Wednesday 29 January 2020

Surah Al i Imran - The Family of Imran: 3rd Chapter of the Quran (Part II)

Sürah Al i Imran ( ʾĀl ʿImrān  "آل عِمْرَان " The Family of Imran) is the 3rd sürah with 200 ayahs with twenty rukus, part of the 3rd and 4th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Sürah takes its name from 33rd verse.

This Sürah is cognate to Sürah II Al Baqarah. but the matter is here treated from a different point of view, The references to Badr (Ramadân. H. 2) and Uhud Shawwal. H. 3.) give a clue to the dates of those passages.

Like Sürah II. it takes a general view of the religious history of mankind, special reference to the People of the Book, proceeds to explain the birth 4 he new People of Islam and their ordinances, insists on the need of struggle and fighting in the cause of Truth, and exhorts those who have been blessed with Islam to remain constant in Faith, pray for guidance, and maintain their with hope for the Future.

The new points of view developed are: (1) The emphasis is here laid on the duty of the Christians to accept the new light: the Christians are here specially appealed to, as the Jews were specially appealed to in the last Sürah(2) the lessons of the battles of Badr and Uhud are set out for the Muslim community; and (3) the responsibilities of that community are insisted on both internally and in their relations to those outside.

As already explained in the Overview, the exegesis of the Sürah has been divided into parts owing to the length of the Sürah, which is 200 verses long. The exegesis will be presented in following parts according to the subject matter:
  • Part I: Verses 1 - 32.  
  • Part II: Verses 33 - 63. 
  • Part III: Verses 64 - 101. 
  • Part IV: Verses 102 - 120. 
  • Part V: Verses 121 - 175. 
  • Part VI: Verses 175 - 189. This part also includes the concluding verses of the Sürah  (190-200), which are not directly connected with the verses immediately preceding it but with the theme of the Surah as a whole. 
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer of Part II of the Sürah. This part covers Verses 33 - 65. This discourse is particularly addressed to the Christians and invites them to accept Islam. It clears Jesus and his mother not only from the stigma maliciously set upon them by the Jews, but also refutes the erroneous Christian creed of the Divinity of Jesus which had been formulated because of his miraculous birth. For this purpose the instances of John the Baptist to a barren woman and an extremely aged man and that of Adam without father and mother have been cited to show that there is nothing in the birth of Jesus without a father to entitle him to Divinity. 

For Arabic Text and recitation in Arabic with English subtitles, please scroll down for the video at the end of the exegesis of this part:

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

Ruku / Section 4 [Verses 31-41]
The last two verses of Ruku 4 have been included in Part I as per the discourse discussed in Part I. We now resume Ruku 4 with its remaining verses 33-41.

Verses 33-34 The High ranking Prophets:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ اصۡطَفٰۤى اٰدَمَ وَنُوۡحًا وَّاٰلَ اِبۡرٰهِيۡمَ وَاٰلَ عِمۡرٰنَ عَلَى الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 33 )   Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of 'Imran over the worlds
This marks the beginning of the second discourse. The period of its revelation is about 9 A.H., when a delegation from the Christian republic of Najran visited the Prophet. Najran lies between the Hijaz and Yemen, and comprised, at that time, seventy-three towns and villages. Its population can be gauged from the fact that an estimated one hundred and twenty thousand men could bear arms. The entire population was Christian and was under the hegemony of three Christian chiefs. The first of these, 'Aqib, was the head of the community. The second, Sayyid, looked after the collective and political affairs of the people. The third, Usquf (bishop), was their religious leader. (See Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 573; Ibn Ishaq, Life of Muhammad, tr. A. Guillaume, pp. 270 f. - Ed.)

When the Prophet of Allah annexed Makkah, the whole of Arabia became convinced that the future of the area was bound up with him, and deputations from all parts of the peninsula began to visit him. In this connection the three chiefs of Najran came to Madina accompanied by sixty people. As they were not prepared to go to war, the alternatives before them were either to embrace Islam or to live as dhimmis (protected non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state). It was on this occasion that God revealed this discourse; it served as an invitation to the people of Najran to accept Islam.

'Imran was the father of Moses and Aaron, and has been mentioned in the Bible as Amram.

ذُرِّيَّةًۢ بَعۡضُهَا مِنۡۢ بَعۡضٍ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ سَمِيۡعٌ عَلِيۡمٌ​ۚ‏ 
( 34 )   Descendants, some of them from others. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
The real error of the Christians lies in considering Jesus to be the son of God and a partner in His godhead, rather than His servant and Messenger. If this misunderstanding was removed it would become quite easy for them to advance towards Islam. Hence at the very outset of the discourse it is mentioned that Adam, Noah and the Prophets in the house of Abraham and 'Imran were all human beings. Even though many Prophets were born in the same family, one from the other, none of them was God. Their merit lay in the fact that God had chosen them to preach His religion and reform the world.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The Prophets in the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dispensation form one family literally. But the argument is wider. All men of faith form one family. If you love and obey Allah, love and obey His Messenger; your love, obedience and discipline will be the test of your Faith.

Verses 35-37 Birth and growth of Maryam (Mary):

إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ 
( 35 )   [Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of 'Imran said, "My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing."
 If the 'woman of 'Imran' is interpreted as the wife of 'Imran, this 'Imran must be different from the 'Imran just mentioned (see the preceding verse). In the Christian tradition the name of the father of Mary is mentioned as Joachim. If this expression, however, is interpreted to mean 'a woman of the house of 'Imran', it would mean that the mother of Mary belonged to that tribe. There is, unfortunately, no definite source of information that would lead us to prefer one interpretation to the other, as there is no historical record either about who the parents of Mary were, or to which tribes they belonged. Were we to accept the tradition that the mother of John (Yahya) and the mother of Jesus were cousins, then it would be valid to interpret the expression as meaning 'a woman of the tribe of 'Imran' for, according to the Gospel of Luke, the mother of John was one of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5).

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Now we begin the story of Jesus. As a prelude we have the birth of Mary and the parallel story of John the Baptist, Yahya the son of Zakariya. Yahya's mother Elisabeth was a cousin of Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke i. 36), and therefore John and Jesus were cousins by blood, and there was a spiritual cousinhood in their birth and career. Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke i. 5), of a priestly family which went back to Aaron the brother of Moses and son of Imran. Her husband Zakariya was actually a priest, and her cousin Mary was presumably also of a priestly family. By tradition Mary's mother was called Hannah (in Latin, Anna, and in English, Anne), and her father was called Imran. Hannah is therefore both a descendant of the priestly house of Imran and the wife of Imran,-"a woman of Imran" in a double sense,

Muharrar = freed from all worldly affairs and specially dedicated to Allah's service. She expected a son, who was to be a special devotee, a miraculous son of the old age of his parents, but Allah gave her instead a daughter. But that daughter was Mary the mother of Jesus, the chosen one among the women: iii. 42.

فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ 
( 36 )   But when she delivered her, she said, "My Lord, I have delivered a female." And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, "And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah]."
Since a boy is free from some of the physical shortcomings and social disabilities associated with a girl, the mother of Mary thought that had the child been a boy he would have been more able to achieve the purpose for which she had consecrated the child.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The mother of Mary expected a male child. Was she disappointed that it was a female child? No, for she had Faith, and she knew that Allah's Plan was better than any wishes of hers. Mary was no ordinary girl: only Allah knew what it was that her mother brought forth.

