Allah tells us how Fir`awn stubbornly persisted in his rebellion and disbelief. He assembled his people and addressed them in a vainglorious fashion, boasting of his dominion over Egypt.
(Is not mine the dominion of Egypt, and these rivers flowing underneath me) Qatadah said, "They had gardens and rivers of flowing water.''
(See you not then) means, `do you not see my position of might and power' -- implying that Musa and his followers were poor and weak. This is like the Ayah:
(Then he gathered (his people) and cried aloud, saying: "I am your lord, most high.'' So Allah seized him with punishment for his last and first transgression.) (79:23-25)
(Am I not better than this one who is despicable) As-Suddi said, "He was saying, `indeed I am better than this one, who is despicable'.'' Some of the grammarians of Basrah said that Fir`awn -- may the curse of Allah be upon him -- was saying that he was better than Musa, peace be upon him. But this is an obvious lie, may continued curses be upon him until the Day of Resurrection. By describing Musa as despicable he meant -- as Sufyan said -- insignificant. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "He meant, weak.'' Ibn Jarir said, "He meant, he had no power, authority or wealth.''
(and can scarcely express himself clearly) means, he cannot speak clearly, he stammers and cannot speak well. Fir`awn's description of Musa as "despicable'' is a lie; rather it is he who was despicable and insignificant, lacking in physical, moral and religious terms, and it is Musa who was noble, truthful, righteous and upright.
(and can scarcely express himself clearly). This was also a lie. Although something happened to Musa's tongue when he was a child, when it was burnt by a coal. He asked Allah to loosen the knot from his tongue (i.e., to correct his speech defect) so that they could understand what he said, and Allah had answered his prayer and said:
(You are granted your request, O Musa) (20:36). It may be the case that some problem remained which he had not asked to be relieved of, as Al-Hasan Al-Basri suggested, and that he had asked only to be relieved of that which stood in the way of his conveying the Message. A person cannot be blamed for physical matters over which he has no control. Even though Fir`awn had the intelligence to understand that, he wanted to confuse and mislead his people, who were ignorant and stupid. So he said:
(Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him...) meaning, adornments which are placed on the arms. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Qatadah and others.
(or angels sent along with him) meaning, to serve him and to testify that he is telling the truth. He looked only at outward appearances and did not understand the true inner matters that are clearer than what he focused on, if only he had understood that. Allah says:
(Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him.) meaning, he confused them and invited them to misguidance, and they responded to him.
(Verily, they were ever a people who were rebellious.) Then Allah says:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said it means: "When they angered Us means, they provoked Our wrath.'' Ad-Dahhak said, it means "They made Us angry.'' This was also the view of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Qatadah, As-Suddi and other scholars of Tafsir. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Uqbah bin `Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah said:
(When you see that Allah gives a person what he wants even though he is persisting in sin, that means that Allah is enticing him into destruction.) Then he recited:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all.) It was reported that Tariq bin Shihab said, "I was with `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) and the issue of sudden death was mentioned. He said, `It is a relief for the believer and a source of regret for the disbeliever.' Then he recited the Ayah:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all). '' `Umar bin `Abdul-`Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I found that punishment comes with negligence, meaning the Ayah:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all).''
(And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.) Abu Mijlaz said, "Precedent for others who do the same as they did.'' He and Mujahid said, "An example, i.e., a lesson to those who come after them.'' Allah is the One Who guides to the straight path, and unto Him is the final return.
(57. And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) (58. And say: "Are our gods better or is he'' They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people.) (59. He was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel.) (60. And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth.) (61. And he shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour. Therefore have no doubt concerning it. And follow Me! This is the straight path.) (62. And let not Shaytan hinder you. Verily, he (Shaytan) to you is a plain enemy.) (63. And when `Isa came with clear proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah, and in order to make clear to you some of that in which you differ. Therefore have Taqwa of Allah and obey me.'') (64. "Verily, Allah! He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is the straight path.'') (65. But the sects from among themselves differed. So woe to those who do wrong from the torment of a painful Day!)
Allah tells us how the Quraysh persisted in their disbelief and stubborn arguments:
(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) Several others narrated that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Mujahid, `Ikrimah, As-Suddi and Ad-Dahhak said, "They laughed, i.e., they were astounded by that.'' Qatadah said, "They were repelled by that and they laughed.'' Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "They turned away.'' The reason for this was mentioned by Muhammad bin Ishaq in As-Sirah. He said, "According to what I have heard, the Messenger of Allah sat down one day with Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah in the Masjid, and An-Nadr bin Al-Harith came and sat down with them. There were also other men from the Quraysh in the gathering. The Messenger of Allah spoke, then An-Nadr bin Al-Harith came up to him and the Messenger of Allah spoke to him until he defeated him in argument. Then he recited to him and to them,
(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you will enter it.) (21:98) Then the Messenger of Allah got up and went to sit with `Abdullah bin Al-Zab`ari At-Tamimi. Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah said to him, `By Allah, An-Nadr bin Al-Harith could not match the son of `Abd Al-Muttalib in argument. Muhammad claims that we and these gods that we worship are fuel for Hell.' `Abdullah bin Az-Zab`ari said, `By Allah, if I meet with him I will defeat him in argument. Ask Muhammad whether everyone that is worshipped instead of Allah will be in Hell with those who worshipped him, for we worship the angels, and the Jews worship `Uzayr, and the Christians worship the Messiah `Isa bin Maryam.' Al-Walid and those who were sitting with him were amazed at what `Abdullah bin Az-Zab`ari said, and they thought that he had come up with a good point. He said this to the Messenger of Allah , who said:
(Everyone who likes to worship something other than Allah will be with the one whom he worshipped, for indeed they are worshipping the Shaytan and whomever told them to worship that person.)'' Then Allah revealed the words:
(Verily, those for whom the good has preceded from Us, they will be removed far therefrom (Hell)) (21:101), meaning that `Isa, `Uzayr and rabbis and monks who were also worshipped, who spent their lives in devotion towards Allah. The misguided people who came after them took them as lords instead of Allah. Concerning the notion of worshipping the angels as daughters of Allah, the following words were revealed:
(And they say: "The Most Gracious has begotten a son (or children).'' Glory to Him! They are but honored servants.) (21:26) Concerning `Isa bin Maryam, the fact that he is worshipped instead of Allah, and to the amazement of Al-Walid and the others who were present at the argument, the following was revealed:
(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) meaning, they take this argument as a basis for rejecting your message. Then Allah mentions `Isa bin Maryam and says:
(He was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel. And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth. And he (`Isa) shall be a known sign for the Hour.) meaning, the miracles and signs that happened at his hands, such as raising the dead and healing the sick, are sufficient as signs of the approach of the Hour.
