(And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him.) refers to whoever intentionally takes a path other than the path of the Law revealed to the Messenger, after the truth has been made clear, apparent and plain to him. Allah's statement,
(and follows other than the believers' way,) refers to a type of conduct that is closely related to contradicting the Messenger . This contradiction could be in the form of contradicting a text (from the Qur'an or Sunnah) or contradicting what the Ummah of Muhammad has agreed on. The Ummah of Muhammad is immune from error when they all agree on something, a miracle that serves to increase their honor, due to the greatness of their Prophet. There are many authentic Hadiths on this subject. Allah warned against the evil of contradicting the Prophet and his Ummah, when He said,
(We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell --- what an evil destination!) meaning, when one goes on this wicked path, We will punish him by making the evil path appear good in his heart, and will beautify it for him so that he is tempted further. For instance, Allah said,
(Then leave Me Alone with such as belie this Qur'an. We shall punish them gradually from directions they perceive not),
(So when they turned away (from the path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts away), and,
(And We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly). Allah made the Fire the destination of such people in the Hereafter. Indeed, the path of those who avoid the right guidance will only lead to the Fire on the Day of Resurrection, as evident by Allah's statements,
((It will be said to the angels): "Assemble those who did wrong, together with their companions (from the devils)), and,
(And the criminals, shall see the Fire and apprehend that they have to fall therein. And they will find no way of escape from there).
(116. Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills, sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away.) (117. They invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allah), and they invoke nothing but Shaytan, a persistent rebel!) (118. Allah cursed him. And he ﴿Shaytan﴾ said: "I will take an appointed portion of your servants.") (119. "Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.'' And whoever takes Shaytan as a Wali instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.) (120. He ﴿Shaytan﴾ makes promises to them, and arouses in them false desires; and Shaytan's promises are nothing but deceptions.) (121. The dwelling of such (people) is Hell, and they will find no way of escape from it.) (122. And those who believe and do righteous good deeds, We shall admit them to the Gardens under which rivers flow (i.e. in Paradise) to dwell therein forever. Allah's promise is the truth; and whose words can be truer than those of Allah)
We talked about Allah's statement,
(Verily, Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills, sins other than that,) before and mentioned the relevant Hadiths in the beginning of this Surah. Allah's statement,
(and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away.) means, he will have taken other than the true path, deviated from guidance and righteousness, destroyed himself in this life and the Hereafter, and lost contentment in this life and the Hereafter. Juwaybir said that Ad-Dahhak said about Allah's statement,
(They invoke nothing but female deities besides Him (Allah),) "The idolators claimed that the angels are Allah's daughters, saying, `We only worship them so that they bring us closer to Allah.' So they took the angels as gods, made the shapes of girls and decided, `These (idols) resemble the daughters of Allah (i.e., the angels), Whom we worship. ''' This is similar to Allah's statements,
(Have you then considered Al-Lat and Al-`Uzza)
(And they make the angels who themselves are servants of the Most Gracious (Allah) females) and,
(And they have invented a kinship between Him and the Jinn). Allah's statement,
(and they invoke nothing but Shaytan, a persistent rebel!) means, Shaytan has commanded them to do this and made it seem fair and beautiful in their eyes. Consequently, they are worshipping Shaytan in reality, just as Allah said in another Ayah,
(Did I not command you, O Children of Adam, that you should not worship Shaytan) Allah said that, on the Day of Resurrection, the angels shall proclaim about the idolators who worshipped them in this life:
(Nay, but they used to worship the Jinn; most of them were believers in them). Allah's statement,
(Allah cursed him), means, He expelled him and banished him from His mercy and His grace.
(I will take an appointed portion of your servants) means, a fixed and known share. Muqatil bin Hayyan commented, "From every one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine will go to the Fire and one to Paradise.''
(Verily, I will mislead them) from the true path,
(and surely, I will arouse in them false desires;) tempting them to feign repentance, arousing false hopes in them, encouraging them to delay and procrastinate with righteous deeds, deceiving them.
(and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle,) meaning, slitting their ears to designate them as Bahirah, Sa'ibah, and a Wasilah, as Qatadah and As-Suddi stated.