The female child could not be devoted to Temple service under the Mosaic law, as she intended. But she was marked out for a special destiny as a miracle-child, to be the mother of the miracle-child Jesus. She was content to seek Allah's protection for her against all evil. There is a certain sense of pride in the girl on the part of the mother.

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَـٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ 
( 37 )   So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account."
This section refers to that period of Mary's life when she attained her majority and was admitted to the Temple of Jerusalem, and devoted all her time to remembering God. Zechariah, into whose care she was given, was perhaps the husband of her maternal aunt, and was one of the guardians of the Temple. This Zechariah is not to be confused with the Prophet Zechariah whose assassination is mentioned in the Old Testament.

The word mihrab usually refers to that niche in mosques where the leader of the prayer stands. In this instance, however, the term signifies the apartments usually built in synagogues and sanctuaries on a raised platform adjacent to the place of congregational worship, which served as the residence of caretakers, servants and beggars. Mary lived in an apartment of this kind and devoted all her time to worship and prayer.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Mary grew under Allah's special protection. Her sustenance, under which we may include both her physical needs and her spiritual food, came from Allah, and her growth was indeed a "goodly growth" which I have tried to express in the Text by the words "purity and beauty". Some apocryphal Christian writings say that she was brought up in the Temple to the age of twelve like a dove, and that she was fed by angels.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
The Prophet Zakariyya (sws) mentioned here was from the family of the Prophet Aaron (sws) and was the husband of Mary’s maternal aunt. According to the system of religious administration which was in vogue among the Israelites, the family of Jacob son Levite was specifically reserved for religious service. Then from among the Levites also at the holy of holies the task of lighting the incense and consecrating holy things was entrusted to the family of Aaron (sws). Others from among the Levites were not allowed to go into the holy of holies. They would work in open verandahs and small quarters. They would present the burnt offerings and help the tribe of Aaron (sws) in guarding the holy of holies. The Prophet Zakariyya (sws) was the head of the Abya in the family of Aaron (sws). Consequently, it was he who on behalf of his family would serve the place of worship.

Two things are evident from this: firstly, Zakariyya (sws) would often go to Mary (sws) to look after her and secondly, Mary (sws) would spend all her time in her abode in worshiping and remembering the Almighty.

The word مِحْرَاب (mihrab) here does not refer to the dome-shaped place which is constructed in our mosques so that the imam can stand in it. In the Bayt al-Maqdis the sites and spots which were made for the worshipers were called مِحْرَاب (mihrab). Here, this word refers to the abode where Mary (sws) would sit and worship the Almighty.

The actual words are: وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا. The word رِزْق (rizq) refers to the wisdom and cognizance which is bestowed on a person by the Almighty. At more than one place, the Qur’an has used this word to signify divine revelation and guidance. In ancient scriptures also, this word is used thus.

This is not merely a question. It is a sentence expressing wonder and is meant to laud Mary (sws). It is as if Zakariyya (sws) is asking her: “When I come to you, I smell the scent of some spiritual blessings; where do they come from?”

This answer of Mary (sws) reflects her maturity and insight at such a tender age. She did not regard it to be the result of her worship and adoration: on the contrary, she regarded these blessings to be a favour of the Almighty.

This sentence, as explained by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi (Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 78-79)), is not part of Mary’s answer: it is a commendation of Mary (sws) by the Almighty and an expression of His immense blessings on her. The grandeur of the sentence makes it ill-suited to be regarded as part of Mary’s discourse.

Verses 38-41 Supplication of Zakariya for his son Yahya (John):

هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهٗ​ ​ۚ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبۡ لِىۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً​ ​ ۚ اِنَّكَ سَمِيۡعُ الدُّعَآءِ‏ 
( 38 )   At that, Zechariah called upon his Lord, saying, "My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication."
Until then Zechariah had no issue. The sight of this pious young girl made him yearn for a child just as virtuous and devout. When he saw that God sent food to her, by dint of His limitless power, he felt hopeful that God might also bless him with issue, despite his old age.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, and of Jesus, the prophet of Israel, whom Israel rejected, occurred in that order chronologically, and are told in that order. They are all inter-connected. Zakariya prayed for no ordinary son. He and his wife were past the age of parenthood. Seeing the growth of Mary, he prayed for some child from Allah,- "from Thee, a progeny that is pure". To his surprise, he is given a son in the flesh, ushered in by a special Sign.

فَنَادَتۡهُ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَآئِمٌ يُّصَلِّىۡ فِى الۡمِحۡرَابِۙ اَنَّ اللّٰهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحۡيٰى مُصَدِّقًۢا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَّحَصُوۡرًا وَّنَبِيًّا مِّنَ الصّٰلِحِيۡنَ‏ 
( 39 )   So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, "Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of John, confirming a word from Allah and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous."
In the Bible his name is mentioned as John the Baptist. For information about him see Matthew 3, 9 and 14: Mark 1 and 6; Luke 1 and 3.

The 'command from Allah' signifies Jesus (peace be on him). His birth took place as the result of an extraordinary command from God and in an unusual manner, hence he is designated as 'the command' or 'word' from Allah.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Notice: "a Word from Allah", not "the Word of Allah", the epithet that mystical Christianity uses for Jesus. As stated in iii. 59 below, Jesus was created by a miracle, by Allah's word "Be", and he was.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi [Verses 38-41]:
Zakariyya (sws) was so moved by the wisdom and sagacity of Mary (sws) that he too became desirous of a child as pious and virtuous as her.

It is evident from this that the most appropriate time to draw near the angels and to invoke and supplicate before the Almighty is that of the prayer.

The Prophet Yahya (sws) is called John in the Bible. He was born just six months before Jesus (sws).

The actual words are: مُصَدِّقًۢا بِکَلِمَۃٍ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ. Verse 45 of this surah explains that these words refer to Jesus (sws). He is called کَلِمَۃٍ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ because contrary to the general rule, his birth took place as a result of the word kun. The Christians have tried to prove the divinity of Jesus (sws) on this basis even though this actually negates their claim. Consequently, by not defining the word کَلِمَۃ by the article alif lam, the Qur’an has explained that from among many كَلِمَات Jesus (sws) is just one کَلِمَۃ of God. Just as innumerable things of this world have been created by the word kun, Jesus (sws) too has been created by it.

