وَ جٰوَزۡنَا بِبَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ الۡبَحۡرَ فَاَتۡبَعَہُمۡ فِرۡعَوۡنُ وَ جُنُوۡدُہٗ بَغۡیًا وَّ عَدۡوًا ؕ حَتّٰۤی اِذَاۤ اَدۡرَکَہُ الۡغَرَقُ ۙ قَالَ اٰمَنۡتُ اَنَّہٗ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا الَّذِیۡۤ اٰمَنَتۡ بِہٖ بَنُوۡۤا اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ وَ اَنَا مِنَ الۡمُسۡلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۹۱﴾
۞وَجَٰوَزۡنَا بِبَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ ٱلۡبَحۡرَ فَأَتۡبَعَهُمۡ فِرۡعَوۡنُ وَجُنُودُهُۥ بَغۡيٗا وَعَدۡوًاۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَآ أَدۡرَكَهُ ٱلۡغَرَقُ قَالَ ءَامَنتُ أَنَّهُۥ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱلَّذِيٓ ءَامَنَتۡ بِهِۦ بَنُوٓاْ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ وَأَنَا۠ مِنَ ٱلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ
b. 7:139; 20:78. (close)
c. 20:79; 26:61; 44:25. (close)
1285. These words express the depth of abasement to which the proud Pharaoh had sunk. (close)
a. 7:139; 20:78. (close)
b. 20:79; 26:61; 44:25. (close)
The verse throws interesting light on an important political question. Islam enjoins Muslims to obey their rulers. If, however, the latter deny to them religious freedom and resort to compulsion in matters of faith, Muslims are enjoined to migrate from their country rather than offer resistance to the established authority. But what should they do if the authorities do not even permit them to migrate and force them to remain in the country and suffer persecution? The verse under comment supplies an answer to this question by saying that Pharaoh pursued the Israelites "wrongfully and aggressively," which means that in preventing the Israelites from migrating Pharaoh was doing a thing to which he had absolutely no right. Thus if rulers prevent an oppressed subject people from peacefully leaving a country, the latter would be justified in resisting and opposing them by all legitimate means and in that case defiance of the authority will not be held as a breach of the law or an act of rebellion. Just as nobody is allowed to defy and break the law of the land in which he lives, similarly no Government has a right to compel any person to live under it while denying him freedom of religion and conscience.
The words, He in Whom the children of Israel believe, spoken by Pharaoh at the time of his drowning, show the utterly abject state of his mind at that time. If he had said that he believed in the God of Moses, he might be considered to have had some sense of dignity left in him because, having been brought up in the royal household and being the leader of his people, Moses was entitled to respect even from worldly considerations; but to say that he believed in Him in Whom the children of Israel believed—the very children of Israel whom it was his pride to trample under foot—bespeaks the great depth of abasement to which the proud Pharaoh had fallen. (close)
آٰلۡـٰٔنَ وَ قَدۡ عَصَیۡتَ قَبۡلُ وَ کُنۡتَ مِنَ الۡمُفۡسِدِیۡنَ ﴿۹۲﴾
ءَآلۡـَٰٔنَ وَقَدۡ عَصَيۡتَ قَبۡلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِينَ
a. 10:52. (close)
a. 10:52. (close)
The eloquent words, What! Now!, show that it is only in specified circumstances that faith proves to be of any avail. When truth becomes quite clear and there remains no doubt or ambiguity about it, faith loses all value. In fact, it is only effort and sacrifice that make a person deserving of reward, and where these are absent, man forfeits all title to it. (close)
فَالۡیَوۡمَ نُنَجِّیۡکَ بِبَدَنِکَ لِتَکُوۡنَ لِمَنۡ خَلۡفَکَ اٰیَۃً ؕ وَ اِنَّ کَثِیۡرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ عَنۡ اٰیٰتِنَا لَغٰفِلُوۡنَ ﴿٪۹۳﴾
فَٱلۡيَوۡمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنۡ خَلۡفَكَ ءَايَةٗۚ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرٗا مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ عَنۡ ءَايَٰتِنَا لَغَٰفِلُونَ
1286. It is remarkable that the Qur’an alone of all religious Scriptures and books of history mentions this fact. The Bible makes no mention of it, nor does any book of history. But in what wonderful manner the Word of God has proved true! After the lapse of more than 3000 years the body of Pharaoh has been discovered and it now lies in a preserved state in the museum at Cairo. The body shows Pharaoh to have been a lean, short-bodied man, with a countenance expressive of anger and stupidity. Moses was born in the time of Rameses II and was brought up by him (Exod. 2:2-10), but it was in the reign of his son, Merneptah (Meneptah) that he was entrusted with the mission of a Prophet (Jew. Enc., vol. 9, p. 500 & Enc. Bib., under "Pharaoh" & under "Egypt"). (close)
Divine rewards, indeed, are pregnant with deep import. Pharaoh believed at a time when his faith was nothing more than a body without a soul: therefore, God rescued only his body from destruction, not letting his soul benefit by it. The body was saved from destruction that it might serve as a lesson for the generations to come.
