹ Similar messages from Jesus are also recorded in the New Testament as in Matthew 4:10 :
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (emphasis added)
The Quran quotes Jesus as using similar words in other places as well such as in Surah Maryam 19:36 :
“Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight”.
Such language constructs as “Allah is my Lord and your Lord” used by Jesus are also found in the Bible in John 20:17:
“…I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God.”
52 When Jesus found Unbelief on their part ¹ he said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. ² ¹
This relates to a later time, when Jesus was being opposed by the majority of his people, and particularly the Pharisees.
² The story of Jesus is told with special application to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Note the word helpers
(Ansar) in this connection, and the reference to plotters in 3:54. It was the one Religion-the Religion of Allah, which was in essence the religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The argument runs: why do ye then now make divisions and reject the living Teacher? Islam is: submitting oneself to the Will of Allah. All who have faith should submit to the Will of Allah and be Muslims.
53 "Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness." 54 And (the unbelievers) ¹ plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. ¹ Referring to those among the Jews who refused to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet and tried to destroy him. 55 Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself ¹ and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme²; I will make those who follow thee ³ superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of
Resurrection4: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.5 ¹ Read this with 4:157, where it is said that "whereas they slew him not nor they crucified him but it was made
dubious unto them". The
guilt of the Jews remained, but Jesus was eventually taken up to Allah.
² Jesus was charged by the Jews with blasphemy as claiming to be Allah or the son of Allah. The Christians (except
a few early sects which were annihilated by persecution, and the modern sect of Unitarians), adopted the substance of the claim, and made it the cornerstone of their faith. Allah clears Jesus of such a charge or claim.
³ Those who follow thee refers to those who followed Jesus in contrast to the Jews who rejected him.
The advent or descent of Jesus (pbuh) in the future:
a) Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 657:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): -- 'And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before h is death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them." (4.159)
b) Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 658:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said "How will you be when the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel (Fateh-ul Bari page 304 and 305 Vol 7)
All the controversies about dogma and faith will disappear when we appear before Allah. He will judge not by what we profess but by what we are.
56 "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with severe chastisement in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
57 "As to those who believe and work righteousness, Allah will pay them (in full) their reward; but Allah loveth not those who do wrong." 58 "This is what we rehearse unto thee of the Signs and the Message of Wisdom." 59 The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam ¹; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was. ¹ After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet, we have a repudiation of the dogma that
he was Allah, or the son of Allah, or anything more than a man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, Adam was also so born. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. Hence the argument runs that if being born without a father can elevate Jesus to the position of God, or son of God then Adam has a greater right to be God or son of God. As far as our physical bodies are concerned they are mere dust. In Allah's sight Jesus was as dust just as Adam was or humanity is. The greatness of Jesus arose from the divine command "Be": for after that he was-more than dust - a great Prophet and teacher.
60 The Truth (comes) from thy Lord alone; so be not of those who doubt. 61 If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: "Come! let us gather together,- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!" ¹ ¹
The dispute is regarding the true nature of Jesus. According to all the reliable authorities, verses 59-63 of this surah were revealed in the year of Deputations, 10th of the Hijra , on the occasion of a dispute between the Prophet and a deputation of the Christians of Najran (towards Yaman, about 150 miles north of Sanaa) who were much impressed on hearing this passage of the Quran explaining the true position of Christ but like all other Christians, maintained that Jesus was "the son of God" and, therefore, God incarnate. Although they refused the "trial through prayer" (Mubahalah) proposed to them by the Prophet as mentioned in the above verse, the latter accorded to them a treaty guaranteeing all their civic rights and the free exercise of their religion.
62 This is the true account: There is no god except Allah; and Allah-He is indeed the Exalted in Power, the Wise. 63 But if they turn back, Allah hath full knowledge of those who do mischief. 64 Say: "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other
than Allah.¹" If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will). ¹
This is a verse which urges the people of all three communities to enter into dialogue and discussion among themselves so as to agree on all the commonalities in their religions. In the abstract the People of the Book would agree to all three propositions. In practice they fail. Apart from doctrinal lapses from the unity of the One True God, there is the question of a consecrated Priesthood (among the Jews it was hereditary also), as if a mere human beingCohen, or Pope, or Priest, or Brahman, could claim superiority apart from his learning and the purity of his life, or could stand between man and Allah in some special sense. The same remarks apply to the worship of saints. They may be pure and sincere, but no one can protect us or claim Lordship over us except Allah. Abraham was a true Prophet of Allah, but he could not be called a Jew or a Christian as he lived long before the Law of Moses or the Gospel of Jesus was revealed.
Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 75:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
Abu Sufyan narrated to me personally, saying, "I set out during the Truce that had been concluded between me and Allah's Apostle. While I was in Sham, a letter sent by the Prophet was brought to Heraclius. Dihya Al-Kalbi had brought and given it to the governor of Busra, and the latter forwarded it to Heraclius. Heraclius said, 'Is there anyone from the people of this man who claims to be a prophet?' The people replied, 'Yes.' So I along with some of Quraishi men were called and we entered upon Heraclius, and we were seated in front of him. Then he said, 'Who amongst you is the nearest relative to the man who claims to be a prophet?' So they made me sit in front of him and made my companions sit behind me. Then he called upon his translator and said (to him). 'Tell them ( i.e. Abu Sufyan's companions) that I am going to ask him (i.e. Abu Sufyan) regarding that man who claims to be a prophet. So, if he tell me a lie, they should contradict him (instantly).' By Allah, had I not been afraid that my companions would consider me a liar, I would have told lies. Heraclius then said to his translator, 'Ask him: What is his (i.e. the Prophet's) family status amongst you? I said, 'He belongs to a noble family amongst us." Heraclius said, 'Was any of his ancestors a king?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Did you ever accuse him of telling lies before his saying what he has said?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Do the nobles follow him or the poor people?' I said, 'It is the poor who followed him.' He said, 'Is the number of his follower increasing or decreasing?' I said, 'The are increasing.' He said, 'Does anyone renounce his religion (i.e. Islam) after embracing it, being displeased with it?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Did you fight with him?' I replied, 'Yes.' He said, 'How was your fighting with him?' I said, 'The fighting between us was undecided and victory was shared by him and us by turns. He inflicts casualties upon us and we inflict casualties upon him.' He said, 'Did he ever betray?' I said, 'No, but now we are away from him in this truce and we do not know what he will do in it" Abu Sufyan added, "By Allah, I was not able to insert in my speech a word (against him) except that. Heraclius said, 'Did anybody else (amongst you) ever claimed the same (i.e. Islam) before him? I said, 'No.' Then Heraclius told his translator to tell me (i.e. Abu Sufyan), 'I asked you about his family status amongst you, and you told me that he comes from a noble family amongst you Verily, all Apostles come from the noblest family among their people. Then I asked you whether any of his ancestors was a king, and you denied that. Thereupon I thought that had one of his fore-fathers been a king, I would have said that he (i.e. Muhammad) was seeking to rule the kingdom of his fore-fathers. Then I asked you regarding his followers, whether they were the noble or the poor among the people, and you said that they were only the poor (who follow him). In fact, such are the followers of the Apostles. Then I asked you whether you have ever accused him of telling lies before saying what he said, and your reply was in the negative. Therefore, I took for granted that a man who did not tell a lie about others, could ever tell a lie about Allah. Then I asked you whether anyone of his followers had renounced his religion (i.e. Islam) after embracing it, being displeased with it, and you denied that. And such is Faith when it mixes with the cheerfulness of the hearts. Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing You claimed that they were increasing. That is the way of true faith till it is complete. Then I asked you whether you had ever fought with him, and you claimed that you had fought with him and the battle between you and him was undecided and the victory was shared by you and him in turns; he inflicted casual ties upon you and you inflicted casualties upon them. Such is the case with the Apostles; they are out to test and the final victory is for them. Then I asked you whether he had ever betrayed; you claimed that he had never betrayed. I need, Apostles never betray. Then I asked you whether anyone had said this statement before him; and you denied that. Thereupon I thought if somebody had said that statement before him, then I would have said that he was but a man copying some sayings said before him." Abu Safyan said, "Heraclius then asked me, 'What does he order you to do?' I said, 'He orders us (to offer) prayers and (to pay) Zakat and to keep good relationship with the Kith and
kin and to be chaste.' Then Heraclius said, 'If whatever you have said, is true, he is really a prophet, and I knew that he ( i.e. the Prophet ) was going to appear, but I never thought that he would be from amongst you. If I were certain that I can reach him, I would like to meet him and if I were with him, I would wash his feet; and his kingdom will expand (surely to what is under my feet.' Then Heraclius asked for the letter of Allah's Apostle and read it wherein was written:
"In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. This letter is from Muhammad, Apostle of Allah, to Heraclius, the sovereign of Byzantine........ Peace be upon him who follows the Right Path. Now then, I call you to embrace Islam. Embrace Islam and you will be saved (from Allah's Punishment); embrace Islam, and Allah will give you a double reward, but if you reject this, you will be responsible for the sins of all the people of your kingdom (Allah's Statement):--"O the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship None but Allah....bear witness that we are Muslims.' (3.64)
When he finished reading the letter, voices grew louder near him and there was a great hue and cry, and we were ordered to go out." Abu Sufyan added, "While coming out, I said to my companions, 'The situation of Ibn Abu Kabsha* (i.e. Muhammad) has become strong; even the king of Banu Al-Asfar is afraid of him.' So I continued to believe that Allah's Apostle would be victorious, till Allah made me embrace Islam." Az-Zuhri said, "Heraclius then invited all the chiefs of the Byzantines and had them assembled in his house and said, 'O group of Byzantines! Do you wish to have a permanent success and guidance and that your kingdom should remain with you?' (Immediately after hearing that), they rushed towards the gate like onagers, but they found them closed. Heraclius then said, 'Bring them back to me.' So he called them and said, 'I just wanted to test the strength of your adherence to your religion. Now I have observed of you that which I like.' Then the people fell in prostration before him and became pleased with him."
