Saturday 8 May 2021

Surah As-Saff (The Ranks): Tafsīr/Exegesis 61st Chapter of Quran

Sūrah Aṣ-Ṣaff " الصف " ("The Ranks") is the 61st chapter (sūrah) of the Quran with 14 verses (āyāt), divided into two Ruku, part of the 28th Juz' of the Qur'an. This sūrah is an Al-Musabbihat sūrah because it begins with the glorification of Allah.  

The Sūrah derives its name from the sentence yuqatiluna fi sabil-i- hlsaff-an of verse 4 " يُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِهٖ صَفًّا " ; thereby implying that it is a Sūrah in which the word saff occurred. The Sūrah thus revolves around ways of victory for the Religion. This cannot happen except if the Believers are in one Saff [row] stood shoulder to shoulder. An individual brick no matter how strong cannot fulfill its role for a wall or a structure. It is only when strong bricks unite that a wall or structure becomes solid and impenetrable.

Period of Revelation: It could not be known from any reliable tradition, but a study of its subject-matter shows that this Surah probably was sent down in the period closely following the Battle of Uhud, for by reading between the lines perceives a clear description of the conditions that prevailed in that period, which makes it a Median Sūrah.

Its theme is to exhort the Muslims to adopt sincerity in Faith and to struggle with their lives in the cause of Allah. It is addressed to the Muslims with weak faith as well as those who had entered Islam with a false profession of the Faith and also those who were sincere in their profession. Some verses are addressed to the first two groups, some only to the hypocrites, and some only to the sincere Muslims. The style itself shows where one particular group has been addressed and where the other.

Connection of this surah with surahs before/after it:[8]
  • Both Surah al-Mumtahinah [60] and Surah as-Saff [61] begin with Ayat related to Jihad.
  • Both the first Ayat of Surah as-Saff [61] and Surah al-Jumu'ah [62] end with names of Allah, al-Azeez al-Hakeem.
  • Both Surah as-Saff [61] and al-Jumu'ah [62] mention the Jews.
  • Surah Saff [61:6] mentions the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to be sent after Jesus and Surah al-Jumu'ah [62:2] mentions the sending of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
  • There is a connection between the beginning of Surah as-Saff [61], al-Jum'uah [62] and al-Munafiqun [63]. In Surah as-Saff, Allah speaks of those who say that which they do not do. In the following Surah, this concept is mentioned again in the example of Jewish scholars who are like donkeys contradicting and not benefiting from the knowledge they are carrying. Then this is again followed by the next Surah, which begins with the statements of the Hypocrites who are saying they testify to the truth, whereas in reality they are liars. All three being examples of contradictions between word and deed.
The sürah has been divided into two Ruku as under:
  • Ruku One:  Verses 1- 9: 1-9 O believers, do not say something that you don't do and Prophet Isa (Jesus) gave a good news of a Rasool coming after him whose name is Ahmed (Muhammad ﷺ)
  • Ruku Two: Verses 10-13: A bargain to save oneself from the hellfire and Believers are commanded to be the helper of Allah like the disciples of Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him)
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. You may also listen to its explanation of the surah at the end of the post by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:

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

Ruku One:  Verses 1- 9:

سَبَّحَ لِلّٰهِ مَا فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَمَا فِى الۡاَرۡضِ​ۚ وَهُوَ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُ‏ 
( 1 )   Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
This is a brief introduction to this discourse. For its explanation, see explanation of verse 1 of Surah 57 Al-Hadid (reproduced herein under):
That is, it has always been so that everything in the universe has proclaimed the truth that its Creator and Sustainer is free from every blemish and defect, every weakness, error and evil. He is glorified in His essence, He is glorified in His attributes, He is glorified in His works as well as His commands whether they relate to the creation, or to the religious law for mankind. Here sabbaha has been used in the past tense; at other places yusabbihu has been used which includes both the present and the future tenses. This would signify that every particle in the universe has always been extolling the glory of its Creator and Sustainer in the past, is doing at present and will continue to do the same in the future forever and ever.
That is, not only is He All-Mighty and All-Wise, but the truth is that He alone is All-Mighty and All-Wise. The word Aziz signifies a mighty and powerful Being Whose decrees cannot be prevented by any power in the world from being enforced, Whom no one can oppose and resist, Who has to be obeyed by every one whether one likes it or not, Whose rebel cannot escape His accountability and punishment in any way. The word Hakim signifies that whatever He does, He does it wisely. His creation, His administration and rule, His commands and guidance, all are based on wisdom. None of His works is tarnished by any tract of folly or ignorance.
There is another fine point here, which one should fully understand. Seldom in the Quran has Allah’s attribute of Aziz (All-Mighty) been accompanied by His attributes of being Qawi (Strong), Muqtadir (Powerful), Jabber (Omnipotent), Dhuntiqam (Avenger) and the like, which only signify His absolute power, and this has been so only in places where the context demanded that the wicked and disobedient be warned of Allah’s relentless punishment. Apart from such few places, wherever the word Aziz has been used for Allah, it has everywhere been accompanied by one Or other of His attributes of being Hakim (Wise), Alim (Knower), Rahim (Merciful), Ghafur (Forgiving), Wahhab (Generous) and Hamid (Praiseworthy). The reason is that if a being who wields un-limited power is at the same time unwise, ignorant, un-forgiving as well as stingy and devoid of character, its power and authority cannot but lead to injustice and wickedness. Thus, wherever injustice and wickedness is being committed in the world, it is only because the one who wields authority over others, is either using his power un-wisely and foolishly, or he is merciless and hardhearted, or evil-minded and wicked. Wherever power is coupled with these evil traits of character, no good can be expected to result. That is why in the Quran Allah’s attribute of Aziz has necessarily been accompanied by His attributes of being All-Wise and Knowing, Compassionate and Forgiving, Praiseworthy and Generous. So that man may know that the God Who is ruling this universe has, on the one hand, such absolute power that no one, from the earth to the heavens, can prevent His decrees from being enforced. But, on the other hand, He is also All-Wise: His each decision is based on perfect wisdom. He is also All- Knowing: whatever decision He makes, it is precisely according to knowledge. He is also Compassionate: He does not use infinite power mercilessly. He is Forgiving as well: He does not punish His creatures for trifling faults, but overlooks their errors. He is also Generous: He does not treat His subjects stingily, but liberally and benevolently. And He is also Praiseworthy: He combines in Himself all praiseworthy virtues and excellences.
The importance of this statement of the Quran can be better understood by those people who are aware of the discussions of the philosophy of politics and law on the question of sovereignty. Sovereignty connotes that the one who possesses it should wield un-limited power: there should be no internal and external power to change or modify his decision or prevent it from being enforced, and none should have any alternative but to obey him. At the mere concept of this infinite and un-limited power, man’s common-sense necessarily demands that whoever attains to such power, should be faultless and perfect in knowledge and wisdom, for if the one holding this power is ignorant, merciless and evil, his sovereignty will inevitably lead to wickedness and corruption. That is why the philosophers, who regarded a single man, or a man-made institution, or an assembly of men as the holder of this power, have had to presume that he or it would be infallible. But obviously, neither can unlimited sovereignty be actually attained by a human power, nor is it possible for a king, or a parliament, or a nation, or a party that it may use the sovereignty attained by it in a limited circle faultlessly and harmlessly. The reason is that the wisdom that is wholly free of every trace of folly, and the knowledge that fully comprehends all the related truths, is not at all possessed even by entire mankind, not to speak of its being attained by an individual, or an institution, or a nation. Likewise, as long as man is man, his being wholly free of and above selfishness, sensuality, fear, greed, desires, prejudice and sentimental love, anger and hate is also not possible. If a person ponders over these truths, he will realize that the Quran is indeed presenting here a correct and perfect view of sovereignty. It says that no one except Allah in this universe is possessor of absolute power, and with this unlimited power He alone is faultless, All-Wise and All- Knowing, Compassionate and Forgiving, and Praiseworthy and Generous in His dealings with Hid subjects.

