Wednesday 11 December 2019

Surah Al Baqarah - The Cow: 2nd Chapter of Quran (Exegesis: Section 1 / Part II)

Sūrah Al Baqarah "البقرة" is the longest Sūrah of the Qurān with 286 verses and forty ruku, spanned over Juz' 1-3. 

Please read the Summary and the Overview of the Sūrah before reading its detailed exegesis so as to have a fair idea how this Sūrah has been compartmentalized into various sections and parts to emphasize on the important subject matter of the Sūrah:
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: [verses 40 to 121 (Ruku 5-14)] and has been further divided into two parts as under:
  • Part I:  (Verses 40-61) - Completed
  • Part II: (Verses 62-121) - This Part
Section 2: [verse 122-163 (ruku 15-19)]
  • Section 3: [Verses 164 - 242 (Ruku 20-40)]  It has been further sub divided into three parts as under:
  • Part I: (verses 164-188) 
  • Part II: (Verses 189-216) 
  • Part III: (Verses 217-242)  
  • Section 4: (Verses 243-286) 
We have already presented the Introduction. We now begin with Section-1 / Part I. The translation and exegesis / tafseer is in English. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

The Part II (verses 64-121) is actually a history of the breach of promises by the Jews as to how they disobeyed the commandments of Allah and how this criminal mentality had been nurtured in them since the very beginning. A mention has also been made of their superstitions and of other activities which were instrumental in debasing the Shariah and the Book of Allah in their eyes.

All these details have been stated to make it clear upon the Jews that though they claim to be the recipients of a Divine Book, yet they have shown total indifference to it, and have broken all their promises with Allah. Therefore, it is necessary that the Almighty should depose them from their position of leadership, and grant this position of trust to those who are worthy of it.

Ruku / Section 8 [Verses 62-71]
Verse 62 Real believers have nothing to fear or to regret:
( 62 )   Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.
The context of the verse makes it clear that it is not attempting to enumerate in detail all the articles of faith in which one should believe, or all the principles of conduct which one should follow in order to merit reward from God. These matters are mentioned elsewhere, in their appropriate places. The aim of the verse is merely to repudiate the illusion cherished by the Jews that, by virtue of their being Jews, they have a monopoly of salvation. They had long entertained the notion that a special and exclusive relationship existed between them and God. They thought, therefore, that all who belonged to their group were predestined to salvation regardless of their beliefs and actions,. whereas all non-Jews were predestined to serve as fodder for hell-fire.

To clarify this misgiving the Jews are told that what really matters in the sight of God is true faith and good deeds rather than formal affiliation with a certain religious community. Whoever has true faith and good deeds to his credit is bound to receive his reward, since God will judge people on the basis of merit rather than on the grounds that a man's name happens to be listed in the world as a member of one religious community or the other.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Latest researches have revealed a small remnant of a religious community numbering about 2,000 souls in Lower Iraq, near Basra. In Arabic they are called Subbi (plural Subba). They are also called Sabians and Nasoraeans; or Mandaeans, or Christians of St. John. They claim to be Gnostics, of Knowers of the Great Life. They dress in white, and believe in frequent immersions in water. Their Book Ginza is in a dialect of Aramaic. They have theories of Darkness and Light as in Zoroastrianism. They use the name Uardan (Jordan) for any river. They live in peace and harmony among their Muslim neighbors. They resemble the Sabiun mentioned in the Qur'an but are not probably identical with them.

CF. ii. 38, where the same phrase occurs. And it recurs again and again afterwards. The point of the verse is that Islam does not teach an exclusive doctrine, and is not meant exclusively for one people. The Jews claimed this for themselves, and the Christians in their own origin were a sect of the Jews. Even the modern organized Christian churches, though they have been, consciously or unconsciously, influenced by the Time-spirit, including the historical fact of Islam, yet cling to the idea of Vicarious Atonement, which means that all who do not believe in it or who lived previously to the death of Christ are at a disadvantage spiritually before the Throne of God. The attitude of Islam is entirely different. Islam existed before the preaching of Muhammad on this earth: the Qur'an expressly calls Abraham a Muslim (iii. 67). Its teaching (submission to God's will) has been and will be the teaching of Religion for all time and for all peoples.

Verses 63-64 Israelites covenant with Allah:
( 63 )   And [recall] when We took your covenant, [O Children of Israel, to abide by the Torah] and We raised over you the mount, [saying], "Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it that perhaps you may become righteous."
From the manner in which this incident is described at various places in the Qur'an it is obvious that, at that time, it was quite well known to the Israelites. It is difficult, however, after the Passage of many centuries to be able to speak with certainty about the precise nature of the incident. All we can say is that while the Children of Israel were making their covenant in the shadow of Mount Sinai, they witnessed an awesome phenomenon and felt as if the mountain was about to fall upon them. (Verse 171 of Surah al-A'raf) seems to portray this.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Mountain of Sinai (Tur-u-Sinin) a prominent mountain in the Arabian desert, in the peninsula between the two arms of the Red Sea. Here the Ten Commandments and the Law were given to Moses. Hence it is now called the Mountain of Moses (Jabal Musa). The Israelites encamped at the foot of it for nearly a year. The Covenant was taken from them under many portents (Exod. xix. 5,8,16,18), which are described in Jewish tradition in great detail. Under thunder and lightening the mountain must indeed have appeared an awe-inspiring sight above to the Camp at its foot. And the people solemnly entered into the Covenant: all the people answered together and said, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do."
( 64 )   Then you turned away after that. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have been among the losers.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The Israelites went against the Covenant they had made with Allah. The sin was so grave that one could have expected utter destruction and ruin to descend on them as a punishment. But Allah, in His mercy, spared them in so far as physical life is concerned, although they will have to pay for their treason in the other world. Allah's mercy is of two kinds. One is general and extends to believers and disbelievers alike -- its action is to be seen in the shape of worldly well-being and prosperity. The other is special, an pertains to believers alone -- it will manifest itself particularly in the other world in the shape of salvation and closeness to Allah.

It appears that the last phrase of the present verse has been addressed to the Jews who were the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Since having faith in him is also a part of the Covenant, these Jews too have been included among those who had been guilty of infringement. In this verse, Allah asks them to realize that it is in His mercy alone that he has not, in spite of their treason, sent down on them the kind of catastrophic punishment in this world as used to descend on the other infidels and traitors who have gone before.

Since a number of authentic Hadiths declare that it is the barakah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) that catastrophic punishments no longer descend on any people, some commentators have identified this particular mercy and grace of Allah with the sending down of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a Prophet and Messenger of Allah.

In order to emphasize what the present verse has said, the next verse tells the story of another group of earlier transgressors and of the dreadful punishment which overtook them all of a sudden.

Verses 65-66 Punishment for the violation of Sabbath:
( 65 )   And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, "Be apes, despised."
Sabbath, i.e., Saturday . It was laid down that the Israelite should consecrate that day for rest and worship. They were required to abstain from all worldly acts, including cooking (which they might neither do themselves, nor have their servants do for them). The injunctions, in this connection were so strict that violation of the Sabbath was to be punished with death. (See Exodus 31:12-17. ) When religious and moral decadence, however, spread among the Israelites they indulged in open desecration of the Sabbath, so much so that in Jewish towns trade and commerce were carried out in broad daylight.

The details of this incident are mentioned later in (Surah 7:163). The exact manner in which their transformation into apes took place is disputed. Some scholars are of the opinion that the transformation was a physical one, while others hold that they were invested with the attributes characteristic of apes. But both the words and the manner in which this incident is recounted in the Qur'an seem to suggest that what took place was a physical transformation of certain persons into apes rather than just a moral metamorphosis. What seems plausible to me is that while their minds were allowed to remain intact, their bodies were changed into those of apes.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The punishment for breach of the Sabbath under the Mosaic law was death. "Every one that defieth it (the Sabbath) shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." (Exod. xxxi. 14). There must have been a Jewish tradition about a whole fishing community in a seaside town, which persisted in breaking the Sabbath and were turned into apes; cf. vii. 163-166. Or should we translate in both these passages. "Be as apes", instead of "Be apes"? This is the suggestion of Maulvi Muhammad Ali on this passage, on the authority of Mujabid and Ibn Jarir Tabari. The punishment would be, not for the breach of the Sabbath in itself, but for their contumacious defiance of the Law.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
This episode belongs to the time of Prophet Daud (David peace be upon him) Allah had appointed Saturday as the Sabbath, or the sacred day, for the Israelites; it was specially set apart for prayers and worship, and hence fishing was prohibited on this day. But these people lived on the sea-shore, and were very fond of fish. Al Qurtubi says that' the Israelites, at first, invented all sorts of clever pretenses for catching fish on Saturday, and gradually started doing so openly. There now grew a division among them on this point. On the one hand were these transgressors, and, on the other, some scholars and pious men who tried to dissuade them from such disobedience. When the former paid no heed to them, the latter broke away altogether from the sinners, and began to live in a separate part of the town. One day they felt no sound was coming from the other part of the town. Growing curious, they went there and found that all the transgressors had been changed into apes. Qatadah says that the young ones had become apes, and the old ones swine. The apes could recognize their relatives and friends, and would approach them weeping out of remorse, and seeking their sympathy and help. Then all of them died after three days.

As to the question whether the apes and the swine we see today bear any kinship to these Israelites who had been metamorphosed, the correct position is that people who have been metamorphosed into beasts by Allah as a punishment cease to breed, and leave no progeny behind. According to a hadith reported by Imam Muslim from the blessed Companion 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, some people asked the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) whether the apes and the swine were the descendants of the metamorphosed Jews. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) reminded them that apes and swine existed in the world even before, and said that when Allah sends down this particular kind of punishment on a people, the race comes to an end with this, and there is no further breeding.

Let us now go back to the verse under discussion. The people who witnessed the event, or heard of it, were of two kinds - the disobedient and the obedient. For the disobedient, it served as a 'deterrent', an example and a warning, which persuaded them to repent of their disobedience. For the obedient, it was a lesson and a reminder that they should be steadfast in their obedience. It serves these two purposes even now.
( 66 )   And We made it a deterrent punishment for those who were present and those who succeeded [them] and a lesson for those who fear Allah.
Verses 67-71 Their attitude in sacrificing a cow on Allah's command:
( 67 )   And [recall] when Moses said to his people, "Indeed, Allah commands you to slaughter a cow." They said, "Do you take us in ridicule?" He said, "I seek refuge in Allah from being among the ignorant."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This story or parable of the heifer in ii. 67-71 should be read with the parable of the dead man brought to life in ii. 72-73. The stories were accepted in Jewish traditions, which are themselves based on certain sacrificial directions in the Old Testament.
The heifer story of Jewish tradition is based on Num. xix. 1-10, in which Moses and Aaron ordered the Israelites to sacrifice a red heifer without spot or blemish; her body was to be burnt and the ashes were to be kept for the purification of the congregation from sin. 
The parable of the dead man we shall refer to later. The lesson of the heifer parable is plain. Moses announced the sacrifice the the Israelites, and they treated it as a jest. When Moses continued solemnly to ask for the sacrifice, they put him off on one pretext and another, asking a number of questions which they could have answered themselves if they had listened to Moses's directions. Their questions were carping criticisms rather than the result of a desire for information. It was a mere thin pretence that they were genuinely seeking for guidance. When at last they were driven into a corner, they made the sacrifice, but the will was wanting, which would have made the sacrifice efficacious for purification from sin. The real reason for their prevarications was their guilty conscience, as we see in the parable of the dead man (ii. 72-73).

