Surah Ali-Imran Ayat 55-91

{55. And (remember) when Allah said: “O Isa! I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify [save] you from those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.”

56. “As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.”

57. And as for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, Allah will pay them their reward in full. And Allah does not like the wrongdoers.

58. This is what We recite to you of the verses and the Wise Reminder.}

Meaning of ‘Take You’

Allah said, “I will take you and raise you to Myself” while you are asleep. Allah said in a similar Ayat,

“It is He Who takes your souls by night (when you are asleep)” (6:60), and,

“It is Allah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep.” (39:42).

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to recite the following words when he would awaken;

“All the thanks are due to Allah Who brought us back to life after He had caused us to die (sleep), and the Return is to Him.” (Fath Al-Bari 11:134)

Allah said, “And because of their disbelief and allegations against Maryam and because of their saying “We killed Al-Masih Isa, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah, – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared that way to them” until, “For surely; they killed him not But Allah raised him up unto Himself. And Allah is Ever All- Powerful, All-Wise. And there is none of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) but must believe in him before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection, he [Isa] will be a witness against them.” (4:156-159)

‘His death’ refers to Isa, and the Ayah means that the People of the Book will believe in Isa, before Isa dies. This will occur when Isa comes back to this world before the Day of Resurrection, as we will explain. By that time, all the People of the Book will believe in Isa, for he will annul the Jizyah (tax on non-Muslims) and he will only accept Islam from people. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Al-Hasan said that Allah’s statement, “I will take you” is in reference to sleep, for Allah raised Isa while he was asleep. (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:296)

Altering the Religion of Isa

Allah said, “And purify [save] you from those who disbelieve” by raising you to heaven, “And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve, till the Day of Resurrection” This is what happened. When Allah raised Isa to heaven, his followers divided into sects and groups. Some of them believed in what Allah sent Isa as, a servant of Allah, His Messenger, and the son of His female-servant.

However, some of them went to the extreme over Isa, believing that he was the son of Allah. Some of them said that Isa was Allah Himself, while others said that he was one of a Trinity. Allah mentioned these false creeds in the Qur’an and refuted them. The Christians remained like this until the third century CE, when a Greek king called, Constantine, became a Christian for the purpose of destroying Christianity. Constantine was either a philosopher, or he was just plain ignorant. Constantine changed the religion of Isa by adding to it and deleting from it. He established the rituals of Christianity and the so-called Great Trust, which is in fact the Great Treachery. He also allowed them to eat the meat of swine, changed the direction of the prayer that Isa established to the east, built churches for Isa, and added ten days to the fast as compensation for a sin that he committed, as claimed. So the religion of Isa became the religion of Constantine, who built more then twelve thousand churches, temples and monasteries for the Christians as well as the city that bears his name, Constantinople (Istanbul). Throughout this time, the Christians had the upper hand and dominated the Jews. Allah aided them against the Jews because they used to be closer to the truth than the Jews, even though both groups were and still are disbelievers, may Allah’s curse descend on them.

When Allah sent Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, those who believed in him also believed in Allah, His Angels, Books and Messengers in the correct manner. So they were the true followers of every Prophet who came to earth. They believed in the unlettered Prophet , the Final Messenger and the master of all mankind, who called them to believe in the truth in its entirety. This is why they had more right to every Prophet than his own nation, especially those who claim to follow their Prophet’s way and religion, yet change and alter his religion. Furthermore, Allah abrogated all the laws that were sent down to the Prophets with the Law He sent Muhammad with, which consists of the true religion that shall never change or be altered until the commencement of the Last Hour. Muhammad’s religion shall always be dominant and victorious over all other religions. This is why Allah allowed Muslims to conquer the eastern and western parts of the world and the kingdoms of the earth. Furthermore, all countries submitted to them; they demolished Kisra (king of Persia) and destroyed the Czar, ridding them of their treasures and spending these treasures for Allah’s sake. All this occurred just as their Prophet told them it would, when he conveyed Allah’s statement,

“Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession in the land, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion which He has chosen for them. And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they worship Me and do not associate anything with Me.” (24:55).

Therefore, Muslims are the true believers in Isa. The Muslims then acquired Ash-Sham from the Christians, causing them to evacuate to Asia Minor, to their fortified city in Constantinople. The Muslims will be above them until the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, he, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who is truthful and who received the true news, has conveyed to Muslims that they will conquer Constantinople in the future, and seize its treasures [this occurred after Ibn Kathir’s time].

Threatening the Disbelievers with Torment in This Life and the Hereafter

Allah said, “And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute. As to those who disbelieve, I will punish them with a severe torment in this world and in the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.” This is what Allah did to the Jews who disbelieved in Isa and the Christians who went to the extreme over him. Allah tormented them in this life; they were killed, captured, and lost their wealth and kingdoms. Their torment in the Hereafter is even worse and more severe,

“And they have no Waq (defender or protector) against Allah” (13:34).

