1. The ‘Prophet’ here refers to Muhammad
2. The implied meaning is that they
showed such indifference to the predictions mentioned in their own Book
as if they were never aware of them.
3. Instead of acknowledging Muhammad
(sws) and following him they went about causing harm to him and for this
they started following their enchanters and wizards who would teach spiritual
disciplines and witchcraft. In Surah Falaq, the Prophet (sws) is
directed to keep seeking refuge in the Almighty from these very miscreants
among the Jews in the words:
شَرِّ النَّفَّاثَاتِ فِي
the evil of those who blow into knots).
4. The actual Qur’anic words
used are: ‘عَلَى
مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ’. As per the linguistic principles
of the Arabic language, an elision of an ‘annexed noun’ (mudaf)
has occurred before ‘عَلَى’. Thus the implied meaning is:
عَلَى’. It is evident from this that in the time of the Prophet
Solomon (sws) satanic disciplines like witchcraft and sorcery were rampant
among people because of their interaction with the jinn-folk. The devils
among men who evinced keen interest in these disciplines even had them
compiled in a formal way. Because of their existence in the time of the
Prophet Solomon (sws), the Jews in the later periods started to attribute
this nonsense to the Prophet Solomon (sws) himself. Consequently, even
today people who are involved in these disciplines generally ascribe them
5. In reality, the words
كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ’ up to
النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ’ are a parenthetical
sentence. It is placed here within the discourse to absolve the Prophet
Solomon (sws) of the blames which were cast on him by the Jews as if such
is the distaste felt by addresser on these remarks that before waiting
for the discourse to finish, it is refuted. Also, a little deliberation
shows that the manner in which this refutation is done points to the fact
that witchcraft and sorcery is an obvious matter of disbelief.
6. As stated above, the previous
sentence is a parenthetical one. Consequently, this sentence is necessarily
co-ordinated to the portion
مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَاطِينُ’.
It is evident from this co-ordination, from the words
for this discipline and the fact that it was revealed to the angels and
who too called it a trial that this discipline was something entirely different
from witchcraft which the Qur’an has called disbelief. Thus the
view of the people is incorrect who say that witchcraft was revealed to
the angels and for this they also narrate a baseless incident. The question,
however, arises that what exactly was then revealed to the two angels.
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi expresses his view on this issue in the following
In my opinion, this discipline refers to the spiritual effects
and impact of words and things which was in vogue among the sufis and yogis
of the Jews and which they used as charms and spells to achieve various
ends. For example, they used it to cure various diseases and as a remedy
for the bad effects of the evil eye and witchcraft. Similarly, they used
it to combat the various tricks of magicians and conjurers and to create
love or hatred between people.
This discipline was entirely different from the discipline
of magic and palmistry etc because it neither had any trace of polytheism
in it nor were devils and the jinn-folk a part of it. However, as regards
its effects, it was as potent as magic and witchcraft. It is possible that
the Israelites were given this discipline in their time of slavery in Babylon
to counter the magic and sorcery that was rampant in it and to protect
the simpletons and the commoners among them from the influence of these
magician and wizards. The reason for forming this opinion is that firstly
it is evident from the Torah that witchcraft and sorcery were rampant in
those times. Secondly, this seems precisely in line with the divine practice
of sending help in the form of a legitimate and rightful discipline to
combat an evil discipline that was being used in such a potent manner by
some miscreants. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an,
2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 285)
He goes on to write:
In my opinion, it is the remnants of this very discipline which
one section of our mediums and mystics have adopted and they have even
given certain benefits to people through it and some incidents also bear
witness that in some circumstances they were instrumental in proving the
supremacy of Islam and Muslims against the yogis and astrologers. However,
just as after moral decadence set in the Jews, this discipline became a
part of sorcery and a means to earn money, similarly among the Muslims
too it became a means to blackmail the common man and many evil elements
crept into it because of which people got influenced by it in the very
way the Qur’an has referred to here. (Islahi, Amin Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an,
2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 286)
7. Like the sentence beginning
كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ’, the sentence beginning with
يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ’ and ending on
تَكْفُرْ’ is also a parenthetical sentence
which occurs here to exonerate the two angels Harut and Marut
from any blame. The implication is that the angels never taught this
discipline without warning the people that they should not misuse it and
thereby enter into disbelief.
8. Although this discipline could
have been taught in the manner that these angels would assume the form
of human beings and then teach, it is more probable that people through
certain exercises and workouts would come in spiritual contact with the
angels and then learn from them this discipline.
9. The actual Qur’anic word
used is ‘فِتْنَةٌ’. It means ‘trial’ and ‘test’. In the Qur’an,
this generally implies those things which originally are beneficial to
man but because of their misuse man often ends up in a state of trial.
Ascribing this discipline to the two angels is evidence enough that this
discipline was by its nature not something evil.
10. In the actual Qur’anic words
the negative imperative is as per the consequences. The
implication being that the discipline they teach is a two edged sword;
it is more probable that people will use it for evil purposes and as a
result get themselves involved in disbelief and polytheism.