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
According to Mirqat, a commentary on Mishkat, a man among the Israelites wanted to marry a girl, but her father refused. The suitor was so incensed that he killed the father, and disappeared. It is mentioned in Ma'alim al tanzil which says on the authority of Kalbi that Allah had not yet sent down any injunction with regard to man-slaughter. If it was so, this shows that the incident happened before the Torah was revealed. Anyhow, the Israelites requested Moses to tell them how to trace the culprit. Under the commandment of Allah, he asked them to sacrifice a cow. As was their regular habit, they started raising all kinds of doubts and objections, of which the next verses give us the details.
( 68 )   They said, "Call upon your Lord to make clear to us what it is." [Moses] said, "[Allah] says, 'It is a cow which is neither old nor virgin, but median between that,' so do what you are commanded."
 Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
These Verses (68-71) show how the Israelites were disposed to disobedience, and how this inclination expressed itself in different forms. The Hadith says that if these people had obeyed Allah's commandment without raising so many doubts and asking unnecessary questions, such strict condition would not have been imposed on them, and the sacrifice of any cow whatsoever would have been accepted.
( 69 )   They said, "Call upon your Lord to show us what is her color." He said, "He says, 'It is a yellow cow, bright in color - pleasing to the observers.' "
( 70 )   They said, "Call upon your Lord to make clear to us what it is. Indeed, [all] cows look alike to us. And indeed we, if Allah wills, will be guided."
Through contact with neighbouring peoples, the Israelites had become infested with the attitude of sanctifying the cow, in fact they had even become accustomed to cow-worship. In order to disabuse the Jews of this, they were ordered to slaughter the cow. Their professed belief that God alone was worthy of worship could be tested only by making them slaughter with their own hands what they had formerly worshiped. This test was indeed a hard one since their hearts were not fully imbued with faith. Hence, they tried to shelve the issue by resorting to inquiries about the kind of animal they were required to slaughter. But the more they inquired, the narrower the strait became for them, until the indications were as obvious as if someone had put his finger precisely on the particular animal they were required to slaughter - the animal which had for so long been an object of their worship. The Old Testament also mentions the incident, but there is no reference to the manner in which the Jews tried to evade the matter.
( 71 )   He said, "He says, 'It is a cow neither trained to plow the earth nor to irrigate the field, one free from fault with no spot upon her.' " They said, "Now you have come with the truth." So they slaughtered her, but they could hardly do it.
Ruku / Section 9 [Verses 72-82]
Verses 72-74 Miracle of putting the dead body alive and their reaction to the miracle:
( 72 )   And [recall] when you slew a man and disputed over it, but Allah was to bring out that which you were concealing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In Deut. xxi. 1-9 it is ordained that if the body of a slain man be found in a field and the slayer is not known, a heifer shall be beheaded, and the elders of the city next to the slain man's domicile shall wash their hands over the heifer and say that they neither did the deed nor saw it done, thus clearing themselves from the blood-guilt. The Jewish story based on this was that in a certain case of this kind, every one tried to clear himself of guilt and lay the blame at the door of others. In the first place they tried to prevaricate and prevent a heifer being slain as in the last parable. When she was slain, Allah by a miracle disclosed the really guilty person. A portion of the sacrificed heifer was ordered to be placed on the corpse, which came to life and disclosed the whole story of the crime. The lesson of this parable is that men may try to hide their crimes individually or collectively, but Allah will bring them to light in unexpected ways. Applying this further to Jewish national history, the argument is developed in the following verses that the Children of Israel played fast and loose with their own rites and traditions, but they could not thus evade the consequences of their own sin.
( 73 )   So, We said, "Strike the slain man with part of it." Thus does Allah bring the dead to life, and He shows you His signs that you might reason.
At least one thing becomes clear from this statement: that the slain person was restored to life at least long enough to indicate his assassins. But the actual words in which the order 'smite the corpse with a part of it' is couched tend to create a measure of ambiguity. Nevertheless, the meaning inferred by the early Qur'anic commentators - that the order was to smite the slain man's body with some part of the slaughtered cow - seems to me plausible. Two birds were thus killed with one stone: first, they were made to behold a sign of God's power; and second, the notion that the cow possessed any holiness or sanctity was shattered. For if the of the object of their worship - the cow - had any supernatural power, some calamity should have visited them as a consequence of slaughtering it. But no calamity took place. On the contrary, killing the cow seemed to be beneficial insofar as striking a dead man with a part of it brought him back to life.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The murderer had his supporters who wanted to hide his crime, and hence began accusing different people. But Allah willed that the criminal should be brought to book, and appointed a miraculous way of identifying him -- that is, the dead body of the murdered man should be touched with a part of the flesh of the sacrificial cow. When this was done, the dead man came back to life, announced the name of his murderer, and died again.

This miraculous event is a manifestation of the omnipotence of Allah, and Holy Qur'an presents it as an argument against those who deny the Resurrection of the dead for the Last Judgment. Verse 73 says that this precedent should induce people to make use of their reason, and see that what has happened in a past instance can as easily happen in a future instance.

With regard to this event one may ask as to why Allah made the resurrection of the dead man depend upon his being touched with a part of flesh when he had the power to bring the man back to life without the intervention of any such device; or, one may ask as to why the dead man should have been brought back to life when the name of the murderer could have been revealed even otherwise. In answer to this, we shall say that Allah is omnipotent, and does not act under any kind of compulsion, but that all His actions proceed from His all-embracing wisdom. Moreover, it is He alone who knows, and can know, the raisin d'etre of what He does. The Shari'ah does not oblige us to discover the raisin d'etre of each and every divine act, nor is it necessary or possible that we should be able to comprehend the raisin d'etre in each case. The best way in such a case is to accept .what Allah or the Holy Prophet & has said, and to keep quiet. Let us say a word about the arrangement and sequence of the events.

Verse 72 relates how a man was murdered, and how people started accusing each other. This is the beginning of the story which has been related earlier in Verses 67-71. This chronological order has not been preserved in the narration, but inverted, and this re-arrangement has a subtle significance. This long section of the Surah has been dealing with the transgressions of the Israelites, and this is just what the Holy Qur'an intends to bring out in narrating different stories, the narrating of stories not being an object in itself here. The present story is meant to show two misdeeds - firstly, committing a murder and then trying to hide it; secondly, raising uncalled-for objections to divine commandments. If the chronological order had been kept up, the readers would have supposed that it was only the first of these that was really intended, while the second was added only by way of completing the story. The present arrangement clearly shows that both the misdeeds have been equally emphasized.
( 74 )   Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder. For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The sinner's heart gets harder and harder. It is even harder than rocks, of which a beautiful poetical allegory is placed before us. In nature we think there is nothing harder than rocks. But there are rocks that weep voluntarily, like repentant hearts that come to God of their own accord; such are the rocks from which rivers and springs flow spontaneously, sometimes in small trickles, sometimes in big volumes. Then there are rocks which have to be split or dug into or blown up with dynamite, and underneath we find abundant waters, as in wells beneath rocky soil. Such are the hearts of a less degree of fineness, which yet melt into tears when some great blow or calamity calls the mind to higher things. And lastly, there are the rocks which slip or sink by geological pressure or in an earthquake, and send forth large spouts of water, as happened, for example, in the Indian earthquake of 1934; such sinking or quaking may be poetically ascribed to fear. So there are hearts which will come to God by no higher motive than fear, but yet fear will melt them into tears of repentance. But the hardened sinner is worse than all these. His case is worse than that of rocks, for nothing will melt him.

Verses 75-77 Jews are hopeless victims of hypocrisy:
( 75 )   Do you covet [the hope, O believers], that they would believe for you while a party of them used to hear the words of Allah and then distort the Torah after they had understood it while they were knowing?
This is addressed to the converts of Madina, who had then lately embraced the faith of the Arabian Prophet. These people had some vague notions about Prophethood, Heavenly Scriptures, Angels, the After-life, Divine Law and so on, and for this they were indebted to their Jewish neighbours. It was from these same Jewish neighbours that they had heard that another Prophet was about to appear, and that his followers would prevail over the rest of the world.

It was partly because of this background that when the people of Madina heard about the Prophet, they readily turned towards him and embraced Islam in large numbers. They naturally expected that those who already followed Prophets and Divine Scriptures, and who, by introducing them to these ideas had contributed to their embracing the true faith, would not only join the ranks of the true believers, but would even be among their vanguard. As a result of these expectations the enthusiastic Muslim converts approached their Jewish friends and neighbours and invited them to embrace Islam. When the Jews flatly declined to do so, this negative reply was exploited by the hypocrites and other enemies of Islam as an argument for creating doubts about the truth of Islam.

If Muhammad was the true Prophet, they argued, how was it conceivable that the Jewish scholars and divines would deliberately turn away from him since, if he was a true Prophet, such a behaviour would be tantamount to ruining their After-life? Here the simple-hearted Muslims learn of the historical record of the Jews, a record which is replete with perversion and corruption. This was designed to make them realize that they ought not to expect too much of a people with so dark a past, for if they were not realistic in their expectations about them they would be utterly disappointed when their call failed to penetrate their hardened and stony hearts. Their chronic decadence had a history of several centuries. For a long time they had treated those verses of the Scriptures which made sincere believers tremble in awe as objects of jest and play. They had tailored religion to suit their base desires and it was around such a perverted view of religion that all their hopes of salvation were centered. It was futile to hope that such people would flock to the call of Truth the moment it was proclaimed.

'A party of them' refers to the scholars and religious doctors of the Jewish community. The' Word of God' here signifies the Torah, the Psalms (Zabur) and other Scriptures which the Jews had received through the Prophets. 'Distortion' denotes the attempt to twist a text in such a manner as to make it signify something different from its real meaning, and may also denote tampering with the text of the Scriptures. The Israelite scholars had subjected the Scriptures to distortions of both kinds.
( 76 )   And when they meet those who believe, they say, "We have believed"; but when they are alone with one another, they say, "Do you talk to them about what Allah has revealed to you so they can argue with you about it before your Lord?" Then will you not reason?
When the Jews talked among themselves they asked their coreligionists to disclose to the Muslims neither the prophesies about the Prophet, nor those verses of the Scriptures on the basis of which they could be reproached for their evil conduct; they thought that the Muslims would make use of scriptural arguments against them before God, and would thus have them pronounced guilty. These were the depths to which Jewish religious decadence had sunk. They were convinced that if they could succeed in concealing their guilt in this world, they would be saved from censure in the Next. For this reason they were asked if they considered God to be unaware of their deeds, either apparent or hidden.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The immediate argument applies to the Jews of Medina, but the more general argument applies to the people of Faith and the people without Faith, as we shall see below. If the Muslims of Medina ever entertained the hope that the Jews in their city would as a body welcome Muhammad Mustafa as the Prophet prophesied in their own books, they were mistaken. In Deut. xviii. 18, they read: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee." (i.e., like unto Moses) which was interpreted by some of their doctors as referring to Muhammad, and they came into Islam. The Arabs are a kindred branch of the Semitic family, and are correctly described in relation to the Jews as "their brethren"; and there is no question that there was not another Prophet "like unto Moses" until Muhammad came; in fact the postscript of Deuteronomy, which was written many centuries after Moses, says: "There arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face." But the Jews as a body were jealous of Muhammad, and played a double part. When the Muslim community began to grow stronger they pretended to be of them, but really tried to keep back any knowledge of their own Scriptures from them, lest they should be beaten by their own arguments. The more general interpretation holds good in all ages. Faith and Unfaith are pitted against each other. Faith has to struggle against power, position, organization, and privilege. When it gains ground, Unfaith comes forward insincerely and claims fellowship. But in its own mind it is jealous of the armoury of science and knowledge which Faith brings into the service of Allah. But Allah knows all, and if the people of Faith will only seek knowledge sincerely wherever they can find it,-even as far afield as China, as Muhammad said, they can defeat Unfaith on its own ground. [Even though the directive that Muslims should derive knowledge regardless of its location is an acceptable proposition from the Islamic viewpoint, the tradition to which the author refers here is not authentic].
( 77 )   But do they not know that Allah knows what they conceal and what they declare?
 Verses 78-79 Some of them attributed their own writings to Allah:
( 78 )   And among them are unlettered ones who do not know the Scripture except in wishful thinking, but they are only assuming.
This was the state of the Jewish masses. They were ignorant of the Scriptures, unaware of the principles of faith as enunciated by God in His Book, unaware of the rules of conduct that He had laid down, and of the teachings which are of fundamental importance for man's salvation. Because they lacked this knowledge, they fabricated a whole religion out of their desires and fancies, living in a paradise built on false hopes and illusions.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The argument of i. 76 is continued. The Jews wanted to keep back knowledge, but what knowledge had they? Many of them, even if they could read, were no better than illiterates, for they knew not their own true Scriptures, but read into them what they wanted, or at best their own conjectures. They palmed off their own writings for the Message of God. Perhaps it brought them profit for the time being; but it was a miserable profit if they "gained the whole world and lost their own souls" (Matt. xvi. 26). "Writing with their own hands" means inventing books themselves, which had no divine authority. The general argument is similar. Unfaith erects its own false gods. It attributes things to causes which only exist in its own imagination. Sometimes it even indulges in actual dishonest traffic in the ignorance of the multitude. It may pay for a time, but the bubble always bursts.
( 79 )   So woe to those who write the "scripture" with their own hands, then say, "This is from Allah," in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.
These observations relate to their rabbis. They were not content with misinterpreting the Word of God. They also interjected into it their readings of the Scriptures and their explanatory comments thereof, stories from their national history, superstitious ideas and fancies, philosophical doctrines and legal rules. The result was that the Divine and the human became inextricably mixed. They claimed, nevertheless, that the entire thing was divine! Every historical anecdote, the interpretation of every commentator, the doctrine of every theologian, and the legal deduction of every jurist that managed to find its way into the Bible became the 'Word of God'. It was thus obligatory to believe in all that, and every deviation from it became tantamount to deviation from the true faith.