This is a portrayal of his personality: he will have the air of a leader about him. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… A prophet by his very nature, his mission and his message is a leader. As a preacher, he calls upon people and as a warner, he warns people and as a guide, directs them to the straight path. The Almighty fully equips his person with the abilities to undertake these tasks: his heart brims with sympathy and affection for his people, there is great majesty in his mannerism and great awe in his voice and style and his glistening forehead bears witness to his greatness and veracity. Even though he may wear ordinary clothes and eat ordinary food, however, even kings tremble with fear before him. He admonishes them also for the cause of truth the way he admonishes others. It is mentioned in the Gospels that both Jesus (sws) and John (sws) would talk as if they were invested with authority. This grandeur of authority in their discourses is obviously because of this leadership which they held by virtue of their position. A prophet is like a shepherd who has to mind the herd consigned to him and it does not matter the least to his honour if this herd obeys him or not. If he discharges his obligation, he actually fulfills his obligation of leadership and this is what is required of him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 81)
The reason for this abstinence is that both John (sws) and Jesus (sws) were sent to communicate for the very last time the truth to the Israelites in such an ultimate manner that they would be left with no excuse to deny it. How could have they reared a family in a place which was in danger of a great flood and how could they have witnessed the lush green branches of a tree which was about to be uprooted. If the ones who were meant to warn people of the imminent flood by knocking at every door took to raising their families and to cultivating their lands, they would have been regarded as those who shirked their responsibilities. Thus both these persons never married and abstained from indulgence in life, remained content on subsistence which was just enough for survival, wore the clothes of paupers and lived their lives under the bare sky and over the bare earth. It is a misfortune of the Christians that instead of making people understand the nature of this responsibility of these prophets, they called it monasticism and then after regarding it to be the real requirement of their religion instituted a whole system of monasticism. Amongst Muslims also, the sufis while being unable to understand this aspect of the life of their prophets, were guilty of inducting many unknown concepts in religion and since the past many centuries have been able to influence scholars of Islam also in this matter.

Ie., besides these abilities and qualities he will be from among the righteous prophets who will be sent by God to guide people.

The word here occurs in the singular because no specific angel or group of angels came before Zakariyya (sws); it was, in fact, a voice from God’s realm that he heard.

Ie., their means and resources are merely an illusion: the real thing is God’s intention; if He wants, He can turn a sea into a mirage and if He wants, He can produce water in a desert. None of this is difficult for Him.

It is evident from this that Zakariyya (sws) was of the opinion that these glad tidings were from God but he also feared to some extent that they could also be the voice of his own heart and an inspiration from Satan and caught in the whirlpool of his own desires, he might have mistaken them for a revelation from the angels.

This of course eliminates any possibility of a Satanic interference.

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… If this had arisen because of any Satanic influence, its result would have been the absolute opposite: a person could have indulged in worldly talk but it would have been difficult for him to indulge in remembering God. If Zakariyya (sws) encountered such a state involuntarily, then it was certainly a sure sign that the glad tidings of a son were from God and they had nothing to do with any Satanic whispering. The Qur’an here has also negated in a passing manner what is written in the Gospel of Luke that this state encountered by Zakariyya (sws) was as a punishment to his not accepting what the angel said to him and ended up demanding a sign from him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 81)

قَالَ رَبِّ اَنّٰى يَكُوۡنُ لِىۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّقَدۡ بَلَغَنِىَ الۡكِبَرُ وَامۡرَاَتِىۡ عَاقِرٌ​ؕ قَالَ كَذٰلِكَ اللّٰهُ يَفۡعَلُ مَا يَشَآءُ‏ 
( 40 )   He said, "My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?" The angel said, "Such is Allah; He does what He wills."
قَالَ رَبِّ اجۡعَلۡ لِّىۡۤ اٰيَةً ​ؕ قَالَ اٰيَتُكَ اَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلٰثَةَ اَيَّامٍ اِلَّا رَمۡزًا ؕ​ وَاذۡكُرْ رَّبَّكَ كَثِيۡرًا وَّسَبِّحۡ بِالۡعَشِىِّ وَالۡاِبۡكَارِ‏  
( 41 )   He said, "My Lord, make for me a sign." He Said, "Your sign is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning."
Here the request is made for some specific sign to be given by means of which Zechariah would come to know in advance when the unusual incident of the birth of a child to a couple, where the male was old and the female both old and barren, would take place.

The real purpose of this discourse is to disclose to the Christians the error of their belief in Jesus as God and as the son of God. The subject is introduced by mentioning the birth of John (peace be on him), another miraculous birth which had taken place only six months before the birth of the Messiah (peace be on him) and among his own relatives. God wants to make the Christians ask themselves why the miraculous birth of Jesus should make him God when the similarly miraculous birth of John did not make him so.

Ruku / Section 5 [Verses 42-54]
Verses 42-44 Status of Maryam (Mary) among the women of the world:

وَاِذۡ قَالَتِ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ يٰمَرۡيَمُ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ اصۡطَفٰٮكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصۡطَفٰٮكِ عَلٰى نِسَآءِ الۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ‏
( 42 )   And [mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Mary the mother of Jesus was unique, in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention of the customary physical means. This of course does not mean that she was more than human, any more than that her son was more than human. She had as much need to pray to God as anyone else. The Christian dogma, in all sects except the Unitarian, holds that Jesus was God and the son of God. The worship of Mary became the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, which calls Mary the Mother of God. This seems to have been endorsed by the Council of Ephesus in 431, in the century before Muhammad was born to sweep way the corruptions of the Church of Christ. For 'alamin as meaning all nations, see iii. 96, n. 423.

Professor Ghamidi Explanation:
The Almighty whilst isolating her from others instructed and trained her in a special way so that she is able to combat the testing times which lie in store for her.

Ie., she has been chosen to mother Jesus (sws) who was indeed a great sign sent by God to communicate the truth to the Israelites so that they were left with no excuse to deny it. Indeed, this singular honour bestowed on Mary (sws) stands unrivaled.

يٰمَرۡيَمُ اقۡنُتِىۡ لِرَبِّكِ وَاسۡجُدِىۡ وَارۡكَعِىۡ مَعَ الرّٰكِعِيۡنَ‏ 
( 43 )   O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer]."
Professor Ghamidi Explanation:
This is an elaboration of the directive of obeying the Almighty mentioned earlier. It also portrays the congregational prayer which Mary (sws) was always able to offer because she was stationed in the temple of Solomon (sws). Here, it needs to be borne in mind that the prayer has been called as kneeling and prostrating before God. A use of these words portrays the intense devotion and concentration which is the real majesty of the prayer. The Qur’an has adopted this style at many places to delineate this aspect of the prayer.

ذٰ لِكَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢـبَآءِ الۡغَيۡبِ نُوۡحِيۡهِ اِلَيۡكَ​ؕ وَمَا كُنۡتَ لَدَيۡهِمۡ اِذۡ يُلۡقُوۡنَ اَقۡلَامَهُمۡ اَيُّهُمۡ يَكۡفُلُ مَرۡيَمَ وَمَا كُنۡتَ لَدَيۡهِمۡ اِذۡ يَخۡتَصِمُوۡنَ‏ 
( 44 )   That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. And you were not with them when they cast their pens as to which of them should be responsible for Mary. Nor were you with them when they disputed.
They drew lots to decide who should be the guardian of Mary, whose mother had consecrated her to the service of God in the Temple. Since she was a girl, it was a delicate matter as to who from among the priests of the Temple would be the appropriate person to take care of her.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Things unseen: mystic, spiritual. The whole story has a mystic meaning, and it would be unseemly to dispute or speculate about it.

Literally, reeds : aqlam. For the Arab custom of casting lots with arrows

Christian apocryphal writings mention the contention between the priests as to the honor of taking charge of Mary, and how it was decided by means of rods or reeds in favour of Zakariya.

Professor Ghamidi Explanation:
In the ongoing discourse, these verses address Muhammad(sws) and the objective is to direct the attention of the addressees to the fact that without divine revelation Muhammad(sws) would not have been able to recount these incidents with such precision and truth because this portion of the history of the People of the Book finds almost no mention in the Bible.