It is remarkable that the Quran alone speaks of this fact. The Bible makes no mention of it, nor does any book of history. But in how wonderful a manner the word of God- has proved true! After the lapse of more than 3,000 years the body of Pharaoh has been discovered and it now lies in a preserved state in a museum at Cairo. The body shows Pharaoh to have been a lean, short-bodied man, with a countenance expressive of anger and stupidity. How far removed is the present age from the time when Pharaoh lived; yet God the Almighty not only saved his body but has also preserved it to the present age.
This verse supplies very strong testimony to the Divine origin of the Quran and to its distinct superiority over the Bible. The Pentateuch professes to give the history of the time of Moses and it is claimed that it was written in his own time. Yet the Quran, which came about 2,000 years after the Torah, has mentioned some incidents (including the present one) which are not mentioned in the Bible but which subsequent events have proved to be true. This establishes the truth of the Quran and the unreliability of the Pentateuch beyond any shadow of doubt.
The verse also points to the supreme moral lesson that we should hasten to accept the truth as soon as it comes to us and should not vacillate or procrastinate, as Pharaoh did.
It further shows that God does not allow even the slightest act of virtue to go unrewarded. Pharaoh believed at the time of his death, when his faith was but a shell without a kernel, yet even that act was not allowed to go quite unrewarded, for, though his soul was lost, his body was saved. His body may now prove the means of guiding many to truth; possibly it may spiritually benefit him also. This is perhaps why the famous Muslim saint, Muhy-ud-Din ibn ‘Arabi, holds that Pharaoh may be spared the punishment of Hell. The idea may not be right but it certainly provides food for thought.
Some commentators are of the opinion that the name of the drowned Pharaoh was Rameses. But this does not appear to be right. Moses was certainly born in the time of Rameses II and was brought up by him (Exod. 1:11), but it was in the reign of his son, Merneptah (Mereneptah), that he was entrusted with the mission of a Prophet (Exod. 2:23). See also Jew. Enc., vol. 8, page 500, & Enc. Bib., under Pharaoh and under Egypt. (close)
وَ لَقَدۡ بَوَّاۡنَا بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ مُبَوَّاَ صِدۡقٍ وَّ رَزَقۡنٰہُمۡ مِّنَ الطَّیِّبٰتِ ۚ فَمَا اخۡتَلَفُوۡا حَتّٰی جَآءَہُمُ الۡعِلۡمُ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ یَقۡضِیۡ بَیۡنَہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ فِیۡمَا کَانُوۡا فِیۡہِ یَخۡتَلِفُوۡنَ ﴿۹۴﴾
وَلَقَدۡ بَوَّأۡنَا بَنِيٓ إِسۡرَـٰٓءِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدۡقٖ وَرَزَقۡنَٰهُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتِ فَمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ حَتَّىٰ جَآءَهُمُ ٱلۡعِلۡمُۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقۡضِي بَيۡنَهُمۡ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَٰمَةِ فِيمَا كَانُواْ فِيهِ يَخۡتَلِفُونَ
b. 45:17. (close)
c. 45:18. (close)
a. 45:17. (close)
b. 45:18. (close)
Among the "good things" mentioned in this verse as having been bestowed on the Israelites, Divine revelation occupied the foremost place, for it mostly pertains to the spirit and comes direct from God. The words "good things" may also be taken in their material sense. In Egypt the Israelites worked as labourers and lived an ignoble life. But after their deliverance from bondage, God provided them with the good things of this world.