 Verses 80-82 Their false claim and its punishment:
( 80 )   And they say, "Never will the Fire touch us, except for a few days." Say, "Have you taken a covenant with Allah? For Allah will never break His covenant. Or do you say about Allah that which you do not know?"
This is a misconception entertained by all Jews, laymen as well as rabbis. They felt sure that no matter what they did, they would remain immune from hell-fire just by virtue of being Jews! The worst they could conceive of was the possibility of a transient punishment before they were transported to heaven.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Jews in their arrogance might say: Whatever the terror of Hell may be for other people, our sins will be forgiven, because we are the children of Abraham; at worst, we shall suffer a short definite punishment and then be restored to the "bosom of Abraham". This bubble is pricked here. Read this verse with ii. 81-82. The general application is also clear. If Unfaith claims some special prerogative, such as race, "civilization," political power, historical experience, and so on, these will not avail in Allah's sight. His promise is sure, but His promise is for those who seek Allah in Faith, and show it in their conduct.
( 81 )   Yes, whoever earns evil and his sin has encompassed him - those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is many degrees worse than merely falling into evil: it is going out to "earn evil" as the Arabic text has it, i.e., to seek gain in evil. Such a perverse attitude means that the moral and spiritual fortress erected around us by the Grace of God is voluntarily surrendered by us and demolished by Evil, which erects its own fortress, so that access to Good may be more and more difficult.
( 82 )   But they who believe and do righteous deeds - those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally.
Ruku / Section 10 [Verses 83-86]
Verses 83-83 Israelites made a covenant with Allah and broke it:
( 83 )   And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], "Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah." Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
So far from the Covenant being of the kind you suggest in ii. 80, the real Covenant is about the moral law, which is set out in ii. 83. This moral law is universal and if you break it, no privileges will lighten your punishment or help you in any way (ii. 86). "Speak fair to the people" not only means outward courtesy from the leaders to the meanest among the people, but the protection of the people from being exploited, deceived, defrauded, or doped with things to lull their intelligence.

Verses 84-86 Their behavior with their own people and their punishment for breaking the covenant:
( 84 )   And [recall] when We took your covenant, [saying], "Do not shed each other's blood or evict one another from your homes." Then you acknowledged [this] while you were witnessing.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Verse 83 referred to the universal moral law. This verse 84 refers to its application under a special Covenant entered into with the Jews of Medina by the new-born Muslim Commonwealth under its Guide and teacher Muhammad. This Covenant is given in Ibn Hisham's Sivat-ur-Rasul, and comments on it will be found in Ameer Ali's Spirit of Islam (London 1922), pp. 57-61. It was entered into in the second year of the Hijra, and was treacherously broken by the Jews almost immediately afterwards.
( 85 )   Then, you are those [same ones who are] killing one another and evicting a party of your people from their homes, cooperating against them in sin and aggression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their eviction was forbidden to you. So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
Before the advent of the Prophet (peace be on him) the Jewish tribes who lived on the outskirts of Madina had concluded an alliance with the Arab tribes of Aws and Khazraj. When the Arab tribes fought against one another each Jewish tribe fought on the side of its allies, which led to fratricide and so to a flagrant violation of the Book of God. Moreover, when the war ended the captives were ransomed. This ransom was justified on the basis of scriptural arguments; they extolled the Word of God when it permitted the ransom of prisoners of war, but attached no significance at all to the same Word of God when it prohibited mutual feuding.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
I understand "ransom them" here to mean "take ransom for them" though most of the Commentators take it to mean "give ransom for them". Mustafa had made a Pact which, if it had been faithfully observed by all parties, would have brought a reign of law and order for Medina. But some of the treacherous Jews never intended to observe its terms. They fought and slew each other and not only banished those who were obnoxious to them but intrigued with their enemies. If by chance they came back into their hands as captives, they demanded ransom for them to return to their homes although they had no right to banish them at all. If we understand by "ransom them" pay "ransom for them to release them from the hands of their enemies," it would mean that they did this pious act for show, although they were themselves the authors of their unlawful banishment. I think the former makes better sense.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
This verse recounts how the Israelites broke the pledge they had willingly made. Allah had laid down three special injunctions for the Israelites: (1) They should not kill one another in an internecine war. (2) They should not force their own people into exile. (3) If they found a man from among them a prisoner of war, they should pay a ransom, and get him released. The Israelites disregarded the first two injunctions, and acted upon the third alone which they supposed easier to be carried out.

It happened like this. There lived in Madinah two tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj, who were hostile to each other, and would often go to war. In the environs of Medina, there also lived two tribes of the Jews, the   Bani Qurayzah and the Bani Nasr. The former had friendly relations with the Aws, and the latter with the Khazraj. When the Aws and the Khazraj went to war against each other, the two tribes of the Jews also took part in the battle, each on the side of its own friends. In these battles, many Jews lost their lives or were rendered homeless as much as the non-Jews. In other words, the Jews of the Bani Qurayzah tribe had a share in the slaughter and exile of the Jews of the Bani Nadir tribe, and vice versa. However, when some of the Jews became prisoners of war, each of the two Jewish groups would persuade their respective friends among the non-Jews to accept a ransom and to release the prisoners. When they were asked why they showed such a solicitude for the prisoners, they would say that it was obligatory for them to get prisoners released. But when someone objected to their helping the non-Jews in slaughtering the Jews, they used to reply that it would be a real disgrace if they did not go to the aid of their friends, even if they were not Jews.

So, the present verse exposes their duplicity and their perversity. The Holy Quran indicts their behaviour as "sin and aggression," and this suggests that the Israelites were infringing on two kinds of rights -- the right of Allah, by disobeying Him; and the right of His creatures, by inflicting pain and loss on them.

The verse proceeds to reprimand them for accepting certain injunctions laid down in the Torah, while rejecting others, and following their own whims in both the cases. At the end, this long verse announces the grave punishment for such misdeeds the Israelites will have to bear in this world as well as in the other.

Verse 85 announces the "punishment" for Jews. One may very well ask here why the direst punishment should be reserved for the Jews, and not for atheists, for the Jews at least believe in Allah. The famous Commentator 'Alusi says in his "Ruh al-Ma'ani" that every punishment meted out to the infidels will be "the direst" in the sense that it will have no end or limit. So, what the verse implies is not that the punishment given to the Jews will be more severe than the one given to all the other infidels, but that they will be given the kind of punishment which is "the direst" in the sense of having no end or limit. In other words, the verse suggests that the punishment given to the infidels will be more severe than the one given to Muslim sinners. But if there are going to be different degrees in the punishment meted out to different kinds of infidels, it does not in any way go against the implications of this verse. (Bayan al-Qur'an)
( 86 )   Those are the ones who have bought the life of this world [in exchange] for the Hereafter, so the punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be aided.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
This verse explains why the Jews will have to undergo such a severe punishment. They have been disobeying Allah in order to satisfy their desires and to enjoy worldly pleasures; they have also sacrificed for these things their salvation in the other world. Their sin being so great, Allah will not reduce or mollify their punishment, nor will He allow anyone to intercede on their behalf.

Ruku / Section 11 [Verses 87-96]
Verses 87-88 Advent of the Prophet Eesa (Jesus):
( 87 )   And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Pure Spirit. But is it [not] that every time a messenger came to you, [O Children of Israel], with what your souls did not desire, you were arrogant? And a party [of messengers] you denied and another party you killed.
The 'spirit of holiness' signifies the knowledge derived through revelation. It also signifies the angel Gabriel who brought this revelation. It also denotes the holy spirit of Jesus, the spirit which God had endowed with angelic character.

The expression 'clear proofs' refers to those signs which are likely to convince a truth-seeking and truth-loving person that Jesus is a Prophet of God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
As to the birth of Jesus, cf. xix. 16-34. Why is he called the "Son of Mary"? What are his "clear signs"? What is the "holy spirit" by which he was strenghtened? We reserve to a later state a discussion of the Quranic teaching on these questions. See iii. 62.

Notice the sudden transition from the past tense in "some ye called impostors" to the present tense in "others ye slay." There is a double significance. First, reviewing the long course of Jewish history, we have come to the time of Jesus; they have often given the lie to God's Apostles, and even now they are trying to slay Jesus. Secondly, extending the review of that history to the time of Muhammad, they are even now trying to take the life of that holy Apostle. This would be literally true at the time the words were promulgated to the people. And this transition leads on naturally to the next verse, which refers to the actual conditions before Muhammad in Medina in the second year of the Hijra. Sections 11/13 (ii. 87-121) refer to the People of the Book generally, Jews and Christians. Even where Moses and the Law of Sinai are referred to, those traditions are common to both Jews and Christians. The argument is about the people who ought to have learnt from previous Revelations and welcomed Muhammad's teaching, and yet they both took up an attitude of arrogant rejection.
( 88 )   And they said, "Our hearts are wrapped." But, [in fact], Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so little is it that they believe.
They said, in effect, that they were so staunch in their beliefs that their convictions would remain unaffected regardless of what was said. Such a claim is the hallmark of those bigots whose minds are seized by irrational prejudice. Nothing can be a matter of greater shame for human beings than the so-called firmness of conviction which they often boast of. What can be more foolish than adherence to inherited beliefs and convictions when their falseness is established by overwhelmingly strong arguments?

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Jews in their arrogance claimed that all wisdom and all knowledge of God were enclosed in their hearts. But there were more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in their philosophy. Their claim was not only arrogance but blasphemy. In reality they were men without Faith. (I take Gulfan here to be the plural of Gilafun the wrapping or cover of a book, in which the book is preserved.) As usual, there is a much wider meaning. How many people at all times and among all nations close their hearts to any extension of knowledge or spiritual influence because of some little fragment which they have got and which they think is the whole of Allah's Truth? Such an attitude shows really want of faith and is a blasphemous limitation of Allah's unlimited spiritual gifts to His creatures. [According to another view, the verse refers to the Jewish claim that a covering had been placed over their hearts which prevented them from grasping the message of the Prophet (peace be on him). See Ibn Kathir's commentary on the verse. See also verse iv. 155.]

The root kafara has many shades of meaning: (1) to deny God's goodness, to be ungrateful, (2) to reject Faith, deny His revelation, (3) to blaspheme, to ascribe some limitation or attribute to God which is derogatory to His nature. In a translation, one shade or another must be put forward according to the context, but all are implied.