It is evident from the Bible that the responsibilities in the temple were generally fixed by casting lots; however, the dispute which arose was probably because after witnessing the signs which were evident from the very first day of Mary’s acceptance for this responsibility no one from among the servants of the temple wanted to be deprived of this great honour.

Verses 45-46 News of Eesa (Jesus) birth:

اِذۡ قَالَتِ الۡمَلٰٓـئِكَةُ يٰمَرۡيَمُ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنۡهُ ۖ اسۡمُهُ الۡمَسِيۡحُ عِيۡسَى ابۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ وَجِيۡهًا فِى الدُّنۡيَا وَالۡاٰخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الۡمُقَرَّبِيۡنَۙ‏ 
( 45 )   [And mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary - distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah].
Christ : Greek, Christos=anointed : kings and priests were anointed to symbolize consecration to their office. The Hebrew and Arabic form is Masih. Muqarrabin: Nearest to God

Professor Ghamidi Explanation:
These are glad tidings for Mary about the birth of a child without any role by a male. However, these glad tidings have been given by commencing them only with the word “command” so that the nature of the whole matter remains evident to her and a lady who is a virgin and an embodiment of chastity and modesty is, in the first place, even prepared to listen to what is intended to be said to her.

This is a title of Jesus (sws). There was a tradition among the Israelites according to which prophets and kings were declared so after a type of sacred oil was rubbed on their heads. For Jesus (sws), it was as if this declaration was made right after his birth in his cradle directly by the Almighty Himself. Thus this title of Messiah became specific for him. In the Gospels, he is called the Messiah of God for this very reason.

Ie., he will not be the son of a father. In the opinion of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi by calling Jesus (sws) as son of Mary (sws), the Qur’an has left no possibility for people who through weak interpretations wanted to alter its clear directives. His words are:

"… If Jesus (sws) was the son of a father, then what was the hindrance for the Qur’an to call him after his father’s name instead of calling him son of Mary (sws)? The Qur’an could also have called him Messiah son of Joseph, but it did not. Why after all?" (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 93)

وَيُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِى الۡمَهۡدِ وَكَهۡلًا وَّمِنَ الصّٰلِحِيۡنَ‏  
( 46 )   He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous."
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The ministry of Jesus lasted only about three years, from 30 to 33 years of his age, when in the eyes of his enemies he was crucified. But the Gospel of Luke (ii. 46) describes him as disputing with the doctors in the Temple at the age of 12, and even earlier, as a child, he was "strong in spirit, filled with wisdom" (Luke ii. 40). Some apocryphal Gospels describe him as preaching from infancy.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
The nobility mentioned is the same as the one which is mentioned earlier in relation to John (sws). Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has shed light on various aspects of this nobility thus:

… It is evident from the narration in Luke that it was at the age of twelve that Jesus (sws) gave instruction for the first time in the temple; however, even in this tender age such was the nature of the wisdom of his words, the eloquence of his speech and the grandeur of his style that the jurists, the Pharisees, the chief soothsayer (kahin) and all the staff of the temple became dumbfounded. In utter astonishment, they would inquire after the identity of the person who would speak with such majesty as if he was speaking on behalf of God. When he started to preach in the settlements of Judea, it had a great impact all over. People would come to listen to him in multitudes. Both the jurists and the Pharisees were dumbstruck. In order to corner him and reduce his fame among the masses, they would pose different questions to him. Jesus (sws) would answer them in a few words in such a convincing manner that they would have nothing to say in return and would dare not open their mouths. Not much time elapsed before the fame of his nobility spread so much that the masses started to call him the king of Israel and would be full of praise for him. Matters reached such an extent that this issue came before the Roman authorities: Herodotus and Pilatus as a critical issue. However, they too in spite of their power and authority were awe-stricken before the greatness and fame of Jesus (sws).

The second aspect of the nobility of Jesus (sws) is that in spite of the fact that he was born without a father and in general circumstances, it cannot be imagined that a child who does not have a father seldom would be respected and honoured – the case of Jesus (sws) was just the opposite: since he was born as a result of the word kun, such was the nature of this miraculous command that from the very day he was born he was regarded as noble in the eyes of the masses to such an extent that no one was invested with it in those times. All his life he was surrounded by enemies who were after his life; however, no one could dare call him a child born out of wedlock. If a group from among the Jews were bold enough to make this allegation, it was in later times; no one had the courage to do it in his times. The glad tidings of this nobility were given to Mary (sws) together with the glad ridings of his birth for the reason that she is assured that not being born from a father will not effect the nobility of the child or that of her own.

The third aspect of this is that it negates the nonsensical incidents recorded in the Gospels that the Jews, God forbid, slapped Jesus (sws), made fun of him, abused him and spate on his face. Most of these absurd tales are incorrect, as we shall explain later. The enemies of the messengers of God do dare to disparage them and for this they are even granted an opportunity by the Almighty to some extent; however, they cannot exceed a certain limit; if a nation tries to cross it, the Almighty protects His messenger Himself and such wretched people are destroyed. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 92)

Verses 47-51 Birth of Eesa (Jesus) son of Maryam and Miracles given to Eesa (Jesus):

قَالَتۡ رَبِّ اَنّٰى يَكُوۡنُ لِىۡ وَلَدٌ وَّلَمۡ يَمۡسَسۡنِىۡ بَشَرٌ ​ؕ قَالَ كَذٰلِكِ اللّٰهُ يَخۡلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ​ ؕ اِذَا قَضٰٓى اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا يَقُوۡلُ لَهٗ كُنۡ فَيَكُوۡنُ‏ 
( 47 )   She said, "My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?" [The angel] said, "Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is.
Thus it was affirmed that a child would be born to Mary despite the fact that no man had touched her. The angel's answer mentioned here, 'Thus shall it be', was exactly the same as the response given to Zechariah. Both the following sentences and the preceding section support the view that the angel had conveyed to Mary the glad tidings that a son would be born to her without normal sexual contact, and it was thus that Jesus was born. For, if Mary's child was to be born to her in the usual manner in which children are born to women, and if the birth of Jesus did take place in the normal way, the entire narrative from (verse 35 )of this surah to (verse 63) would have to be declared absurd.

Indeed, one would be forced to treat as meaningless all those statements about the birth of Jesus which are found scattered elsewhere in the Qur'an. The Christians had begun to regard Jesus as God and the son of God because of this fatherless birth. The Jews, in turn, cast aspersions on Mary's chastity on the grounds that she had given birth to a child despite being unmarried. If the fatherless birth of Jesus was itself false, it would have been sufficient to tell the Christians that they were indulging in sheer mis-statement, that Mary had indeed been married, that she had a legitimate husband, and that it was as a result of that wedlock that Jesus was born. If this fact could have been stated plainly, there would have been no need for long preparatory statements and complicated propositions, and no need to call Jesus the son of Mary instead of naming his father. For far from resolving the issue such statements add to the confusion. Those who believe the Qur'an to be the word or command from God and yet try to prove that the birth of Jesus took place in the normal manner, as a result of union between his father and mother, end up by proving only that God is less capable of clear expression than they are!

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
She was addressed by angels, who gave her God's message. In reply she speaks as to God. In reply, apparently an angel gives God's message.

