It was reported that the above Ayah is explained by Allah's statement,
(They said: "Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.'') (7:23) as Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Khaلlid bin Ma`dan, `Ata' Al-Khurasani and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam have stated. As-Suddi said that Ibn `Abbas commented on,
(Then Adam received from his Lord Words) "Adam said, `O Lord! Did You not created me with Your Own Hands' He said, `Yes.' He said, `And blow life into me' He said, `Yes.' He said, `And when I sneezed, You said, `May Allah grant you His mercy.' Does not Your mercy precede Your anger' He was told, `Yes.' Adam said, `And You destined me to commit this evil act' He was told, `Yes.' He said, `If I repent, will You send me back to Paradise' Allah said, `Yes.''' Similar is reported from Al-`Awfi, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Sa`id bin Ma`bad, and Ibn `Abbas. Al-Hakim recorded this Hadith in his Mustadrak from Ibn Jubayr, who narrated it from Ibn `Abbas. Al-Hakim said, "Its chain is Sahih and they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it.''
(Verily, He is the One Who forgives (accepts repentance), the Most Merciful) (2:37) means that Allah forgives whoever regrets his error and returns to Him in repentance. This meaning is similar to Allah's statements,
(Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants) (9:104),
(And whoever does evil or wrongs himself) (4:110) and
(And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds) (25:71).
The Ayat mentioned above, testify to the fact that Allah forgives the sins of whoever repents, demonstrating His kindness and mercy towards His creation and servants. There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
(38. We said: "Get down all of you from this place (the Paradise), then whenever there comes to you Hudan (guidance) from Me, and whoever follows My guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.) (39. But those who disbelieve and belie Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) ـ such are the dwellers of the Fire. They shall abide therein forever.'')
Allah stated that when He sent Adam, Hawwa', and Shaytan to earth from Paradise, He warned them that He will reveal Books and send Prophets and Messengers to them, i.e., to their offspring. Abu Al-`Aliyah said, "Al-Huda, refers to the Prophets, Messengers, the clear signs and plain explanation.''
(And whoever follows My guidance) meaning, whoever accepts what is contained in My Books and what I send the Messengers with,
(There shall be no fear on them) regarding the Hereafter,
(nor shall they grieve) regarding the life of this world. Similarly, in Surat Ta Ha, Allah said,
(He (Allah) said: "Get you down (from the Paradise to the earth), both of you, together, some of you are an enemy to some others. Then if there comes to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My guidance, he shall neither go astray, nor shall he be distressed.) (20:123)
Ibn `Abbas commented, "He will not be misguided in this life or miserable in the Hereafter.'' The Ayah,
(But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur'an nor acts on its teachings) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.) (20:124) is similar to what Allah stated here,
(But those who disbelieve and belie Our Ayat ـ such are the dwellers of the Fire. They shall abide therein forever), meaning, they will remain in Hell for eternity and will not find a way out of it.
(40. O Children of Israel! Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill (your obligations to) My covenant (with you) so that I fulfill (My obligations to) your covenant (with Me), and fear none but Me.) (41. And believe in what I have sent down (this Qur'an), confirming that which is with you (the Tawrah and the Injil), and be not the first to disbelieve therein, and buy not with My verses (the Tawrah and the Injil) a small price (i.e. getting a small gain by selling My verses), and fear Me and Me alone.)
Allah commanded the Children of Israel to embrace Islam and to follow Muhammad. He also reminded them with the example of their father Israel, Allah's Prophet Ya`qub, as if saying, "O children of the pious, righteous servant of Allah who obeyed Allah! Be like your father, following the truth.'' This statement is similar to one's saying, "O you son of that generous man! Do this or that'' or, "O son of the brave man, engage the strong fighters,'' or "O son of the scholar, seek the knowledge,'' and so forth. Similarly, Allah said,
(O offspring of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nuh (Noah)! Verily, he was a grateful servant) (17:3).
Israel is Prophet Ya`qub, for Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas said, "A group of Jews came to the Prophet and he said to them,
(Do you know that Israel is Jacob) They said, "Yes, by Allah.'' He said,
(O Allah! Be witness.)''