Verses 89-90 Jews rejected the truth knowingly:
( 89 )   And when there came to them a Book from Allah confirming that which was with them - although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved - but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it; so the curse of Allah will be upon the disbelievers.
 Before the advent of the Prophet, the Jews were eagerly awaiting a Prophet whose coming had been prophesied by their own Prophets. In fact, the Jews used to pray for his advent so that the dominance of the unbelievers could come to an end and the age of their own dominance be ushered in. The people of Madina were witnesses to the fact that these same Jewish neighbours of theirs had yearned for the advent of such a Prophet. They often used to say: 'People may oppress us today as they wish, but when our awaited Prophet comes, we will settle our scores with our oppressors.'

Since the people of Madina had themselves heard such statements they were inclined to embrace the religion of the Prophet all the more readily lest their Jewish neighbours supersede them in acquiring this honour. It was therefore astonishing for them to find that when the promised Prophet did appear those same Jews who had so eagerly looked forward to welcoming him turned into his greatest enemies.

The statement 'and they recognized it' is confirmed by several contemporaneous events. The most authentic evidence in this connection is that of Safiyah, a wife of the Prophet, who was herself the daughter of one learned Jewish scholar (Huyayy b. Akhtab) and the niece of another (Abu Yasir). She says that when the Prophet migrated to Madina both her father and uncle went to meet him and conversed with him for quite a while. When they returned home, she heard the following conversation:
Uncle: Is he really the same Prophet whose advent has been prophesied in our Scriptures?
Father: By God, he is.
Uncle: Do you believe that?
Father: Yes..
Uncle. Then what do you intend to do?
Father: 1 will continue to oppose him and will not let his claim prevail as long as I live.
(Ibn Hishim, Sirah, eds., Mustafa al-Saqqa' et al., 2 vols., II edition, Cairo, 137511955, see vol. 1, pp. 518 f. See also Ibn IshAq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. and notes by A. Guillaume, London, Oxford University Press, 1955, pp. 241 f. - Ed.)

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Jews, who pretended to be so superior to the people without Faith - the Gentiles - should have been the first to recognize the new Truth - or the Truth renewed - which it was Muhammad's mission to bring because it was so similar in form and language to what they had already received. But they had more arrogance than faith. It is this want of faith that brings on the curse, i.e., deprives us (if we adopt such an attitude) of the blessings of God. Again the lesson applies to a much wider circle than the Jews. We are all apt, in our perverseness, to reject an appeal form our brother even more summarily than one from an outsider. If we have a glimmering of the truth, we are apt to make ourselves impervious to further truth, and thus lose the benefit of Allah's Grace.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
One may want to know why the Holy Qur'an calls the Jews Kafirun (infidels), when they did recognize the truth as truth, which should qualify them to be called "believers." Let us explain that 'Iman (faith) does not merely mean "knowing the truth", but really signifies "accepting the truth and affirming it deed-wise." Otherwise, Satan too will have to be called a believer, for he knows fully well what the truth is. In fact, this knowledge of the truth on the part of Satan intensifies the gravity of his Kufr (infidelity) all the more.

However, the next verse attributes the infidelity of the Jews to their malice.
( 90 )   How wretched is that for which they sold themselves - that they would disbelieve in what Allah has revealed through [their] outrage that Allah would send down His favor upon whom He wills from among His servants. So they returned having [earned] wrath upon wrath. And for the disbelievers is a humiliating punishment.
Another possible rendering of the same verse is: 'And how evil is that for the sake of which they have sold themselves', i.e. for the sake of which they have sacrificed their ultimate happiness and salvation.

They had longed for the promised Prophet to arise from among their own people. But when he arose among a different people, a people they despised, they decided to reject him. It was as if they thought God was duty-bound to consult them in appointing Prophets, and since in this case He had failed to do so they felt they had a right to be offended by God's 'arbitrariness'.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Racial arrogance made the Jews averse to the reception of Truth when it came through a servant of God, not of their own race. Again the lesson is wider. Is that averseness unknown in our own times, and among other races? Yet how can a race or a people set bounds to God's choice? God is the Creator and Cherisher of all races and all worlds.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Prophethood cannot be earned through one's own efforts or one's own merit; it is a special grace which Allah bestows on whomsoever He likes. But the Jews were so envious and malicious that they denied the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Holy Quran out of sheer spite. In doing so, they were questioning the will of Allah Himself. Thus, they earned divine wrath in two ways - firstly, for denying a true prophet; and secondly,.f or their envy and malice.

The Holy Qur'an says that the Jews will have to undergo a punishment which would involve not only pain, but also disgrace and abasement. The latter condition has been added to suggest that this kind of punishment is peculiar to the infidels, and is not meant for a true Muslim at all, for a Muslim, no matter how great his sins are, will be punished for the purpose of being purified, not for being disgraced.

The next verse reports what the Jews used to say with regard to the Holy Qur'an, which clearly shows their envy and malice as well as their infidelity (Kufr).

Verses 91-92 Nature of the Jews' belief:
( 91 )   And when it is said to them, "Believe in what Allah has revealed," they say, "We believe [only] in what was revealed to us." And they disbelieve in what came after it, while it is the truth confirming that which is with them. Say, "Then why did you kill the prophets of Allah before, if you are [indeed] believers?"
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Even the race argument is often flimsy and hollow pretext. Did not the Jews reject Prophets of their own race who told them unpleasant truths? And do not other nations do likewise? The real trouble is selfishness, narrowness, a mean dislike of anything which runs counter to habits, customs or inclinations.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The Jews flatly refused to believe in any Book of Allah -- like the Evangel (The Christian Gospel) or the Holy Qur'an - except in the Torah. This denial is a clear evidence of their infidelity (Kufr). Moreover, they also used to add that they believe in the Torah, for it had been sent down to them. This comes to mean that they denied the other Books just because they had not been sent down to them. Such an argument betrays their envy and malice.

The Holy Qur'an refutes their argument in three ways:-
(1) When the truth and authenticity of the other Books has been established on the basis of irrefutable arguments, what does, then, this denial mean? If they had any doubts as to the arguments on the basis of which authenticity was being claimed for these Books, they could very well have voiced this doubt, and satisfied themselves on this point. But why this flat refusal to believe?

(2) The other Books, like the Holy Qur'an, confirm the Torah. If one denies them, one at the same time denies the Torah itself.

(3) To slay a prophet is tantamount to infidelity (Kufr), according to all the Divine Books. Moreover, the prophets whom the Jews had killed were themselves Israelites, and their teachings, were based on the injunctions of the Torah. But the Jews not only killed these prophets, but also accepted the killers as their chiefs. This is a direct denial of the Torah, and falsifies their claim that they believe in the Torah.

In short, nothing that the Jews say or do is acceptable and valid from any possible point of view.

The next verses proceed to refute the Jews on several other counts: 
( 92 )   And Moses had certainly brought you clear proofs. Then you took the calf [in worship] after that, while you were wrongdoers.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The "clear signs" mentioned in the verse refers to the miracles which had manifested themselves even before the Torah was given to Prophet Musa (Moses peace be upon him) - for example, his staff that turned into a snake, the palm of his hand which shone brightly, the splitting of the sea to make a path for the Israelites, etc. These miracles were meant to affirm the Oneness of Allah and His omnipotence, and to provide an evidence for the prophethood of Prophet Musa (Moses peace be upon him).

In refutation of the Jews, the verse points out that although they lay a claim to 'Iman (faith), yet have been falling into the sin of Shirk (association), which involves a denial not only of Prophet Musa (Moses peace be upon him) but even of Allah Himself.

Although the Jews who were the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) , did not themselves take part in the worship of the golden calf, yet they respected such of their forefathers as had done so, and took their side. So, for all practical purposes, they too were guilty of the same sin.

The verse 'also suggests that no wonder if these people, whose forefathers denied Prophet Musa (Moses peace be upon him), should now be denying the  Holy Prophet(peace be upon him).

Verses 93-93 Israelites love for the calf was more than their love for Allah: 
( 93 )   And [recall] when We took your covenant and raised over you the mount, [saying], "Take what We have given you with determination and listen." They said [instead], "We hear and disobey." And their hearts absorbed [the worship of] the calf because of their disbelief. Say, "How wretched is that which your faith enjoins upon you, if you should be believers."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Cf. the introductory words of ii. 63 which are the same as the introductory words here but the argument is developed in a different direction in the two places. In ii. 63, after they are reminded of the solemn Covenant under the towering height of Mount Sinai they are told how they broke the Covenant in after ages. Here, after they are reminded of the same solemn Covenant, they are told that even then they never meant to observe it. Their thought is expressed in biting words of sarcasm. They said in words: "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do" But they said in their hearts: "We shall disobey".
What they should have said was: "We hear and we obey" this is the attitude of the true men of Faith (ii. 285).
After the Commandments and the Law had been given at Mount Sinai, and the people had solemnly given their Covenant, Moses went up to the Mount, and in his absence, the people made the golden calf. When Moses returned, his anger waxed hot. "He took the Calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it." (Exod. xxxii. 20). This incident is interpreted in the Qur'an allegorically. The Calf is the symbol of disobedience, rebellion, want of faith. It was like a taint of poison. Their punishment was to swallow the taint of poison which they had themselves produced. They swallowed it not into their stomachs, but into their hearts, their very being. They had to mortify and humble themselves in the sight of God, as was shown in another allegory based on the Jewish narrative (see ii. 54 and note, above).

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Having referred to such example of their perversity and rebellion, the Holy Qur'an asks the Jews to have a look at themselves and also at their claim to genuine faith. Could a true faith ever inspire men to such deeds? If it is their brand of "faith" which leads them into such grave sins, then it cannot be a true faith. Hence their claim to be true believers is evidently false.

 Verses 94-96 Jews' claim of exclusive right to inherit paradise is put to test:
( 94 )   Say, [O Muhammad], "If the home of the Hereafter with Allah is for you alone and not the [other] people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful.
This is a subtle, satirical reference to their excessive worldliness. Those who really care for the Hereafter neither set their hearts on earthly life, nor are they unduly frightened of death. The condition of the Jews was the reverse of this.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The Jews used to claim that the blessings of the other world were specially reserved for them, and were not, meant for any other people. Certain other verses of the Holy Qur'an too refer to such a claim on the part of the Jews, and also of the Christians: "They say: The fire will not touch us but for a few days"(2:80), "And they say: No one will enter Paradise except he who is a Jew or Christian" (2:111), "And the Jews and the Christians said: We are the sons of Allah and His close friends" (5:18). What they meant in making such a claim was that since their own faith was the true one, they must certainly attain salvation in the other world -- the repentant and the forgiven being admitted to Paradise from the very beginning, the sinners finding release from the fires of Hell after undergoing a punishment for a few days, and the obedient receiving a welcome like sons and beloved friends. 

The use of certain improper expressions like "sons of Allah" not- withstanding, 'these claims are in themselves quite correct, provided that they pertain to people who follow a true and valid faith. But the Jews (and the Christians as well) were still following a faith which had been abrogated, and was thus no longer valid -- a fact which nullified their claim. So, the Holy Qur'an has refuted the claim again and again in different ways, and the present verse has adopted a special mode. The habitual method of settling a dispute is to have a discussion and let both the parties present their own arguments. Since the Jews knew they could not win, they fought shy of this normal way. So, the Holy Qur'an suggests an abnormal method, which would not call for much knowledge or understanding, but only put a little strain on the tongue. The proposed trial consists in this -- if the Jews are so sure of the blessings of the other world being reserved for themselves, they should declare that they wish to die, and this declaration would establish them as being genuine in their faith; but if they refuse to accept the challenge, it would show that they were liars. The Holy Qur'an also predicts that they would never have the courage to go through the trial. In view of their hostility to the Holy Prophet & , one could expect them to take up such a simple challenge very zealously. But they knew very well in their heart of hearts that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslims stood for the truth, while they themselves were the champions of falsehood, and were, in actual fact, infidels. So, they refused to go through the trial, for they were struck with awe, and feared that as soon as they had expressed the wish to die, death would come over them, and they would be sent to Hell. This recalcitrance is, thus, in itself an evidence of the truth of Islam. 