وَيُعَلِّمُهُ الۡكِتٰبَ وَالۡحِكۡمَةَ وَالتَّوۡرٰٮةَ وَالۡاِنۡجِيۡلَ​ۚ‏ 
( 48 )   And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel
Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
These words of the Qur’an not only explain the mutual relationship between the Torah and the Gospel, they also explain that the Gospel was revealed to unveil the very facts of faith and ethics which the Israelites had forgotten. It was not meant to change the directives of the Torah but to complete them so that their wisdom and spirit is brought to light in every respect and the shari‘ah of God does not end up as something lifeless and burdensome for the people.

وَرَسُوۡلًا اِلٰى بَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرٰٓءِيۡلَ  اَنِّىۡ قَدۡ جِئۡتُكُمۡ بِاٰيَةٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ ۙۚ اَنِّىۡۤ  اَخۡلُقُ لَـكُمۡ مِّنَ الطِّيۡنِ كَهَیْـئَةِ الطَّيۡرِ فَاَنۡفُخُ فِيۡهِ فَيَكُوۡنُ طَيۡرًاۢ بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰهِ​​ۚ وَاُبۡرِئُ الۡاَكۡمَهَ وَالۡاَبۡرَصَ وَاُحۡىِ الۡمَوۡتٰى بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰهِ​ۚ وَ اُنَبِّئُكُمۡ بِمَا تَاۡكُلُوۡنَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُوۡنَۙ فِىۡ بُيُوۡتِكُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّ فِىۡ ذٰ لِكَ لَاٰيَةً لَّـكُمۡ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِيۡنَۚ‏ 
( 49 )   And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead - by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.
It is hinted here that these signs are sufficient proof that Jesus was designated by God, the Creator and Sovereign of the universe, provided people are prepared to accept the truth instead of obstinately clinging to their prejudiced views. This is further proof that Jesus had been entrusted with a mission by God. Had he not been designated by God but by an impostor he would surely have attempted to found an independent religion, exploiting his miracles to lead people away from their original faith. However, Jesus believed in, and confirmed, the validity of the teachings of the original religion which had been preached at God's behest by the earlier Prophets.

Yusuf Ali explanation:
This miracle of the clay birds is found in some of the apocryphal Gospels; those of curing the blind and the lepers and raising the dead are in the canonical Gospels. The original Gospel (see iii. 48) was not the various stories written afterwards by disciples, but the real Message taught direct by Jesus.

This clause refers generally to a prophetic knowledge of what is not known to other people.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
The actual words are: رَسُوۡلًا اِلٰی بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ. A verb has been suppressed before them, ie: رَسُوْلاً يَبْعَثُهُ. Jesus (sws) like John (sws) was not merely a prophet (nabi), he was also a messenger (rasul). It is evident from the verse that his messengerhood was specific towards the Israelites and they had to bear the consequences in this world of denying or accepting him. Consequently, when instead of professing faith in him, the Israelites went after his life, the Almighty according to His law about His messengers imposed on them the punishment according to which they would remain subservient to the followers of Jesus (sws) till the Day of Judgement.

By suppressing a large part of the account of Jesus (sws) here, as is the general style of the Qur’an, it has put forth Jesus (sws) as a preacher before the Israelites: he presented his message before them in this manner and for this he even showed them miracles.

The actual words are: جِئۡتُکُمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ. The word اٰیَۃ occurs as a noun not defined by the article alif lam to express generality and not singularity. The implication is that Jesus (sws) has brought forth a sign from the Almighty notwithstanding the fact that it manifests in one form or more than one forms.

وَمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَىَّ مِنَ التَّوۡرٰٮةِ وَلِاُحِلَّ لَـكُمۡ بَعۡضَ الَّذِىۡ حُرِّمَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ​وَجِئۡتُكُمۡ بِاٰيَةٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمۡ فَاتَّقُوۡا اللّٰهَ وَاَطِيۡعُوۡنِ‏ 
( 50 )   And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me.
The fact that Jesus preached the same religion as that expounded earlier by Moses and the other Prophets is also borne out by the statements of the existing Gospels: According to Matthew, in his Sermon on the Mount the Messiah categorically declared: 'Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them' (Matthew 5: 17). And when a Jewish lawyer inquired: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?', Jesus replied: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depends the law and the prophets' (ibid., 22: 37-40). He also instructed his disciples: The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice' (ibid., 23: 2-3).

What Jesus wanted to impress upon them was that he would abolish the prohibitive innovations which had infiltrated the original Divine Law (Shari'ah}. These were the results of the superstitions of their ignorant commoners, the legal hair-splitting of their lawyers, the extremism of their world-renouncing pietists, and the ascendancy and predominance of non-Muslim peoples over them. In determining what is lawful and unlawful, Jesus would be guided by the injunctions of God and not by the inventions of human beings.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
The actual words are: مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَیۡنَ یَدَیَّ مِنَ التَّوۡرٰىۃِ. The word مُصَدِّقًا is an accusative of state (حال) and is coordinated to the sentence قَدۡ جِئۡتُکُمۡ بِاٰیَۃٍ. The construction is thus و جِئْتُكُمْ مُصَدِّقًا جِئْتُكُمْ بِاٰيَةٍ. The implication is that Jesus (sws) came not to abrogate the Torah but to establish it and to fulfill its predictions regarding the prophets which are to come and which the Israelites can read in it.

These items were prohibited to them because of the excesses committed by their scholars in religion and because of their baseless religious edicts which they issued as a result.

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ رَبِّىۡ وَرَبُّكُمۡ فَاعۡبُدُوۡهُ​ ؕ هٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسۡتَقِيۡمٌ‏  
( 51 )   Indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path."
This shows that as with the other Prophets, the fundamental points of Jesus' mission were the following:
(1) Man should acknowledge- the exclusive sovereignty of God which demands absolute service and obedience to Him, and Him alone. This principle serves as the basis for the entire structure of human morality and social behaviour.
(2) Man should obey the Prophets since they are the representatives of the true Sovereign.
(3) The Law which should regulate man's conduct by elaborating what is right and what is wrong should be none other than the Law of God. The laws devised by others should be abrogated. There is, thus, no difference between the missions of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad (peace be on them all). Those who think that the missions of the Prophets differ from one another and who believe that their objectives vary have fallen into serious error. Whoever is sent by the Lord of the Universe to His creatures can have no other purpose than to dissuade God's subjects from disobeying Him and assuming an attitude of vanity and disregard towards Him, and to admonish them against associating anyone with God in His divinity (that is, either holding anyone to be a partner with the Lord of the Universe in His Sovereignty or recognizing others beside God as having a rightful claim on part of man's loyalty, devotion and worship), and to invite them all to be loyal to, and to serve, obey and worship God alone.
It is unfortunate that the Gospels in their present form do not offer as clear a picture of the mission of Jesus as that presented by the Qur'an. Nevertheless, we find scattered throughout the Gospels all the three fundamentals mentioned above. The notion that man ought to submit himself totally to God is embodied in the following statement:

'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve' (Matthew 4: 10).

In addition, Jesus believed that the object of his efforts was that God's commands relating to the moral realm should be obeyed in this world in the sphere of human conduct just as His commands about the operation of the physical universe are obeyed in the heavens: 'Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven' (ibid., 6: 10).