By the word علم (knowledge) in the clause, until there came to them the knowledge, is here meant the Quran and not the Torah, for there passed no interval between the revelation of the Torah and the formation of the Israelites into an organized community. Thus they cannot be said to have disagreed among themselves after its revelation.
When the Holy Prophet of Islam was about to make his appearance, the Jews held the belief that a Prophet like unto Moses was to appear very soon; but when the Promised Prophet did actually appear, they differed and disagreed as to whom the prophecies about the Promised Prophet applied. Some Jews denied that the prophecies had found fulfilment in the Prophet of Islam, while others sought to deny the very existence of any such prophecies in the Bible.
That the disagreement referred to in this verse was the one which arose among the Israelites after the Quran was revealed is also clear from the next verse which says: And if thou, (O addressee) art in doubt concerning that which We have sent down to thee (viz. the Quran). This verse clearly shows that in the verse under comment the "knowledge" after the coming of which the Israelites differed among themselves refers to the Quran.
The Jews were so ardently expecting the Prophet who was to be the like of Moses (Deut. 18:18) and who was to appear in Arabia amongst the descendants of Ishmael, the brethren of the Israelites, that some of them had even migrated to Arabia and had settled in Medina that they might be among the first to believe in him when he made his appearance. It is a strange irony of fate that these very Jewish settlers of Arabia proved to be his bitterest enemies when the Promised Prophet actually made his appearance. (close)
فَاِنۡ کُنۡتَ فِیۡ شَکٍّ مِّمَّاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ فَسۡـَٔلِ الَّذِیۡنَ یَقۡرَءُوۡنَ الۡکِتٰبَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ ۚ لَقَدۡ جَآءَکَ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ فَلَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الۡمُمۡتَرِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۹۵﴾
فَإِن كُنتَ فِي شَكّٖ مِّمَّآ أَنزَلۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ فَسۡـَٔلِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَقۡرَءُونَ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ مِن قَبۡلِكَۚ لَقَدۡ جَآءَكَ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡمُمۡتَرِينَ
a. 2:148; 10:95; 11:18. (close)
1287. The address is not to the Holy Prophet but to every reader of the Qur’an; nor, for that matter, do the words 'sent down to thee' show that the address is made to him, for at several places in the Qur’an, it has been spoken of as being revealed to all the people (2:137; 21:11). The very next verse supports this view because the Holy Prophet could not possibly be one of those 'who reject the Signs of Allah.' (close)
a. 2:148; 10:95; 11:18. (close)
The words, if thou art in doubt, cannot refer to the Holy Prophet, for the Divine Messenger to whom the word of God is revealed can never entertain any doubt about it. Nor can these words be said to refer to any of his Companions, for we read in 12:109, Say, this is my way; I invite unto Allah on sure knowledge—I and those who follow me. It is therefore wrong to say that the Prophet or his Companions, who are represented here as possessing sure knowledge, ever entertained doubt about the truth of the Quran. The persons addressed here are undoubtedly those who differed among themselves after "knowledge" (the Quran) had come to them. See v. 94.
The objecters are further told that if, as they assert, this Book (i.e. the Quran) gives rise to doubts, they should enquire from those who have benefited by reading and acting upon it. They will then find how it has illuminated their hearts and raised them to the highest pinnacles of spiritual glory.