Here we must note that the trial was proposed not for all the Jews of all the ages, but specially for those who were the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), and who used to deny him out of sheer envy and malice, in spite of having recognized that he was a genuine prophet. 

Nor should one raise the doubt here that they had perhaps accepted the challenge, and "wished" for death in their hearts, as the Holy Qur'an seems to ask. For one, the Holy Qur'an itself reports the prediction that they would never "wish for it." Secondly, if they could wish for death in their hearts, they must have declared it orally too, for their victory lay in just such a declaration, and this was a very easy way of refuting the Holy Prophet & . But they did not avail themselves of this opportunity. 
Nor can one suppose that they did make an oral declaration, for the fact has not been reported, and thus has not come down to us. Such a supposition would be wrong, because the opponents of Islam have always outnumbered its adherents, and if such a thing had happened, they must have been trumpeting it aloud to show to the world that the Jews had successfully passed the test proposed by the Holy Qur'an itself. 
( 95 )   But they will never wish for it, ever, because of what their hands have put forth. And Allah is Knowing of the wrongdoers.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The phrase "What their hands have sent on before them" frequently occurs in the Qur'an. Here, and in many places, it refers to sins. In such passages as lxxviii. 40, or lxxxi. 14, it is implied that both good and bad deeds go before us to the judgement seat of God before we do ourselves. In ii. 110, it is the good that goes before us. Our deeds are personified. They are witnesses for or against us, and they always go before us. Their good or bad influence begins to operate before we even know it. This is more general than the New Testament idea in the First Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy, v. 24: "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after."
( 96 )   And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life - [even] more than those who associate others with Allah. One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do.
The Arabic text implies that the Jews were so frightened of death and so keen to remain alive that they did not mind whether they led an honourable and dignified existence, or whether their life was one of indignity and humiliation.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
This verse shows the basic weakness of the Jews which did not allow them to accept the challenge proposed in Verse 94, and thus exposes the hollowness of their claim to the blessings of the other world being reserved for them. The Holy Qur'an puts a special emphasis on the fact that the Jews loved physical life much more than did the Arab polytheists. Such an inclination should not have been surprising on' the part of the latter, for, after all, they did not believe in the other world, and physical life was the be-all and end-all for them. But the Jews acknowledged the existence of the other world, and even had the illusion that they alone deserved its joys, and yet it was they who, above all others, wished to live in this world as long as possible. This very desire shows how baseless their pretention was, and how they themselves knew that they would have to face the fires of Hell in the other world, and that physical life was, as long as it lasted, a kind of protection against their final fate.

Ruku / Section 12 [Verses 97-103]
Verses 97-98 Their animosity for Gabriel and other angels:
( 97 )   Say, "Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel - it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur'an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers."
The Jews not only reviled the Prophet (peace be on him) and his followers but also God's chosen angel, Gabriel, denouncing him as their enemy, and branding him as the angel of curse rather than of blessing.

Since Gabriel communicated the revealed messages with God's approval the abuses of the Jews which were apparently aimed at Gabriel should be considered as directed at God. They abused Gabriel because he had brought the Qur'an from God, and since the Qur'an on the whole confirms the Torah this too became a co-sharer in those abuses.

Here there is a subtle suggestion that the wrath of the Jews was, in fact, directed against true guidance and righteousness even though acceptance of these would have brought them good tidings as to their own success.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
A party of the Jews in the time of Muhammad ridiculed the Muslim belief that Gabriel brought down revelations to Muhammad Mustafa. Michael was called in their books "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people": (Daniel xiii. 1). The vision of Gabriel inspired fear (Daniel, viii. 16-17). But this pretence - that Michael was their friend and Gabriel their enemy - was merely a manifestation of their unbelief in angels, apostles, and God Himself; and such unbelief could not win the love of God. In any case it was disingenuous to say that they believed in one angel and not in another. Muhammad's inspiration was through visions of Gabriel. Muhammad had been helped to the highest spiritual light, and the message which he delivered and his spotless integrity and exemplary life were manifest Signs which every one could understand except those who were obstinate and perverse. Besides, the verses of the Qur'an were in themselves reasonable and clear.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The perversity of the Jews was very fertile, and gave them ever-new excuses for denying the Holy Prophet &$ . when they learnt that it was Archangel Jibra'il (Gabriel) who brought the Glorious Qur'an to the Holy Prophet & , they said that the Archangel was their enemy, as it was through him that rigorous commandments or catastrophic punishments had always descended on them,. and that for this reason they would not accept a Book which had been revealed through his agency. They also added that they could have accepted the Holy Qur'an, if the Archangel Mika'il (Michael ) had brought it down, for he is connected with rain and with divine mercy.

In refuting this argument, the Holy Qur'an points out that Jibra'il is only a messenger, and has, acting only as a messenger, brought down the Holy Qur'an under a divine command to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) . So, why should the Jews be so particular about the messenger, and not look at the Book itself? As for the Book, it confirms the earlier Books of Allah, provides guidance to men, and gives good tidings to the believers. This being what the Divine Books are meant for, the Holy Qur'an is evidently enough a Divine Book, and must, as such be obeyed. To deny it on account of one's hostility to Jibra'il 4 r~~ is sheer stupidity or outright perversity. Now, as for the attitude of the Jews towards Jibra'il, the Holy Qur'an declares that to be hostile to the angels (including Jibra'il and Mika'il or to the prophets is tantamount to being hostile to Allah Himself. Verse 98 puts down the enemies of angels and prophets as infidels in saying that Allah is the enemy of the infidels. In other words, those who deny or oppose the angels and the prophets will have their due punishment in the other world.

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi has, in his "Bayan al-Quran", warned against the possibility of very grave error that may arise with regard to the statement in Verse 97 that the Archangel Jibra'il (Gabriel) has "brought down the Book on the heart" of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) . The error would lie in drawing from this phrase the conclusion that Allah has not revealed the words of the Holy Qur'an but only the meanings. Such a supposition is quite baseless, because many verses of the Holy Qur'an itself mention the Arabic language as the vehicle of revelation in the case of this particular Book of Allah. That should leave no room for any doubt. Moreover, the "heart" perceives words as much as it does meanings; in fact, the perceiving agent is the "heart", while the ears etc. are only its instruments. Specially, in the state of revelation, the external organs of the senses become dormant, and the heart receives even the words directly without the intervention of the ears. Although we cannot understand the nature of revelation properly, yet, choosing a mundane analogy, one can say that while dreaming in our sleep we do hear words and remember them afterwards, in spite of our external sense of hearing having been suspended while we dreamt. This example should make it easy to see that the revelation of meanings to the heart does in no way preclude the revelation of words as well. Anyhow, it is a sin - and an intellectual dishonesty - to rely on one's own conjectures in defiance of a clear and definite statement in the Holy Qur'an.
( 98 )   Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and His messengers and Gabriel and Michael - then indeed, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers.
 99-100 Their faithlessness:
( 99 )   And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
In denying the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), the Jews used to say that no clear evidence or sign of his prophethood had been revealed to him such as they could recognize and accept. In reply to this the Holy Qur'an says that Allah has revealed a number of very clear signs and evidences of his prophethood which even they know and understand very well. So, their denial is not based on a lack of recognition or knowledge, but on their habitual disobedience, for, as a general rule, no one denies such evidence except those who are willful and stubborn in their disobedience. 
( 100 )   Is it not [true] that every time they took a covenant a party of them threw it away? But, [in fact], most of them do not believe.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Allah had, as the Torah itself reports, made the Jews take the pledge that they would have faith in the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  when he appeared. On being reminded of it, the Jews flatly denied even having taken such a pledge. Commenting on this effrontery, the Holy Qur'an says that this is not the only instance of such a conduct on their part, for the Jews have, in fact, never fulfilled even those pledges which they acknowledge, and one group or another from among them has always been breaking the compacts they have entered into, specially with regard to religious matters. It can even be said that most of those who have been guilty of such gross violations, did not-at all believe in the compacts which they made with Allah. Going against a pledge is only a sin and transgression, but having no faith in the pledge which one gives to Allah is outright infidelity.

The Holy Qur'an specifically speaks of one group or another breaking the pledge, and not of all the Jews. For there were some among them who did fulfill the pledges, so much so that many Jews finally accepted Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a true prophet, and joined the ranks of the Muslims.

101-103 Their accusation against Prophet Solomon (Sulaiman) and their learning of witchcraft:
( 101 )   And when a messenger from Allah came to them confirming that which was with them, a party of those who had been given the Scripture threw the Scripture of Allah behind their backs as if they did not know [what it contained]. 
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
I think that by "the Book of God" here is meant, not the Qur'an, but the Book which the People of the Book had been given, viz., the previous Revelations. The argument is that Muhammad's Message was similar to Revelations which they had already received, and if they had looked into their own Books honestly and sincerely, they would have found proofs in them to show that the new Message was true and from God. But they ignored their own Books or twisted or distorted them according to their own fancies. Worse, they followed something which was actually false and mischievous and inspired by the evil one. Such was the belief in magic and sorcery. These are described in the next verse in terms referring to the beliefs and practices of the "People of the Book."

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The previous verse had told us how the breaking of pledges and disobedience had become a regular habit with the Jews. The present verse gives us the latest instance, which is the most relevant to the context.

The Torah had already given the Jews the good tidings of the coming of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). When he actually came with all signs which the Torah had indicated, thus confirming the Sacred Book of the Jews, a large number of them refused to accept him as a prophet. In doing this, they were, in fact, denying the Torah itself, and behaving as if they know nothing of the prophecy, or even the Torah being a Book of Allah. Thus, they were being guilty of infidelity (Kufr) even in terms of the Torah itself.
(102 )   And they followed [instead] what the devils had recited during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching people magic and that which was revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut and Marut. But the two angels do not teach anyone unless they say, "We are a trial, so do not disbelieve [by practicing magic]." And [yet] they learn from them that by which they cause separation between a man and his wife. But they do not harm anyone through it except by permission of Allah. And the people learn what harms them and does not benefit them. But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.
'Evil ones' embraces all evil beings, whether they belong to the human species or to the jinn. Here the reference seems to be to both.

When moral and material decline set in among the Israelites, they were overwhelmed with slavery and ignorance, with misery and poverty, and with humiliation and decadence. They were thus drained of all high ambitions and increasingly turned to magic, sorcery, witchcraft, charms and amulets. They began to search for facile means such as spells that would spare them hard work and yet ensure the achievement of their desired ends. At this stage they were misled by the evil ones, who made them believe that the mighty kingdom and astonishing power of Solomon were merely due to occult sciences and magical formulae, and that by revealing those they would pass on to them the keys to success. People were so engrossed in such practices that they ignored both the Book of God and anyone who summoned them to truth and righteousness.

There are various opinions on the interpretation of this verse. My own conclusion is that at the time when the whole Israelite nation was chained in slavery and captivity in Babylonia God sent two angels in human form in order to test the Jews. In the same way as angels were sent to the people of Lot in the form of handsome youths see (Quran 11: 69), they were presumably sent to Israel in the form of divines who could work magic and sorcery. These angels at once began working their magical wonders but they warned the people that their presence among them was designed to test their faith, and that they ought not to jeopardize their After-life by the practice of magic. Despite the warning it seems that the Israelites had become so fond of their magical artifices that they continued to resort to talismans and sorcery.

It should not surprise anyone that angels came down to earth in human form; angels are dutiful servants of God's kingdom, and are capable of assuming the form appropriate to the specific task they are required to perform at any particular time. Who knows how many angels may be busy performing their duties in our midst even today!