The discourse has been opened with this introduction so that before hearing or reading what is going to follow, one may well understand that Allah is free from and far above this that the functioning of His Godhead should depend on someone s faith and another one's help and sacrifices. If He exhorts the believers to adopt sincerity in Faith and urges them to exert their utmost for the success and victory of the Truth, that is for the sake of their own good; otherwise the will of Allah is accomplished by His own power and by His own design, whether somebody makes no effort at all towards its implementation, and whether the whole world joins together to frustrate and resist it stubbornly. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: This verse is identical with lix. 1. The latter illustrated the theme of the wonderful working of Allah's providence in defeating the wiles of His enemies. Here the same theme is illustrated by showing the need for unshaken discipline if we are to receive the help of Allah.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is an introductory sentence. It implies that God is not dependent on people to wage jihad for His cause. Every object in the heavens and the earth is busy glorifying Him. If He has asked Muslims to wage jihad, it is for their own benefit. Do they not trust Him as they are avoiding to undertake this jihad? If this is the case, who can be more unfortunate than them who do not trust such a mighty and wise being.

The verb سَبَّحَ at the beginning of the verse occurs in the past tense. This style is adopted at many places in the Qur’an to portray some reality and depict a fact.

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لِمَ تَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَا لَا تَفۡعَلُوۡنَ‏ 
( 2 )   O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do?
At the outset the believers have been warned to the effect; "Allah indeed hates those people who say one thing and do another, and He indeed loves. those who fight in the cause of the Truth, standing like a solid structure, against the enemies of Allah."'

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "Why do you say what you do not do?" In the first instance, this may be an allusion to such of the Prophet's Companions as had retreated in disorder from their battle stations at Uhud (see surah {3}, verse 121 and note) despite their previous assertions that they were ready to lay down their lives in the cause of God and His Apostle. In a wider sense, the passage is addressed to all those who claim that they are willing to live up to anything that the divine writ declares to be desirable, and then fall short of this determination. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: At Uhud there was some disobedience and therefore breach of discipline. People had talked much, but had failed to back up their resolution in words with firmness in action. 

See note to iii. 121. reproduced below:

The battle of Uhud was a great testing time for the young Muslim community. Their mettle and the wisdom and strength of their Leader were shown in the battle of Badr (iii. 13 and note), in which the Makkan Pagans suffered a crushing defeat. The Makkans were determined to wipe off their disgrace and to annihilate the Muslims in Madinah. To this end they collected a large force and marched to Madinah. They numbered some 3,000 fighting men under Abu Sufyan, and they were so confident of victory that their women-folk came with them, and showed the most shameful savagery after the battle. To meet the threatened danger the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad Al-Mustafa, with his usual foresight, courage, and initiative, resolved to take his station at the foot of Mount Uhud, which dominates the city of Madinah some three miles to the north. Early in the morning, on the 7th of Shawwal, A.H. 3 (January, 625), he made his dispositions for battle. Madinah winters are notoriously rigorous, but the warriors of Islam (700 to 1000 in number) were up early. A torrent bed was to their south, and the passes in the hills at their back were filled with 50 archers to prevent the enemy attack from the rear. The enemy were set the task of attacking the walls of Madinah, with the Muslims at their rear. In the beginning the battle went well for the Muslims. The enemy wavered, but the Muslim archers, in disobedience of their orders, left their posts to join in the pursuit and share in the booty. There was also treachery on the part of the 300 "Hypocrites" led by Abdullah ibn Ubai, who deserted. The enemy took advantage of the opening left by the archers, and there was severe hand-to-hand fighting, in which numbers told in favour of the enemy. Many of the Companions and Helpers were killed. But there was no rout. Among the Muslim martyrs was the gallant Hamza, a brother of the Prophet's father. The graves of the martyrs are still shown at Uhud. The Messenger himself was wounded in his head and face, and one of his front teeth was broken. Had it not been for his firmness, courage, and coolness, all would have been lost. As it was, the prophet, in spite of his wound, and many of the wounded Muslims, inspired by his example, returned to the field next day, and Abu Sufyan and his Makkan army thought it most prudent to withdraw. Madinah was saved, but a lesson in faith, constancy, firmness, and steadfastness was learnt by the Muslims.

But on all occasions when men's deeds are not commensurate with their words, their conduct is odious in the sight of Allah, and it is only due to Allah's Mercy if they are saved from disaster. 

كَبُرَ مَقۡتًا عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا مَا لَا تَفۡعَلُوۡنَ‏ 
( 3 )   Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.
One meaning of this passage is general as is apparent from its words. It has a special meaning also, which becomes evident when this verse is read along with the verse that follows. The first meaning is that there should be complete agreement between a true Muslim's word and deed: he should carry into effect whatever he says, and when he has no intention of doing it, or has no power for it, he should not say it. To say one thing and do another is one of the most hideous characteristics of man, in the sight of Allah. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) has explained that a person's being characterized by this quality is a sign that he is not a believer but a hypocrite. According to a .Hadith he said;
"The hypocrite has three signs even if he offered the Prayer and observed the Fast, and professed to be a Muslim: That then he spoke he lied; when he made a promise, he broke it; and when he was entrusted with something, he proved dishonest. " (Bukhari, Muslim) .
In another Hadith he said:
"Four characteristics are such that the one who has all the four, is a hypocrite through and through, and the one who has one of these, has one characteristic of hypocrisy in him until he gives it up: that when he is entrusted with something, he proves dishonest; when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he quarrels he crosses all limits of morality and decency." (Bukhari, Muslim).
The jurists of Islam have almost unanimously held the view that if a person makes a pledge to Allah (e.g.. vows to do some thing), or enters an agreement with others, or promised somebody to do something, it is obligatory for him to fulfil it, unless the thing he has promised is by itself sinful. If it is sinful, he should not observe or carry out the agreement or promise, but should expiate its violation as mentioned in Surah AI-Ma'idah: 89. (AI-Jassas and Ibn al'Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur-an an).

This much for the general meaning of these verses. As for their special meaning, it becomes obvious when these are read along with the verse that follows. The object is to reprove those people who talked much and made tall promises to fight and lay down their lives in the cause of Islam, but when the time came of their test and trial, they fled the battlefield. The people of weak faith have been taken to task for this weakness at several places in the Qur'an. For instance, in Surah An-Nisa': 77, it has been said: "Have you also marked those to whom if was said, 'Withhold your hands (a while from war) and establish the salat and pay the zakat. Now that they have been commanded to fight, some of them fear the people as they should fear Allah, or even more than that. They say: 'Our Lord, why have You prescribed fighting for us? Why have You not given us further respite?" And in Surah Muhammad: 20: "Those who have believed, were saying, 'Why is not a Surah sent down (to enjoin fighting)?' But when a decisive Surah was sent down in which fighting had been mentioned, you saw those in whose hearts was a disease, looking towards you like the one under the shadow of death.' On the occasion of the Battle of Uhud in particular, the weaknesses to which allusions have been made continuously from verse 121 to verse 171 of Surah Al-'Imran became all the more conspicuous and visible.