(And indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.) means tattooing, according to Al-Hasan bin Abi Al-Hasan Al-Basri. In his Sahih, Muslim recorded the prohibition of tattooing the face, which in one of its wordings states: "May Allah curse whoever does this.'' It is also recorded in the Sahih that Ibn Mas`ud said, "May Allah curse those who have tattoos and those who do it, who pluck their (facial) hairs and the one who does it for them, and those who make spaces between their teeth for the purpose of beauty, changing what Allah has created.'' He then said, "Why should not I curse whom the Messenger of Allah has cursed, when the Book of Allah commands it,'' referring to the Ayah,
(And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it)). Allah's statement,
(And whoever takes Shaytan as a Wali (protector or helper) instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.) means, he will have lost this life and the Hereafter. Indeed, this is a type of loss that cannot be compensated or restored. Allah's statement,
(He (Shaytan) makes promises to them, and arouses in them false desires;) explains the true reality. Surely, Shaytan deceitfully promises his supporters and tempts them into believing that they are winners in this and the Hereafter. This is why Allah said,
(and Shaytan's promises are nothing but deceptions.) Allah states that on the Day of Return,
(And Shaytan will say when the matter has been decided: "Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you), until,
(Verily, there is a painful torment for the wrongdoers.) Allah's statement,
(of such (people)) refers to those who like and prefer what Shaytan is promising and assuring them of,
(The dwelling of such (people) is Hell), as their destination and abode on the Day of Resurrection,
(and they will find no way of escape from it.), meaning, they will not be able to avoid, avert, evade or elude the Hellfire.
Allah then mentions the condition of the content righteous believers and the perfect honor they will earn in the end. Allah said,
(And those who believe and do righteous good deeds,) meaning, their hearts were truthful and their limbs obedient with the righteous acts they were commanded, all the while abandoning the evil they were prohibited from doing.
(We shall admit them to Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)) meaning, they will think of where they want these rivers to flow and they will flow there,
(to dwell therein forever), without end or being removed from it.
(Allah's promise is the truth), meaning, this is a true promise from Allah, and verily, Allah's promise shall come to pass. Allah then said,
(and whose words can be truer than those of Allah) meaning, none is more truthful in statement and narration than Allah. There is no deity worthy of worship, or Lord except Him. The Messenger of Allah used to proclaim in his speech,
(The most truthful speech is Allah's Speech, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst matters are the newly invented (in religion), every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a heresy, and every heresy is in the Fire.)
(123. It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor those of the People of the Scripture, whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof, and he will not find any protector or helper besides Allah.) (124. And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a believer, such will enter Paradise and not the least injustice, even to the size of a Naqir, will be done to them.) (125. And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah; and he is a Muhsin (a doer of good). And follows the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif (Monotheist). And Allah did take Ibrahim as a Khalil (an intimate friend)!) (126. And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is Ever Encompassing all things.)
Qatadah said, "We were told that the Muslims and the People of the Scriptures mentioned their own virtues to each other. People of the Scriptures said, `Our Prophet came before your Prophet and our Book before your Book. Therefore, we should have more right to Allah than you have.' Muslims said, `Rather, we have more right to Allah than you, our Prophet is the Final Prophet and our Book supersedes all the Books before it.' Allah sent down,
(It will not be in accordance with your desires (Muslims), nor those of the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof),
(And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face (himself) to Allah; and he is a Muhsin.) Allah then supported the argument of the Muslims against their opponents of the other religions.'' Similar statements were attributed to As-Suddi, Masruq, Ad-Dahhak and Abu Salih. Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on this Ayah (4:123), "The followers of various religions disputed, the people of the Tawrah said, `Our Book is the best Book and our Prophet (Musa) is the best Prophet. ' The people of the Injil said similarly, the people of Islam said, `There is no religion except Islam, our Book has abrogated every other Book, our Prophet is the Final Prophet, and you were commanded to believe in your Books and adhere to our Book.' Allah judged between them, saying,
(It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor those of the People of the Scripture, whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof).'' This Ayah indicates that the religion is not accepted on account of wishful thinking or mere hopes. Rather, the accepted religion relies on what resides in the heart and which is made truthful through actions. It is not true that when one utters a claim to something, he attains it merely on account of his claim. It is not true that every person who claims to be on the truth is considered as such, merely on account of his words, until his claim gains merit with proof from Allah. Hence Allah's statement,
(It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor those of the People of the Scripture, whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof), meaning safety will not be acquired by you or them just by wishful thinking. Rather, the key is in obeying Allah and following what He has legislated through the words of His honorable Messengers. This is why Allah said afterwards,
(whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof,) Similarly, Allah said,