“And as for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, Allah will pay them their reward in full” in this life, with victory and domination, and in the Hereafter, with Paradise and high grades, “This is what We recite to you of the verses and the Wise Reminder” meaning, “What We narrated to you, O Muhammd, regarding Isa, his birth and his life, is what Allah conveyed and revealed to you, sent down from the Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet). So there is no doubt in it.” Similarly, Allah said in Surah Maryam; “And Allah does not like the wrongdoers.” Allah then said, “Such is Isa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute). It befits not Allah that He should beget a son. Glorified be He. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it: “Be!” and it is.”

{59. Verily, the likeness of Isa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be!” and he was.

60. (This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of those who doubt.

61. Then whoever disputes with you concerning him after the knowledge that has come to you, say: “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then we pray and we invoke Allah’s curse upon the liars.”

62. Verily, this is the true narrative, and there is no god except Allah. And indeed, Allah is the Almighty, the All-Wise.

63. And if they turn away, then surely, Allah is All-Aware of those who do mischief.}

The Similarities Between the Creation of Adam and the Creation of Isa

Allah said, “Verily, the likeness of Isa before Allah” regarding Allah’s ability, since He created him without a father, “is the likeness of Adam”, for Allah created Adam without a father or a mother. Rather, “He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: “Be!” and he was.” Therefore, He Who created Adam without a father or a mother is able to create Isa, as well, without a father. If the claim is made that Isa is Allah’s son because he was created without a father, then the same claim befits Adam even more. However, since such a claim regarding Adam is obviously false, then making the same claim about Isa is even more false.

Furthermore, by mentioning these facts, Allah emphasizes His ability, by creating Adam without a male or female, Hawa’ from a male without a female, and Isa from a mother without a father, compared to His creating the rest of creation from male and female. This is why Allah said in Surah Maryam, “(This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of those who doubt” meaning, this is the only true story about Isa, and what is beyond truth save falsehood Allah next commands His Messenger to call those who defy the truth, regarding Isa, to the Mubahalah (the curse).

The Challenge to the Mubahalah

“And We made him a sign for mankind” (19: 21).

Allah said in this Ayah, “Then whoever disputes with you concerning him after the knowledge that has come to you, say: “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves” for the Mubahalah, “then we pray”, supplicate, “and we invoke Allah’s curse upon the liars” among the two of us.

The reason for the call to Mubahalah and the revelation of the Ayat from the beginning of this Surah until here, is that a delegation from the Christians of Najran (in Yemen) came to Al- Madinah to argue about Isa, claiming that he was divine and the son of Allah. Allah sent down the beginning of this Surah until here, to refute their claims, as Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar and other scholars stated.

Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar said in his famous Sirah, “The delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The delegation consisted of sixty horsemen, including fourteen of their chiefs who make decisions. These men were Al-Aqib, also known as Abdul- Masih, As-Sayyid, also known as Al-Ayham, Abu Harithah bin Alqamah, of [the family of] Bakr bin Wail and Uways bin Al-Harith. They also included, Zayd, Qays, Yazid, Nabih, Khuwaylid, Amr, Khalid, Abdullah and Yuhannas. Three of these men were chiefs of this delegation, Al- Aqib, their leader and to whom they referred for advice and decision; As-Sayyid, their scholar and leader in journeys and social gatherings; and Abu Harithah bin Alqamah, their patriarch, priest and religious leader. Abu Harithah was an Arab man from [the family of] Bakr bin Wail, but when he embraced Christianity, the Romans and their kings honored him and built churches for him (or in his honor). They also supported him financially and gave him servants, because they knew how firm his faith in their religion was.”  (Ibn Hisham 2:222) Abu Harithah knew the description of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, from what he read in earlier divine Books. However, his otherwise ignorance led him to insist on remaining a Christian, because he was honored and had a high position with the Christians.

Ibn Ishaq said, “Muhammad bin Jafar bin Az-Zubayr said that, ‘The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Kab. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that… Then Abu Harithah bin Alqamah and Al-Aqib Abdul-Masih or As-Sayyid Al-Ayham spoke to the Messenger of Allah , and they were Christians like the king (Roman King). However, they disagreed about Isa; some of them said, ‘He is Allah,’ while some said, ‘He is the son of Allah,’ and some others said, ‘He is one of a trinity.’ Allah is far from what they attribute to Him.”

Indeed, these are the creeds of the Christians. They claim that Isa is God, since he brought the dead back to life, healed blindness, leprosy and various illnesses, told about matters of the future, created the shape of birds and blew life into them, bringing them to life. However, all these miracles occurred by Allah’s leave, so that Isa would be a sign from Allah for people.

They also claim that Isa is the son of Allah, since he did not have a father and he spoke when he was in the cradle, a miracle which had not occurred by any among the Children of Adam before him, so they claim. They also claim that Isa is one of a trinity, because Allah would say, ‘We did, command, create and demand.’ They said, ‘If Allah were one, he would have said, ‘I did, command, create and decide.’ This is why they claim that Isa and Allah are one (Trinity). Allah is far from what they attribute to Him, and we should mention that the Qur’an refuted all these false Christian claims.