The commentators while explaining the background of the revelation of these verses have mentioned the different forms of the weaknesses to which exception has been taken here. Ibn 'Abbas says that before the fighting was proscribed, there were some people among the Muslims who said: "Would that we could know the act that is most lovable in the sight of Allah, so that we would perform the same." But when they were told that it was fighting in the cause of Allah, it became most difficult for them to carry out their promise. Muqatil bin Hayyan has stated that in the Battle of Uhud these very people were put to the test, and they abandoned the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) and fled Ibn Zaid says that many of the people made the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) believe that they would go out with him to fact the enemy whenever it was so required, but when the time of the test came their promises proved false. Qatadah and Dahhak say that if some people did take pan in the battle, they accomplished nothing. but on their return from the battlefield they boasted and bragged, saying. "We put up a brave fight and we achieved such and such a victory." It is such people who have been rebuked by Allah in these verses. 
اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِيۡنَ يُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِهٖ صَفًّا كَاَنَّهُمۡ بُنۡيَانٌ مَّرۡصُوۡصٌ‏ 
( 4 )   Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly.
First, it shows that only those believers are blessed with Allah's good pleasure and approval, who are prepared to fight in His way, disregarding every kind of danger. Secondly, that Allah likes an army which has three characteristics: (1) It fights in Allah's way with full understanding, and does not fight for a cause disapproved by Allah; (2) it is not indisciplined, but is well-organized and well-arrayed for battle; and (3) it offers stiff resistance to the enemy as though it were "a solid cemented structure" . Then, this last quality is by itself highly meaningful. No army can stand in the battle array like a "solid structure unless it has the following characteristics.
  1. Complete agreement in the faith and the objective, which should smite soldiers and officers in a well-knit body.
  2. Confidence in one another sincerity, which cannot be created unless everybody is genuinely sincere in his aim and free from impure motives; otherwise the severe test of war will not allow anyone's insincerity to remain hidden, and whcn confidence is lost, the members of the army start suspecting instead of trusting one another.
  3. A high standard of morality without which neither can the officers and soldiers of the army have love and respect for each other, nor can they remain immune foam mutual clashes and conflicts.
  4. Love of the common objective and a firm resolve to achieve it, which should inspire, the whole army with an invincible spirit of gallantry, devotion and self sacrifice, so that it may actually face the enemy like a solid cemented structure in the battle field.
Such were the foundations on which a powerful military organization was raised under the leadership of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). Mighty power of the day clashed with it and were annihilated; no power of the world then could dare face it for centuries. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., in unison, with their deeds corresponding to their assertions of faith. This moral necessity is further illustrated - by its opposite - in the subsequent reference to Moses and the recalcitrant among his followers.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: A battle array, in which a large number of men stand, march, or hold together against assault as if they were a solid wall, is a striking example of order, discipline, cohesion, and courage. "A solid cemented structure" is even a better simile than the usual "solid wall" as the "structure" or building implies a more diversified organisation held together in unity and strength, each part contributing strength in its own way, and the whole held together not like a mass but like a living organism. 

Cf. also xxxvii. I and note [reproduced below]
"By those who range themselves in ranks. " Two questions arise: (1) are the doers of the three things noted in verses 1-3 the same persons, whose actions or qualities are differently described, or are they three distinct sets of persons? (2) in either case, who are they? As to (1) the most authoritative view is that the three clauses describe the same set of persons in different aspects. As to (2) some take them to refer to angels, and others understand by them the good men, the men of God, who strive and range themselves in Allah's service. The words are perfectly general, and I interpret them to refer to both classes. The feminine form is grammatically used in Arabic idiom for the indefinite plural. In xxxvii. 165 below, the word saffan is used in the definite plural, and seems to be spoken by these beings, angels or men of God or both, according to how we interpret this verse..

In verses 5-7 the people of the Holy Prophet's community have been warned that their attitude towards their Messenger and their Religion should not be like the attitude that the Israelites had adopted towards the Prophets Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). In spite of acknowledging the Prophet Moses as a Messenger of God they continued to malign him as long as he lived, and in spite of witnessing clear signs from the Prophet Jesus they denied him without any hesitation. Consequently, the Israelites became perverse, incapable of benefiting from divine guidance. This is certainly not an enviable state which another nation should imitate. 

وَاِذۡ قَالَ مُوۡسٰى لِقَوۡمِهٖ يٰقَوۡمِ لِمَ تُؤۡذُوۡنَنِىۡ وَقَد تَّعۡلَمُوۡنَ اَنِّىۡ رَسُوۡلُ اللّٰهِ اِلَيۡكُمۡؕ فَلَمَّا زَاغُوۡۤا اَزَاغَ اللّٰهُ قُلُوۡبَهُمۡ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ لَا يَهۡدِى الۡقَوۡمَ الۡفٰسِقِيۡنَ‏ 
( 5 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, "O my people, why do you harm me while you certainly know that I am the messenger of Allah to you?" And when they deviated, Allah caused their hearts to deviate. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.
At several places in the Qur'an details have been given of how the Israelites in spite of acknowledging the Prophet Moses as a Prophet of God and their own benefactor maligned him and proved disloyal to him. For this see Al Baqarah: 51,55,60, 67-71 An-Nisa': 153; AI-Ma'idah: 20-26; AI-A'raf: 138-141; 148-151; Ta Ha: 86-98. 

In the Bible too, the Jewish history written by the Jews themselves is replete with such events; for instance, sec Exodus:
Exodus 5: 20-21: 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Exodus14: 11- 12: 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 
Exodus 16: 2-3: 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Exodus17: 3-4; 3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” 4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
And Numbers, 11: 1-15, 14: 1-10, ch.l6, 20: 1-5. Here, allusion to these events is meant to warn the Muslims that they should not adopt the same attitude towards their Prophet as the Israelites had adopted towards their Prophet: otherwise they would meet the same fate as was met by the Israelites. 