At-Tabari recorded that `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas said that `Israel' means, `the servant of Allah.'
(Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you).
Mujahid commented, "Allah's favor that He granted the Jews is that He made water gush from stones, sent down manna and quails for them, and saved them from being enslaved by Pharaoh.'' Abu Al-`Aliyah also said, "Allah's favor mentioned here is His sending Prophets and Messengers among them, and revealing Books to them.'' I - Ibn Kathir - say that this Ayah is similar to what Musa said to the Children of Israel,
(O my people! Remember the favor of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the nations (of their time) (5:20) meaning, during their time. Also, Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Ibn `Abbas said,
(Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you,) means, "My support for you and your fathers,'' that is saving them from Pharaoh and his people.
(And fulfill (your obligations to) My covenant (with you) so that I fulfill (My obligations to) your covenant (with Me),) means, `My covenant that I took from you concerning Prophet Muhammad , when he is sent to you, so that I grant you what I promised you if you believe in him and follow him. I will then remove the chains and restrictions that were placed around your necks, because of the errors that you committed.' Also, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "The `covenant' is in reference to Allah's statement, i
(Indeed, Allah took the covenant from the Children of Israel (Jews), and We appointed twelve leaders among them. And Allah said: "I am with you if you perform As-Salah and give Zakah and believe in My Messengers; honor and assist them, and lend a good loan to Allah, verily, I will expiate your sins and admit you to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise)) (5:12).''
Other scholars said, "The covenant is what Allah took from them in the Tawrah, in that, He will send a great Prophet - meaning Muhammad - from among the offspring of Isma`il, who will be obeyed by all peoples. Therefore, whoever obeys him, then Allah will forgive his sins, enter him into Paradise and award him two rewards.'' We should mention here that Ar-Razi mentioned several cases of information brought by the earlier Prophets regarding the coming of Muhammad . Further, Abu Al-`Aliyah said that,
(And fulfill (your obligations to) My covenant (with you)) means, "His covenant with His servants is to embrace Islam and to adhere to it.'' Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said, "`I fulfill My obligations to you' means, `I (Allah) will be pleased with you and admit you into Paradise.''' As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said similarly.
Ibn `Abbas said that Allah's statement,
(And fear Me and Me alone.) means, "Fear the torment that I might exert on you, just as I did with your fathers, like the mutation, etc.'' This Ayah contains encouragement, followed by warning. Allah first called the Children of Israel, using encouragement, then He warned them, so that they might return to the Truth, follow the Messenger , heed the Qur'an's prohibitions and commands and believe in its content. Surely, Allah guides whom He wills to the straight path.
Allah said next,
(And believe in what I have sent down, confirming that which is with you (the Tawrah and the Injil)) meaning, the Qur'an that Allah sent down to Muhammad , the unlettered Arab Prophet, as bringer of glad tidings, a warner and a light. The Qur'an contains the Truth from Allah and affirms what was revealed beforehand in the Tawrah and the Injil (the Gospel). Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Allah's statement,
(And believe in what I have sent down (this Qur'an), confirming that which is with you (the Tawrah and the Injil)) "means, `O People of the Book! Believe in what I sent down that conforms to what you have.' This is because they find the description of Muhammad recorded in the Tawrah and the Injil.'' Similar statements were attributed to Mujahid, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah.
(and be not the first to disbelieve therein).