Ibn Ishaq continued, “When these Ayat came to the Messenger from Allah , thus judging between him and the People of the Book, Allah also commanded the Prophet to call them to the Mubahalah if they still refused the truth. The Prophet called them to the Mubahalah. They said, ‘O Abu Al-Qasim! Let us think about this matter and get back to you with our decision to what we want to do.’ They left the Prophet and conferred with Al-Aqib, to whom they referred to for advice. They said to him, ‘O Abdul-Masih! What is your advice’ He said, ‘By Allah, O Christian fellows! You know that Muhammad is a Messenger and that he brought you the final word regarding your fellow (Isa). You also know that no Prophet conducted Mubahalah with any people, and the old persons among them remained safe and the young people grew up. Indeed, it will be the end of you if you do it. If you have already decided that you will remain in your religion and your creed regarding your fellow (Isa), then conduct a treaty with the man (Muhammad) and go back to your land.’ They came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Abu Al-Qasim! We decided that we cannot do Mubahalah with you and that you remain on your religion, while we remain on our religion. However, send with us a man from your Companions whom you are pleased with to judge between us regarding our monetary disputes, for you are acceptable to us in this regard.”’ (Ibn Hisham 2:233)

Al-Bukhari recorded that Hudhayfah said, “Al-Aqib and As-Sayyid, two leaders from Najran, came to the Messenger of Allah seeking to invoke Allah for curses (against whoever is unjust among them), and one of them said to the other, ‘Let us not do that. By Allah, if he were truly a Prophet and we invoke Allah for curses, we and our offspring shall never succeed afterwards.’ So they said, ‘We will give you what you asked and send a trusted man with us, just a trusted man.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said;

“Verily, I will send a trusted man with you, a truly trustworthy man.”

The Companions of the Messenger of Allah all felt eager to be that man.

The Messenger said, “O Abu Ubaydah bin Al- Jarrah! Stand up.”

When Abu Ubaydah stood up, the Messenger of Allah said, “This is the trustee of this Ummah.”’ (Fath Al-Bari 7:695)

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said on another occasion,

“Every Ummah has a trustee, and the trustee of this Ummah is Abu Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah.” (Fath Al-Bari 7:696)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “Abu Jahl, may Allah curse him, said, ‘If I see Muhammad praying next to the Ka’bah, I will step on his neck.’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, later said,

“Had he tried to do it, the angels would have taken him publicly. Had the Jews wished for death, they would have perished and would have seen their seats in the Fire. Had those who sought Mubahalah with the Messenger of Allah, went ahead with it, they would not have found estates or families when they returned home.” (Ahmad 1:248)

Allah then said, “Verily, this is the true narrative” meaning, what we narrated to you, O Muhammad, about Isa is the plain truth that cannot be avoided, “and none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. And indeed, Allah is the All-Mighty, the All- Wise. And if they turn away,” by abandoning this truth, “then surely, Allah is All-Aware of those who do mischief” for those who abandon the truth for falsehood commit mischief, and Allah has full knowledge of them and will subject them to the worst punishment. Verily, Allah is able to control everything, all praise and thanks are due to Him, and we seek refuge with Him from His revenge.

{64. Say: “O people of the Scripture: Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah the same, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.” Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.”}

Every Person Knows about Tawhid

This Ayah includes the People of the Book, the Jews and Christians, and those who follow their ways. “Say: “O people of the Scripture! Come to a word” ‘Word’ – in Arabic – also means a complete sentence, as evident from this Ayah. Allah described this word as being one, “that is the same between us and you”, an honest and righteous word that is fair to both parties. Allah then explained this word, “that we worship none but Allah (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him” we worship neither a statue, cross, idol, Taghut (false gods), fire or anything else. Rather, we worship Allah Alone without partners, and this is the message of all of Allah’s Messengers. Allah said,

“And We did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him (saying): “None has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (Alone and none else).” (21:25) and,

“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities).’‘ (16:36). Allah said next, “and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.” Ibn Jurayj commented, “We do not obey each other in disobedience to Allah.”

“Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” if they abandon this fair call, then let them know that you will remain in Islam as Allah has legislated for you. We should mention that the letter that the Prophet sent to Heraclius reads, “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius, Leader of the Romans: peace be upon those who follow the true guidance. Embrace Islam and you will acquire safety, embrace Islam and Allah will grant you a double reward. However, if you turn away from it, then you will carry the burden of the peasants, and, “O people of the Scripture: Come to a word that is the same between us and you, that we worship none but Allah (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.” Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims.”

Muhammad bin Ishaq and other scholars said that the beginning of Surah Al Imran, and more than eighty verses thereafter; were revealed about the delegation of Najran. Az-Zuhri stated that the people of Najran were the first people to pay the Jizyah (tax money paid to the Muslim State). However, there is no disagreement that the Ayah that ordained the Jizyah (9:29) was revealed after the Fath (conquering Makkah, and therefore, after the delegation of Najran came to Al-Madinah). So, how can this Ayah (3:64) be contained in the Prophet’s letter to Heraclius before the victory of Makkah, and how can we harmonize between the statements of Muhammad bin Ishaq and Az-Zuhri?