* Abu Kabsha was not the father of the Prophet but it was a mockery done by Abu Sufyan out of hostility against the Prophet.
65 Ye People of the Book! Why dispute ye about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel Were not revealed till after him? Have ye no understanding? 66 Ah! Ye are those who fell to disputing (even) in matters of which ye had some knowledge¹! But why dispute ye in matters of which ye have no knowledge? It is Allah Who knows, and ye who know not! ¹ The number of sects among the Jews and Christians shows that they wrangled and disputed even about some of the
matters of their own religion, of which they should have had some knowledge. But when they talk of Father Abraham, they are entirely out of court, as he lived before their peculiar systems were evolved.
67 Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was Upright, and submitted his will to Allah's (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah.
68 Without doubt, among men, the nearest of kin to Abraham, are those who follow him, as are also this Prophet and those who believe: And Allah is the Protector of those who have faith. 69 It is the wish of a section of the People of the Book to lead you astray. But they shall lead astray (not you), but themselves, and they do not perceive! 70 Ye People of the Book! Why reject ye the Signs of Allah, of which ye are (yourselves) witnesses¹? ¹
According to majority of the scholars this is an allusion to the Biblical prophecies relating to the coming of the Prophet Muhammad.
71 Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge? 72 A section of the People of the Book say: "Believe in the morning what is revealed to the Believers, but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back¹; ¹ The Arabic word Wajh here has the sense of "beginning", early part. The cynics who plotted against Islam actually
asked their accomplies to join the believers and then repudiate them.
73 "And believe no one unless he follows your religion." Say: "True guidance is the guidance of Allah: (Fear ye) lest a revelation be sent to someone (else) like unto that which was sent unto you? or that those (receiving such revelation) should engage you in argument before your Lord? ¹" Say: "All bounties are in the hand of Allah: He granteth them to whom He pleaseth: And Allah careth for all, and He knoweth all things." ¹ The People of the Book were doubly annoyed at the Muslims: (1) that they should (being outside their ranks)
receive Allah's revelations, and (2) that having received such revelations, they should be able to convict them out of their own scriptures before their Lord.
74 For His Mercy He specially chooseth whom He pleaseth; for Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded. 75 Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold¹, will (readily) pay it back; others, who, if entrusted with a single
silver coin², will not repay it unless thou constantly stoodest demanding, because, they say, "there is no way over us as to the unlettered people,"³ But they tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it. ¹ “ Hoard of gold”: qintar: a talent of 1,200 ounces of gold. ² “Silver coin”: dinar. In the later Roman Empire, the denarius was a small silver coin. It must have been current in
Syria and the markets of Arabia in the time of the Prophet. It was the coin whose name is translated in the English Bible by the word penny. Matt. xxii, 19: hence the abbreviation of penny is d (= denarius) . The later Arabian coin dinar coined by the Umaiyads, was a gold coin after the pattern of the Byzantine (Roman) denarius aureus and weighed about 66349 grains troy, just a little more than a half-sovereign.
³ Every race imbued with race arrogance resorts to this kind of moral or religious subterfuge. Even if its members
are usually honest or just among themselves, they are contemptuous of those outside their circle, and cheat and deceive them without any qualms of conscience. They falsely claim that God Himself has exempted them from all moral responsibility towards non-Jews, knowing well that their own scriptures provide no basis whatsoever for such a claim. This is a "lie against Allah."
76 Nay.- Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright,-verily Allah loves those who act aright. 77 As for those who sell the faith they owe to Allah and their own solemn plighted word for a small price, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter: Nor will Allah (deign to) speak to them or look at them on the Day of Judgment, nor will He cleanse them (of sin): They shall have a grievous chastisement. ¹ ¹ a) Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 73:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abu Aufa:
A man displayed some merchandise in the market and took an oath that he had been offered a certain price for it while in fact he had not, in order to cheat a man from the Muslims. So then was revealed:--"Verily! Those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's Covenant and their oaths..."(3.77)
b) Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 72:
Narrated Abu Wail:
'Abdullah bin Masud said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'Whoever takes an oath when asked to do so, in which he may deprive a Muslim of his property unlawfully, will meet Allah Who will be angry with him.' So Allah revealed in confirmation of this statement:--"Verily! Those who Purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's Covenant and oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter..." (3.77) Then entered Al-Ash'ath bin Qais and said, "What is Abu 'Abdur-Rahman narrating to you?" We replied, 'So-and-so." Al-Ash'ath said, "This Verse was revealed in my connection. I had a well in the land of my cousin (and he denied my, possessing it). On that the Prophet said to me, 'Either you bring forward a proof or he (i.e. your cousin) takes an oath (to confirm his claim)' I said, 'I am sure he would take a (false) oath, O Allah's Apostle.' He said, 'If somebody takes an oath when asked to do so through which he may deprive a Muslim of his property (unlawfully) and he is a liar in his oath, he will meet Allah Who will be angry with him.' "
78 There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) so that you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from Allah," but it is not from Allah: It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!¹ ¹ Most of the commentators assume that this refers specifically to the Jews, whom the Quran frequently accuses of
having deliberately corrupted the Old Testament. However, since the next two verses clearly relate to Jesus and to the false beliefs of the Christians regarding his nature and mission, we must conclude that both Jews and Christians are referred to in this passage.
79 It is not (possible) that a man, to whom is given the Book, and Wisdom, and the Prophetic Office, should say to people: "Be ye my worshippers rather than Allah's":¹ On the contrary (he would say) "Be ye worshippers of Him (Who is truly the Cherisher of all): For ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly."
¹ It is not in reason or in the nature of things that Allah's messenger should preach against Allah. Jesus came to
preach and convey the true message of Allah.
80 Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and patrons¹. What! would he bid you to unbelief after ye have bowed your will (to Allah in Islam)?
¹ That is, to attribute divine or semi-divine powers to them: a categorical rejection of the adoration of saints and
Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 55, Number 654:
I heard the Prophet saying, "Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle."
81 Behold! Allah took the covenant of the prophets¹, saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you a Messenger, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help." Allah said: "Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses."²
¹ Zamakhshari holds that what is meant here is a pledge taken from the community as a whole: a covenant
consisting in their acceptance of the messages conveyed through the prophets.
² Refer 2:63. and its commentary. The argument is: You (People of the Book) are bound by your own oaths, sworn
solemnly in the presence of your own Prophets. In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in Deut. xviii. 18: and the rise of the Arab nation in Isaiah. xlii. 11. for Kedar was a son of Ismail and the name is used for the Arab nation: in the New Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John. xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7: the future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present, helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated "Comforter" is "Paracletos", which is an easy corruption from "Periclytos", which is almost a literal translation of "Muhammad" or "Ahmad": see Q lxi. 6. Further, there were other Gospels that have perished, but of which traces still remain, which were even more specific in their reference to Muhammad; e.g., the Gospel of St. Barnabas, of which an Italian translation is extant in the State Library at Vienna. It was edited in 1907 with an English translation by Mr. Lonsdale and Laura Ragg.
82 If any turn back after this, they are perverted transgressors. 83 Do they seek for other than the Religion of Allah?-while all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, willing or unwilling, bowed to His Will (Accepted Islam), and to Him shall they all be brought back. 84 Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)."
85 If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him;¹ and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.