Ibn `Abbas commented, "Do not become the first to disbelieve in the Qur'an (or Muhammad), while you have more knowledge in it than other people.'' Abu Al-`Aliyah commented, "`Do not become the first to disbelieve in Muhammad, ' meaning from among the People of the Book, `after you hear that he was sent as a Prophet.''' Similar statements were attributed to Al-Hasan, As-Suddi and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Ibn Jarir stated that the Ayah (disbelieve therein 2:41) refers to the Qur'an, mentioned earlier in the Ayah,
(in what I have sent down (this Qur'an),)
Both statements are correct because they are inter-related. For instance, whoever disbelieves in the Qur'an will have disbelieved in Muhammad, and whoever disbelieves in Muhammad will have disbelieved in the Qur'an. Allah's statement,
(the first to disbelieve therein) means, do not become the first among the Children of Israel to disbelieve in it, for there were people from Quraysh and the Arabs in general who rejected Muhammad before the People of the Book disbelieved in him. We should state here that the Ayah is talking about the Children of Israel in specific, because the Jews in Al-Madinah were the first among the Children of Israel to be addressed by the Qur'an. Hence, their disbelief in the Qur'an means that they were the first among the People of the Book to disbelieve in it.
(and buy not with My verses a small price,) means, "Do not substitute faith in My Ayat and belief in My Prophet with the life of this world and its lusts which are minute and bound to end. '' Allah said,
(and have Taqwa of Me and Me alone).
Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Talq bin Habib said, "Taqwa is to work in Allah's obedience, on a light from Allah, hoping in Allah's mercy, and to avoid Allah's disobedience, on a light from Allah, fearing Allah's punishment.'' Allah's statement,
(and fear Me and Me alone) means, that Allah warns the People of the Book against intentionally hiding the truth and spreading the opposite of it, as well as, against defying the Messenger .
(42. And mix not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know (the truth).) (43. And perform As-Salah, and give Zakah, and bow down along with Ar-Raki`in.)
Allah forbade the Jews from intentionally distorting the truth with falsehood and from hiding the truth and spreading falsehood,
(And mix not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know (the truth)).
So Allah forbade them from two things; He ordered them to make the truth known, as well as explaining it. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas mentioned the Ayah,
(And mix not truth with falsehood) and said; "Do not mix the truth with falsehood and the facts with lies.'' Qatadah said that,
(And mix not truth with falsehood) means, "Do not mix Judaism and Christianity with Islam,
(while you know (the truth).) that the religion of Allah is Islam, and that Judaism and Christianity are innovations that did not come from Allah.'' It was reported that Al-Hasan Al-Basri said similarly.
Also, Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(nor conceal the truth while you know (the truth).) means, "Do not hide the knowledge that you have of My Messenger and what he was sent with. His description, which you know about, can be found written in the Books that you have.''
It is possible that it means, "…although you know the tremendous harm that this evil will cause people, misguiding them and leading them to the Fire, because they will follow the falsehood that you mixed with the truth in your claims.''
(And perform As-Salat and give Zakah, and bow down along with Ar-Raki`in.)
Muqatil said, "Allah's statement to the People of the Book,
(And perform As-Salah) commands them to perform the prayer behind the Prophet,
(and give Zakah) commands them to pay the Zakah to the Prophet , and
(and bow down along with Ar-Raki`in) commands them to bow down with those who bow down among the Ummah of Muhammad . Allah therefore commands the People of the Book to be with, and among the Ummah of Muhammad.'' In addition, Allah's statement,
(And bow down along with Ar-Raki`in) means, "And be among the believers performing the best deeds they perform, such as, and foremost, the prayer.'' Many scholars said that this Ayah (2:43) is proof for the obligation of performing the prayer in congregation (for men only). I will explain this ruling in detail in Kitab Al-Ahkam Al-Kabir, Allah willing.
(44. Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and every act of obedience to Allah) on the people and you forget (to practice it) yourselves, while you recite the Scripture (Tawrah))! Have you then no sense)
Allah said, "How is it, O People of the Book, that you command people to perform Al-Birr, which encompasses all types of righteousness, yet forget yourselves and do not heed what you call others to And you read Allah's Book (the Tawrah) and know what it promises to those who do not fulfill Allah's commandments.