The answer is that the delegation of Najran came before Al-Hudaybiyyah (before the victory of Makkah), and what they paid was in lieu of the Mubahalah; not as Jizyah. The Ayah about the Jizyah was later revealed, and its ruling supported what occurred with the Najran people. In support of this opinion, we should mention that in another instance, the ruling on dividing the booty into one – fifth (for the Prophet) and four-fifths (for the fighters) agreed with the practice of Abdullah bin Jahsh during the raid that he led before Badr. An Ayah later on upheld the way Abdullah divided the booty. Therefore, it is possible that the Prophet wrote this statement (Say, “O People of the Scripture. ..”) in his letter to Heraclius before the Ayah was revealed. Later on, the Qur’an agreed with the Prophet’s statement, word by word. It is also a fact that the Qur’an was revealed in agreement with what Umar said regarding the captured disbelievers at Badr, the Hijab (Muslim woman code of dress), refraining from performing prayer for the hypocrites, and regarding his statements:

“And take you the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim as a place of prayer.” (2:125), and,

“It may be if he divorced you (all) that his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you.”(66:5).

{65. O people of the Scripture! Why do you dispute about Ibrahim, while the Tawrah and the Injil were not revealed till after him? Have you then no sense?

66. Verily, you are those who have disputed about that of which you have knowledge. Why do you then dispute concerning that of which you have no knowledge? It is Allah Who knows, and you know not.

67. Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa and he was not of the Mushrikin

68. Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who have believed. And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers.}

Disputing with the Jews and Christians About the Religion of Ibrahim

Allah censures the Jews and Christians for their dispute with Muslims over Ibrahim Al-Khalil and the claim each group made that he was one of them. Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar reported that Ibn Abbas said, “The Christians of Najran and Jewish rabbis gathered before the Messenger of Allah and disputed in front of him. The rabbis said, ‘Ibrahim was certainly Jewish.’ The Christians said, ‘Certainly, Ibrahim was Christian.’ So Allah sent down, “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Why do you dispute about Ibrahim” meaning, ‘How is it that you, Jews, claim that Ibrahim was Jew, although he lived before Allah sent down the Tawrah to Musa? How is it that you, Christians, claim that Ibrahim was Christian, although Christianity came after his time?” This is why Allah said, “Have you then no sense?” Allah then said, “Verily, you are those who have disputed about that of which you have knowledge. Why do you then dispute concerning that of which you have no knowledge?”

This Ayah criticizes those who argue and dispute without knowledge, just as the Jews and Christians did concerning Ibrahim. Had they disputed about their religions, which they had knowledge of, and about the Law that was legislated for them until Muhammad was sent, it would have been better for them. Rather, they disputed about what they had no knowledge of, so Allah criticized them for this behavior. Allah commanded them to refer what they have no knowledge of to He Who knows the seen and unseen matters and Who knows the true reality of all things. This is why Allah said, “It is Allah Who knows, and you know not” Allah said, “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa”, shunning Shirk and living in Iman, “and he was not of the Mushrikin” This Ayah is similar to the Ayah in Surat Al-Baqarah,

“And they say, “Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided…” (2:135). Allah said next,

“Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who have believed. And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers.” This Ayah means, “The people who have the most right to be followers of Ibrahim are those who followed his religion and this Prophet, Muhammad, and his Companions from the Muhajirin, Ansar and those who followed their lead.” Said bin Mansur recorded that Ibn Masud said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said,

“Every Prophet had a Wali (supporter, best friend) from among the Prophets. My Wali among them is my father Ibrahim, the Khalil (intimate friend) of my Lord, the Exalted and Most Honoured” 

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then recited,

“Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him…” (Sa’id bin Mansur 3:1047)

Allah’s statement, “And Allah is the Wali (Protector and Helper) of the believers” means, Allah is the Protector of all those who believe in His Messengers.

{69. A party of the People of the Scripture wish to lead you astray. But they shall not lead astray anyone except themselves, and they perceive not.

70. “O People of the Scripture! Why do you disbelieve in the Ayat of Allah, while you bear witness.”

71. “O People of the Scripture! Why do you mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while you know?”

72. And a party of the People of the Scripture say: “Believe in the morning in that which is revealed to the believers, and reject it at the end of the day, so that they may turn back.

73. And believe no one except the one who follows your religion.” Say (O Prophet) “Verily, right guidance is the guidance of Allah.” (And they say) “Do not believe that anyone can receive like that which you have received, otherwise they would engage you in argument before your Lord.” Say: “All the bounty is in the Hand of Allah; He grants to whom He wills. And Allah is All- Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.”

74. He selects for His Mercy whom He wills and Allah is the Owner of great bounty.}

The Envy the Jews Feel Towards Muslims; Their Wicked Plots Against Muslims

Allah states that the Jews envy the faithful and wish they could misguide them. Allah states that the punishment of this behavior will fall back upon them, while they are unaware. Allah criticizes them, “O People of the Scripture!: Why do you disbelieve in the Ayat of Allah, while you bear witness?” You know for certain that Allah’s Ayat are true and authentic, “O People of the Scripture: Why do you mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while you know?” by hiding what is in your Books about the description of Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, while you know what you do. “And a party of the People of the Scripture say: “Believe in the morning in that which is revealed to the believers, and reject it at the end of the day,” This is a wicked plan from the People of the Book to deceive Muslims who are weak in the religion. They decided that they would pretend to be believers in the beginning of the day, by attending the dawn prayer with the Muslims. However, when the day ended, they would revert to their old religion so that the ignorant people would say, “They reverted to their old religion because they uncovered some shortcomings in the Islamic religion.” This is why they said next, “so that they may turn back.” Ibn Abi Najih said that Mujahid commented about this Ayah, which refers to the Jews, “They attended the dawn prayer with the Prophet and disbelieved in the end of the day in order to misguide the people. This way, people would think that they have uncovered shortcomings in the religion that they briefly followed.” (At-Tabari 6:508)