¹ The Muslim position is clear. The Muslim does not claim to have a religion peculiar to himself. Islam is not a sect
or an ethnic religion. In its view all Religion is one, for the Truth is one. It was the religion preached by all the earlier Prophets. It was the truth taught by all the inspired Books. In essence it amounts to a consciousness of the Will and Plan of Allah and a joyful submission to that Will and Plan. If any one wants a religion other than that, he is false to his own nature, as he is false to Allah's Will and Plan. Such a one cannot expect guidance, for he has deliberately renounced guidance.
86 How shall Allah Guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? ¹ But Allah guides not a people unjust.
¹ The people referred to are the Jews and the Christians. Their acceptance of the Bible, which predicts the coming of
the Prophet Muhammad, has made them "witnesses" to the truth of his prophethood. See also verses 70 and 81 above.
87 Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of Allah, of His angels, and of all mankind;88 In that will they dwell; nor will their punishment be lightened, nor respite be (their lot);89 Except for those that repent (even) after that, and make amends; for verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 90 But those who reject Faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith,- never will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have gone astray. 91 As to those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom.¹ For such is (in store) a chastisement grievous, and they will find no helpers.
¹ Bukhari-Volume 8, Book 76, Number 546:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Allah's Prophet used to say, "A disbeliever will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and will be asked. "Suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth, would you offer it to ransom yourself?" He will reply, "Yes." Then it will be said to him, "You were asked for something easier than that (to join none in worship with Allah (i.e. to accept Islam, but you refused)."
92 By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, of a truth Allah knoweth it well. ¹
¹ The test of charity is: do you give something that you value greatly, something that you love? If you give your life
in a Cause, that is the greatest gift you can give. If you give yourself, that is, your personal efforts, your talents, your skill, your learning, that comes next in degree. If you give your earnings, your property, your possessions, that is also a great gift; for many people love them even more than other things. And there are less tangible things, such as position, reputation, the well-being of those we love, the regard of those who can help us, etc. It is unselfishness that Allah demands, and there is no act of unselfishness, however small or intangible, but is well within the knowledge of Allah.
93 All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Israel made unlawful for itself, before the Torah was revealed¹. Say: "Bring ye the Torah and study it, if ye be men of truth."
¹ Up to this point, most of this surah dealt with the divine origin of the Quran and was meant to establish the true
nature of the mission entrusted to the Prophet - namely, his call to an acknowledgement of God's oneness and uniqueness. Now, verses 93-97 are devoted to a refutation of two objections on the part of the Jews to what they consider to be an infringement, by the Quran, of Biblical laws, in spite of the oft-repeated Quranic claim that this revelation confirms the truth inherent in the teachings of the earlier prophets. These two objections relate to (a) the Quranic annulment of certain dietary injunctions and prohibitions laid down in the Torah --- For example, the Arabs ate the flesh of the camel, which is lawful in Islam, but it was prohibited by the Jewish Law of Moses (Leviticus xi. 4) --- and (b) the alleged "substitution" of Mecca for Jerusalem as the direction of prayer (qiblah)- see 2:116. In order to answer the objection relating to Jewish food laws, the Quran calls to mind that originally all wholesome foods were lawful to the children of Israel, and that the severe restrictions subsequently imposed upon them in the Torah were but a punishment for their sins --- because of the "hardness of heart" of Israel, because of Israel's insolence and iniquity (Q. 6: 146) --- and were, therefore, never intended for a community that truly surrenders itself to God. For an answer to the second objection, see verse 96.
94 If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to Allah¹, they are indeed unjust wrong-doers.
¹ This is a reference to the unwarranted Jewish belief that the Mosaic food restrictions were an eternal law decreed
by God. As against this claim, the Quran stresses that no food restrictions had been imposed before the time of Moses and, secondly, that the restrictions arising from the Mosaic Law were imposed on the children of Israel alone. To claim that they represent an eternal divine law is described here as "inventing lies about God".
95 Say: "Allah speaketh the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans." ¹
¹ The greater freedom of Islam in the matter of the ceremonial law, compared with the Mosaic Law, is not a
reproach but a recommendation. We go back to an older source than Judaism,-the institutions of Abraham. By common consent his Faith was sound, and he was certainly not a Pagan, a term contemptuously applied to the Arabs by the Jews.
96 The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka¹: Full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings:
¹ Bakka: All authorities agree that this name is synonymous with Mecca (which, correctly transliterated, is spelt
Makkah). Various etymologies have been suggested for this very ancient designation; but the most plausible explanation is given by Zamakhshari (and supported by Razi): in some old Arabic dialects the labial consonants b and m, being phonetically close to one another, are occasionally interchangeable. The mention, in this context, of the Temple in Mecca - that is, the Kaaba - arises from the fact that it is the direction of prayer (qiblah) stipulated in the Quran. Since the prototype of the Kaaba was built by Abraham and Ishmael (see 2:125 ) - and is, therefore, much older than the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem - its establishment as the qiblah of the followers of the Quran does not only not imply any break with the Abrahamic tradition (on which, ultimately, the whole Bible rests), but, on the contrary, re-establishes the direct contact with that Patriarch: and herein lies the answer to the second of the two Jewish objections mentioned in verse 93 above.
97 In it are Signs Manifest¹; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.
¹ “ Signs manifest”--- Such as the messages relating to God's oneness and uniqueness (symbolized by the Kaaba), to
the continuity of mankind's religious experience ("the first Temple set up for mankind") and, finally, to the brotherhood of all believers (who, wherever they may be, turn their faces in prayer towards this one focal point).
98 Say: "O People of the Book! Why reject ye the Signs of Allah, when Allah is Himself witness to all ye do?" 99 Say: "O ye People of the Book! Why obstruct ye those who believe, from the path of Allah, Seeking to make it crooked, while ye were yourselves witnesses (to Allah's Covenant)? but Allah is not unmindful of all that ye do." 100 O ye who believe! If ye listen to a faction among the People of the Book, they would (indeed) render you apostates after ye have believed! 101 And how would ye deny Faith while unto you are rehearsed the Signs of Allah, and among you lives the Messenger? Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown a way that is straight.
102 O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam. 103 And hold fast, all together, by the Rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves¹; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren²; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it³. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.
¹ The simile is that of people struggling in deep water, to whom a benevolent Providence stretches out a strong and
unbreakable rope of rescue. If all hold fast to it together, their mutual support adds to the chance of their safety.
² Yathrib was torn with civil and tribal feuds and dissensions before the Messenger of Allah set his feet on its soil.
After that, it became the City of the Prophet, Madinah, and unmatched Brotherhood, and the pivot of Islam.
³ "pit of fire" - a metaphor of the sufferings which are the inescapable consequence of spiritual ignorance.
104 Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. ¹
¹ According to some scholars, the people referred to in this verse are those who invite people to Islam --- those who
do Da’wah (invitation to the Truth). Hence, the Quran enjoins upon every Muslim the duty to spread the Lord’s message.
105 Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs¹: For them is a dreadful chastisement,¹ That is, like the followers of the Bible, who became "Jews" and "Christians" in spite of the fact that their beliefs
have a common source and are based on the same spiritual truths (see also 6:159 and the corresponding note).
106 On the Day when some faces will be (lit up with) white, and some faces will be (in the gloom of) black: To those whose faces will be black, (will be said): "Did ye reject Faith after accepting it? Taste then the chastisement for rejecting Faith." 107 But those whose faces will be (lit with) white,- they will be in (the light of) Allah's mercy: therein to dwell (for ever).
108 These are the Signs of Allah: We rehearse them to thee in Truth: And Allah means no injustice to any of His creatures. 109 To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth: To Allah do all matters return. 110 Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.¹
¹ The logical conclusion to a Universal Religion is a non-sectarian, non-racial, non-doctrinal, religion, which Islam
claims to be. For Islam is just submission to the Will of Allah. This implies (1) Faith, (2) doing right, being an example to others to do right, and having the power to see that the right prevails, (3) eschewing wrong, being an example to others to eschew wrong, and having the power to see that wrong and injustice are defeated. Islam therefore lives, not for itself, but for- mankind. The People of the Book, if only they had faith, would be Muslims, for they have been prepared for Islam. Unfortunately there is Unfaith, but it can never harm those who carry the banner of Faith and Right, which must always be victorious.
111 They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; if they come out to fight you, they will show you their backs, and no help shall they get.¹
¹ As is obvious from the opening sentence of verse 110, this promise to the followers of the Quran is conditional
upon their being, or remaining, a community of people who "enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah"; and - as history has shown -this promise is bound to lapse whenever the Muslims fail to live up to their faith.