The fact that Jesus presented himself as a Prophet and a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that in this capacity he asked people to follow him is borne out by several statements. When, for instance, he began his mission in Nazareth and when his own kith, kin and compatriots turned against him, he remarked: 'A prophet is not without honour except in his own country . . .' (Matthew 13: 57; see also Luke 4: 24 and Mark 6: 4). And when conspiracies were hatched in Jerusalem to put an end to his life, and people counselled him to go away, he replied: 'Nevertheless I must go on my way . . . for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem' (Luke 13: 33). When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time the disciples cried with a loud voice: 'Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord' (Luke 19: 38). This angered the Pharisees, who asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples. But he replied: 'I tell you, if these were silent the very stones would cry out' (ibid., 19: 40). On another occasion he said: 'Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light' (Matthew 11: 28-30).

The fact that he invited people to obey the Laws of God rather than the laws made by man is evident from his response (found in both Matthew and Mark) to the objection raised by the Pharisees to the conduct of their disciples who ate with defiled hands, that is, without washing.
'Well did Isiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honours me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'
And he said to them: 'You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, "Honour your father and your mother", and "He who speaks evil of his father or mother, let him surely die", but you say, "If a man tells his father or mother what you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God), and then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on"' (Mark 7: 6-13; see also Matthew 15: 2-9).

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
The Qur’an here has corrected the expression “my father” and “your father” which occurs at numerous places in the Gospels. This is what Jesus (sws) had actually said; however, since in Hebrew the word for father and God is the same (i.e اب) and so is the word for son and servant (i.e ابن), when the Christians invented the belief of divinity of Jesus (sws) they used this similarity of words to their advantage.

Verses 52-53 Followers of Eesa (Jesus) were Muslims:

فَلَمَّاۤ اَحَسَّ عِيۡسٰى مِنۡهُمُ الۡكُفۡرَ قَالَ مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِىۡۤ اِلَى اللّٰهِ​ؕ قَالَ الۡحَـوَارِيُّوۡنَ نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰهِ​ۚ اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰهِ​ۚ وَاشۡهَدۡ بِاَنَّا مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ‏
( 52 )   But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, "Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah?" The disciples said, "We are supporters for Allah. We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].
The word hawari means approximately the same as the word ansar in the Islamic tradition. In the Bible the usual terms are 'apostles' and 'disciples'. Jesus' chosen disciples were called apostles in the sense that they had been entrusted with a mission by him rather than in the sense of having been entrusted with a mission by God.

At various places the Qur'an characterizes man's participation in the effort to establish the supremacy of Islam as 'helping God'. This needs a little explanation. God has endowed man with the freedom of will and choice, with the result that He does not resort to His omnipotent will to compel man either to do certain things or to refrain from others. He rather leaves man free to adopt the course that pleases him - be it that of either belief or unbelief, of either obedience or disobedience. God prefers to instruct man by means of persuasive argument and admonition, so as to bring home to him that even though he is free to disbelieve, disobey and defy the Will of God, his own interest and well-being lie in serving and obeying his Creator.

Hence, directing people to the right path by persuasion and admonition is of concern to God, He regards those who contribute to this cause as His allies and helpers. This is, in fact, the most exalted position attainable by man. When a man performs Prayers, keeps his fast and worships God in other ways, he is merely on the level of service and subjection to God. But when a man strives to spread God's true religion and to enthrone it in actual life, he is honoured with the status of God's ally and helper, which is the zenith of man's spiritual growth. 'Literally, 'and be our witness that we are Muslims' - Ed.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
This word حَوَارِي has probably come into Arabic from Hebrew. It is very close in its meaning to the Arabic word ansar which means “helpers” and “supporters.” Here it is used specifically for the students of Jesus (sws) who professed faith in him, helped him in good and bad circumstances and finally became the exponents of his preaching in each and every settlement of the Israelites.

The implication is that when Jesus (sws) felt from the attitude of leaders and scholars of the Israelites that it was impossible to convince them and that they now were adamant on their denial, he sought help from his disciples that whatever responsibilities the Almighty would impose on them in the coming phases, they would help him in discharging them. The sentence which he uttered at this instance to seek their help in the opinion of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, on the one hand reflected his fervour for preaching and on the other it was as if he was also saying that he has embarked upon the path of his Lord and those who had the courage should support him in treading this tough terrain.

The actual words are: نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰہِ. In response to the call of مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِیۡۤ اِلَی اللّٰہِ given by Jesus (sws) instead of saying نَحْنُ اَنصَاركَ اليُ اللّٰہِ they said نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰہِ. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining the connotations of these words, writes:

… In the call of Jesus (sws) the word اِلٰيis explaining the distance which exists between the path and the destination and as a preacher it was befitting for him that he inform his addressees of the hardships of this path and the distance one would need to traverse; however, the disciples in their fervour to follow him responded in a manner that the whole distance was covered in just one leap and saying this was in fact befitting to their emotional commitment to faith and religion in this delicate phase of the preaching mission of Jesus (sws). (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 99)

From here onward are mentioned details of the requirements and corollaries of what is stated succinctly in مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِیۡۤ اِلَی اللّٰہِ. It is evident from this that the disciples fully knew what being helpers of God meant and what their responsibility was in this regard.

The disciples expressed the fact that once they became fully aware of this truth, they would not conceal it; in fact they would bear evidence to it before others. Thus their name should be written among such people on the Day of Judgement and not among people who hide the truth.

رَبَّنَاۤ اٰمَنَّا بِمَاۤ اَنۡزَلۡتَ وَاتَّبَعۡنَا الرَّسُوۡلَ فَاكۡتُبۡنَا مَعَ الشّٰهِدِيۡنَ‏ 
( 53 )   Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger Jesus, so register us among the witnesses [to truth]."
Verse 54 Plot to kill Eesa (Jesus):

وَمَكَرُوۡا وَمَكَرَاللّٰهُ ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ خَيۡرُ الۡمَاكِرِيۡنَ‏ 
( 54 )   And the disbelievers planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners.
Yusuf Ali explanation:
The Arabic Makara has both a bad and a good meaning, that of making an intricate plan to carry out some secret purpose. The enemies of Allah are constantly doing that. But Allah-in whose hands is all good-has His plans also, against which the evil ones will have no chance whatever.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
What were these schemes? While explaining them, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
Firstly, these people alleged that he and his disciples were guilty of breaking the traditions of their ancestors and humiliating their elders so that emotions of the common man could be inflamed against them.
Secondly, they would send various people to him to ask questions which could afford them with the material on the basis of which they could issue edicts of disbelief and apostasy against him. This assignment was carried out with great fervour by the jurists and Pharisees of the Jews. From the parables and similes cited by Jesus (sws), they would gather material which in their opinion was enough to issue an edict that killing him had become obligatory.
Thirdly, since in those times the Romans were in political power, hence, in order to incite them, efforts were made to afford them with appropriate material for the purpose. Initially, questions about the payment of khiraj were posed to Jesus (sws) so that it could be proven that he forbids people from paying khiraj to the Caesar. However, Jesus (sws) silenced his critics with his answers. Then they alleged that Jesus (sws) wanted to become the king of Israel. For this, they tried to gather material from the parables uttered by Jesus (sws) and to provide it to the Roman government in order to inflame it against him.
Fourthly, they were able to win over Judas, a Hypocrite and one of the twelve disciples of Jesus (sws) by bribing him; they were successful in convincing him of disclosing the whereabouts of Jesus (sws) and having him arrested. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 2, 102)
What probably happened was that the face of the person who was guilty of disclosing the whereabouts of Jesus (sws) in his secluded abode at the mount of olive was made to resemble Jesus (sws). Consequently, the Jews crucified him and kept on humiliating him. On the other hand, they were not even able to lay hands on Jesus (sws).