“And believe no one except the one who follows your religion.” They said, do not trust anyone with your secret knowledge, except those who follow your religion. Therefore, they say, do not expose your knowledge to Muslims in order to prevent them from believing in it and, thus, use it as proof against you. Allah replied, “Say (O Prophet) “Verily, right guidance is the guidance of Allah.” Allah guides the hearts of the faithful to the perfect faith through the clear Ayat, plain proofs and unequivocal evidence that He has sent down to His servant and Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This occurs, O you Jews, even though you hide the description of Muhammad, peace be upon him, the unlettered Prophet whom you find in your Books that you received from the earlier Prophets. Allah’s statement; “(And they say) “Do not believe that anyone can receive like that which you have received, otherwise they would engage you in argument before your Lord.”

They say, “Do not disclose the knowledge that you have to the Muslims, to prevent them from learning it and thus becoming your equals. They will be even better because they will believe in it or will use it against you as evidence with your Lord, and thus establish Allah’s proof against you in this life and the Hereafter.” Allah said, “Say: “All the bounty is in the Hand of Allah; He grants to whom He wills” meaning, all affairs are under His control, and He gives and takes. Verily, Allah gives faith, knowledge and sound comprehension to whomever He wills. He also misguides whomever He wills by blinding his sight, mind, sealing his heart, hearing and stamping his eyes closed. Allah has the perfect wisdom and the unequivocal proofs.

“And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower. He selects for His mercy whom He wills and Allah is the Owner of great bounty” meaning, He has endowed you, O believers, with tremendous virtue, in that He honored your Prophet Muhammad over all other prophets, and by directing you to the best Shariah there is.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 2 Pages 169-188

{75. Among the People of the Scripture is he who, if entrusted with a Qintar (a great amount of wealth), will readily pay it back; and among them there is he who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding, because they say: “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs).” But they tell a lie against Allah while they know it.

76. Yes, whoever fulfills his pledge and fears Allah much; verily, then Allah loves the Muttaqin (the pious)}

How Trustworthy Are the Jews

Allah states that there are deceitful people among the Jews. He also warns the faithful against being deceived by them, because some of them, “if entrusted with a Qintar (a great amount)” of money, “will readily pay it back” This Ayah indicates that this type would likewise give what is less than a Qintar, asisobvious. However, “and among them there is he who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding” and insisting on acquiring your rightful property. If this is what he would do with one Dinar, then what about what is more than a Dinar We mentioned the meaning of Qintar in the beginning of this Surah, while the value of Dinar is well known. Allah’s statement, “because they say: “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs)” means, what made them reject the truth (or what they owed) is that they said, “There is no harm in our religion if we eat up the property of the unlettered ones, the Arabs, for Allah has allowed it for us.” Allah replied, “But they tell a lie against Allah while they know it” for they invented this lie and word of misguidance. Rather, Allah would not allow this money for them unless they had a right to it.

Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Sasa’ah bin Yazid said that a man asked Ibn Abbas, “During battle, we capture some property belonging to Ahl Adh-Dhimmah, such as chickens and sheep.” Ibn Abbas said, “What do you do in this case?” The man said, “We say that there is no sin (if we confiscate them) in this case.” He said, “That is what the People of the Book said, “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs).” Verily, if they pay the Jizyah, then you are not allowed their property, except when they willingly give it up.” (Tafsir Abdur-Razzaq 1:123)

Allah then said, “Yes, whoever fulfills his pledge and fears Allah much” fulfills his promise and fears Allah among you, O People of the Book, regarding the covenant Allah took from you to believe in Muhammad when he is sent, just as He took the same covenant from all Prophets and their nations. Whoever avoids Allah’s prohibitions, obeys Him and adheres to the Shari’ah that He sent with His Final Messenger and the master of all mankind, “verily, then Allah loves the Muttaqin.”

{77. Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter (Paradise). Neither will Allah speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful torment.}

There is No Share in the Hereafter for Those Who Break Allah’s Covenant

Allah states that whoever prefers the small things of this short, soon to end life, instead of fulfilling what they have promised Allah by following Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, announcing his description (from their books) to people and affirming his truth, then, “they shall have no portion in the Hereafter”. They will not have a share or part in the Hereafter’s rewards, “Neither will Allah speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection” with His mercy. This Ayah indicates that Allah will not speak words of kindness nor look at them with any mercy, “nor will He purify them” from sins and impurities. Rather, He will order them to the Fire, “and they shall have a painful torment”. There are several Hadiths on the subject of this Ayah, some of which follow. TheFirst Hadith Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Dharr said, “The Messenger of Allah said,

“There are three persons whom Allah will not speak to, look at on the Day of Resurrection or purify, and they shall taste a painful torment. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who are they, may they gain failure and loss?’ He said, repeating this statement thrice, ‘The Musbil (man whose clothes reach below the ankles), he who swears while lying so as to sell his merchandize and the one who gives charity and reminds people of it.” (Ahmad 5:148)

This was also recorded by Muslim, and the collectors of the Sunan. Another Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Adi bin Amirah Al-Kindi said, “Imru Al-Qays bin Abis, a man from Kindah, disputed with a man from Hadramut in front of the Messenger of Allah concerning a piece of land. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, required the man from Hadramut to present his evidence, but he did not have any. The Prophet required Imru Al-Qays to swear to his truthfulness, but the man from Hadramut said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! If you only require him to swear, then by the Lord of the Kabah (Allah), my land is lost.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever swears while lying to acquire the property of others, will meet Allah while He is angry with him.”