112 Shame is pitched over them (Like a tent)¹ wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah and from men; they draw on themselves wrath from Allah, and pitched over them is (the tent of) destitution. This because they rejected the Signs of Allah, and slew the Prophets in defiance of right; this because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds. ²
¹ Dhuribat. I think there is a simile from the pitching of a tent. Ordinarily a man's tent is a place of tranquillity and
honour for him. The tent of the wicked wherever they are found is ignominy, shame, and humiliation. It is pity from Allah or from men that gives them protection when their pride has a fall. Using the same simile of tent in another way, their home will be destitution and misery.
² The above passage - as the very similar one in 2: 61 - relates specifically to the children of Israel, although this
section as a whole (verses 110-115) obviously refers to the followers of the Bible in general, that is, to both the Jews and the Christians.
113 Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration.¹
¹ In Islam we respect sincere faith and true righteousness in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. This verse,
according to Commentators, refers to those of the People of the Book who eventually embraced Islam.
114 They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous. 115 Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right. 116 Those who reject Faith,- neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah: They will be Companions of the Fire,-dwelling therein (for ever). 117 What they spend in the life of this (material) world may be likened to a wind which brings a nipping frost: It strikes and destroys the harvest of men who have wronged their own souls: it is not Allah that hath wronged them, but they wrong themselves.¹
¹ In a marginal note connected with hit commentary on this verse, Zamakhshari explains this parable thus: "If the
'harvest' [i.e., the gainful achievement] of those who deny the truth is lost, it is lost in its entirety, with nothing remaining to them in this world and in the life to come; while, on the other hand, the 'harvest' of a believer is never lost in its entirety: for even if it is seemingly lost, there remains to him the expectation of a reward, in the life to come, for his patience in adversity. " In other words, the above Quranic phrase is meant to stress the completeness of loss of all efforts in the case of those who are bent on denying the truth.
118 O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks:¹ They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire for you to suffer: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom.
¹ Some of the commentators incline to the view that this expression comprises all non-Muslims: but this view
obviously conflicts with 60:8-9, where the believers are expressly allowed to form friendships with such of the nonbelievers as are not hostile to them and to their faith. Moreover, the sequence makes it clear that by "those outside your ranks" are meant only people whose enmity to Islam and its followers has become apparent from their behaviour and their utterances (Tabari). The rendering adopted here, " those outside your ranks ", implies that their outlook on life is so fundamentally opposed to that of the Muslims that genuine friendship is entirely out of the question.
119 Ah! ye are those who love them, but they love you not,- though ye believe in the whole of the Book.¹ When they meet you, they say, "We believe": But when they are alone, they bite off the very tips of their fingers at you in their rage. Say: "Perish in you rage; Allah knoweth well all the secrets of the heart."
¹ That is, including the revelation of the Bible --- Islam gives you the complete revelation, "the whole of the Book,"
though partial revelations have come in all ages.
120. If aught that is good befalls you, it grieves them; but if some misfortune overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if ye are patient and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you; for Allah Compasseth round about all that they do. 121 (Remember that morning) Thou didst leave thy household (early) to post the faithful at their stations for battle¹: And Allah heareth and knoweth all things:
¹ This reference to the battle of Uhud, to which many verses of this surah are devoted, connects with the exhortation
implied in the preceding verse, "if ye are patient and do right, not the least harm will their cunning do to you". Since this and the subsequent references cannot be fully understood without a knowledge of the historical background, a brief account of the battle would seem to be indicated. In order to avenge their catastrophic defeat at Badr in the second year after the hijrah, the pagan Meccans supported by several tribes hostile to the Muslims - mustered in the following year an army comprising ten thousand men under the command of Abu Sufyan and marched against Medina. On hearing of their approach, in the month of Shawwal 3 H., the Prophet held a council of war at which the tactics to be adopted were discussed. In view of the overwhelming cavalry forces at the disposal of the enemy, the Prophet himself was of the opinion that the Muslims should give battle from behind the fortifications of Medina and, if need be, fight in its narrow streets and lanes; and his plan was supported by some of the most outstanding among his Companions. However, the majority of the Muslim leaders who participated in the council strongly insisted on going forth and meeting the enemy in the open field. In obedience to the Quranic principle that all communal affairs must be transacted on the basis of mutuallyagreed decisions (see verse 159 of this surah, as well as 42:38), the Prophet sorrowfully gave way to the will of the majority and set out with his followers towards the plain below the mountain of Uhud, a little over three miles from Medina. Early in the morning, on the 7th of Shawwal, A.H. 3 (January, 625), he made his dispositions for battle. His army consisted of less than one thousand men; but on the way to Mount Uhud this number was still further reduced by the defection of some three hundred men led by the hypocritical `Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, who pretended to be convinced that the Muslims did not really intend to fight. Shortly before the battle, two other groups from among the Prophet's forces - namely, the clans of Banu Salamah (of the tribe of Al-Aws) and Banu Harithah (of the tribe of Khazraj) almost lost heart and were about to join the defectors (3:122) on the plea that because of their numerical weakness the Muslims must now avoid giving battle; but at the last moment they decided to follow the Prophet. Having less than seven hundred men with him, the Prophet arrayed the bulk of his forces with their backs to the mountain and posted all his archers - numbering fifty - on a nearby hill in order to provide cover against an outflanking manoeuvre by the enemy cavalry; these archers were ordered not to leave their post under any circumstances. In their subsequent, death-defying assault upon the greatly superior forces of the pagan Quraysh, the Muslims gained a
decisive advantage over the former and almost routed them. At that moment, however, most of the archers, believing that the battle had been won and fearing lest they lose their share of the spoils, abandoned their covering position and joined the melee around the encampment of the Quraysh. Seizing this opportunity, the bulk of the Meccan cavalry under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid (who shortly after this battle embraced Islam and later became one of the greatest Muslim generals of all times) veered round in a wide arc and attacked the Muslim forces from the rear. Deprived of the cover of the archers, and caught between two fires, the Muslims retreated in disorder, with the loss of many lives. The Prophet himself and a handful of his most stalwart Companions defended themselves desperately; the Prophet himself was seriously wounded in his head and face, one of his front teeth was broken and he fell to the ground. The cry immediately arose, "The Apostle of God has been killed!" Many of the Muslims began to flee; some among them were even prepared to throw themselves upon the mercy of the enemy. But a few of the Companions - among them `Umar ibn al-Khattab and Talhah - called out, "What good are your lives without him, O believers? Let us die as he has died!" - and threw themselves with the strength of despair against the Meccans. Their example at once found an echo among the rest of the Muslims, who in the meantime had learnt that the Prophet was alive: they rallied and counter-attacked the enemy, and thus saved the day. But the Muslims were now too exhausted to exploit their chances of victory, and the battle ended in a draw, with the enemy retreating in the direction of Mecca. In the next day the Prophet started in pursuit of them at the head of seventy of his Companions. But when the Muslims reached the place called Hamra' al-Asad, about eight miles south of Medina, it became obvious that the Meccans were in no mood to risk another encounter and were rapidly marching home; and thereupon the tiny Muslim army returned to Medina.
122 Remember two of your parties meditated cowardice¹; but Allah was their protector, and in Allah should the faithful (ever) put their trust.
¹ The two parties wavering in their minds were the clans of Banu Salamah and Banu Harithah, who had almost
joined the deserters led by `Abd Allah ibn Ubayy (see preceding note).
123 Allah had helped you at Badr, when ye were helpless¹; then fear Allah; thus may ye show your gratitude.
¹ A reference to the battle of Badr, in 2 H., which is dealt with extensively in surah 8.
124 Remember thou saidst to the Faithful: "Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand angels (specially) sent down? 125 "Yea, - if ye remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels clearly marked. 126 Allah made it but a message of hope for you, and an assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help except from Allah. The Exalted, the Wise: 127 That He might cut off a fringe of the Unbelievers or expose them to infamy, and they should then be turned back, frustrated of their purpose.
128 Not for thee, (but for Allah), is the decision: Whether He turn in mercy to them, or punish them; for they are indeed wrong-doers. 129 To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth; but Allah is OftForgiving, Most Merciful.¹
¹ As recorded in several authentic Traditions, the Prophet invoked, during the battle of Uhud, God's curse upon the
leaders of the pagan Quraysh (Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal); and when he lay on the ground severely injured, he exclaimed, "How could those people prosper after having done this to their prophet, who but invites them to [acknowledge] their Sustainer?" - whereupon the above two verses were revealed (Muslim and Ibn Hanbal).
Muslim-Book 019, Number 4417:
It has been narrated on the authority of Anas that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had his front teeth damaged on the day of the Battle of Uhud, and got a wound on his head. He was wiping the blood (from his face) and was saying: How will these people attain salvation who have wounded their Prophet and broken his tooth while he called them towards God? At this time, God, the Exalted and Glorious, revealed the Verse:"Thou hast no authority…" (3:128).