One might also wonder why angels should teach people magic, which is after all intrinsically evil. In order to understand this we must remember that the nature of their task was no different from that of an undercover policeman who hands over marked currency notes to a corrupt official as a bribe with the aim of ensuring that he is caught red-handed.

This shows that the greatest demand was for magical arts and charms to sow discord between a man and his wife and to procure the eventual seduction of the latter. This was the depth of moral depravity to which these people had fallen. A people cannot sink to a lower level of moral degeneracy than when adulterous affairs become their favourite pastime, and when seducing a married woman is considered a boastful achievement. The matrimonial relationship is, in truth, the very foundation of man's collective life. The soundness of human civilization depends on the soundness of the relationship between the two sexes. Hence, nothing could be worse than the person who strikes at the very foundations of the structure which supports both him and society as a whole.

There is a Tradition from the Prophet to the effect that Satan sends his agents on their missions to all parts of the world. On their return these agents report their achievements with each mentioning his own special evil act. But Satan is not completely satisfied with any of them. It is only when an agent reports that he has succeeded in separating a wife from her husband that Satan is filled with joy and embraces him. (Bukhari, 'Talaq', 25 - Ed.) In the light of this Tradition it is understandable why the angels who were sent to the Israelites to test them were asked to disclose those magical arts which would lead to separation between a husband and his wife, for the inclination of a people to learn such arts is a sure index of its moral decadence.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
This is a continuation of the argument in ii. 101. The People of the Book, instead of sticking to the plain Books of Revelations, and seeking to do the will of God ran after all sorts of occult knowledge, most of which was false and evil. Many wonderful tales of occult power attributed the power of Solomon to magic. But Solomon dealt in not arts of evil. It was the powers of evil that pretended to force the laws of nature and the will of God; such a pretense is plainly blasphemy.

What the evil ones learnt from Harut and Marut (see last note) they turned to evil. When mixed with fraud and deception, it appeared as charms and spells of love potions. They did nothing but cause discord between the sexes. But of course their power was limited to the extent to which God permitted the evil to work, for His grace protected all who sought His guidance and repented and returned to Him. But apart from the harm that these false pretenders might do to others, the chief harm which they did was to their own souls. They sold themselves into slavery to the Evil One, as is shown in the allegory of Goethe's Faust. That allegory dealt with the individual soul. Here the tragedy is shown to occur not only to individuals but to whole groups of people, for example, the People of the Book. Indeed the story might be extended indefinitely.
( 103 )   And if they had believed and feared Allah, then the reward from Allah would have been [far] better, if they only knew.
Ruku / Section 13 [Verses 104-112]

Verses 104-105 Etiquette to address the Prophet of Allah:

يٰٓاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تَقُوۡلُوۡا رَاعِنَا وَ قُوۡلُوا انۡظُرۡنَا وَاسۡمَعُوۡا ​ؕ وَلِلۡڪٰفِرِيۡنَ عَذَابٌ اَلِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 104 )   O you who have believed, say not [to Allah 's Messenger], "Ra'ina" but say, "Unzurna" and listen. And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment.
This and the following verses inform the followers of the Prophet (peace be on him) of the machinations of the Jews against Islam and the Muslims, and dispel any doubts and misgivings they tried to create in their minds. Special attention is paid to the points raised during controversial discussions between Muslims and Jews. It is useful to note here that when the Prophet (peace be on him) arrived in Madina and the message of Islam began to spread the Jews tried to engage Muslims in controversial religious discussions. They raised all kinds of involved and suspicion-provoking problems so as to contaminate the simple and pure-hearted Muslims with the spiritual diseases from which they themselves suffered. Not only that, they resorted to sly and deceptive talk in the presence of the Prophet.

When the Jews visited the Prophet they tried to vent their spite by using ambiguous expressions in their greetings and conversation. They, used words which had double meanings, one innocent and the other offensive. After using quite proper expressions they would then whisper some malicious words. Ostensibly they maintained the decorum of respect and courtesy while sparing no underhand means to insult the Prophet. Later we shall encounter several examples of this kind of behaviour. The particular expression referred to here, and which the Muslims were asked to avoid using since it lent itself to abuse, was employed by the Jews when in conversation with the Prophet, whenever they wanted to request a short pause in which to finish whatever they wanted to say. They, used the expression ra'ina, which meant 'kindly indulge us' or ' kindly lend ear to us'.

It was possible, however, for the expression to be used with quite a different shade of meaning. In Hebrew, for instance, there is a word similar to it which means: 'Listen, may you become deaf.' In the same language it also means arrogant, ignorant and fool. In actual conversation it was also used on occasions when one wanted to say: 'If you listen to me, 1 will listen to you.' When it was pronounced with a slight twist of the tongue it turned into ra'ina, meaning 'our shepherd'.

It is because of the possibility of the word being used in these different senses that Muslims were asked to avoid it and to use instead the straightforward expression unzurna, meaning 'kindly favour us with your attention' or 'kindly grant us a while to follow (what you are saying)'. This advice was followed by the admonition to listen attentively to what the Prophet said, for the Jews used to ask for the same thing to be repeated merely because they did not pay proper attention to what the Prophet said but instead were engrossed in their own thoughts. If the Muslims were to heed what the Prophet said, they would scarcely need to make such requests.
( 105 )   Neither those who disbelieve from the People of the Scripture nor the polytheists wish that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord. But Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The previous verse told us how the Jews behaved towards the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) ; the present verse speaks of their behaviour towards Muslims in general. Some of the Jews used to assure the Muslims of their sincerity towards them, and to pretend that they would very much have liked the Muslims to have received from Allah religious doctrines and commandments superior to what they themselves had received, so that they too could accept them, but unfortunately Islam did not seem to be a better religion.

The Holy Qur'an refutes their claim to be the well-wishers of the Muslims, and declares that the infidels, whether they be the Jews or the associates, are so jealous of Muslims that they can never like the idea of their receiving from Allah any kind of blessing whatsoever. Of course, this jealousy can do no harm to the Muslims, for Allah is Beneficent and All-Powerful, and can shower his special blessings on whomsoever He chooses. These Jews used to make two claims -- firstly, that Judaism was a better religion than Islam; secondly, that they were the well-wishers of the Muslims. They could not establish the first of these claims on the basis of any valid argument, and it remained an empty assertion. Moreover, the difference between Islam and Judaism does not primarily depend on the question of one being better than the other. For, when something new comes to abrogate something older, the latter is automatically given up -- and Allah has sent Islam to abrogate all the earlier religions. The fact being so obvious, the Holy Qur'an says nothing in refutation of the first claim, and takes up only the second. The mushrikk (associates) have been mentioned here along with the Jews for the sake of emphasis, and to point out that Jews cannot be the well-wishers of Muslims any more than mushrik''n can -- the two being alike in their hatred of Muslims.

Verses 106-107 Abrogation and / or substitution of the verses of Al-Quran:

مَا نَنۡسَخۡ مِنۡ اٰيَةٍ اَوۡ نُنۡسِهَا نَاۡتِ بِخَيۡرٍ مِّنۡهَآ اَوۡ مِثۡلِهَا ​ؕ اَلَمۡ تَعۡلَمۡ اَنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيۡرٌ‏ 
( 106 )   We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent? 
This is in response to a doubt which the Jews tried to implant in the minds of the Muslims. If both the earlier Scriptures and the Qur'an were revelations from God, why was it - they asked - that the injunctions found in the earlier Scriptures had been replaced by new ones in the Qur'an? How could the same God issue divergent injunctions? Furthermore, they expressed their amazement at the Qur'anic indictment of the Jews and Christians for having allowed part of the revelation to be forgotten and lost, pointing out that it was impossible that Divine revelation should be erased from human memory. In all this, their motive was not to know the truth but to cast doubt on the Divine origin of the Qur'an. In refutation God states that He being the Absolute Sovereign has unlimited authority both to abrogate previous injunctions and to cause people to forget the injunctions He wants them to forget. However, God ensures that whatever He abrogates or causes to be erased from people's memories is replaced by something equally or even more beneficial.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The word which I have translated by the word "revelations" is Ayat.  It is not only used for verses of the Qur'an, but in a general sense for God's revelations, as in ii. 39 and for other Signs of God in history or nature, or miracles, as in ii. 61. It has even been used for human signs and tokens of wonder, as, for example, monuments or landmarks built by the ancient people of Ad (xxvi. 128). What is the meaning here? If we take it in a general sense, it means that God's Message from age to age is always the same, but that its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of the time. That form was different as given to Moses and then to Jesus and then to Muhammad. Some commentators apply it also to the Ayat of the Qur'an. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation. In iii. 7 we are told distinctly about the Qur'an, that some of its verses are basic or fundamental, and others are allegorical, and it is mischievous to treat the allegorical verses and follow them (literally). On the other hand, it is absurd to treat such a verse as ii. 115 as if it were abrogated by ii. 144 about the Qibla. We turn to the Qibla, but we do not believe that God is only in one place. He is everywhere. See explanation of verse ii. 144.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
At first, Muslims used to pray with their faces turned towards the Baytul-Maqdis at Jerusalem; later on, Allah commanded them to turn towards the Ka'bah. Similarly, certain other injunctions were abrogated altogether, or replaced by others. This provided the Jews and some of the associates too with an occasion to taunt the Muslims, and to say that such changes were made by the Holy Prophet & himself and not by Allah. Their purpose was to sow the seed of doubt in the mind of the Muslims with regard to the Holy Qur'an being a book revealed by Allah. They used to argue that if everything that Allah revealed was good, as the Muslims affirmed, why should one injunction be re- placed by another? For, it would only mean that one of the two injunctions must be good, and the other evil, but no divine revelation can possibly be evil. Putting these two premises together, the Jews tried to draw the conclusion that the Holy Qur'an could not be a revealed book.

Verse 106 speaks of Allah abrogating certain verses, or making men forget certain others. The first phrase of the verse, thus covers all the possible forms in which a verse of the Qur'an can be abrogated. The Arabic word in the text is Naskh, which has two lexical meanings (1) to write, and (2) to abolish, to repeal. According to the consensus of all the commentators, the word has been employed in this verse in the second sense - that is, the repeal or abrogation of an injunction. So, in the terminology of the Holy Qur'an and the Hadith, Naskh signifies the promulgation of an injunction in place of another - whether the later injunction merely consists in the repeal of the earlier or, substitutes a new regulation in its place. The other form of Naskh mentioned in this verse is that sometimes Allah made the Holy Prophet &$ and the blessed Companions forget a certain verse altogether. The commentators have cited several instances of this kind of Naskh, and the purpose in such cases has usually been to repeal a certain regulation.
( 107 )   Do you not know that to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and [that] you have not besides Allah any protector or any helper?
 Verse 108 Questioning the Prophet:
( 108 )   Or do you intend to ask your Messenger as Moses was asked before? And whoever exchanges faith for disbelief has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way.
The Jews, who were addicted to hair-splitting arguments, instigated the Muslims to ask the Prophet a great many questions. God, therefore, cautioned the Muslims against following the example of the Jews in this matter, and admonished them against unnecessary inquisitiveness. The Prophet himself often warned the Muslims that excessive inquisitiveness (which was devoid of religious earnestness and the sincere desire to do God's will) had been the ruin of earlier religious communities. (Muslim, 'Fadail', 130; Bukhari, '1'tisim', 2 - Ed.) He stressed that people need not delve too deeply into questions left unelucidated by God or His Messenger. It was better to follow the injunctions which were clearly laid down, abstain from things prohibited, and avoid excessive inquiry about far-fetched, hypothetical issues, attending instead to questions of practical significance.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Moses was constantly harassed with foolish, impertinent, or disingenuous questions by his own people. We must not follow that bad example. Questions should be asked only for real instruction.

"Even way": the Arabic word sawaa signifies smoothness as opposed to roughness: symmetry as opposed to want of plan; equality or proportion as opposed to want of design; rectitude as opposed to crookedness; a mean as opposed to extremes; and fitness for the object held in view as opposed to faultiness.