" And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people. " That is, it is not Allah's way to force the people to follow the right way of guidance if they are bent upon following the crooked ways of sin and disobedience. From this it automatically follows that the deviation of a person or nation is not initiated by Allah but by the person or the nation itself. But the law of Allah is that He provides means of deviation only for the one who chooses deviation, so that be may go astray into whatever alleys he may like. Allah has granted man the freedom of choice. Now it is for every man and for every group of men to decide whether he or it wants to obey their Lord, or not, and whether he or it chooses the right way for it or one of the crooked ways. There is no compulsion from Allah in this choice. If somebody chooses the way of obedience and guidance, Allah does not push him forcibly towards deviation and disobedience; and if somebody is resolved to follow disobedience instead of the way of righteousness, it is not Allah's way to make him adopt the way of obedience and guidance forcibly. But this also is the truth that the person who chooses a particular way for himself, cannot follow it practically unless Allah provides for him the ways and means and creates for him the conditions which are necessary for following it. This is Allah's grace and favor" without which no one's efforts can be meaningful and productive. Now, if a person is not at all interested in seeking Allah's grace for righteousness, but seeks His grace for adopting evil, he is given the same. And when he receives the grace for doing evil. he becomes temperamentally perverse accordingly and the course of his action and effort goes on becoming crooked until at last the capability to do and accept good in him is gradually lost and destroyed. This is what is meant by, when they adopted perverseness, Allah caused their hearts to become perverse." In this state it is against the law of Allah that the one who wants to adopt deviation, and is actively and earnestly engaged in seeking it, and is expending all one's thought and energy to move further and further on towards it, should be forcibly turned towards guidance, for such an action would negate the object of the test and .trial, for which man has been granted the freedom of choice in the world. For if a man adopts righteousness through such guidance, there is no reason why he should be entitled to any reward whatever. Rather in such a case, the one who was not guided forcibly and was left in deviation on that account, should not be subjected to any punishment, for the responsibility for his deviation would lie on Allah, and at the time of his accountability in the Hereafter, he could present the argument: '`When there existed the rule of granting guidance forcibly in the world, why was I deprived of that favor?" This is the meaning of the words: "Allah does not guide the transgressors." That is, Allah does not grant the favor of adopting the way of obedience to those, who have chosen the way of sin and disobedience for themselves of their own free will.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The people of Moses often rebelled against him, vexed his spirit, and insulted him. See xxxiii. 69 and note (reproduced below), and (in the Old Testament) Num xii. 1-13. They did it not through ignorance, but from a selfish, perverse, and rebellious spirit, for which they received punishment. The Ummat of Islam should remember and take note of it, and should avoid any deviation from the Law and Will of Allah.
xxxiii. 69: The people of Moses often vexed him and rebelled against him and against God's Law. Here the reference seems to be to Num. xii. 1-13. It is there said that Moses's own sister Miriam and his brother Aaron spoke against Moses because Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. God cleared Moses of the charge of having done anything wrong: "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house." Miriam was afflicted with leprosy for seven days as a punishment, after which she was forgiven, as also was Aaron. This is the Old Testament story. The holy Prophet was also attacked because of his marriage with Zainab bint Jahsh, but not by his own circle, his motives were of the highest and were completely vindicated as we have seen above.
The sinner's own will deviates, i.e., goes off from the right way, and he does wrong. That means that he shuts off Allah's grace. Allah then, after his repeated rebellion, withdraws the protecting Grace from him, and the sinner's heart is tainted: there is "a disease in his heart", which is the centre of his being: his spiritual state is ruined. Allah's guidance is withdrawn from him.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Sc., "by admitting that I speak in the name of God, and acting contrary to this your assertion": an allusion to the many instances of the contrariness and rebelliousness of the children of Israel evident from their own scriptures.

Thus, persistence in wrong actions is bound to react on man's beliefs as well. As regards God's "letting their hearts swerve from the truth", see surah {14}, verse [4] and note. Cf. also the oft-recurring reference to God's "sealing" a sinner's heart explained in note [7] on 2:7 .

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation
Details of this attitude are found both in the Bible and in the Qur’an. It is evident from these details that at no instance were the Jews prepared from their hearts’ willingness to obey their prophet and wage jihad for the cause of God. Many a time, Moses (sws) expressed his anger and sorrow at their attitude in a very concerned manner; however, they never changed; in fact, their hearts hardened even more.

This is how God punished them according to His established practice. God has stated that if a person decides to ignore God’s guidance and deliberately deviates from the truth, then this is injustice and defiance, and God does not guide any unjust and defiant person; in fact, He lets him wander in the darkness of deviance until because of being led astray, his heart and his thoughts are also led astray and he is eternally deprived of God’s guidance.

وَاِذۡ قَالَ عِيۡسَى ابۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ يٰبَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ اِنِّىۡ رَسُوۡلُ اللّٰهِ اِلَيۡكُمۡ مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَىَّ مِنَ التَّوۡرٰٮةِ وَمُبَشِّرًۢا بِرَسُوۡلٍ يَّاۡتِىۡ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِى اسۡمُهٗۤ اَحۡمَدُ​ؕ فَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمۡ بِالۡبَيِّنٰتِ قَالُوۡا هٰذَا سِحۡرٌ مُّبِيۡنٌ‏ 
( 6 )   And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic."
Note: The tafsir/exegesis/explanation of 6th verse by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi is quite elaborate. Therefore his part of the tafsir of this verse is posted separately. Please click here for details.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The mission of Jesus was to his own people, the Jews. Cf. Matt. x. 5-6. See also Matt. xv. 24: "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of Israel;" also Matt. xv. 26: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs."

"Ahmad", or "Muhammad", the Praised One, is almost a translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the present Gospel of John. xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7, the word "Comforter" in the English version is for the Greek word "Paracletos", which means "Advocate", "one called to the help of another, a kind friend", rather than "Comforter". Our doctors contend that Paracleots is a corrupt reading for Periclytos, and that in their original saying of Jesus there was a prophecy of our holy Prophet Ahmad by name. Even if we read Paraclete, it would apply to the holy Prophet, who is "a Mercy for all creatures" (xxi. 107) and "most kind and merciful to the Believers" (ix. 128). 

See also explanation to iii. 81 - reproduced below:
iii. 81: Behold! Allah took the covenant of the Prophets saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an Apostle confirming what is with you; do ye believe him and render him help." Allah said: "Do ye agree and take this My Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness and I am with you among the witnesses."
Cf. ii. 63. The argument is: You (People of the Book) are bound by your own oaths, sworn solemnly in the presence of your own Prophets. In the Old Testament as it now exists, Muhammad is foretold in Deut. xviii. 18: and the rise of the Arab nation in Isaiah. xlii. 11. for Kedar was a son of Ismail and the name is used for the Arab nation: in the New Testament as it now exists. Muhammad is foretold in the Gospel of St. John. xiv. 16, xv. 26, and xvi. 7: the future Comforter cannot be the Holy Spirit as understood by Christians, because the Holy Spirit already was present, helping and guiding Jesus. The Greek word translated "Comforter" is "Paracletos", which is an easy corruption from "Periclytos", which is almost a literal translation of "Muhammad" or "Ahmad": see Q lxi. 6. Further, there were other Gospels that have perished, but of which traces still remain, which were even more specific in their reference to Muhammad; e.g., the Gospel of St. Barnabas, of which an Italian translation is extant in the State Library at Vienna. It was edited in 1907 with an English translation by Mr. Lonsdale and Laura Ragg. 
Our holy Prophet was foretold in many ways; and when he came, he showed forth many Clear Signs, for his whole life from beginning to end was one vast miracle. He fought and won against odds. Without learning from men he taught the highest wisdom. He melted hearts that were hard, and he strengthened hearts that were tender and required support. In all his sayings and doings men of discernment could see the working of Allah's hand; yet the ignorant Unbelievers called it all Sorcery!-called that unreal which became the most solid fact of human history!

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., ["O children of Israel! Behold, I am an apostle of God unto you, [sent] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains} "whatever there is between my hands" - a phrase explained in surah {3}, verse [3] and notes.

This prediction is supported by several references in the Gospel of St. John to the Parakletos (usually rendered as "Comforter") who was to come after Jesus. This designation is almost certainly a corruption of Periklytos ("the Much-Praised"), an exact Greek translation of the Aramaic term or name Mawhamana. (It is to be borne in mind that Aramaic was the language used in Palestine at the time of, and for some centuries after, Jesus, and was thus undoubtedly the language in which the original - now lost - texts of the Gospels were composed.) In view of the phonetic closeness of Periklytos and Parakletos it is easy to understand how the translator - or, more probably, a later scribe - confused these two expressions. It is significant that both the Aramaic Mawhamana and the Greek Periklytos have the same meaning as the two names of the Last Prophet, Muhammad and Ahmad, both of which are derived from the verb hamida ("he praised") and the noun hamd ("praise"). An even more unequivocal prediction of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad - mentioned by name, in its Arabic form - is said to be forthcoming from the so-called Gospel of St. Barnabas, which, though now regarded as apocryphal, was accepted as authentic and was read in the churches until the year 496 of the Christian era, when it was banned as "heretical" by a decree of Pope Gelasius. However, since the original text of that Gospel is not available (having come down to us only in an Italian translation dating from the late sixteenth century), its authenticity cannot be established with certainty.