130 O ye who believe! Devour not usury,¹ doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper.
¹ Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 51, Number 28:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Avoid the seven great destructive sins." The people enquire, "O Allah's Apostle! What are they? "He said, "To join others in worship along with Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause, (according to Islamic law), to eat up Riba (usury), to eat up an orphan's wealth, to give back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and to accuse, chaste women, who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers.
131 And fear the Fire, which is prepared for those who reject Faith: 132 And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. 133 Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,134 Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity¹; who restrain anger,² and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;-
¹ Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 52, Number 141:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Charity is obligatory everyday on every joint of a human being. If one helps a person in matters concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it, all this will be regarded charity. A good word, and every step one takes to offer the compulsory Congregational prayer, is regarded as charity; and guiding somebody on the road is regarded as charity."
² Bukhari-Volume 8, Book 73, Number 135:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger."
135 And those who, having done an act of indecency, or wronged their own souls, remember Allah, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah? ¹- and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done.
¹ Bukhari-Volume 8, Book 75, Number 318:
Narrated Shaddad bin Aus:
The Prophet said "The most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is: 'Allahumma anta Rabbi la ilaha illa anta, Anta Khalaqtani wa ana abduka, wa ana 'ala ahdika wa wa'dika mastata'tu, A'udhu bika min Sharri ma sana'tu, abu'u Laka bini'matika 'alaiya, wa Abu Laka bidhanbi faghfirli innahu la yaghfiru adhdhunuba illa anta."* The Prophet added. "If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise."
* O Allah, You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave,
and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise (to You) as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.
136 For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,- an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)! 137 There have been examples¹ that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth.
¹ The word Sunnah (of which sunan is the plural) denotes a "way of life" or "conduct" (hence its application, in
Islamic terminology, to the way of life of the Prophet as an example for his followers). In the above passage, the term sunan refers to the "conditions (ahwal) characteristic of past centuries" (Razi), in which, despite all the continuous changes, an ever-recurring pattern can be discerned: a typically Quranic reference to the possibility, and necessity, of learning from man's past experiences. This verse refers to the different ways by which the ancient people like Ad, Thamud, the people of the Prophet Nuh were treated because of their arrogance, disobedience and rejection of faith.
138 Here is a plain statement to men, a guidance and instruction to those who fear Allah! 139 So lose not heart, nor fall into despair ¹: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith.
¹ A reference to the near-disaster at Uhud and the heavy loss of lives (about seventy men) which the Muslims had
140 If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others.¹ Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns:² that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth).³ And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.
¹ These general considerations apply in particular to the disaster at Uhud. The point is, in a fight for truth, if you are
hurt, be sure the adversary has suffered hurt also', the more so as he has no faith to sustain him. Moreover, in a more general context, we may interpret wounds as misfortunes, so that the sentence implies --- “If misfortune touches
you, [know that] similar misfortune has touched [other] people as well”.
² Success or failure in this world comes to all at varying times: we must not grumble, as we do not see the whole of
Allah's Plan. This is God’s way of testing his people as to which of them have faith in Him even in times of adversity.
³ That is, "His decision to let some of you die as martyrs in His cause is not due to love of the sinful enemies who
oppose you, but to His love for you." The term Shahada' (pl. of shahid) denotes "witnesses" as well as "martyrs". The rendering adopted here comprises both the concepts of "bearing witness to the truth" and of "martyrdom" in God's cause.
141 Allah's object also is to purge¹ those that are true in Faith and to deprive of blessing those that resist Faith.
¹ The purge or purification was in two senses. (1) It cleared out the Hypocrites from the ranks of the Muslim
warriors. (2) The testing-time strengthened the faith of the weak and wavering: for suffering has its own mission in life. The Prophet's example- wounded but staunch, and firmer than ever-put new life into the Community.
142 Did ye think that ye would enter Heaven without Allah testing those of you who fought hard (In His Cause) and remained steadfast? 143 Ye did indeed wish for death before ye encountered it: Now ye have seen it with your own eyes, (And ye flinch!)¹
¹ In Zamakhshari's opinion, this is a twofold reproach addressed to the majority of the Companions who took part in
the battle of Uhud: firstly, on account of their insistence, against the Prophet's advice, on giving battle to the enemy in the open field and thereby unnecessarily courting a deadly danger (see note on v.121); and, secondly, on account of their failure to live up to their faith during the earlier part of the battle. This passage may have yet another, more positive implication: namely, a reference to the lesson which the believers should draw from their near-defeat, and a reminder of the fact that their future depends on the strength of their faith in God (see verse 139 above) and not on a fleeting desire for self-sacrifice.
144 Muhammad is no more than a Messenger: many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? ¹ If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.
¹ This stress on the mortality of the Prophet - and that of all the other prophets who preceded him in time - connects,
in the first instance, with the battle of Uhud and the rumour of his death, which caused many Muslims to abandon the fight and even brought some of them close to apostasy (Tabari; see also note to verse 121 above). In its wider implication, however, the above verse re-states the fundamental Islamic doctrine that adoration is due to God alone, and that no human being - not even a prophet - may have any share in it. It was this very passage of the Qur'an which Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, recited immediately after the Prophet's death, when many faint-hearted Muslims thought that Islam itself had come to an end; but as soon as Abu Bakr added, "Behold, whoever has worshipped
Muhammad may know that Muhammad has died; but whoever worships God may know that God is ever-living, and never dies" (Bukhari), all confusion was stilled. - The expression "turning back on one's heels" denotes - according
to circumstances - either actual apostasy or a deliberate withdrawal from efforts in the cause of God.
145 Nor can a soul die except by Allah's leave, the term being fixed as by writing. If any do desire a reward in this life, We shall give it to him; and if any do desire a reward in the Hereafter, We shall give it to him. And swiftly shall We reward those that (serve us with) gratitude. 146 How many of the Prophets fought (in Allah's way), and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? but they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And Allah Loves those who are firm and steadfast. 147 All that they said was: "Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and anything We may have done that transgressed our duty: Establish our feet firmly, and help us against those that resist Faith." 148 And Allah gave them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. For Allah Loveth those who do good. 149 O ye who believe! If ye obey the Unbelievers, they will drive you back on your heels, and ye will turn back (from Faith) to your own loss. 150 Nay, Allah is your protector, and He is the best of helpers. 151 Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers! 152 Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when ye with His permission Were about to annihilate your enemy,-until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet.¹ Among you are some that hanker after
this world and some that desire the Hereafter.² Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you but He forgave you: For Allah is full of grace to those who believe.
¹ The order was: not to leave the post and strictly to maintain discipline. Uhud was in the beginning a victory for the
Muslims. Many of the enemy were slain, and they were retiring when a part of the Muslims, against orders, ran in pursuit, attracted by the prospects of booty. See note to 3: 121.
² Out of the fifty Muslim archers less than ten remained at their post, and were killed by Khalid's cavalry. It is to
them, as well as the few Companions who went on fighting after the bulk of the Muslims had fled, that the second part of the above sentence refers.
153 Behold! ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at any one, and the Messenger in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you.¹ For Allah is well aware of all that ye do.
¹ It would seem that a party of horsemen led by the dashing Khalid ibn Al-walid came through the gap in the passes
where the Muslim archers should have been, and in the confusion that arose, the retreating foe rallied and turned back on the Muslims. From the low ground on the bank of the valley the Muslims retreated in their turn and tried to gain the hill. They had a double loss: (1) they were baulked of the booty they had run after, and (2) their own lives and the lives of their whole army were in danger, and many lives were actually lost from their ranks. Their own lives being in danger, they had hardly time to grieve for the general calamity. But it steadied them, and some of them stood the test.
154 After (the excitement) of the distress, He sent down calm on a band of you overcome with slumber¹, while another band was stirred to anxiety by their own feelings, moved by wrong suspicions of Allah - suspicions due to ignorance. They said: "Have we any hand in the affair?"2 Say thou: "Indeed, this affair is wholly Allah's." 3 They hide in their minds what they dare not reveal to thee. They say (to themselves): "If we had had anything to do with this affair, We should not have been in the slaughter here." Say: "Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death"; but (all this was) that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts.4 For Allah knoweth well the secrets of your hearts.
¹ After the first surprise, when the enemy turned on them, a great part of the Muslims did their best, and seeing their
mettle, the enemy withdrew to his camp. There was a lull; the wounded had rest; those who had fought the hard fight were visited by kindly Sleep, sweet Nature's nurse. In contrast to them was the band of Hypocrites, whose behaviour is described in the next note.