(Therefore have no doubt concerning it. And follow Me! This is the straight path).'' Ibn Jarir mentioned that Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) commented on the Ayah:
(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) "This means the Quraysh, when it was said to them:
(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you will enter it.) (21:98) The Quraysh said to him: `What about `Isa bin Maryam' He said:
(He is the servant and Messenger of Allah.) They said, `By Allah, he means that we should take him as a lord just as the Christians took `Isa son of Maryam as a lord.' Then Allah said:
(They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people).''
(And say: "Are our gods better or is he''). Qatadah said, "They were saying, `our gods are better than him'.'' Qatadah said; "Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) recited it (أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هذَا) (Are our gods better or is this (person))'' they mean Muhammad.
(They quoted not the above example except for argument.) means, for the sake of stubborn argument, for they knew that he (`Isa ) was not included in the Ayah (21:98), because that would not make sense. The words,
(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell!) (21:98) are addressed to the Quraysh, for they used to worship idols and false gods -- they did not worship the Messiah so why should he be included in what the Ayah says What they said was only for the sake of argument; they did not really believe in it. Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Abu Umamah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "The Messenger of Allah said:
(No people go astray after having been guided, but they resort to (futile) argument.) Then the Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah:
(They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people).'' It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Jarir. At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Hasan Sahih, we do not know it except from the Hadith of Hajjaj bin Dinar...''
(He (`Isa) was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him,) means, `Isa, peace be upon him; he was no more than one of the servants of Allah whom Allah blessed with prophethood and messengership.
(and We made him an example for the Children of Israel.) means, `a sign, proof and evidence of Our power to do whatever We will.'
(And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth.) As-Suddi said, "They would have taken your place on (the earth). '' Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) and Qatadah said, "They would have succeeded one another just as you succeed one another.'' This view is implied by the former view. Mujahid said, "They would have populated the earth instead of you.'' Allah's saying:
(And he (`Isa) shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) The correct view concerning this phrase is that it refers to his descent before the Day of Resurrection, as Allah says:
(And there is none of the People of the Scripture but must believe in him before his death) (4:159). -- meaning before the death of `Isa, peace be upon him --
And on the Day of Resurrection, he will be a witness against them (4:159). This meaning has the support from an alternate recitation of the Ayat (وَإِنَّهُ لَعَلَمٌ لِلسَّاعَةِ) (And he shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) means, evidence that the Hour will surely come. Mujahid said:
(And he shall be a sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) means, sign and "One of the signs of the Hour will be the appearance of `Isa son of Maryam before the Day of Resurrection. '' Something similar was also narrated from Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, `Abu Al-`Aliyah, Abu Malik, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others. Many Mutawatir Hadiths report that the Messenger of Allah said that `Isa will descend before the Day of Resurrection as a just ruler and fair judge.
(Therefore have no doubt concerning it.) means, do not doubt that it will surely come to pass.
(And follow Me.) means, `in what I tell you about it.'
(This is the straight path. And let not Shaytan hinder you.) means, from following the truth.
(Verily, he (Satan) to you is a plain enemy. And when `Isa came with (Our) clear proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah...''), meaning prophethood:
(and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) in which you differ.) Ibn Jarir said, "This means religious matters, not worldly matters.'' What he said is good.
(Therefore have Taqwa of Allah) means, `with regard to what I command you to do.'
(and obey me.) means, `in what I bring to you.'
(Verily, Allah! He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is the straight path.) means, `you and I are enslaved to Him, in need of Him and we commonly share in the worship of Him Alone, associating none with Him.'
(This is the straight path) means, `what I have brought to you is the straight path, which is the worship of the Lord, may He exalted, Alone.'
(But the sects from among themselves differed.) means, they differed and became parties and factions, some who stated that he (`Isa) was the servant and Messenger of Allah -- which is true - while others claimed that he was the son of Allah or that he himself was Allah -- glorified be Allah far above what they say. Allah says:
(So woe to those who do wrong from the torment of a painful Day)!
(66. Do they only wait for the Hour that it shall come upon them suddenly while they perceive not) (67. Friends on that Day will be foes one to another except those who have Taqwa.) (68. My servants! No fear shall be on you this Day, nor shall you grieve,) (69. (You) who believed in Our Ayat and were Muslims.) (70. Enter Paradise, you and your wives, in happiness.) (71. Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them; (there will be) therein all that their souls desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever.) (72. This is the Paradise, which you have been made to inherit because of your deeds that you used to do.) (73. Therein for you will be fruits in plenty, of which you will eat (as you desire).)