[This [alleged message of his] is [nothing but] spellbinding eloquence! ] Alluding to the Qur'an (see {74:24-25} and the corresponding note, reproduced below).
The term sihr, which usually denotes "sorcery" or "magic", primarily signifies "the turning of something from its proper [or "natural"] state of being into another state"; hence, it is often applied to the fascination or enchantment caused by exceptional, "spellbinding" eloquence (Taj al-'Arus). In its pejorative sense - as used by deniers of the truth to describe a divine message - it has also the connotation of "willful deception" or "delusion".
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Before Jesus (sws), the prophet John (sws) continuously reminded the Israelites about these very predictions of the Torah and proclaimed them in such a profound manner in the cities of the Israelites that every nook and corner resounded with them.

Ie., after he presented the Torah to corroborate his prophethood and messenger-hood, he made a prediction about the advent of a prophet that was to come after him. This prediction was made by most prophets, yet it was different in some aspects when it was made by Jesus (sws):

Firstly, he regarded this prediction to be the special objective of this advent and not a secondary one. Thus the scripture revealed to him is called “Injil” which in Greek means “glad tidings.” If there is any comprehensible reason for this scripture to be named so, it is because it was his distinctive feature and special mission to give glad tidings about the messenger who was to come after him. By using the expression “Kingdom of Heaven” he would refer to the blessed era of this messenger and in his parables would draw the whole picture of his gradual rise.

Secondly, he ascertained the time of the arrival of that messenger with full certainty by using the words یَاۡتِیۡ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِیْ. Thus no just person can deny the fact that after Jesus (sws) it is only the sole person of Muhammad (sws) who is fully signified by the features and parables stated by Jesus (sws).

Thirdly, he specified the name of the Prophet (sws) in his predictions. The signs which testify to this can be seen at many places in the Gospels. Jesus (sws) says:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17)
But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me. (John 14:30)
When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (John 15:26)
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:12-13)
It is evident from these references that Jesus (sws) gave the glad tidings of Muhammad’s advent with such clear attributes that they cannot be applied to anyone other than Muhammad (sws). Consider the following words:
He will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever. (John 14:17)
He will teach you all things. (John 14:26)
The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me. (John 14:30)
In these statements of Jesus (sws), the word “counsellor” is obviously a translation of some Aramaic or Syriac word. The Qur’an has told us that it was some word that was close in its meaning to Ahmad which the translators of the Gospels drastically changed and inserted such disjointed words and sentences before and after it so that its meaning gets jumbled up.

It should remain clear here that that name of the Prophet (sws) kept by his mother was Ahmad. Muhammad is his title (laqab) given to him by his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Thus his complete name was Abu al-Qasim Muhammad Ahmad. It was customary practice among the Arabs to mention a person by his patronym (kunyah) or title. It is because of this reason that wherever he is mentioned whether in the Qur’an and Ḥadith or in history, his name is not used much.

It is specified in the Injil that the Jews gave this statement on every miracle shown to them by Jesus (sws) and said that he works these miracles with the help of Beelzibub, an evil spirit.

وَمَنۡ اَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنِ افۡتَـرٰى عَلَى اللّٰهِ الۡكَذِبَ وَهُوَ يُدۡعٰٓى اِلَى الۡاِسۡلَامِ​ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ لَا يَهۡدِى الۡقَوۡمَ الظّٰلِمِيۡنَ‏ 
( 7 )   And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah untruth while he is being invited to Islam. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.
"... forges ... against Allah": declares the Prophet sent by Allah to be a false prophet and regards the Revelations of Allah to His Prophet as forged by the Prophet himself.

" while he is being invited to Islam " That is, there could be no greater in justice than that besides calling a true Prophet a false prophet, one should start hurling abuses on him and employing all sorts of lies and false allegations and slanders to defeat his mission although the Prophet is calling him to Allah's worship and His 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: It is wrong in any case to uphold falsehoods and debasing superstitions, but it is doubly wrong when these are put forward in rivalry or opposition to the light of eternal Unity and Harmony which is Islam. Allah sends His guidance freely, but withdraws His Grace from those who willfully do wrong.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is a reference to the nonsensical and baseless things which the Jews had fabricated to prove their nobility and superiority. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: … These included notions as: “we are the chosen and selected people of God;” “how can we be in need of the guidance of a prophet born amongst the unlettered;” “prophethood and messenger-hood have always belonged to the Israelites; how can a prophet be born in some other race?”; “we have been directed not to attest to the prophethood of a person whose offered animal sacrifice is not consumed by fire from the sky”.(Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 363)
Then, in verses 8-9 a proclamation has been made with the challenge: "The Jews and the Christians, and the hypocrites, who are conspiring with them, may try however hard they may to extinguish this Light of Allah, it will shine forth and spread in the world in all its fullness, and the Religion brought by the true Messenger of Allah shall prevail over every other religion however hateful it may be to the pagans and polytheists.
يُرِيۡدُوۡنَ لِيُطۡفِـُٔـوۡا نُوۡرَ اللّٰهِ بِاَ فۡوَاهِهِمْ وَاللّٰهُ مُتِمُّ نُوۡرِهٖ وَلَوۡ كَرِهَ الۡكٰفِرُوۡنَ‏ 
( 8 )   They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.
One should bear in mind that these verses were sent down in A.H. 3 after the Battle of Uhud, when Islam was confined only to the city of Madinah, the Muslims were only a few thousands in number, and entire Arabia was bent upon wiping out this religion. The defeat that the Muslims had suffered at Uhud, had sullied their image of power and the tribes of the surrounding areas had been emboldened. Under such conditions it was said: "No one will succeed in blowing out this Light of Allah, but it will shine forth in all fullness and spread throughout the world." This was a clear prediction which literally came true. Who could know apart from Allah at that time what was the future of Islam? Human eyes could only see that it was a flickering candle and violent winds were blowing to put it out for ever.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Allah's Light is unquenchable. A foolish, ignorant person who thinks of extinguishing it is like a rustic who wants to blow out electric light as he might blow out a rush candle! "With their mouths" also implies the babble and cackle of Ignorance against Allah's Truth. The more the foolish ones try to quench Allah's Light, the clearer it shines, to shame them!

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is a blatant prediction which materialized word for word and the true religion prevailed all over the Arabian Peninsula. This dominance was achieved against the wishes of both the disbelievers of the Jews and the Idolaters of the Quraysh. As a result, the light they wanted to extinguish from the blows of their mouths got perfected in every way. This was the manifestation of an established practice of God regarding His messengers and is mentioned at a number of places in the Qur’an, viz: after messengers conclusively communicates the truth, God makes them dominant in the land and punishes those who deny them. The purpose of this is to validate the Hereafter on the same standards as scientific realities are validated in laboratory experiments. This verse has no bearing on launching a struggle to bring about an Islamic revolution, as has been understood by some thinkers of current times.

هُوَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَرۡسَلَ رَسُوۡلَهٗ بِالۡهُدٰى وَدِيۡنِ الۡحَـقِّ لِيُظۡهِرَهٗ عَلَى الدِّيۡنِ كُلِّهٖ وَلَوۡ كَرِهَ الۡمُشۡرِكُوۡنَ‏ 
( 9 )   It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.
"The mushriks ": those who combine the service of others with the service of Allah and mix other religions in the Religion of Allah; who are not prepared to see that the entire system of lift is established on the obedience and guidance of One God; who insist that they will worship any deity they like and base.
"Then said the priest: 'How shall the Messiah be called, and what sign shall reveal his coming? "Jesus answered: `The name of the Messiah is admirable, ,for God himself gave him the name when he had created his soul, and placed it in a celestial splendor. God said: `Wait Muhammad; for thy sake I will to create paradise, the world, and a great multitude of creatures whereof I make thee a present, insomuch that whoso shall bless thee shall be blessed, and whose shall curse thee shall be accursed, When I shall send thee into the world, I shall send thee as my messenger of salvation, and thy word shall be true, insomuch that heaven and earth shall fail, but thy faith shall newer fail. Muhammad is his blessed name' (Ch. 97)
Barnabas writes that on one occasion Jesus spoke to his disciples and said that one of them (who was to be Judas Iscariot) would sell him to the enemies for 30 pieces of gold. Then said:
"Whereupon I am sure that who shall sell me, be slain in my name, for that God shall take me up from the earth, and shall change the appearance of the traitor so that every one shall believe him to be me; nevertheless when he dieth an evil death, I shall abide in that dishonor for a long time in the world But when Mohammad shall come, the sacred messenger of God, that infamy shall be taken away. And this shall God do because I have confessed the truth of the Messiah, who shall give me this reward that I shall be known to be alive and to be a stranger to that death of infamy.' (Ch. 1: 12)
(To the disciples Jesus said:) "Verily I say unto you that if the truth had not been erased from the book of Moses, God would not have given to David our father the second. And if the book of David had not been contaminated, God would not have committed the Gospel to me; seeing that the Lord our God is unchangeable, and hath spoken but one message to a]I men. Wherefore, when the messenger of God shall come, he shall come to cleanse away all where with the ungodly have contaminated my book.' (Ch.124)
In these clear and comprehensive prophecies there are only three things which at first sight appear to be doubtful:
  • First, that in these and in several other passages of the Gospel of Barnabas the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) has denied his own self being the Messiah. 
  • Second, that not only in these but at many other places also in this Gospel the Holy Messenger's actual name "Muhammad" has been mentioned, whereas this is not the way the Prophets make prophecies: they do not mention the actual name of the one coming in the future. 
  • Third, that in these the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) has been called the Messiah
The answer to the first objection is that not only in the Gospel of Barnabas but in the Gospel according to Luke also it is mentioned that the Prophet Jesus had forbidden his disciples to call him the Christ (the Messiah). The words in Luke are: 
"He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. And he strictly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing." (9: 20-21) 
Probably the reason was that about the Messiah whom the Israelites were awaiting, they thought he would subdue the enemies of truth by the sword. Therefore, the Prophet Jesus (peace be on him) said that he was not that Messiah but he would come after him.

The answer to the second objection is that no doubt in the extant Italian translation of Barnabas the Holy Prophet's name has been written as "Mohamed", but no one knows through how many different languages has this book reached the Italian. Obviously, the original Gospel of Barnabas must be in Syriac, because that was the language of Jesus and his companions. If the original book were extant, it could be seen what name of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was written in it. Now what one can assume is that originally the Prophet Jesus must have used the word Munhamanna as we have explained above by citing Ibn Ishaq's reference to St. John's Gospel. Then different translators may have translated it in their own languages. Later, probably some translator seeing that the name given in the prophecy was exactly synonymous with the word "Mohamed" may have written this very sacred name of the Holy Prophet. Therefore, the mere appearance of this name only is not enough to give rise to the doubt that the entire Gospel of Barnabas has been forged by a Muslim.

The answer to the third objection is that the word "Messiah" is an Israelite technical term, which has bets used in the Qur'an particularly for the Prophet Jesus for the reason that the Jews had denied his being the Messiah; otherwise it- is neither a Qur'anic term nor has it been used anywhere in the Qur'an in the meaning of the Israelite term, Therefore, if the Prophet Jesus used the word Messiah for the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), and the Qur'an has not used this word for him, it is not right to conclude that the Gospel of Barnabas ascribes something to him which the Qur'an denies. In fact, it was customary with the Israelites that when somebody or something was set aside for a sacred cause, the person or thing was anointed with the holy oil on the head and consecrated. This anointing with the oil was called mesh in Hebrew, and the one thus anointed messiah " Utensils were likewise anointed and set aside for use in the house of worship. The priests also were anointed when they were appointed to priesthood. The kings and the prophets too were anointed when they were designated to kingship or prophethood by God. Thus, according to the Bible, there have been many messiahs in the history of the Israelites. The Prophet Aaron was a messiah as a priest, Moses as a priest and a prophet, Saul as a king, David as a king and a prophet, Melchizedek as a king and a priest, and AI-Yas'a (Elisha) was a messiah as a prophet. Later, it was no longer regarded as necessary to appoint a person by their beliefs and morals and civilization on any philosophy and doctrine they please, As against the ways of such people, it is being said that the Messenger of Allah has not been sent to make a compromise with than, but' with the object that he .should cause the Guidance and Religion of Truth which he has brought from Allah to prevail over all religion, i.e. every aspect of the way of life. This mission he has to accomplish in any case whether the disbelievers and polytheists like it or not, and whoever they support it or resist it. This declaration has been made in the Qur'an at two other places about, in Surah At Taubah: 33 and Surah Al-Fath: 28. Here it has been re-iterated for the third time. (For further explanation, see verse 33 of At-Taubah and verse 28 of Al-Fath).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: "Over all religion": in the singular: not over all other religions, in the plural. There is really only one true Religion, the Message of Allah submission to the Will of Allah: this is called Islam. It was the religion preached by Moses and Jesus; it was the religion of Abraham, Noah, and all the prophets, by whatever name it may be called. If people corrupt that pure light, and call their religions by different names, we must bear with them, and we may allow the names for convenience. But Truth must prevail over all. See also ix. 33, and lxviii. 28 and notes.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Here, this prediction is mentioned to tell the addressees that this is a decision of God, and this decision of God will be implemented come what may; it remains to be seen what they do; whether they are fortunate enough to be part of this decision or withdraw like the Jews by saying that let him and his God fight; they would like to stay back.

Ruku Two: Verses 10-13:
In verses 10-13, the believers have been told that the way to success both here and in the Hereafter is only one: that they should believe in Allah and His Messenger sincerely and should exert their utmost in Allah's Way with their selves and their wealth. As a reward for this they will earn immunity from Allah's punishment, forgiveness of their sins and the eternal Paradise in the Hereafter, and will be blessed with Allah's good pleasure, succor and victory in the world.
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا هَلۡ اَدُلُّكُمۡ عَلٰى تِجَارَةٍ تُنۡجِيۡكُمۡ مِّنۡ عَذَابٍ اَلِيۡمٍ‏ 
( 10 )   O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment?
A bargain is something in which a person employs his wealth, time, labor and talent in order to earn a profit. In the same sense the Faith and Jihad in the cause of Allah have ban called a bargain, as if to say: If you exert all your powers and expend all your resources in the way of Allah, you will get the profits that are being mentioned in the following verses. This same theme has been expressed in At-Taubah: in in another way. (See verse 111 of At-Taubah). 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Tijarat " تِجَارَةٍ ": bargain, trade, traffic, transaction: something given or done, in return for something which we desire to get. What we give or do on our part is described in verse 11 below, and what we get is described in verse 12. It is truly a wonderful bargain: what we are asked to give is so little; what we are promised in return is so much. There comes Allah's unbounded Bounty and Munificence. Cf. also ix. 111, where the bargain is stated in another way.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. 9:111 - "God has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them paradise in return" - which explains the metaphor of a "bargain" (tijarah). My interpolation, between brackets, of the phrase "in this world and in the life to come" is justified by the subsequent verses {12} and {13}, one of which relates to the hereafter, and the other to this world.

تُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰهِ وَرَسُوۡلِهٖ وَتُجَاهِدُوۡنَ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ بِاَمۡوَالِكُمۡ وَاَنۡفُسِكُمۡ​ؕ ذٰلِكُمۡ خَيۡرٌ لَّـكُمۡ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَۙ‏ 
( 11 )   [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know.
When the believers are asked to believe, it automatically gives the meaning that they should become sincere Muslims: they should not rest content with oral profession of the Faith but should be ready and willing to make every sacrifice in the cause of their Faith.  This bargain is far superior for them to every worldly bargain.  

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: It would indeed be a great and wonderful bargain to give so little and get so much, if we only knew and understood the comparative value of things-the sacrifice of our fleeting advantages for forgiveness, the love of Allah, and eternal bliss.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: تُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ رَسُوۡلِہٖ. It is evident from the context that the verb in them is in its complete and thorough meaning. The translation keeps this aspect in consideration.

This is the same jihad which the companions of the messengers of God wage against the disbelievers. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: … This deal apparently seems non-lucrative because in this a person will have to sacrifice his immediate gain for deferred dividends; however, if people are able to grasp the reality behind it, they will realize that in return for some trivial merchandise and some borrowed moments of life, they have achieved the everlasting treasures of both worlds. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 367)

يَغۡفِرۡ لَـكُمۡ ذُنُوۡبَكُمۡ وَيُدۡخِلۡكُمۡ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِىۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِهَا الۡاَنۡهٰرُ وَمَسٰكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِىۡ جَنّٰتِ عَدۡنٍ​ؕ ذٰلِكَ الۡفَوۡزُ الۡعَظِيۡمُۙ‏  
( 12 )   He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence. That is the great attainment.
The actual profits of the bargain that they will attain in the eternal lift of the Hereafter are:

(1) Immunity from the punishment of Allah;

(2) forgiveness of sins; and

(3) entry into the Paradise the blessings of which are eternal and everlasting. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: For this rendering of 'adn, see note on 38:50, reproached below
In all the eleven instances in which the noun 'adn occurs in the Qur'an - and of which the present is the oldest - it is used as a qualifying term for the "gardens" (jannat) of paradise. This noun is derived from the verb 'adana, which primarily denotes "he remained [somewhere]" or "he kept [to something]", i.e., permanently: cf. the phrase adantu l-balad ("I remained for good [or "settled"] in the country"). In Biblical Hebrew - which, after all, is but a very ancient Arabian dialect - the closely related noun 'eden has also the additional connotation of "delight", "pleasure" or "bliss". Hence the combination of the two concepts in my rendering of 'adn as "perpetual bliss". As in many other places in the Qur'an, this bliss is here allegorized - and thus brought closer to man's imagination - by means of descriptions recallinc earthly iovs.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The earlier part of the verse only mentioned protection from torment. This is because all the successes of this world are temporary. The real objective of a believer should be to shield himself from torment. If he is able to achieve this, then this would mean that he has achieved everything.

وَاُخۡرٰى تُحِبُّوۡنَهَا​ ؕ نَصۡرٌ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَفَـتۡحٌ قَرِيۡبٌ​ ؕ وَبَشِّرِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ‏ 
( 13 )   And [you will obtain] another [favor] that you love - victory from Allah and an imminent conquest; and give good tidings to the believers.
Although victory and success in the world is a great blessing of Allah, yet for the believer the thing of real importance is not this but the success of the Hereafter. That is why the gain of the worldly life has been mentioned as second and the result accruing in the Hereafter first.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The supreme Achievement has already been mentioned viz.; the Gardens of Eternity with Allah. But lest that seem too remote or abstract for the understanding of men not strong in faith, another good news is mentioned which the men who first heard this Message could at once understand and appreciate-"which ye do love": viz.: Help and Victory. For all striving in a righteous Cause we get Allah's help: and however much the odds against us may be, we are sure of victory with Allah's help. But all life is a striving or struggle,-the spiritual life even more than any other; and the final victory there is the same as the Garden of Eternity.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Some of the commentators see in this promise of victory a prediction of actual, warlike conquests by the Muslims. It is, however, much more probable that it relates to a spiritual victory of the Qur'anic message, and its spread among people who had not previously understood it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This refers to the conquest of Makkah whose desire was deeply ingrained in the mind of every Muslim after migration.
In conclusion , the believers have been exhorted to' the effect that just as the disciples of the Prophet Jesus had helped him in the cause of Allah, so should they also become "helpers of Allah", so that they too are blessed with the same kind of good pleasure and approval of Allah as had been the believers before them against the disbelievers.
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا كُوۡنُوۡۤا اَنۡصَارَ اللّٰهِ كَمَا قَالَ عِيۡسَى ابۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ لِلۡحَوٰارِيّٖنَ مَنۡ اَنۡصَارِىۡۤ اِلَى اللّٰهِ​ؕ قَالَ الۡحَـوٰرِيُّوۡنَ نَحۡنُ اَنۡصَارُ اللّٰهِ​ فَاٰمَنَتۡ طَّآئِفَةٌ مِّنۡۢ بَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِيۡلَ وَكَفَرَتۡ طَّآئِفَةٌ ۚ فَاَيَّدۡنَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا عَلٰى عَدُوِّهِمۡ فَاَصۡبَحُوۡا ظٰهِرِيۡنَ‏ 
( 14 )   O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, "Who are my supporters for Allah?" The disciples said, "We are supporters of Allah." And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.
For the companions of the Prophet Jesus (peace be on him) the word `Disciples" generally has been used in the Bible, but later the term "apostle" became prevalent for them among the Christians, and in the sense that they were God's apostles, but in the sense that the Prophet Jesus used to send them to different parts of Palestine as his preachers. Among the Jews this word was already in use for those who were sent to collect subscriptions for the Temple. However, the Qur'anic term "hawari" is better than both the Christian terms. The essence of this word is hur, which means whiteness. The washer man is called hawari because he whitens clothes by washing them. A pure and un-adulterated thing is also called hawari . The flour from which bran has been sifted is known as huwwara. In this very meaning this word is used for a sincere friend and an unselfish supporter. Ibn Sayyidah says: "Anyone who exaggerates in helping another is his hawari." (Lisan al-'Arab). 

[The disciples had responded by saying: “We are Allah's helpers.”] This is the last place in the Holy Qur'an where those who exert themselves in calling the people to Allah's Religion and to cause it to become dominant over disbelief, have been called helpers of Allah. Before this, this very theme has been expressed in Al-'Imran: 52, Al-Hajj: 40, Muhammad: 7, Al-Hadid25 and Al-Hashr: 8 above, and we have explained these verses in verse 52 of Al Imran, verse 24 of Al-Hajj, verse 7 of Muhammad, verse 25 of Al-Hadid.