(Have you then no sense) of what you are doing to yourselves, so that you might become aware of your slumber and restore your sight from blindness'' `Abdur-Razzaq said that Ma`mar stated that Qatadah commented on Allah's statement,
(Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and every act of obedience to Allah) on the people and you forget (to practice it) yourselves,) "The Children of Israel used to command people to obey Allah, fear Him and perform Al-Birr. Yet, they contradicted these orders, so Allah reminded them of this fact.'' As-Suddi said similarly. Ibn Jurayj said that the Ayah:
(Enjoin you Al-Birr on the people) "Is about the People of the Book and the hypocrites. They used to command people to pray and fast. However, they did not practice what they commanded others. Allah reminded them of this behavior. So whoever commands people to do righteousness, let him be among the first of them to implement that command.'' Also, Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(And you forget yourselves,) means, "You forget to practice it yourselves,
(While you recite the Scripture (Tawrah)! Have you then no sense) You forbid the people from rejecting the prophethood and the covenant that you have mentioned with you in the Tawrah, while you yourselves have forgotten it, meaning that `you have forgotten the covenant that I made with you that you will accept My Messenger. You have breeched My covenant, and rejected what you know is in My Book.' ''
Therefore, Allah admonished the Jews for this behavior and alerted them to the wrongs that they were perpetrating against themselves by ordering righteousness, yet refraining themselves from righteousness. We should state that Allah is not criticizing the People of the Book for ordering righteousness, because enjoining good is a part of righteousness and is an obligation for the scholars. However, the scholar is himself required to heed, and adhere to, what he invites others to. For instance, Prophet Shu`ayb said,
(I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent) (11:88).
Therefore, enjoining righteousness and performing righteousness are both required. Neither category is rendered not necessary by the practice of the other, according to the most correct view of the scholars among the Salaf (predecessors) and the Khalaf.
Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Wa'il said, "While I was riding behind Usamah, he was asked, `Why not advise `Uthman' He said, `Do you think that if I advise him I should allow you to hear it I advise him in secret, and I will not start something that I would hate to be the first to start. I will not say to a man, `You are the best man,' even if he was my leader, after what I heard from the Messenger of Allah.' They said, `What did he say' He said, `I heard him say,
(A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown in the Fire. His intestines will fall out and he will continue circling pulling them behind him, just as the donkey goes around the pole. The people of the Fire will go to that man and ask him, `What happened to you? Did you not used to command us to do righteous acts and forbid us from committing evil' He will say, `Yes. I used to enjoin righteousness, but refrained from performing righteousness, and I used to forbid you to perform from evil while I myself did it.').'''
This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Also, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "I hesitate in advising people because of three Ayat:
(Enjoin you Al-Birr on the people and you forget (to practice it) yourselves).
(O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do Most hateful it is to Allah that you say that which you do not do) (61:2-3).''
And Allah informed us that the Prophet Shu`ayb said,
(I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent) (11:88).
(45. And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi`in.) (46 (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.)
Allah commanded His servants to use patience and prayer to acquire the good of this life and the Hereafter. Muqatil bin Hayan said that this Ayah means, "Utilize patience and the obligatory prayer in seeking the Hereafter. As for patience (here), they say that it means fasting.'' There are similar texts reported from Mujahid. Al-Qurtubi and other scholars commented, "This is why Ramadan is called the month of patience,'' as is mentioned in the Hadith literature. It was also said that `patience' in the Ayah means, refraining from evil, and this is why `patience' was mentioned along with practicing acts of worship, especially and foremost, the prayer. Also, Ibn Abi Hatim narrated that `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "There are two types of patience: good patience when the disaster strikes, and a better patience while avoiding the prohibitions of Allah.'' Ibn Abi Hatim said that Al-Hasan Al-Basri was reported to have said similarly.
Allah then said,
(And As-Salah (the prayer).)
The prayer is one of the best means of assistance for firmly adhering to Allah's orders, just as Allah said;
(Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur'an), and perform As-Salah. Verily, As-Salah (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha' (i.e. great sins of every kind), and Al-Munkar and the remembrance of (praising) of (you by) Allah is greater indeed) (29:45).
The personal pronoun in the Ayah,
(And truly, it is extremely heavy and hard) refers to prayer, as Mujahid is reported to have said, and it was also the choice of Ibn Jarir. It is possible that the pronoun might be referring to the advice - to observe patience and the prayer - mentioned in the same Ayah. Similarly, Allah said about Qarun (Korah),
(But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: "Woe to you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this, none shall attain except As-Sabirun (the patient).'') (28:80).