11. One can judge from this how
deep the Jews were in moral degeneration, corruption and decadence. The
Qur’an tells us that in spite of being sounded a warning from the
angels they showed keen interest in charms which created dents in the relationship
of love between husband and wife whereas it is this very relationship on
which depends the stability of the society.
12. This sentence too is an emendation
and it is evident from it that it is the requirement of faith in monotheism
that firstly a believer is required to stay away from such things; secondly,
if he does come across them, he should not consider them to be absolute
in their influence without the permission of the Almighty; thirdly, if
any harm from them is feared, one should only turn to God and one should
not turn to charms and spells and people who are well versed with them.
The reason is that whether disciplines are good or evil, they can only
prove good and evil if the Almighty allows them to be so.
13. So base was their mentality
that a discipline which could be both harmful and beneficial for people,
was used by them to harm people.
14. The Jews were well aware of
this fact because the Torah had stopped them unequivocally from getting
involved in such mischief:
When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do
not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one
be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who
practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,
or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of
these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations
before you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
15. Instead of following the sorcerers
to harm the Prophet (sws), had they professed faith in him and adopted
righteousness they would not have been even able to imagine the reward
they would have reaped from the Almighty.
16. Muslims are being warned of
the objections raised by the Jews and the mischief they were guilty of
as a reaction to the truth which the Qur’an had made manifest to
them in a manner that they were left with no excuse to deny it. Being cornered
to the utmost, they were panting with rage and to give vent to their emotions
they would show disrespect to the Prophet (sws) and try to humiliate him
in the eyes of the Muslims.
17. The word
‘رَاعِنَا’ is an imperative
from the verbal noun
‘مُرَاعَاة’. Literally, it means ‘please take us into
account’. If the words of a speaker are not heard or not understood properly,
these words are said to elicit his attention. In the English language,
on such occasions we say: ‘I beg your pardon’. At another place, the Qur’an
has clarified that the Jews would pronounce this word by twisting their
tongue in such a manner that it would totally change in meaning. This they
did to ridicule the religion of Allah and His Prophet (sws) and to mock
and deride them. For this very reason, the Qur’an stopped the Muslims
from using this word from the social etiquette they followed and instructed
them to use another word
‘انظُرْنَا’ in its place. This word was customary
for a similar connotation and it was also not possible to distort its pronunciation.
18. Literally, it means ‘to give
respite’ and ‘to wait’.
19. The Qur’anic word used
‘اسْمَعُوا’. Here, in this verse, it is used in its complete form implying:
‘listen carefully and understand what is being said so that you do not
need to continually call the Prophet’s attention’.
20. It is this punishment which
awaits the Jews who are bent upon deliberately denying the Prophet (sws).
They would come to the Prophet’s gatherings neither to listen to him nor
to understand his message; on the contrary, they would only come to give
vent to their emotions by trying to find an opportunity to insult the Prophet
21. The implication is that it
is not just the case of the use of a word; the fact of the matter is that
the Jews and the Idolaters are burning with hatred on the fact that the
Qur’an has been revealed to the Prophet (sws).
22. Abrogation is replacement of
a directive of the Shari‘ah by another one.
23. The actual Qur’anic word
‘اِنْسَاء’ which means ‘to cause to forget’. The reference is to
those directives of the Torah to which the Jews showed indifference and
which, as retribution, were obliterated from their minds.
24. The actual Qur’anic words
بِخَيْرٍ مِّنْهَا أَوْ مِثْلِهَا’. The particle
is for division. The implication is that the principles of the Torah which
were abrogated because of evolution of society and change of circumstances
were replaced by better ones and the ones that were caused to be forgotten
were replaced by similar ones. None of these two sorts of replacement can
be objected to. The first of them was a natural requisite of the change
in circumstances and the other was necessary to compensate for the loss
caused by the Jews to the corpus of religion.
25. The Qur’anic word used
is ‘سُؤَال’. It has several meanings in the Arabic language. Here it is
evident from the way it is used in the given context that it means questions
which are actually objections.
26. Just as in the previous verse
the Jews were warned, here people among the Muslims who were behaving as
their representatives are warned. Since it was the Jewish mind that was
found in the background of these questions, hence the Qur’an by
very subtly alluding to the fact that such questions were asked from Moses
(sws) as well has warned these elements among the Muslims that He is well
aware of these evil promptings and conspiracies.
27. The Qur’anic word used
is ‘عفو’. Just as it means ‘to forgive’, it also means ‘to ignore’ and
‘pay no heed’. It is used in this latter shade in 5:15.
28. This decision manifested in
the form of killing, exiling and imposing Jizyah on the Jews once they
had deliberately rejected the truth after they were convinced about it.
29. According to the Qur’an,
the foundation of religion and the basis of reformation and instruction
are the institutions of the prayer and the Zakah. Consequently, on such
occasions, it urges Muslims to adhere to them in order to fight the mischief
of the enemies of Islam.