Moreover, in note to verse 4 of Surah Muhammad also light has been thrown on an aspect of this question:
That is, if Allah had only wanted to crush the worshipers of falsehood, He did not stand in need of your help for this. He could have done this through an earthquake or a tempest in no time, But what He wills is that the followers of the truth among the people should enter into a conflict with the worshipers of falsehood and fight against them so that the qualities and characteristics of each are brought out clearly by means of the test and each is given the place and rank that he deserves according to his conduct.
In spite of this some people seem to have the confusion that when Allah Almighty is All-Powerful, Self-Sufficient, and Independent of the help of all His creatures, how then can a man be a helper of Allah? To remove this confusion we shall further explain this point here.

In fact, these people have not been called helpers of Allah for the reason that Allah, Lord of the worlds, (God forbid) stood in need of any help from some of His creatures, but because in the sphere of life in which Allah Himself has granted man freedom of belief and disbelief, obedience and disobedience, He does not will to make the people His believers and obedient servants by means of His power and might. Instead, He adopts the method of admonition and instruction to show them the right way through His Prophets and Books. The one who accepts this admonition and instruction willingly is a Mu'min, the one who submits practically to His Commands, is a Muslim and devout God-worshiper, the one who adopts an attitude of God-consciousness is a Muttaqi, the one who vies with others for good works is a Muhsin, and over and above this, the one who starts working for the reformation of the people by means of the same method of admonition and instruction and for establishing the system of Allah's obedience instead of disbelief and wickedness, is declared by Allah as His own helper, as has been mentioned in clear words at several places in the verses cited above. If the object were to designate such people as helpers of Allah's Religion and not of Allah, the words would have been ansar-u din Allah and not ansar-Allah, yansuruna din-Allah and not yansurun-Allah, intansuruna din-Allah and not in-iansurun-Allah. When in order to convey and express a theme; Allah has adopted one and the same style at several places, successively, it proves conclusively that the actual object is to designate these people as helpers of Allah. But this "helpfulness", God forbid, is not in the sense that these people fulfill some need of Allah for which He requires their help, but it is in the sense that these people participate in the cause which Allah wills to accomplish through His Prophets and His Books instead of His great power and might. 

Those who disbelieved in Jesus Christ are the Jews, and those who believed in him are the Christians as well as the Muslims, and Allah granted both these domination over the disbelievers of Christ. This is meant to requires the Muslims that just as the believers of Christ have dominated over his disbelievers in the past, so will the believers of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) prevail over his disbelievers. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: If we seek Allah's help, we must first help Allah's Cause, i.e., dedicate ourselves to Him entirely and without reserve. This was also the teaching of Jesus, as mentioned in this verse.

See iii. 52; and for the Biblical reference, see the last note. The names of the twelve Disciples will be found in Matt. x. 2-4.
iii.52: When Jesus found unbelief on their part he said: "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the Disciples: "We are Allah's helpers we believe in Allah and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. 
The story of Jesus is told with special application to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Note the word helpers (Ansar) in this connection, and the reference to plotters in iii. 54. It was the one Religion-the Religion of Allah, which was in essence the religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The argument runs: who do ye then now make divisions and reject the living Teacher? Islam is: bowing to the Will of Allah. All who have faith should bow to the Will of Allah and be Muslims.
A portion of the Children of Israel-the one that really cared for Truth-believed in Jesus and followed his guidance. But the greater portion of them were hard hearted, and remained in their beaten track of formalism and false racial pride. The majority seemed at first to have the upper hand when they thought they had crucified Jesus and killed his Message. But they were soon brought to their senses. Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70 and the Jews have been scattered ever since. "The Wandering Jew" has become a bye-word in many literatures. On the other hand, those who followed Jesus permeated the Roman Empire, brought many new races within their circle, and through the Roman Empire, Christianity became the predominant religion of the world until the advent of Islam. So is it promised to the people of Islam: they must prevail if they adhere to the Truth. Badr (A.H. 2) was a landmark against Pagan Arabia; Qadisiya (A.H. 14) and Madain (A.H. 16) against the might of Persia: Yarmuk (A.H. 15) against the might of the Byzantine Empire in Christian Syria; and Heliopolis (A.H. 19) against the same Empire in Christian Egypt and Africa. These were symbols in external events. The moral and spiritual landmarks are less tangible, and more gradual, but none the less real. Mark how the arrogance and power of Priesthood have been quelled; how superstition and a belief in blind Fate have been checked; how the freedom of human individuals has been reconciled with the sanctity of marriage in the law of Divorce; how the civil position of women has been raised; how temperance and sobriety have been identified with religion; what impetus has been given to knowledge and experimental science; and how economic reconstruction has been pioneered by rational schemes for the expenditure and distribution of wealth.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., some of them recognized him as a prophet - and, therefore, as no more than a created, human being - whereas others denied this truth in the course of time by regarding him as "the son of God" - and, therefore, as "God incarnate" - while still others rejected him and his message altogether. The fact that the earliest followers of Jesus regarded him as purely human is evident from the many theological controversies which persisted during the first three or four centuries of the Christian era. Thus, some renowned theologians, like Theodotus of Byzantium, who lived towards the end of the second century, and his followers - among them Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch in the year 260 - maintained that the "sonship of God" mentioned in the then-existing texts of the Gospels was purely symbolic, denoting no more than that Jesus was a human being exalted by God. The originally widespread teachings of Bishop Arius (280-326) centred in the concept of Jesus as a mortal man chosen by God for a specific task, and in the concept of God as absolutely One, unknowable, and separate from every created being; this doctrine, however, was ultimately condemned by the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381), and gradually ceased to have any influence on the Christian masses.

I.e., all who truly believe in Jesus as God's Apostle and, thus, as a forerunner of the Last Prophet, Muhammad, whose message confirms and expands the true message of Jesus.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: It seems that this word has entered the Arabic language from the People of the Book. It means “a lively, spirited and sincere friend.”

It is specified in verse 52 of Surah Al-i ‘Imran that Jesus (sws) had given this invitation to his disciples to launch a struggle in the future when he had lost all hopes in the attitude of the scholars and jurists of the Jews. The words which occur for this also show that Jesus (sws) expressed the fact that he had set foot for the cause of God; whoever has the courage should get up and support him.

The disciples replied that they were ready to participate in the task which the Almighty wants to accomplish through His servants instead of directly using His profound power to achieve it. This dialogue of Jesus (sws) with his disciples is cited here to urge the Muslims: if they have to follow a group before them, then it is these disciples; they did not adopt ways to evade the obedience of their messenger like the Jews; they became his diligent supporters and associates.

Ie., a small group professed faith and a bigger one continued to persist on disbelief. It is evident from concomitant textual indications that the word طَآئِفَۃ used in the first instance connotes a small number and in the second instance to a large number.

This also is an exact manifestation of the established practice of the Almighty that was mentioned earlier viz a viz Muhammad (sws). Since the Jews have been made an example of God’s worldly retribution till the Day of Judgement, so instead of being meted out the punishment of destruction their punishment has taken the form of subservience to the followers of Jesus (sws). Verse 55 of Surah Al-i ‘Imran expressly states this punishment for the Jews.

You may now like to listen to explanation of the sürah by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
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 and explanation 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 (links to Reference Pages given below):  
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8

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