Raja’ one of the narrators of the Hadith, said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then recited, “Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their oaths…”

Imru’ Al-Qays said, ‘What if one forfeits this dispute, what will he gain, O Messenger of Allah?’ The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, answered, ‘Paradise.’ Imru Al-Qays said, ‘Bear witness that I forfeit all the land for him.”’  (Ahmad 4:191)

Another Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Whoever takes a false oath to deprive a Muslim of his property will meet Allah while He is angry with him.”

Al-Ashath said, “By Allah! This verse was revealed concerning me. I owned some land with a Jewish man who denied my right, and I complained against him to the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet asked me, ‘Do you have evidence?’ I said, ‘I don’t have evidence.’ He said to the Jew, ‘Take an oath then.’ I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! He will take a (false) oath immediately, and I will lose my property.’ Allah revealed the verse, “Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their oaths…” (Ahmad 1:379)

Another Hadith

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Three persons whom Allah shall not speak to on the Day of Resurrection, or look at, or purify them, and they shall taste a painful torment. (They are) a man who does not give the wayfarer some of the water that he has; a man who swears, while lying, in order to complete a sales transaction after the Asr prayer; and a man who gives his pledge of allegiance to an Imam (Muslim Ruler), and if the Imam gives him (something), he fulfills the pledge, but if the Imam does not give him, he does not fulfill the pledge.” (Ahmad 2:480)

{78. And verily, among them is a party who distort the Book with their tongues, so that you may think it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book, and they say: This is from Allah, but it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie against Allah while they know it.}

The Jews Alter Allah’s Words

Allah states that some Jews, may Allah’s curses descend on them, distort Allah’s Words with their tongues, change them from their appropriate places, and alter their intended meanings. They do this to deceive the ignorant people by making it appear that their words are in the Book of Allah. They attribute their own lies to Allah, even though they know that they have lied and invented falsehood. Therefore, Allah said, “and they speak a lie against Allah while they know it.” Mujahid, Ash-Shabi, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi bin Anassaid that, “who distort the Book with their tongues” means, “They alter them (Allah’s Words).” (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:361)

Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn Abbas said that the Ayah means they alter and add although none among Allah’s creation can remove the Words of Allah from His Books, they alter and distort their apparent meanings. Wahb bin Munabbih said, “The Tawrah and the Injil remain as Allah revealed them, and no letter in them was removed. However, the people misguide others by addition and false interpretation, relying on books that they wrote themselves. Then, “they say: “This is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah.” As for Allah’s Books, they are still preserved and cannot be changed.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. However, if Wahb meant the books that are currently in the hands of the People of the Book, then we should state that there is no doubt that they altered, distorted, added to and deleted from them. For instance, the Arabic versions of these books contain tremendous error, many additions and deletions and enormous misinterpretation. Those who rendered these translations have incorrect comprehension in most, rather, all of these translations. If Wahb meant the Books of Allah that He has with Him, then indeed, these Books are preserved and were never changed.

{79. It is not (possible) for any human being to whom Allah has given the Book and Al-Hukm and prophethood to say to the people: “Be my worshippers rather than Allah’s.” On the contrary (he would say): “Be you Rabbaniyyun, because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.”

80. Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to Allah’s will}

No Prophet Ever Called People to Worship him or to Worship Other Than Allah

This Ayah (3:79) means, it is not for a person whom Allah has given the Book, knowledge in the Law and prophethood to proclaim to the people, “Worship me instead of Allah,” meaning, along with Allah. If this is not the right of a Prophet or a Messenger, then indeed, it is not the right of anyone else to issue such a claim.

This criticism refers to the ignorant rabbis, priests and teachers of misguidance, unlike the Messengers and their sincere knowledgeable followers who implement their knowledge; for they only command what Allah commands them, as their honorable Messengers conveyed to them. They also forbid what Allah forbade for them, by the words of His honorable Messengers. The Messengers, may Allah’s peace and blessings be on all of them, are the emissaries between Allah and His creation, conveying Allah’s Message and Trust. The messengers indeed fulfilled their mission, gave sincere advice to creation and conveyed the truth to them. Allah’s statement, “On the contrary (he would say), “Be you Rabbaniyyun, because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.” means, the Messenger recommends the people to be Rabbaniyyun. Ibn Abbas, Abu Razin and several others said that Rabbaniyyun means,  “Wise, learned, and forbearing.” Ad-Dahhak commented concerning Allah’s statement, “because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.” “Whoever learns the Qur’an deserves to become a Faqih (learned).” “and you are studying it”, preserving its words. Allah then said, “Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords.” The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, does not command worshipping other than Allah, whether a sent Messenger or an angel. “Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to Allah’s will?” meaning, he would not do that, for whoever calls to worshipping other than Allah, will have called to Kufr. The Prophets only call to Iman which commands worshipping Allah Alone without partners. Allah said in other Ayat,

“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad ) but We revealed to him (saying): “None has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me”. (21:25),

“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid Taghut (all false deities).” (16:36), and,

“And ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious (Allah)?” (43:45)

Allah said concerning the angels,

“And if any of them should say: “Verily, I am a god besides Him (Allah),” such a one We should recompense with Hell. Thus We recompense the wrongdoers.” (21:29).