Ruku / Section 6 [Verses 55-63]
Verses 55-57 Allah's promise to Eesa (Jesus):

اِذۡ قَالَ اللّٰهُ يٰعِيۡسٰۤى اِنِّىۡ مُتَوَفِّيۡكَ وَرَافِعُكَ اِلَىَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِيۡنَ اتَّبَعُوۡكَ فَوۡقَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡۤا اِلٰى يَوۡمِ الۡقِيٰمَةِ ​​ۚ ثُمَّ اِلَىَّ مَرۡجِعُكُمۡ فَاَحۡكُمُ بَيۡنَكُمۡ فِيۡمَا كُنۡتُمۡ فِيۡهِ تَخۡتَلِفُوۡنَ‏ 
( 55 )   [Mention] when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.
The expression used is mutawaffika. The original meaning of tawaffa is to take and receive. To 'seize a person's soul!' constitutes the figurative rather than the literal meaning of the word. Here the word is used in the sense of 'recall', for example, the recall of an official from his work. The Israelites had persisted in their disobedience, and despite repeated warnings and admonitions their collective behaviour had become increasingly corrupt. They had killed a succession of Prophets and were out to shed the blood of all those who invited them to righteousness and moral rectitude. In order to complete His argument against them, and to give them a last chance to reform themselves, God sent to them two great Prophets, Jesus and John the Baptist. These Prophets carried with them such overwhelming proof of their designation by God that no ground was left for anyone to disbelieve in them, except those who were obstinately hostile to the Truth and who had become exceedingly bold in their opposition to it.

Yet the Israelites let this last opportunity slip away. They not only spurned the message of the Prophets but also brazenly indulged in many other atrocious crimes. One of their chiefs had John beheaded at the behest of a dancing girl, and their priests and scribes conspired to have Jesus put to death by the Roman authorities. Further admonition would have been a sheer waste of time. God, therefore, decided to recall His Prophet and condemned the Israelites to perpetual disgrace.

It should be noted that this whole discourse (verses 3: 33 ff.) is devoted to repudiating the Christian belief in the godhead of Jesus, and to reforming their beliefs. The main reasons for the spread of these false beliefs were: (i) the miraculous birth of Jesus; (ii) the miracles which he performed; and (iii) his ascension into heaven (which is mentioned categorically in the Christian scriptures). The Qur'an confirms the miraculous birth of Jesus and asserts that this fatherless birth is a manifestation of God's omnipotence. God creates whomsoever He wills and in the manner He chooses. This extraordinary birth neither proves that Jesus was God nor that he had any share in God's godhead. The miracles of Jesus are also verified by the Qur'an; in fact it enumerates them one by one. The Qur'an, however, makes it clear that Jesus performed these miracles in accordance with God's will, and not of his own innate power.

Had the traditions cherished by the Christians regarding Jesus' ascension into heaven been without foundation, they would have been told that he whom they regarded as either God or the son of God had died long ago and become part of the earth, and that if they wanted to satisfy themselves on that score they could go and witness for themselves his grave at a certain place. But not only does the Qur'an not make any categorical statement that Jesus died, it employs an expression which, to say the least, contains the possibility of being interpreted as meaning that he had been raised into heaven alive. Further, the Qur'an tells the Christians that Jesus, contrary to their belief, was not crucified. This means that the man who cried out at the end of his life: 'Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?', that is, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Matthew 27: 46), and the one whose image was seen on the cross was not Christ; God had already raised Christ into heaven.

As for those who try to interpret these Qur'anic verses as indicating the death of Jesus, they actually prove only that God is incapable of expressing His ideas in clear, lucid terms.

The words 'those who disbelieve' here refer to the Jews whom Jesus had invited to believe, and who had refused that invitation. The expression: 'your followers', if it denotes the true followers of Jesus, can only mean Muslims. Should 'followers' signify all those who profess allegiance to Jesus, it would include both Christians and Muslims.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
Read this with iv. 157, where it is said that "whereas they slew him not nor they crucified him but it was made dubious unto them. The guilt of the Jews remained, but Jesus was eventually taken up to Allah.

Jesus was charged by the Jews with blasphemy as claiming to be Allah or the son of Allah. The Christians (except a few early sects which were annihilated by persecution, and the modern sect of Unitarians), adopted the substance of the claim, and made it the cornerstone of their faith. Allah clears Jesus of such a charge or claim.

Those who follow thee refers to those who followed Jesus in contrast to the Jews who rejected him.

All the controversies about dogma and faith will disappear when we appear before Allah. He will judge not by what we profess but by what we are.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
This refers to the common followers of Jesus (sws) and those who take his name. Initially, they were called the Nazarenes and later came to be known as Christians. This is an instance of giving glad tidings which requires that there be vastness in the connotation of this word. Moreover, the words الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّبَعُوۡکَ are mentioned in contrast to الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا. Hence they can only refer to all those who ascribe themselves to Jesus (sw) in any way instead of referring to his true and sincere followers.

فَاَمَّا الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا فَاُعَذِّبُهُمۡ عَذَابًا شَدِيۡدًا فِى الدُّنۡيَا وَالۡاٰخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُمۡ مِّنۡ نّٰصِرِيۡنَ‏ 
( 56 )   And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers."
Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
This is a mention of worldly reward and punishment for the Israelites which every person can clearly observe. This extra-ordinarily amazing prediction has not been disproved in any period of time at any place. This is such a potent and blatant proof of God and His court of justice that we can see it at all times. After this, what is it that can belie the Day of Judgement promised by the Qur’an?
وَاَمَّا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَعَمِلُوا الصّٰلِحٰتِ فَيُوَفِّيۡهِمۡ اُجُوۡرَهُمۡ​ؕ وَ اللّٰهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظّٰلِمِيۡنَ‏  
( 57 )   But as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, He will give them in full their rewards, and Allah does not like the wrongdoers.
Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
About the messengers of God, the law of the Almighty is that their addressees are punished in this very world if they deliberately deny the truth communicated to them by these messengers. The Israelites were invested with the position of shahadah by the Almighty. It is the requisite of this position also that they be punished in this world for their sins. Consequently, it is in accordance with this law that they will lead a life of subjugation to the Christians till the Day of Judgement and it is as per this law that they have been facing grievous punishments from time to time.