Also, Allah said,
(The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient ـ and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter and) in this world.) (41:34-35) meaning, this advice is only implemented by those who are patient and the fortunate. In any case, Allah's statement here means, prayer is `heavy and burdensome',
(except for Al-Khashi`in.)
Ibn Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on this Ayah, "They (Al-Khashi`in) are those who believe in what Allah has revealed.''
(They are those who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.) continues the subject that was started in the previous Ayah. Therefore, the prayer, or the advice to observe it is heavy,
(except for Al-Khashi`in. (They are those) who are certain (Yazunnuna) that they are going to meet their Lord,) meaning, they know that they will be gathered and face their Lord on the Day of Resurrection,
(and that unto Him they are going to return.) meaning, their affairs are all subject to His will and He justly decides what He wills. Since they are certain that they will be returned to Allah and be reckoned, it is easy for them to perform the acts of obedience and refrain from the prohibitions. Ibn Jarir commented on Allah's statement;
(Yazunnuna that they are going to meet their Lord)
Ibn Jarir said; "The Arabs call certainty as well as doubt, Zann. There are similar instances in the Arabic language where a subject as well as its opposite share the same name. For instance, Allah said,
(And the Mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, sinners), shall see the Fire and Zannu (apprehend) that they have to fall therein)''(18:53).
It is recorded in the Sahih that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say to a servant, "Have I not allowed you to marry, honored you, made the horses and camels subservient to you and allowed you to become a chief and a master'' He will say, "Yes.'' Allah will say, "Did you have Zann (think) that you will meet Me'' He will say, "No.'' Allah will say, "This Day, I will forget you, just as you forgot Me.'' If Allah wills, we will further elaborate on this subject when we explain Allah's statement,
(They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them) (9:67).
(47. O Children of Israel! Remember My favor which I bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the `Alamin (nations))
Allah reminds the Children of Israel of the favors that He granted their fathers and grandfathers, how He showed preference to them by sending them Messengers from among them and revealing Books to them, more so than any of the other previous nations. Similarly, Allah said,
(And We chose them (the Children of Israel) over the `Alamin, (nations) with knowledge.) (44:32) and,
(And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: "O my people! Remember the favor of Allah to you: when He made Prophets among you, made you kings, honored you above the `Alamin (nations).'') (5:20).
Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi reported that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Allah's statement,
(and that I preferred you over the `Alamin) means, "The kingship, Messengers and Books that were granted to them, instead of granting such to the other kingdoms that existed during their time, for every period there is a nation.'' It was also reported that Mujahid, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah and Isma`il bin Abi Khalid said similarly.
This is the only way the Ayah can be understood, because this Ummah is better than theirs, as Allah said;
(You are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin good and forbid evil, and you believe in Allah. And had the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them) (3:110).
Also, the Musnad and Sunan Collections of Hadith recorded that Mu`awiyah bin Haydah Al-Qushayri said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(You (Muslims) are the seventieth nation, but you are the best and most honored of them according to Allah.)
There are many Hadiths on this subject, and they will be mentioned when we discuss Allah's statement,
(You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind) (3:110).
(48. And fear a Day (of Judgment) when a person shall not avail another, nor will intercession be accepted from him, nor will compensation be taken from him, nor will they be helped.)
After Allah reminded the Children of Israel of the favors that He has granted them, He warned them about the duration of the torment which He will punish them with on the Day of Resurrection. He said,
(And fear a Day) meaning, the Day of Resurrection,
(When a person shall not avail another) meaning, on that Day, no person shall be of any help to another. Similarly, Allah said,
(And no bearer of burdens shall bear another's burden) (35:18)
(Every man that Day will have enough to make him careless of others.) (80:37) and,
(O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord (by keeping your duty to Him and avoiding all evil), and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father) (31: 33).
This indeed should serve as a great warning that both the father and the son will not be of help to each other on that Day.