Implying --- "Did we, then, have any power of decision [in this matter of victory or defeat]?". The "suspicions due to ignorance" is obviously an allusion to the initial reluctance of those faint-hearted people to admit their moral
responsibility for what had happened, and to their excusing themselves by saying that their failure to live up to their faith had been "predestined". The Hypocrites withdrew from the fighting. Their distress was caused by their own mental state: the sleep of the just was denied them: and they continued to murmur of what might have been.
That is --- “It is for God alone to apportion actual success or failure to whomever He wills”
The Arabic word Yumahhis has three meanings: (1) To test, (2) To purify, (3) To get rid of: (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi). That testing by Allah is not in order that it may add to His knowledge, for He knows all. It is in order to help us subjectively, to mould our will, and purge us of any grosser motives, that will be searched out by calamity.
155 Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met,-it was Satan who caused them to fail, because of some (evil) they had done. ¹ But Allah Has blotted out (their fault): For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing. 2
¹ This is an illustration of a significant Quranic doctrine, which can be thus summarized: "Satan's influence" on man
is not the primary cause of sin but its first consequence: that is to say, a consequence of a person's own attitude of mind which in moments of moral crisis induces him to choose the easier, and seemingly more pleasant, of the alternatives open to him, and thus to become guilty of a sin, whether by commission or omission. Thus, God's "causing" a person to commit a sin is conditional upon the existence, in the individual concerned, of an attitude of mind which makes him prone to commit such a sin: which, in its turn, presupposes man's free will - that is, the ability to make, within cerrtain limitations, a conscious choice between two or more possible courses of action.
It was the duty of all who were able to fight, to fight in the sacred cause at Uhud. But a small section were timid; they were not quite as bad as those who railed against Allah, or those who thoughtlessly disobeyed orders. But they still failed in their duty. It is our inner motives that Allah regards. These timorous people were forgiven by Allah. Perhaps they were given another chance: perhaps they rose to it and did their duty then.
156 O ye who believe! Be not like the Unbelievers, who say of their brethren, when they are travelling through the earth or engaged in fighting: "If they had stayed with us, they would not have died, or been slain." This that Allah may make it a cause of sighs and regrets in their hearts. It is Allah that gives Life and Death, and Allah sees well all that ye do. 157 And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.1
Notice a beautiful little literary touch here. At first sight you would expect the second person here ("you could amass"), to match the second person in the earlier clause. But remember that the second person in earlier clause refers to the man of faith, and the third person in the last line refers to the Unbelievers; as if it said: "Of course you as a man of faith would not be for hoarding riches: your wealth,-duty and the mercy of Allah,-is far more precious than anything the Unbelievers can amass in their selfish lives. "
158 And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together. 159 It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them.¹ Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).²
¹ "with them"- i.e., with those of his followers who had failed in their duty before and during the disaster at Uhud.
According to all available accounts, the Prophet did not even reproach any of them for what they had done.
² This injunction, implying government by consent and council, must be regarded as one of the fundamental clauses
of all Quranic legislation relating to statecraft. The pronoun "them" relates to the believers, that is, to the whole community; while the word al-amr occurring in this context - as well as in the much earlier-revealed phrase amruhum shura baynahum in 42: 38 - denotes all affairs of public concern, including state administration. All authorities agree in that the above ordinance, although addressed in the first instance to the Prophet, is binding on all Muslims and for all times. Some Muslim scholars conclude from the wording of this ordinance that the leader of the community, although obliged to take counsel, is nevertheless free to accept or to reject it; but the arbitrariness of this conclusion becomes obvious as soon as we recall that even the Prophet considered himself bound by the decisions of his council (see note to verse 121 above). Moreover, when he was asked - according to a Tradition on the authority of `Ali ibn Abi Talib – to explain the implications of the word `azm ("deciding upon a course of action") which occurs in the above verse, the Prophet replied, "[It means] taking counsel with knowledgeable people (ahl ar-ra'y) and thereupon following them [therein]" (see Ibn Kathir's commentary on this verse).
160 If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? in Allah, then, let believers put their trust. 161 No prophet could (ever) act dishonestly¹. If any person acts dishonestly, he shall, on the Day of Judgment, restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due,- whatever it earned,- and none shall be dealt with unjustly.
¹ The Arabic word Ghulul implies stealing from the war booty before its distribution. Some of the Hypocrites after
Uhud raised some doubts about the division of the spoils, thinking to sow the seeds of poison in the hearts of the men who had deserted their posts in their craving for booty. As regards to Allah’s statement “If any person acts dishonestly, he shall, on the Day of Judgment, restore what he misappropriated”, we have the following narration of the Prophet.
Bukhari-Volume 4, Book 52, Number 307:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet got up amongst us and mentioned Al Ghulul, emphasized its magnitude and declared that it was a great sin saying, "Don't commit Ghulul for I should not like to see anyone amongst you on the Day of Ressurection, carrying over his neck a sheep that will be bleating, or carrying over his neck a horse that will be neighing. Such a man will be saying: 'O Allah's Apostle! Intercede with Allah for me,' and I will reply, 'I can't help you, for I have conveyed Allah's Message to you Nor should I like to see a man carrying over his neck, a camel that will be grunting. Such a man will say, 'O Allah's Apostle! Intercede with Allah for me, and I will say, 'I can't help you for I have conveyed Allah's Message to you,' or one carrying over his neck gold and silver and saying, 'O Allah's Apostle! Intercede with Allah for me,' and I will say, 'I can't help you for I have conveyed Allah's Message to you,' or one carrying clothes that will be fluttering, and the man will say, 'O Allah's Apostle! Intercede with Allah for me.' And I will say, 'I can't help you, for I have conveyed Allah's Message to you."
162 Is the man who follows the good pleasure of Allah like the man who draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and whose abode is in Hell?- A woeful refuge! 163 They are in varying grades in the sight of Allah, and Allah sees well all that they do. 164 Allah did confer a great favour on the Believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, purifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom,¹ while, before that, they had been in manifest error.
¹ Bukhari-Volume 9, Book 92, Number 387:
Narrated Abu Musa:
The Prophet said, "My example and the example of what I have been sent with is that of a man who came to some people and said, 'O people! I have seen the enemy's army with my own eyes, and I am the naked warner; so protect yourselves!' Then a group of his people obeyed him and fled at night proceeding stealthily till they were safe, while another group of them disbelieved him and stayed at their places till morning when the army came upon them, and killed and ruined them completely So this is the example of that person who obeys me and follows what I have brought (the Quran and the Sunna), and the example of the one who disobeys me and disbelieves the truth I have brought."
165 What! When a single disaster smites you, although ye smote (your enemies) with one twice as great¹, do ye say?- "Whence is this?" Say (to them): "It is from yourselves": ² For Allah hath power over all things.
¹ This happened at the battle of Badr, in the year 2 H. ² Many of the followers of the Prophet had been convinced that, whatever the circumstances, God would grant them
victory on account of their faith alone. The bitter experience at Uhud came as a shock to them; and so the Quran reminds them that this calamity was a consequence of their own doings.
166 What ye suffered on the day the two armies met, was with the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the Believers,167 And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come, fight in the way of Allah, or (at least) drive (the foe from your city)." They said: "Had we known how to fight, we should certainly have followed you." They were that day nearer to Unbelief than to Faith, saying with their lips what was not in their hearts¹ but Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal.
¹ This is an allusion to the three hundred men who, on the way from Medina to Mount Uhud, forsook the Prophet on
the specious plea that he did not really intend to give battle . But since they knew in their hearts that it would come to a fight, their defection from God's cause almost amounted to a denial of Him (kufr, here rendered as "Unbelief").
168 (They are) the ones that say, (of their brethren slain), while they themselves sit (at ease): "If only they had listened to us they would not have been slain." Say: "Avert death from your own selves, if ye speak the truth." 169 Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord;¹
¹ A beautiful passage about the Martyrs in the cause of Truth. They are not dead: they live,-and in a far higher and
deeper sense than in the life they have left. Even those who have no faith in the Hereafter honour those that die in their cause, with the crown of immortality in the minds and memories of generations unborn. But in Faith we see a higher, truer, and less relative immortality. Perhaps "immortality" is not the right word in this connection, as it implies a continuation of this life. In their case, through the gateway of death, they enter, the true real Life, as opposed to its shadow here.
170 They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve. ¹
¹ The Martyrs not only rejoice at the bliss they have themselves attained. The dear ones left behind are in their
thoughts: it is part of their glory that they have saved their dear ones from fear, sorrow, humiliation, and grief, in this
life, even before they come to share in the glories of the Hereafter. Note how the phrase: "on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve": comes in here with a new and appropriate meaning. Besides other things, it means that the dear ones have no cause to grieve at the death of the Martyrs; rather have they cause to rejoice.