{81. And (remember) when Allah took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: “Take whatever I gave you from the Book and Hikmah, and afterwards there will come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you; you must, then, believe in him and help him.” Allah said: “Do you agree (to it) and will you take up Isri?” They said: “We agree.” He said: “Then bear witness; and I am with you among the witnesses.”

82. Then whoever turns away after this, they are the rebellious.}

Taking a Pledge From the Prophets to Believe in Our Prophet, Muhammad

Allah states that He took a pledge from every Prophet whom He sent from Adam until  Isa, that when Allah gives them the Book and the Hikmah, thus acquiring whatever high grades they deserve, then a Messenger came afterwards, they would believe in and support him. Even though Allah has given the Prophets the knowledge and the prophethood, this fact should not make them refrain from following and supporting the Prophet who comes after them. This is why Allah, the Most High, Most Honored, said “And (remember) when Allah took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: “Take whatever I gave you from the Book and Hikmah.” meaning, if I give you the Book and the Hikmah, “and afterwards there will come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you; you must, then, believe in him and help him.” Allah said, “Do you agree (to it) and will you take up Isri?” Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ar-Rabi, Qatadah and As-Suddi said that Isri’ means, “My covenant.” (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:373) Muhammad bin Ishaq said that, “Isri” means, “The responsibility of My covenant that you took,” (Ibn Abi Hatim 2:273) meaning, the ratified pledge that you gave Me. “They said: “We agree.” He said: “Then bear witness; and I am with you among the witnesses.” then whoever turns away after this,” from fulfilling this pledge and covenant,  “they are the rebellious.” Ali bin Abi Talib and his cousin Abdullah bin Abbas said,”Allah never sent a Prophet but after taking his pledge that if Muhammad were sent in his lifetime, he would believe in and support him.” (At-Tabari 6:555) Allah commanded each Prophet to take a pledge from his nation that if Muhammad were sent in their time, they would believe in and support him. Tawus, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Qatadah said, “Allah took the pledge from the Prophets that they would believe in each other”, and this statement does not contradict what Ali and Ibn Abbas stated.

Therefore, Muhammad is the Final Prophet until the Day of Resurrection. He is the greatest Imam, who if he existed in any time period, deserves to be obeyed, rather than all other Prophets. This is why Muhammad led the Prophets in prayer during the night of Isra’ when they gathered in Bayt Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem). He is the intercessor on the Day of Gathering, when the Lord comes to judge between His servants. This is Al-Maqam Al-Mahmud (the praised station) [refer to 17:79] that only Muhammad deserves, a responsibility which the mighty Prophets and Messengers will decline to assume. However, Muhammad will carry the task of intercession, may Allah’s peace and blessings be on him.

{83. Do they seek other than the religion of Allah, while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly. And to Him shall they all be returned.

84. Say: “We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub and Al-Asbat, and what was given to Musa, Isa and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted.”

85. And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.}

The Only Valid Religion To Allah is Islam

Allah rebukes those who prefer a religion other than the religion that He sent His Books and Messengers with, which is the worship of Allah Alone without partners, to Whom, “submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth” Willingly, or not. Allah said in other Ayat,

“And unto Allah (Alone) falls in prostration whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly.” (13:15), and,

“Have they not observed things that Allah has created: (how) their shadows incline to the right and to the left, making prostration unto Allah, and they are lowly And to Allah prostrate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded” (16: 48-50).

Therefore, the faithful believer submits to Allah in heart and body, while the disbeliever unwillingly submits to Him in body only, since he is under Allah’s power, irresistible control and mighty kingship that cannot be repelled or resisted. Waki reported that Mujahid said that the Ayah, “While to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly”, is similar to the Ayah,

“And verily, if you ask them: “Who created the heavens and the earth” Surely, they will say: “Allah” (39:38).

He also reported that Ibn Abbas said about, “while to Him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly.” “When He took the covenant from them.” “And to Him shall they all be returned” on the Day of Return, when He will reward or punish each person according to his or her deeds.

Allah then said, “Say: “We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us the Qur’an, and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub” the scriptures and revelation, “and the Asbat” the Asbat are the twelve tribes who originated from the twelve children of Israel (Yaqub), “and what was given to Musa, Isa” the Tawrah and the Injil, “and the Prophets from their Lord” and this encompasses all of Allah’s Prophets. “We make no distinction between one another among them” we believe in all of them, “And to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam)” Therefore, faithful Muslims believe in every Prophet whom Allah has sent and in every Book He revealed, and never disbelieve in any of them. Rather, they believe in what was revealed by Allah, and in every Prophet sent by Allah. Allah said next,“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him” whoever seeks other than what Allah has legislated, it will not be accepted from him, “and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. As the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said in an authentic Hadith,

“Whoever commits an action that does not conform to our matter (religion) then it is rejected”. (Fath Al-Bari 5:355)

{86. How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger is true and after clear proofs came to them? And Allah guides not the people who are wrongdoers.