30. The implication is that the
Jews and the Christians have become united on one platform against Islam
and just as both of them have implanted the objection of abrogation in
the minds of the Muslims to create doubts in their minds, they have also
started doing the propaganda that one must either choose Judaism or Christianity
if one is to achieve salvation in the Hereafter. They further contend that
since the Qur’an also acknowledges the divine origin of their religions
then why is a new religion required in their presence and also that this
new religion is nothing but mischief originated in their society by its
31. The reference is to those who
followed all the directives of the Shari‘ah.
32. The Qur’anic word used
is ‘اِحْسَان’. It means to fulfil a task in a befitting manner. If a religious
deed is carried out in a manner that a balance is kept between its form
and spirit and all its constituents are fully and perfectly given due regard
then such an attitude is called
‘اِحْسَان’. The word
‘مُحْسِنْ’ is made
from this very word. The Prophet (sws) while explaining it has said that
when a person worships the Almighty in a manner as if he is seeing Him,
then this is called
33. The implication is that contrary
to these Jews and Christians, it is these people who will be regarded worthy
34. The People of the Book are
very graciously calling one another the inmates of Paradise in enmity with
the Prophet (sws); however, aside from this, their own enmity between each
other is so profound that they do not even accept that the other has any
35. The similarity referred to
here means similarity in intention and motives which the Jews had in saying
such a thing.
36. This refers to the Idolaters
of Arabia. Since they were unaware of any Prophet or Divine book for centuries,
they are called thus.
37. A little deliberation shows
that here just as there is a warning for the addressees of the verse, there
exists assurance for the Prophet (sws) as well that he is only responsible
to communicate the truth in this dispute. Nothing more is required beyond
this from him.
38. This is a reference to the
tussle that took place between the Jews and the Christians in the Baytu’l-Maqdis
to stop one another from remembering God and worshipping Him. Even
outside the Baytu’l-Maqdis they continued with this brawl wherever
they got the opportunity.
39. It was not befitting at all
for them to ruin the place of worshipping God after receiving guidance
from the Prophets of Allah. The right attitude for them was to enter such
places with fear and apprehension.
40. The Baytu’l-Maqdis was
the Qiblah of both the Jews and the Christians. It seems that the
Christians had made its eastern side their Qiblah owing to the fact
that Maryam had sat there for I‘tikaf and the Jews in their opposition
adopted its western side as the Qiblah. Subsequently, as a result
of this difference, a grave fight took place between the two and each of
them violated the sanctity of the other’s place of worship ruthlessly.
41. The implication is that no
specific direction is reserved for Allah. Hence, after regarding the Baytu’l-Maqdis
as their Qiblah, in whatever direction they turned, they would
have faced the Almighty. His power and profundity of knowledge embraces
42. The implication is that how
foolish is it to ascribe sons and daughters to a being who needs no one,
who is beyond everyone and is all powerful.
43. A reference to the Idolaters
of Arabia, who for centuries were not aware of any divine book or revelation.
44. The implication being that
since they are the leaders of the Quraysh, why does not the Almighty directly
address them. At some other instances, the Qur’an has answered this objection
but not here. The reason is to allude to the fact that this demand is so
foolish that silence is its only answer. The extent to which keeping silence
could hit their vanity and conceit could not have been matched by answering
45. By signs they meant something
so pronounced that after witnessing it the person who showed it could be
regarded as a messenger of God by everyone. For example, an angel should
descend with the Prophet and proclaim his prophethood all over the land
or at least some trailer of punishment be shown to them at his initiation
– the punishment which they were being warned with by him.
46. The sign that these people
are demanding was similarly demanded before them by the nations of other
Prophets prior to them. Those people also were guilty of stubbornness in
demanding a sign once the truth had been irrefutably made clear to them
and these Jews too were following suit. Consequently, just as the hearts
of those people had become locked, similar was the case with the hearts
of the Jews.
47. The implication is that for
those who want to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (sws) now do not
need a miracle or a sign for its verification because all its proofs drawn
from the world around man or that within him as well as from history have
been very clearly delineated in the Qur’an.
48. The companions of Hell are
individuals that have become liable to this fate because of their utter
defiance and obduracy.
49. The behaviour adopted by the
Jews and Christians has been termed as following their desires because
a person who insists on following his own way after divine guidance has
come to him is like a person who is following his own desires.
50. Here though the Prophet (sws)
is addressed, the warning and wrath found in the address is directed towards
the Jews and the Christians.
51. The expression
حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِه’ is an accusative of state from the accusative pronoun
in ‘آتَيْنَاهُمُ’ and the words
يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ’ is the enunciative
of the inchoative
آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِهِ’. A subtle aspect worth noting in this sentence
is that since the righteous among the People are mentioned, the expression
used is ‘آتَيْنَاهُمُ
الْكِتَابَ’ and not ‘اُوْتُوْ
who are aware of the diction of the Qur’an cannot ignore this difference.
52. It is now clarified at the
end of this section that those who used to value the truth will now also
be divinely blessed with the urge to accept it. In other words, only they
will receive guidance from the Qur’an who fulfilled the obligation
of truly reciting the Torah. This is an established practice of the Almighty
viz a viz providing guidance to man, and the Almighty never swerves from
His established practices.