171 They glory in the Grace and the Bounty from Allah, and in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the Faithful to be lost (in the least). 172 Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded¹, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward;¹ Most of the commentators assume that this is an allusion to the losses sustained by the Muslims at the battle of
Uhud. It is, however, probable that the implication is much wider, the more so since this passage connects directly with the preceding verses which speak, in general terms, of the martyrs who die in God's cause. There is a distinct tendency on the part of most of the classical commentators to read minute historical references into many Quranic passages which express ideas of a far wider import and apply to the human condition as such. Verses 172-175 are an instance of this. Some commentators are of the opinion that they refer to the fruitless expedition to Hamra' al-Asad on the day following the battle of Uhud, while others see in it an allusion to the Prophet's expedition, in the following year, known to history as the "Little Badr" (Badr as-Sughra ); others, again, think that verse 172 refers to the former and verses 173-174 to the latter. In view of this obvious lack of unanimity - due to the absence of a really authoritative support, either in the Quran itself or in authentic Traditions, for any of these speculative assumptions there is every reason for concluding that the whole passage under consideration expresses a general moral, rounding off, as it were, the historical references to the battle of Uhud and the lessons to be drawn therefrom.
173 Men said to them: "A great army is gathering against you, so fear them": But it (only) increased their Faith: They said: "For us Allah sufficeth, and He is the best disposer of affairs." ¹
¹ Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 86:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
'Allah is Sufficient for us and He Is the Best Disposer of affairs," was said by Abraham when he was thrown into the fire; and it was said by Muhammad when they (i.e. hypocrites) said, "A great army is gathering against you, therefore, fear them," but it only increased their faith and they said: "Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer (of affairs, for us)." (3.173)
174 And they returned with Grace and Bounty from Allah: no harm ever touched them: For they followed the good pleasure of Allah: And Allah is the Lord of bounties unbounded. 175 It is only Satan that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: Be ye not afraid of them, but fear Me, if ye have Faith. 176 Let not those grieve thee who rush headlong into Unbelief: Not the least harm will they do to Allah: Allah's plan is that He will give them no portion in the Hereafter, but a severe punishment. 177 Those who purchase Unbelief at the price of faith,- not the least harm will they do to Allah, but they will have a grievous punishment. 178 Let not the Unbelievers think that our respite to them is good for themselves: We grant them respite that they may grow in their iniquity: But they will have a shameful punishment. ¹
¹ This is an allusion to the doctrine of natural law (in Quranic terminology, sunnat Allah, "God's way") to which
man's inclinations and actions - as well as all other happenings in the universe - are subject. The above verse says, as it were,"Since these people are bent on denying the truth, Our giving them rein [that is, freedom of choice and time for a reconsideration of their attitude] will not work out for their benefit but will, on the contrary, cause them to grow in false self-confidence and, thus, in sinfulness." As in many similar passages in the Quran, God attributes here their "growing in sinfulness" to His own will because it is He who has imposed on all His creation the natural law of cause and effect.
179 Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which ye are now, ¹ until He separates what is evil from what is good nor will He disclose to you the secrets of the Unseen. But He chooses of His Messengers (for the purpose) whom He pleases. ² So believe in Allah. And His messengers: And if ye believe and do right, ye have a great reward without measure.
¹ The testing of good men by calamities and evil men by leaving them in the enjoyment of good things is part of the
trials of Allah, in which some freedom of choice is left to man. The psychological and subjective test is unfailing, and the separation is effected partly by the operation of the human wills, to which some freedom is allowed. But it must be effected, if only in the interests of the good.
² Man in his weak state would be most miserable if he could see the secrets of the Future or the secrets of the
Unseen. But things are revealed to him from time to time as may be expedient for him, by Messengers chosen for the purpose. Our duty is to hold fast by faith and lead a good life.
180 And let not those who covetously withhold of the gifts which Allah Hath given them of His Grace¹, think that it is good for them: Nay, it will
be the worse for them: soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks like a twisted collar², on the Day of Judgment. To Allah belongs the heritage³ of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
¹ The gifts are of all kinds: material gifts, such as wealth, property, strength of limbs, etc., or intangible gifts, such as
influence, birth in a given set, intellect, skill, insight, etc., or spiritual gifts of the highest kind. The spending of all these things (apart from what is necessary for ourselves) for those who need them, is charity, and purifies our own character. The withholding of them (apart from our needs) is similarly greed and selfishness, and is strongly condemned.
² By an apt metaphor the miser is told that his wealth or the other gifts which he hoarded will cling round his neck
and do him no good. He will wish he could get rid of them, but he will not be able to do so. According to the Biblical phrase in another connection they will hang like a millstone round his neck (Matt. xviii. 6). The metaphor here is fuller. He hugged his wealth or his gifts about him. They will become like a heavy collar, the badge of slavery, round his neck. They will be tied tight and twisted, and they will give him pain and anguish instead of pleasure. See also 17:13.
Bukhari-Volume 6, Book 60, Number 88:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "Anyone whom Allah has given wealth but he does not pay its Zakat, then, on the Day of Resurrection, his wealth will be presented to him in the shape of a bald-headed poisonous male snake with two poisonous glands in its mouth and it will encircle itself round his neck and bite him over his cheeks and say, "I am your wealth; I am your treasure." Then the Prophet recited this Divine Verse:--
"And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty." (3.180)
³ Another metaphor is now introduced. Material wealth or property is only called ours during our short life here. So all gifts are ours in trust only; they ultimately revert to Allah, to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens or on earth .
181 Allah hath heard the taunt of those who say: "Truly, Allah is indigent and we are rich!"¹- We shall certainly record their word and (their act) of slaying the prophets in defiance of right, and We shall say: "Taste ye the chastisement of the scorching Fire!
¹ In 2:245 we read: "Who
is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan?" In other places charity or spending in the way of Allah is metaphorically described as giving to Allah. "The Holy Prophet often used that expression in
appealing for funds to be spent in the way of Allah. The scoffers mocked and said: "So Allah is indigent and we are rich!" This blasphemy was of a piece with all their conduct in history, in slaying the Prophets and men of God.
182 "This is because of the (unrighteous deeds) which your hands sent on before ye: For Allah never does injustice to those who serve Him." 183 They (also) said: "Allah took our promise not to believe in a messenger unless He showed us a sacrifice consumed by fire (from heaven).¹" Say: "There came to you Messengers before me, with clear Signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?"²
¹ Burn sacrifices figured in the Mosaic Law, and in the religious ceremonies long before Moses, but it is not true that
the Mosaic Law laid down a fire from heavens on a burnt sacrifice as a test of the credentials of Prophets. In other words, they would not accept him unless he conforms to Mosaic Law, which prescribes burnt offerings as an essential part of divine services. Although this aspect of the Law had been left in abeyance ever since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews of post-Talmudic times were convinced that the Messiah promised to them would restore the Mosaic rites in their entirety; and so they refused to accept as a prophet anyone who did not conform to the Law of the Torah in every detail. Even if it had been so, did the Jews obey the Prophets who showed this Sign? In Leviticus ix. 23-24, we are told a burnt offering prepared by Moses and Aaron: "and there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat." Yet the people rebelled frequently against Moses. Abel's offering (sacrifice) was probably a burnt offering: it was accepted by Allah, and he was killed by Cain out of jealousy: Gen. iv. 3-8. Mosaic sacrifices were no longer-needed by the people of Jesus or the people of Muhammad.
² At the time of the martyrdom of John the Baptist and of Zachariah, of Jesus' exclamation, "O
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets" (Matthew xxiii, 37), "who killed their own prophets" (I Thessalonians ii, 15), the
and of the reference of Paul of Tarsus to the Jews Second Temple was still in existence, and burnt offerings were a daily practice: thus, the refusal of the Jews to accept the prophets alluded to, culminating in their killing, could not be attributed to those prophets' lack of conformity with Mosaic Law.
184 Then if they reject thee, so were rejected messengers before thee, who came with Clear Signs, and the Scriptures, and the Book of Enlightenment.¹
¹ The three things mentioned in the Text are: (1) Clear Signs (baiyinat); (2) zubur, and (3) Kitab-il-Munir. The
signification of (1) I have explained in the note to 2:87, as far as they relate to Jesus. In a more general sense, it means the clear evidence which Allah's dealings furnish about a Messenger of Allah having a true mission: e.g., Moses in relation to Pharaoh. (2) The word Zubur has been translated as scriptures. It comes from the root Zabara which implies something hard. The commentators are not agreed, but the prophetic writings which seemed to contemporaries difficult to understand may well be meant here. David's psalms (Zabur, 4:163) may also come under this description. As to (3), there is no doubt about the literal meaning of the words, "the Book of Enlightenment". But what does it precisely refer to? I take it to mean the fundamental guide to conduct,-the clear rules laid down in all Dispensations to help men to lead good lives.