(So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.) and it was reported that when these Ayat were revealed, they became hard on many Companions. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `A'ishah said, "I said, `O Messenger of Allah! I know the hardest Ayah in the Qur'an.' He said, `What is it, O `A'ishah!' I said,
(whoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof,) He said,
(That is what strikes the believing servant, even the problems that bother him.)'' Ibn Jarir and Abu Dawud also recorded this Hadith. Sa`id bin Mansur recorded that Abu Hurayrah said, "When the Ayah,
(whosoever works evil, will have the recompense thereof,) was revealed, it was hard on Muslims. The Messenger of Allah said to them,
(Be steadfast and seek closeness. Everything that afflicts the Muslim, even the thorn that pierces his skin and the hardship he suffers, will be an expiation for him.)'' This is the wording collected by Ahmad through Sufyan bin `Uyaynah. Muslim and At-Tirmidhi also recorded it. Allah's statement,
(and he will not find any protector or helper besides Allah,) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said; "Unless he repents and Allah forgives him.'' Ibn Abi Hatim recorded it. Allah then said,
(And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a believer). Allah mentions the recompense for evil actions and that He will surely inflict its punishment on the servant, either in this life, which is better for him, or in the Hereafter, we seek refuge with Allah from this end. We also beg Allah for our well-being in this life and the Hereafter and for His forgiveness, mercy and pardon. Allah then mentions His kindness, generosity and mercy in accepting the good deeds from His servants, whether male or female, with the condition that they embrace the faith. He also stated that He will admit the believers into Paradise and will not withhold any of their righteous deeds, even the weight of a Naqir - speck on the back of a date-stone. Earlier, we discussed the Fatil - the scalish thread in the long slit of a date-stone, and both of these, along with the Qitmir -- the thin membrane over the date-stone were mentioned in the Qur'an. Allah then said,
(And who can be better in religion than one who submits his face to Allah.) meaning, performs the good actions in sincerity for his Lord with faith and awaiting the reward with Allah,
(and he is a Muhsin) following the correct guidance that Allah legislated in the religion of truth which He sent His Messenger with. These are the two conditions, in the absence of which no deed will be accepted from anyone; sincerity and correctness. The work is sincere when it is performed for Allah alone and it becomes correct when it conforms to the Shari`ah. So, the deed becomes outwardly correct with following the Sunnah and inwardly correct with sincerity. When any deed lacks either of these two conditions, the deed becomes null and void. For instance, when one lacks the pillar of sincerity in his work, he becomes a hypocrite who shows off for people. Whoever does not follow the Shari`ah, he becomes an ignorant, wicked person. When one combines both pillars, his actions will be the deeds of the faithful believers whose best deeds are accepted from them and their errors erased. Consequently, Allah said,
(And follows the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif (Monotheist). ) referring to Muhammad and his following, until the Day of Resurrection. Allah said,
(Verily, among mankind who have the best claim to Ibrahim are those who followed him, and this Prophet), and,
(Then, We have sent the Revelation to you (saying): "Follow the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif (Monotheist) and he was not of the Mushrikin). The Hanif, intentionally and with knowledge, avoids Shirk, he goes attentively to the truth, allowing no one to hinder him or stop him from it.
(And Allah did take Ibrahim as a Khalil (an intimate friend)!) encourages following Ibrahim Al-Khalil, because he was and still is an Imam whose conduct is followed and imitated. Indeed, Ibrahim reached the ultimate closeness to Allah that the servants seek, for he attained the grade of Khalil, which is the highest grade of love. He acquired all this due to his obedience to His Lord, just as Allah has described him,
(And of Ibrahim, the one who fulfilled),
(And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrahim tried him with (certain) commands, which he fulfilled), and,
(Verily, Ibrahim was an Ummah, obedient to Allah, a Hanif, and he was not one of the Mushrikin). Al-Bukhari recorded that `Amr bin Maymun said that when Mu`adh came back from Yemen, he led them in the Fajr prayer and recited,
(And Allah did take Ibrahim as a Khalil!) One of the men present commented, "Surely, the eye of Ibrahim's mother has been comforted.'' Ibrahim was called Allah's Khalil due to his Lord's great love towards him, on account of the acts of obedience he performed that Allah loves and prefers. We should mention here that in the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri said that when the Messenger of Allah gave them his last speech, he said,
(O people! If I were to take a Khalil from the people of the earth, I would have taken Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafah as my Khalil. However, your companion (meaning himself) is the Khalil of Allah.) Jundub bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali, `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As and `Abdullah bin Mas`ud narrated that the Prophet said,
(Allah has chosen me as His Khalil, just as He has chosen Ibrahim as His Khalil.) Allah's statement,
(And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.) means, everything and everyone are His property, servants and creation, and He has full authority over all of this. There is no one who can avert Allah's decision or question His judgment. He is never asked about what He does due to His might, ability, fairness, wisdom, compassion and mercy. Allah's statement,
(And Allah is Ever Encompassing all things.) means, His knowledge encompasses everything and nothing concerning His servants is ever hidden from Him. Nothing, even the weight of an atom, ever escapes His observation in the heavens and earth, nor anything smaller or bigger than that.
(127. They ask your legal instruction concerning women. Say: "Allah instructs you about them, and about what is recited unto you in the Book concerning the orphan girls whom you give not what they deserve and yet whom you desire to marry, and the children who are weak and oppressed, and that you stand firm for justice to orphans. And whatever good you do, Allah is Ever All-Aware of it.)