Verses 58-63 Birth of Eesa (Jesus) is compared to the creation of Adam and "Mubahla" Calling Allah's decision if Eesa (Jesus) birth is disputed:

ذٰ لِكَ نَـتۡلُوۡهُ عَلَيۡكَ مِنَ الۡاٰيٰتِ وَ الذِّكۡرِ الۡحَكِيۡمِ‏ 
( 58 )   This is what We recite to you, [O Muhammad], of [Our] verses and the precise [and wise] message.
 اِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيۡسٰى عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ كَمَثَلِ اٰدَمَ​ؕ خَلَقَهٗ مِنۡ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهٗ كُنۡ فَيَكُوۡنُ‏ 
( 59 )   Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, "Be," and he was.
This means that if Jesus' miraculous birth is sufficient proof that he should be regarded either as God or as the son of God then there are even stronger grounds to apply this to Adam. For, while Jesus was born without a father, Adam was born with neither father nor mother.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet, we have a repudiation of the dogma that he was Allah, or the son of Allah, or anything more than a man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, Adam was also so born. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. As far as our physical bodies are concerned they are mere dust. In Allah's sight Jesus was as dust just as Adam was or humanity is. The greatness of Jesus arose from the divine command "Be": for after that he was-more than dust - a great Prophet and teacher.

اَلۡحَـقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُنۡ مِّنَ الۡمُمۡتَرِيۡنَ‏ 
( 60 )   The truth is from your Lord, so do not be among the doubters.
The main points set before the Christians so far are the following: First, it was impressed upon them that none of the various arguments which gave rise to the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus provided valid grounds to support that doctrine. Jesus was merely a human being whom God had created in an extraordinary manner for reasons best known to Him. God had also invested Jesus with the power to perform certain miracles by means of which he could categorically establish his claim to prophethood. It seems perfectly reasonable that God should not have allowed such an extraordinary person to be crucified by unbelievers and should have raised him up to Himself. As the Sovereign, God has the power to treat any of His subjects as He wishes. How can this extraordinary treatment of Jesus justify the conclusion that the subject was himself either the Sovereign, the son of the Sovereign or an associate with Him in His Sovereignty?

Second, the message of Muhammad (peace be on him) is the same as that of Jesus. The missions of the two are identical.

Third, even after [the ascension of] Jesus the religion of his disciples remained the same, namely, Islam, which is now expounded by the Qur'an. What has happened is that, in the course of time, the Christians have abandoned the teachings of Christ, and have deviated from the religion followed by the early disciples of Jesus.‏

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
The truth does not necessarily come from priests, or from the superstitions of whole peoples. It comes from Allah, and where there is a direct revelation, there is no room for doubt.

The actual words are: اَلۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ. The inchoative (mubtada’) has been suppressed in this sentence. This is done at instances when all the attention of the addressees is to be directed on the enunciative (khabar).

فَمَنۡ حَآجَّكَ فِيۡهِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ الۡعِلۡمِ فَقُلۡ تَعَالَوۡا نَدۡعُ اَبۡنَآءَنَا وَاَبۡنَآءَكُمۡ وَنِسَآءَنَا وَنِسَآءَكُمۡ وَاَنۡفُسَنَا وَاَنۡفُسَكُمۡ ثُمَّ نَبۡتَهِلۡ فَنَجۡعَل لَّعۡنَتَ اللّٰهِ عَلَى الۡكٰذِبِيۡنَ
( 61 )   Then whoever argues with you about it after [this] knowledge has come to you - say, "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly [together] and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars [among us]."
The real aim in suggesting this procedure for deciding the dispute was to prove that the attitude of those among the delegation of Najran was one of deliberate stubbornness and intransigence. They had no sound arguments to contradict any of the points mentioned above, and they could not find any shred of evidence in their own scriptures upon which they could claim, with firm conviction, that their beliefs were true. Moreover, all that the members of the deputation had come to know of the character, teachings and achievements of the Prophet had made them more or less convinced of his prophethood, and at least caused their disbelief to waver. When they were told that if they had full confidence in the truth of their beliefs they should come forward and pray to God that His curse should fall on the deniers of the truth, none of them came forward. It thus became clear all over Arabia that the priests and leaders of Christianity in Najran, whose holiness was celebrated far and wide, followed beliefs, the truth of which, they themselves were not fully confident in.

Yusuf Ali Explanation:
In the year of Deputations, 10th of the Hijra, came a Christian embassy from Najran (towards Yemen, about 150 miles north of Sanaa). They were much impressed on hearing this passage of the Qur'an explaining the true position of Christ, and they entered into tributary relations with the new Muslim State. But ingrained habits and customs prevented them from accepting Islam as a body. The Holy Prophet, firm in his faith, proposed a Mubahala, i.e., a solemn meeting, in which both sides should summon not only their men, but their women and children, earnestly pray to Allah, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who should lie. Those who had a pure and sincere faith would not hesitate. The Christians declined, and they were dismissed in a spirit of tolerance with a promise of protection from the State in return for tribute.

Explanation Professor Ghamidi:
Muhammad (sws) is seemingly addressed in these verses; however, in reality a little deliberation will show that the direction of address is towards the common Muslims: they should now have no doubt that the real truth about Jesus (sws) is what the Qur’an has stated. Everything else is mere fabrication by the Christians. Consequently, the anger one can feel in this sentence is actually directed at them.

The way this sentence has come in this discourse shows that some of its parts have been suppressed in it as per the conventional style of Arabic. If these suppressed parts are unfolded, the verse would read: ندع نحن أبناءنا و أنتم أبناءكم و نحضر نحن أنفسنا و أنتم أنفسكم ثم نبتهل نحن و أنتم. The translation has been done keeping this in view.

The actual word is: نَبۡتَہِلۡ. It means “to pray” and “to beseech.” However, since the meaning of “giving up something” is also found in it, it is also conventionally used to connote cursing someone.

Only a person who is really convinced of his veracity can challenge others on what is right and what is wrong on the basis of such a curse. Consequently, Muhammad(sws) challenged the Christians with this certainty; however, history tells us that they did not have the guts to accept it. This evasion proved that they themselves did not consider their view to be correct; they only wanted to stubbornly adhere to it in their false pride.

Ie., divinity is only for God. Jesus (sws) has no share in it. Whatever status he has is on the basis of a servant and a messenger of the Almighty.

اِنَّ هٰذَا لَهُوَ الۡقَصَصُ الۡحَـقُّ ​​ۚ وَمَا مِنۡ اِلٰهٍ اِلَّا اللّٰهُ​ؕ وَاِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَهُوَ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُ‏
( 62 )   Indeed, this is the true narration. And there is no deity except Allah. And indeed, Allah is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
Yusuf Ali Explanation:
We are now in a position to deal with the questions which we left over at ii. 87. Jesus is no more than a man. It is against reason and revelation to call him Allah or the son of Allah. He is called the son of Mary to emphasize this. He had no human father, as his birth was miraculous. But it is not this which raise him to his high position as a prophet, but because Allah called him to his office. The praise is due to Allah, Who by His word gave him spiritual strength-"strengthened him with the Holy spirit. The miracles which surround his story relate not only to the "Clear Signs" which he brought. It was those who misunderstood him who obscured his clear Signs and surrounded him with mysteries of their own invention.

فَاِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَاِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيۡمٌۢ بِالۡمُفۡسِدِيۡنَ  
( 63 )   But if they turn away, then indeed - Allah is Knowing of the corrupters.
Here we come to the end of the second discourse of the Surah. Part III begins with the third discourse of this surah. Its contents invite the conclusion that the surah was revealed sometime between the battles of Badr and Uhud. The subjects of these three discourses are so closely interrelated that some commentators have wrongly understood the verses which follow to be part of the foregoing discourse. From the whole tenor of the discourse which now begins, however, it is evident that it is addressed to the Jews.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Al i Imran 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.
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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.

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