185 Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have succeeded: For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.
186 Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in yourselves; and ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that indeed is a matter of great resolution. 187 And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it¹; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!
¹ This connects with verses 183-184, where the Jews are spoken of as refusing to accept the message of the Quran.
The implication of verse 187 above is that the advent of the Prophet Muhammad was predicted in both the Old and New Testaments, and that the followers of the Bible had been called upon to spread this prophecy and not - as they actually have done - to suppress it.
188 Think not that those who exult in what they have brought about, and love to be praised for what they have not done, ¹- think not that they can escape the Chastisement. For them is a Chastisement grievous indeed.
¹ “what they have not done” --- i.e. they have not, in spite of all their claims, preserved the integrity of the Bible and
of Abraham's faith (Razi).
189 To Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and Allah hath power over all things. 190 Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,191 Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the saying): "Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the Chastisement of the Fire. 192 "Our Lord! any whom Thou dost admit to the Fire, truly Thou coverest with shame, and never will wrong-doers find any helpers! 193 "Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (us) to Faith, 'Believe ye in the Lord,' and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.
194 "Our Lord! Grant us what Thou didst promise unto us through Thy Messengers, and save us from shame on the Day of Judgment: For Thou never breakest Thy promise." 195 And their Lord hath accepted of them, and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another:¹ Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, and fought and have been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;- A reward from Allah, and from Allah is the best of rewards."
¹ Literally,"you all are members of one and the same human race, and therefore equal to one another". In Islam the
equal status of the sexes is not only recognised but insisted on. If sex distinction, which is a distinction in nature, does not count in spiritual matters, still less of course would count artificial distinctions, such as rank, wealth, position, race, colour, birth, etc,
196 Let not the strutting about of the Unbelievers through the land deceive thee: 197 Little is it for enjoyment: Their ultimate abode is Hell: what an evil bed (to lie on)! 198 On the other hand, for those who fear their Lord, are Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath; therein are they to dwell (for ever),- An entertainment from Allah; and that which is from Allah is the best (bliss) for the righteous. 199 And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah: They will not sell the Signs of Allah for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account. 200 O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper.
Appendix 1 The Abbreviated Letters or Al-Muqattat
Many of the surahs in the Quran begin with abbreviated letters. These abbreviated letters are known as AlMuqattaat. There are 29 letters in the Arabic Alphabet (if hamza and alif are considered as two letters) and there are 29 surahs (chapters) in the Glorious Quran that have the abbreviated letters prefixed to them. These abbreviated letters some times occur alone, sometimes in a combination of two letters and sometimes in a combination of three, four or five letters. a) Three surahs are pre-fixed with only one letter: 1. Surah Sad chapter 38 with Sad 2. Surah Qaf chapter 50 with Qaf 3. Surah Nun or Qalam chapter 68 with Nun b) The combination of two letters occurs in 10 surahs: Three of them occur only once each: 1. Surah Ta Ha chapter 20 has Ta Ha 2. Surah Al Naml starting with chapter 27 has Ta Seen 3. Surah Ya Seen chapter 36 has Ya Seen Ha Meem occurs in seven consecutive surahs from surah 40 to surah 46: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Surah Ghafir or Al-Mu’min chapter 40 Surah Fussilat or Ha Meem chapter 41 Surah Al-Shura chapter 42 Surah Al-Zukhruf chapter 43 Surah Ad-Dukhan chapter 44 Surah Al-Jathiyah chapter 45 Surah Al-Ahqaf chapter 46
c) There are three combinations of three letters each occurring in 14 surahs. Alif Laam Meem occurs in six surahs: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Surah Al Baqarah chapter 2 Surah Ali ‘Imran chapter 3 Surah Al ‘Ankabut chapter 29 Surah Al Rum chapter 30 Surah Luqman chapter 31 Surah Al Sajdah chapter 32
Alif Laam Ra occurs in six consecutive surahs--Surah 10 to Surah 15: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Surah Yunus chapter 10 Surah Hud chapter 11 Surah Yusuf chapter 12 Surah Al Rad chapter 13 Surah Ibrahim chapter 14 Surah Al Hijr chapter 15
Ta Seen Meem occurs in two Surahs: 1. Surah Al-Shura chapter 26 2. Surah Al-Qasas chapter 28 d) Combination of four letters occurs twice: 1. Surah Aaraf chapter 7: Alif Laam Meem Sad 2. Surah Anfal chapter 8: Alif Laam Meem Ra e) Combination of five letters occurs twice: 1. Surah Maryam chapter 19 begins with Kaf Ha Ya Ayn Sad 2. Surah Al-Shura chapter 42 begins with Ha Meem Ayn Seen Qaf Surah Al-Shura chapter 42 has a double combination of abbreviated letters one set of two letters followed by one set of three letters.
Meaning of these abbreviated letters
The meaning and purpose of these letters is uncertain. There have been a variety of explanations offered by Muslim scholars through the ages. A few among them are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. These letters might be abbreviations for certain sentences and words for instance, Alif Laam Meem means AnaAlahu -a’Laam or Nun meaning Noor (light), etc. These letters are not abbreviations but symbols and names of Allah or something else. These letters were used for rhyming. These letters have some numerical significance as the Semitic letters also have numerical values. These letters were used to attract the attention of the Prophet (and later his audience).
Several volumes have been written on the significance of these abbreviations.
Best explanation of abbreviated letters
Of all the explanations given by various scholars, the one which is authentic and also supported by Tafsir of IbnKathir, Zamakshari and Ibn-Taiymiyah is the following: The Quran addresses those people who reject its Divine authority. It tells them that this Quran, is in their own language, in which the Arabs took pride. It is composed of the same letters that the Arabs used to express themselves most eloquently. The Arabs were very proud of their language and Arabic was at its peak when the Quran was revealed. With the letters Alif Laam Meem, Yaa Seen, Ha-Meem, etc., (in English we would say A, B, C, D) the Quran challenges mankind to produce a Surah at least somewhat similar to the Quran in beauty and elegance, if they doubt its authenticity. Initially, the Quran challenges all the men and jinn to produce a recital like the Quran and adds that they would not be able to do it even if they backed each other. This challenge is mentioned in Surah Isra (17:88) and in Surah Tur (52:34).Later the Quran repeats the challenge in Surah Hud (11:13) by saying produce ten surahs like it and later in Surah Yunus (10:38), produce one surah like it and finally the easiest challenge is given in Surah Al-Baqarah (2 :23-24), "And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah if your doubts are true. But if ye
cannot – and of a surety ye cannot – then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones – which is prepared for those who reject faith." (2:23-24) To compare the skill of two artisans, they must be given samples of the same raw material and their performance evaluated in performing the same task. If they are tailors they must be provided with the same fabrics. The raw materials of the Arabic language are these letters Alif Laam Meem, Ya Seen (in English it is A, B, C, D, etc.) The miraculous nature of the language of the Quran does not lie only in the fact that it is the Word of Allah, but also in the fact that although made up of the same letters in which the pagan Arabs took pride, it has not been rivalled. The Arabs are noted for their rhetoric ability, eloquence and meaningful expression. Just as the constituents of the human body are known to us and can be obtained by us, the letters comprising the Quran, such as Alif Laam Meem are known to us, and used frequently to formulate words. Life cannot be created by us, even if we possess knowledge of the constituents of the human body. Similarly we cannot capture the same eloquence and beauty of expression that we find in the Quran, despite knowing the letters that constitute the Quran. The Quran thus proves its Divine origin. Therefore, immediately after these broken letters are mentioned in the Quran, the following verses speak about the miracle of the Quran, and its authority e.g. in Surah Baqarah Chapter 2 verse 1-2: "Alif Laam Meem. This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah." (2:1-2) At first glance it might appear that three surahs (29, 30 and 68) are exceptions to this rule; but this assumption is misleading. In the opening verse of surah 29 (Al-Ankabat), a reference to revelation is obviously implied in the saying, "We Believe" (amanna), i.e., in God and His messages. In surah 30 (Ar-Rum), divine revelation is unmistakably stressed in the prediction of Byzantine victory in verses 2-4. In verse l of surah 68 (Al-Qalam) the phenomenon of revelation is clearly referred to in the evocative mention of "the pen". Thus, there are no "exceptions" in the surahs prefixed by one or more of the muqatt’at: each of them opens with a reference to divine revelation. And Allah knows best.