Verses 109 Envy of Jews and Christian: 
( 109 )   Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves [even] after the truth has become clear to them. So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.
This means that one should neither allow oneself to get angry at their spite and hostility, nor waste one's valuable time by engaging in useless debates and acrimonious polemics. It is better to wait patiently and observe how God deals with them. Instead of wasting energy in frivolous pursuits such as those mentioned above one should spend it in the remembrance of God and in acts of goodness, for it is these rather than barren controversies that will benefit man in the Life to Come.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There words are used in the Qur'an, with a meaning akin to "forgive" but each with a different shade of meaning. Afa (here translated "forgive") means to forget, to obliterate from one's mind. Safaha (here translated "overlook") means to turn away from, to ignore, to treat a matter as if it did not affect one. Gafara (which does not occur in this verse) means to cover up something as God does to our sins with His grace; this word is particularly appropriate in God's attribute of Gaffar, the One who forgives again and again.

The word Amr is comprehensive and includes (1) an order or command as in xcvi. 12; or (2) a purpose, design, will as in xviii. 82; or (3) affairs, working, doing, carrying out or execution of a design, as in lxxxix 5. In many cases some of these meanings run together.

Note how this phrase, seemingly repeated from ii. 106, and occurring in many other places, has an appropriate signification in each place. In ii. 106 we were told about progressive revelation, how the same thing may take different forms and seeming human infirmity contribute to the fulfillment of God's design, for God's power is unlimited. Here we are told to be patient and forgiving against envy and injustice: this too may be fulfilling God's purpose, for His power is infinite.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Some of the Jews, pretending to be the well-wishers of the Muslims, were always inventing new stratagems to make them turn away from Islam, and, in spite of repeated failure in this effort, did not refrain from it. The verse warns the Muslims against their intentions, which are motivated, not by sincerity and friendship, but by envy -- which in its turn arises not from anything the Muslims do, but spontaneously from within themselves even after they have come to understand clearly what the truth is. The verse also asks the Muslims not to give way to their justifiable anger at such misconduct, but to forgive the Jews, and wait till Allah sends a new commandment with regard to such matters. Thus, the verse gives an indication that Allah is soon going to lay down a law for the preservation of peace and order on the earth which would guide the Muslims in dealing with mischief-makers -- the law, of course, being the permission to go to war against the enemies of Islam. The Muslims were actually conscious of their own weakness and the strength of their foe, and could have wondered how they would be able to act upon the new law. So, the verse reminds them that Allah's power extends over everything, small or big, ordinary or extraordinary.

 Verse 110 Open-end credit account for the Hereafter:
( 110 )   And establish prayer and give zakah, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah. Indeed, Allah of what you do, is Seeing.
Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The next verse asks the Muslims to continue offering their prayers and paying ZakZh and when the new law comes down, they can add the participation in a Jihad to these good deeds which they have already been performing. Nor should the Muslims suppose that until they can take part in a Jihad, mere prayers and fasting will not bring them the spiritual merit they desire; in fact, they shall receive a full reward in the other world for each and every good deed they perform, for Allah knows what people do, and not a particle of one's good deeds shall be lost.

This command to show forbearance towards the Jews was proper to the situations of the Muslims at that time. Later on, Allah fulfilled the promise made in verse 109, and sent down the injunction with regard to Jihad. Then, this new law was applied to the Jews as well as to other miscreants - in order to prevent disorder and to make peace and order prevail on the earth, Muslims went to war against them, and the mischief-makers were either killed, or forced into exile, or made to pay Jizyah.

 Verses 111-112 Jews' and Christians' false claim to inherit paradise:
( 111 )   And they say, "None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian." That is [merely] their wishful thinking, Say, "Produce your proof, if you should be truthful."
That is, all this is merely wishful thinking, even though they express thoughts as if they were really going to happen.
( 112 )   Yes [on the contrary], whoever submits his face in Islam to Allah while being a doer of good will have his reward with his Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The word translated "self" is Wajh, a comprehensive Arabic word. It means (1) literally "face" but it may imply (2) countenance or favour, as in xcii. 20; (3) honour, glory, Presence as applied to God, as in ii. 115 and perhaps also in lv. 27; (4) cause, sake ("for the sake of") as in lxxvi 8; (5) the first part, the beginning as in iii. 71; (6) nature, inner being, essence, self, as in v. 111, xxviii 88, and perhaps also in lv. 27. Here I understand meaning 6; the face expresses the personality or the whole inner self of man.

This phrase comes in aptly in its own context many times. In this Surah it occurs in 11, 38, 62, 112, 262, 274, and 277. It serves the same purpose as a refrain in a very well-arranged song, or a motif in Wagner's powerful music.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Verse 112 announces the reward of those who act upon these principles -- on the Day of Judgment, they shall have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve, as angels will give them good tidings. As for the debates among the Jews, the Christians and the associates,

Ruku / Section 14 [Verses 113-121]
 Verse 113 Religious prejudice of the Jews and the Christians:
( 113 )   The Jews say "The Christians have nothing [true] to stand on," and the Christians say, "The Jews have nothing to stand on," although they [both] recite the Scripture. Thus the polytheists speak the same as their words. But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is a sure sign of ignorance and prejudice when you study the same book as another or a similar one and yet are absolutely intolerant of the meaning which the other draws from it. You should know better, but you speak like the ignorant. In this case the primary reference in the word "ignorant" may be to the Pagan Arabs.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Verse 113 declares that Allah will Himself decide the question finally on the Day of Judgment. In fact, the question has already been settled on the basis of what Allah has revealed in His Books as well as on the basis of rational argument; the final decision on the Day of Judgment will be of the visible kind -- those who follow the Truth will be sent to Paradise, while those who go after falsehood will be cast down in Hell.

These verses (111-113) provide a warning to the Muslims as well, lest they too should delude themselves like the Jews and the Christians, and suppose that merely because they belong to the social community of Muslin~s and can, as such, claim to be Muslims, whereby they can dispense with the need to obey Allah and to follow the Shari'ah, and yet receive the rewards Allah has promised to give to true Muslims. Even Muslims have no right to hope for these rewards until and unless they submit themselves totally, in thought and deed both, to the commandments of Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him).

 Verse 114 Order not to prevent people from coming to the Masajid:
( 114 )   And who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allah from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction. It is not for them to enter them except in fear. For them in this world is disgrace, and they will have in the Hereafter a great punishment.
There is degradation for them in this world and a mighty chastisement in the Next.

Places of worship should properly remain in the custody of devout and God-fearing people, so that even if bad people did go there they would be deterred from committing misdeeds through fear of punishment. This is a subtle reference to the wrong perpetrated by the unbelievers of Makkah, who had barred their own compatriots - the Muslims - from worshiping in the House of God.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
There were actually Pagans in Mecca who tried to shut out the Muslim Arabs from the Ka'ba, the universal place of Arab worship. The Pagans themselves called it the House of God. With what face could they exclude the Muslims, who wanted to worship the true God instead of worshiping idols? If these Pagans had succeeded, they would only have caused violent divisions among the Arabs and destroyed the sanctity and the very existence of the Ka'ba.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Verse 114 lays down, or helps us to infer, some very important injunctions:-
(1) All the mosques in the world are equally worthy of respect. Just as it is a great sin to desecrate in any way the Baytul-Maqdis, or the mosque attached to the Ka'bah (AL-Masjid al-Haram) or the mosque of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) , the same prohibition holds good with regard to all other mosques. These three mosques, no doubt, enjoy a superior position, and special respect is to be paid to them. The reward for offering prayers once in Al-Masjid al-Haram is equal to that of praying a hundred thousand times elsewhere; the reward for praying in the mosque of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  and in the Baytul-Maqdis equals that of praying fifty thousand times. To make a long journey for the purpose of praying in any one of these three mosques is a meritorious act which makes one worthy of receiving a special barakah. On the other hand, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  has forbidden it that one should make a long journey in order to offer one's prayers in a mosque other than these three, believing it to be a meritorious act.
(2) It is forbidden to prevent people, in any form or manner possible, from offering their prayers or "remembering" Allah in a mosque. An obvious form of such interference is not to allow someone to enter a mosque or to offer his prayers or to read the Holy Qur'an there. A less explicit form is to produce some kind of a noise in the mosque itself or play music nearby, and thus to disturb people in their prayers or in their "remembrance" ((i) of Allah. Similarly, if one starts reciting the Holy Qur'an or "remembering" Allah loudly so as to disturb the people who are offering supererogatory prayers (Nawafil) or themselves reading the Holy Qur'an or silently "remembering" Allah (dhikr), one is being guilty of the same sin. Therefore, the Fuqahah (masters of Islamic jurisprudence) have forbidden this practice. But, if people are not present in the mosque, one may recite the Holy Qur'an or make "dhikr" in a loud voice. On the basis of this principle we can also see that it is forbidden to beg or to collect donations even for a religious purpose while people are engaged in their prayers or in "dhikr. "
(3) All the possible forms of laying waste a mosque are forbidden. This includes not only demolishing and destroying a mosque, but also producing conditions which result in a mosque being laid waste or deserted. For, laying waste a mosque implies that few, or only a few people should come there for offering their prayers. A mosque can be said to be flourishing, not on the score of the beauty of its architecture or of its ornamentation, but only when it is full of men who come to pray and to "remember" 
Allah says in Surah 9 Tauba:
Only those do populate the mosques of Allah who believe in Allah and in the Day of'Judgment, who are steadfast in Salah and pay the Zakah, and do not fear anyone but Allah" (9:18). 
So, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  has foretold that when the Day of Judgment comes close, the mosques of the Muslims would be beautifully designed and decorated and be apparently full of people, but they would in reality be deserted, for a few people would go there for the purpose of offering their prayers. We are also reminded of what the fourth Caliph and the blessed Companion %IT ~ls dl >J has said. There are, according to him, six deeds which behove a man -- three of them pertain to the state when one is living at home, and the other three to the state when one is on a journey. The first three are -- to read the Holy Qur'an, to populate the mosques, and to bring together a number of friends who wish to serve Allah and His faith. The other three are -- to spend out of what one has over one's needy companions of the way, to be polite to everyone, and to be cheerful with one's co-travelers so long as one does not go beyond the limits allowed by the Shari'ah. What he means by "populating" the mosques is that one should enter them in a spirit of humility and with the fear of Allah in one's heart, and then engage oneself in prayers or in reciting the Holy Qur'an or in making "dhikr.:' In opposition to this, the laying waste of mosques would mean that few, or only a few people should offer their prayers in them, or that a set of circumstances is allowed to develop which makes it difficult for those who are present to acquire the proper attitude of humility.

If Verse 114 was revealed on the occasion of the Peace of Hudaybiyyah when the mushrikin (associates) of Makkah had prevented the Muslims from entering Al-Masjid al-Haram, then it is quite obvious that laying waste a mosque does not merely mean demolishing it, but also that it is not being allowed to be used for the purpose for which it was built -- that is, for Salih and for the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah.

 Verses 115 All directions belong to Allah:
( 115 )   And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
Allah is neither eastern nor western. East and west, north and south, and indeed all places and directions are His, though He is not confined to any particular place or direction. Hence, if any place or direction is fixed for worship this does not mean that God dwells there. Likewise, changes in the direction of Prayer is not a proper subject for controversy and dispute.