87. They are those whose recompense is that on them (rests) the curse of Allah, of the angels and of all mankind.

88. They will abide therein. Neither will their torment be lightened nor will it be delayed or postponed.

89. Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

Allah Does Not Guide People Who Disbelieve After they Believed, Unless They Repent

Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “A man from the Ansar embraced Islam, but later reverted and joined the polytheists. He later on became sorry and sent his people to, ‘Ask the Messenger of Allah for me, if I can repent.’ Then, “How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief” until, “Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” was revealed and his people sent word to him and he re-embraced Islam.” (At-Tabari 6:572)

Allah’s statement, “How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger is true and after clear proofs came to them?” means, the proofs and evidences were established, testifying to the truth of what the Messenger was sent with. The truth was thus explained to them, but they reverted to the darkness of polytheism. Therefore, how can such people deserve guidance after they willingly leapt into utter blindness? This is why Allah said, “And Allah guides not the people who are wrongdoers.” He then said, “They are those whose recompense is that on them (rests) the curse of Allah, of the angels and of all mankind.” Allah curses them and His creation also curses them.

“Neither will their torment be lightened nor will it be delayed or postponed” for, the torment will not be lessened, not even for an hour. After that, Allah said, “They will abide therein” in the curse, “Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

This Ayah indicates Allah’s kindness, graciousness, compassion, mercy and favour on His creatures when they repent to Him, for He forgives them in this case.

{90. Verily, those who disbelieved after their belief and then went on increasing in their disbelief never will their repentance be accepted. And they are those who are astray.

91. Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them if they offered it as a ransom. For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers.}

Neither Repentance of the Disbeliever Upon Death, Nor His Ransoming Himself on the Day of Resurrection Shall be Accepted

Allah threatens and warns those who revert to disbelief after they believed and who thereafter insist on disbelief until death. He states that in this case, no repentance shall be accepted from them upon their death. Similarly, Allah said,

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them” (4:18).

This is why Allah said, “never will their repentance be accepted. And they are those who went astray” to those who abandon the path of truth for the path of wickedness. Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar recorded that Ibn Abbas said that some people embraced Islam, reverted to disbelief, became Muslims again, then reverted from Islam. They sent their people inquiring about this matter and they asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. On that, this Ayah was revealed, “Verily, those who disbelieved after their belief and then went on increasing in their disbelief never will their repentance be accepted”. The chain of narration is satisfactory. (Ad-Dur AlManthur 2:258)

Thereafter, Allah said, “Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them even if they offered it as a ransom.” Those who die while disbelievers, shall have no good deed ever accepted from them, even if they spent the earth’s fill of gold in what was perceived to be an act of obedience. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was asked about Abdullah bin Judan, who used to be generous to guests, helpful to the indebted and who gave food (to the poor); will all that benefit him? The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“No, for not even one day during his life did he pronounce, ‘O my Lord! Forgive my sins on the Day of Judgment.” (Muslim 1:196)

Similarly, if the disbeliever gave the earth’s full of gold as ransom, it will not be accepted from him. Allah said,

 “…nor shall compensation be accepted from him, nor shall intercession be of use to him” (2:123), and

 “…on which there will be neither mutual bargaining nor befriending” (14:31), and,

“Verily, those who disbelieve, if they had all that is in the earth, and as much again therewith to ransom themselves thereby from the torment on the Day of Resurrection, it would never be accepted of them, and theirs would be a painful torment” (5:36).

This is why Allah said here, “Verily, those who disbelieved, and died while they were disbelievers, the (whole) earth full of gold will not be accepted from anyone of them if they offered it as a ransom.” The implication of this Ayah is that the disbeliever shall never avoid the torment of Allah, even if he spent the earth’s fill of gold, or if he ransoms himself with the earth’s fill of gold, – all of its mountains, hills, sand, dust, valleys, forests, land and sea.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“A man from among the people of Paradise will be brought and Allah will ask him, “O son of Adam! How did you find your dwelling?” He will say, “O Lord, it is the best dwelling.” Allah will say, “Ask and wish.” The man will say, “I only ask and wish that You send me back to the world so that I am killed ten times in Your cause,” because of the honor of martyrdom he would experience. A man from among the people of the Fire will be brought, and Allah will say to him, “O son of Adam! How do you find your dwelling?” He will say, “It is the worst dwelling, O Lord.” Allah will ask him, “Would you ransom yourself from Me with the earth’s fill of gold?” He will say, “Yes, O Lord.” Allah will say, “You have lied. I asked you to do what is less and easier than that, but you did not do it,” and he will be sent back to the Fire.” (Ahmad 3:207) 

This is why Allah said, “For them is a painful torment and they will have no helpers” for they shall not have anyone who will save them from the torment of Allah or rescue them from His painful punishment.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Pages 189-209

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