That is, Allah is neither limited, mean, narrow-minded, nor poor in resources. All such notions about God, which arise from considering Him as essentially similar to human beings, are erroneous. God's realm is boundless and so is His vision and the range of His benevolence and mercy. Moreover, God's knowledge is all-embracing. He knows who remembers Him, as well as where, when and why he does that.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
As for Verse 115, we have already pointed out that Allah not being  limited to any particular direction or place, the Muslims do not, in turning towards the Ka'bah, at all mean to worship it, but that this particular orientation has been fixed on account of certain other considerations. We have also noted that for sixteen or seventeen months after the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  and the blessed Companions were made to turn towards the Baytul-Maqdis in their prayers under divine commandment. This was, so to say, a practical demonstration of the truth that one can find Allah in every direction, and that Allah's attention encompasses all possible directions and dimensions simultaneously. A further and permanent demonstration of the same truth is provided by the injunction with regard to supererogatory prayers (Nawafil). That is to say, if one wishes to offer such prayers while travelling on a horse or a camel etc., it is not necessary for him even to turn towards the Qiblah, for he is allowed to keep his face towards the direction in which his horse is moving, and to offer his supererogatory prayers through the gestures of his head and arms. In fact, according to certain commentators, Verse 115 lays down just this rule with regard to supererogatory prayers. But one must bear in mind that this injunction applies only to that form of travel which involves animals like a horse or a camel that makes it difficult for one to turn towards the Qiblah. But in other forms of travel (e.g., in a train or a ship or an aeroplane) where it is not difficult to turn towards the Qiblah, one has to adopt the proper orientation even in offering supererogatory prayers. However, should the train or the aeroplane change its direction while one is still praying and there is no room for readjusting one's orientation accordingly, one can go on and finish the prayers in the same state.

Similarly, if one does not know the direction of the Qiblah, nor can correctly determine it on account of the darkness of the night or for some other valid reason, nor can find someone to provide correct information, the same rule would apply in this case too. In such a situation, one is allowed to follow one's conjecture, and to turn in the direction which seems to be the most likely. The direction one chooses would serve as the Qiblah. If, having finished one's prayers, one discovers that the choice of this particular direction was wrong, even then one's prayers would remain acceptable, and one would not have to repeat them.

Verses 116-117 Accusation against Allah of having a son:
( 116 )   They say, "Allah has taken a son." Exalted is He! Rather, to Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are devoutly obedient to Him,
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
It is a derogation from the glory of Allah - in fact it is blasphemy - to say that Allah begets sons, like a man or an animal. The Christian doctrine is here emphatically repudiated. If words have any meaning, it would mean an attribution of Allah of a material nature, and of the lower animal functions of sex. In a spiritual sense, we are all children of Allah. And all Creation celebrates His glory. Verse 117 should be read with this to complete the argument.
( 117 )   Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The previous verse told us that everything in heaven and earth celebrates the glory of God. Lest anyone should think that the heavens and the earth were themselves primeval and eternal, we are now told that they themselves are creatures of God's will and design. Cf vi. 102, where the word bada'a is used as here for the creation of the heavens and the earth, and khalaqa is used for the creation of all things.

Bada'a goes back to the very primal beginning, as far as we can conceive it. The materialists might say that primeval matter was eternal; other things, i.e., the forms and shapes as we see them now, were called into being at some time or other, and will perish. When they perish, they dissolve into primeval matter again, which stands as the base of all existence. We go further back. We say that if we postulate such primeval matter, it owes its origin itself to God Who is the final basis of existence, the Cause of all Causes. If this is conceded, we proceed to argue that the process of Creation is not then completed. "All things in the heavens and on the earth" are created by gradual processes. In "things" we include abstract as well as material things. We see the abstract things and ideas actually growing before us. But that also is God's creation, to which we can apply the word khalaqa, for in it is involved the idea of measuring, fitting it into a scheme of other things. Cf. liv. 49; also xxv. 59. Here comes in what we know as the process of evolution. On the other hand, the "amr" (=Command, Direction, Design) is a single thing, unrelated to Time, "like the twinkling of an eye" (liv. 50). Another word to note in this connection is ja'ala "making" which seems to imply new shapes and forms, new dispositions, as the making of the Signs of the Zodiac in the heavens, or the setting out of the sun and moon for light, or the establishment of the succession of day and night (xxv 61-62). A further process with regard to the soul is described in the word sawwa, bringing it to perfection (xci. 7) but this we shall discuss in its place. Fatara (xlii. 11) implies, like bada'a, the creating of a thing out of nothing and after no preexisting similitude, but perhaps fatara implies the creation of primeval matter to which further processes have to be applied later, as when one prepares dough but leaves the leavining to be done after. Bada'a (without the 'ain), xxx. 27, implies beginning the process of creation; this is made further clear in xxxii. 7 where the beginning of the creation of pristine man from clay refers to his physical body, leaving the further processes of reproduction and the breathing in of the soul to be described in subsequent verses. Lastly, baraa is creation implying liberation from pre-existing matter or circumstance, e.g, man's body from clay (lix. 24) or a calamity from previously existing circumstances (lvii. 22). See also vi. 94, n. 916; vi. 98, n. 923; lix. 24

Verses 118-119 Al-Quran is the knowledge of truth:
( 118 )   Those who do not know say, "Why does Allah not speak to us or there come to us a sign?" Thus spoke those before them like their words. Their hearts resemble each other. We have shown clearly the signs to a people who are certain [in faith].
What they meant was that God should either appear before them Himself, tell them plainly that the Qur'an was a revelation from Him, and proclaim His injunctions, or cause them to see some extraordinary sign that would convince them that whatever Muhammad (peace be on him) told them was from Him.

The fact is that the misguided people of the time of the revelation of the Qur'an did not raise any objection or make any demands essentially different from those of the misguided people of the past. From the remote past till today, error and misguided seem to have the same character, so the same doubts and objections are repeated over and over again.

The demand that God should speak to them directly was too absurd even to be answered. The question dealt with here concerns the demand for a sign that would convince them of the Truth. In response to this it is pointed out that many signs do exist, but all such signs are of profit only to those who are inclined to believe. As for those who are bent on disbelief, what sign can be shown to them, and to what avail?
( 119 )   Indeed, We have sent you, [O Muhammad], with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire.
Why speak of other signs when the most conspicuous sign of Truth is the very person of Muhammad? Let us recall his life before the commencement of his prophethood, the conditions existing in the area where, and the people among whom, he was born, the manner in which he was brought up and spent the first forty years of his life, and then his glorious achievements as a Prophet. What further signs could we want in support of his message?

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
The implication of Verse 118 was that those who persisted in their denial of the Holy Prophet & did so out of sheer malice and ignorance, and could not be expected to reform themselves. Since he has been sent as "the mercy for all the worlds", the thought of their being incorrigible was likely to make him sad on their account. So, in this verse Allah offers him a consolation. He has been sent down to men, bearing the truth and the genuine faith. His function is twofold -- to give glad tidings to those who accept the truth, and warnings of dire punishment to those who deny. Allah assures him that he will not be held responsible or taken to account for those who willingly pursue the way to Hell. All that he is required to do is to keep performing his own function, and not to worry as to who accepts the truth and who does not.

Verses 120-121 Jews and Christians will never be pleased with you (Muslims): 
( 120 )   And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, "Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance." If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper.
The cause of their discontentment with the Prophet (peace be on him) was not that they were earnest seekers after the Truth which the Prophet had failed to make clear to them. The real cause of their unhappiness was that he had not resorted to hypocrisy and trickery, in regard to religious matters, that unlike them he did not pursue self-interest and self-indulgence under the facade of godliness and piety, that he did not twist religious principles and injunctions without scruple, as the Jews were wont to do in order to make them suit their desires and fancies, that he did not resort to the chicanery and duplicity which characterized the religious life of the Jews. As a result, it was no use trying to appease them. For unless the Muslims were prepared to assume the attitude and orientation of the Jews and to follow all their errors in belief and practice, there was no question of their being able to bring about any reconciliation with them.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Being anxious to save as many men as possible from misguidance and damnation, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  took great pains to convince the deniers, and was specially lenient and gentle with the People of the Book. In this verse, Allah informs him that their denial is not due to lack of convincing arguments and proofs, but is motivated by pride and self-satisfaction, for each of the two groups -- namely, the Jews and the Christians -- believes its own religion to be the only genuine religion, and there is no likelihood of pleasing either of them until and unless the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  accepts their religion. The religions of the Jews and the Christians, no doubt, were once genuine and had been instituted by Allah. But each had since distorted its religion out of shape; moreover, in sending down Islam as the final Shari'ah, Allah had abrogated all the earlier ones, and hence Islam had by now become the only Shari'ah acceptable to Allah, and in this sense the only genuine and veritable "guidance" possible in this last of all the ages.

It is on account of the present distorted state of the earlier religions, and specially because of their having been abrogated by Divine Commandment that Verse 120 equates them with Ahwa' (the plural of Hawa) -- that is to say, personal desires, or individual opinions and baseless conjectures. Since the deniers are not willing to extricate themselves from their desires and fancies, it is not possible to please them without accepting their opinions -- a thing which a Messenger of Allah can never do. Should they affect a more friendly stance towards the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) , Allah asks him to say to them in plain and simple words that the only guidance worth the name is that which comes from Allah -- and He has already made it clear enough that Islam is now the only form of "guidance" acceptable to Him.

Now, supposing just for the sake of supposing that he should accept their fancies in spite of having received the Truth from Allah through revelation, the verse informs him that in such a case he would find no helper to save him from divine wrath. Other verses of the Holy Qur'an, of course, definitely establish the fact that Allah is pleased and will always remain pleased with the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) , and thus he can never be the object of divine wrath. Since divine wrath necessarily follows upon the acceptance of baseless fancies, it is logically impossible for him to follow the opinions of the Jews and the Christians, as divine pleasure and divine wrath cannot be combined with each other. On the other hand, they can never be pleased with him unless he follows their wishes. Consequently, one cannot expect from them any change of heart. Hence, the purport of Verse 120 is to advise the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)  not to worry too much about them.
( 121 )   Those to whom We have given the Book recite it with its true recital. They [are the ones who] believe in it. And whoever disbelieves in it - it is they who are the losers.
This refers to the pious element among the People of the Book. Since these people read the Book with sincerity and honesty of purpose, they are inclined to accept whatever they find to be true according to it.

Mufti Muhammad Shaffi/Muhammad Taqi Usmani's Explanation:
Verse 120 dealt with the hopeless condition of the opponents of Islam among the People of the Book. Now, the present verse turns, in the usual manner of the Holy Qur'an, to the other aspect, and speaks of those Jews and Christians who were honest and just, and, having recognized the truth, affirmed the Holy Prophet & and accepted Islam.

The verse tells us how it has been possible for these men to effect a radical change in themselves. Allah has given a Book to the Christians as well as to the Jews. But, unlike most of their co-religionists, these men have been reading the Book "observing the rights of its recitation." That is to say, they have distorted neither the words nor the meanings, nor have they tried to misinterpret or conceal the prophecies about the coming of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) . In other words, they have used their intellect in trying to understand the meanings, and their will in accepting the truth and in following it. It is they who acknowledge the Holy Qur'an, and have faith in it. In doing so, they are actually affirming their own Books too and acting upon them insofar as their Books explicitly foretell the coming of the Last Prophet & and of the last Book of Allah. As for those who persist in their denial, they are bound to suffer the greatest loss, for they have refused to believe in the Last Revelation, and have, in fact, not shown much of a belief in their own Books, and not followed the guidance provided by them in this matter.

Here we come to the end of Section 1 of the exegesis of the surah which was divided into Parts I and ii. Our next post will be the explanation of the Section 2, which starts at verse 122 and ends with verse 163, the part of Abraham's life which relates to the building of the Baitullah is covered. It must be borne in mind that when Abraham had started to build the Baitullah, he had prayed to the Almighty to raise a Muslim Ummah among his progeny and a Prophet among them as well. Initially, it has been made clear in this section that the religion of Abraham and his descendants was Islam and not Judaism or Christianity. The Almighty created an Ummat-i-wast for the propagation of Islam. In accordance with Abraham's prayer, this Ummah's qiblah was the Baitullah and not the Bait-ul-Muqaddas. The Bait-ul-Muqaddas was only a temporary qiblah and therefore it was soon changed.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah al-Baqarah with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More