By saying, ask those who have been reading the Book before thee, the verse also makes it clear that a revealed book alone does not make a perfect guide and that a teacher is needed who, by his superior spiritual knowledge and practical example, should lay bare its hidden beauties and excellences. (close)
وَ لَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ فَتَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ ﴿۹۶﴾
وَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِـَٔايَٰتِ ٱللَّهِ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡخَٰسِرِينَ
اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ حَقَّتۡ عَلَیۡہِمۡ کَلِمَتُ رَبِّکَ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۹۷﴾
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ حَقَّتۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ
b. 10:34; 40:7. (close)
a. 10:34; 40:7. (close)
By کلمة (word) is here meant the word of warning or threat. The verse means that those who have become deserving of punishment and have made no effort to escape it in spite of warning, will not believe. (close)
وَ لَوۡ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ کُلُّ اٰیَۃٍ حَتّٰی یَرَوُا الۡعَذَابَ الۡاَلِیۡمَ ﴿۹۸﴾
وَلَوۡ جَآءَتۡهُمۡ كُلُّ ءَايَةٍ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُاْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ ٱلۡأَلِيمَ
c. 10:89. (close)
b. 10:89. (close)
This verse shows that the signs of God do not benefit those who have no desire to benefit by them. They treat even the greatest of signs as mere fraud. Hence the assertion of disbelievers made in the time of every Prophet that no sign has been shown to them is no evidence of the absence of any sign. One should not be misled by such baseless assertions but should ponder over the claims of a Prophet independently and form one’s own judgement about them. One should judge the signs of the Prophet according to the criteria by which Divine Signs are judged. (close)
فَلَوۡ لَا کَانَتۡ قَرۡیَۃٌ اٰمَنَتۡ فَنَفَعَہَاۤ اِیۡمَانُہَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡمَ یُوۡنُسَ ؕ لَمَّاۤ اٰمَنُوۡا کَشَفۡنَا عَنۡہُمۡ عَذَابَ الۡخِزۡیِ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا وَ مَتَّعۡنٰہُمۡ اِلٰی حِیۡنٍ ﴿۹۹﴾
فَلَوۡلَا كَانَتۡ قَرۡيَةٌ ءَامَنَتۡ فَنَفَعَهَآ إِيمَٰنُهَآ إِلَّا قَوۡمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّآ ءَامَنُواْ كَشَفۡنَا عَنۡهُمۡ عَذَابَ ٱلۡخِزۡيِ فِي ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَمَتَّعۡنَٰهُمۡ إِلَىٰ حِينٖ
1287A. People of the town. (close)
d. 37:149. (close)
1288. Jonah has been mentioned at six different places in the Qur’an (4:164; 6:87; 21:88; 37:140 & 68:49). In the Bible he is spoken of as an Israelite Prophet (2 Kings, 14:25) who was bidden to go to Nineveh, the capital of Ashur and 'cry' against it. According to the Qur’an, however, he was sent to his own people. He was either not an Israelite or he was sent not to Nineveh but to a section of his own people. Biblical scholars themselves are not agreed as to Jonah’s being an Israelite. (close)
c. 37:149. (close)
1370. Important Words:
یونس (Jonah), the name of a Prophet who lived in the 9th Century B. C., is supposed to be derived from انس. They say انس به i.e. he was or became sociable, amiable or friendly with him; he was or became cheerful, gay or gladdened by his presence or company (Lane). See also Commentary below.
For those who are accustomed to pondering over the deep meanings of the Quran, this verse possesses remarkable evidence of the greatness of God’s mercy. The almost pathetic words breathe a strong desire that the world should follow Divine guidance. The verse expresses the deepest regret at the disbelief of the people by asking why there had not been other people who, like the people of Jonah, should have believed in the truth and escaped Divine punishment. The case of the people of Jonah possesses a strong similarity with that of the people of the Holy Prophet. The people of Nineveh first bitterly opposed Jonah so much so that they were threatened with Divine punishment and Jonah prophesied their early destruction; but later they repented and were saved. In the same way, the people of Mecca opposed the Holy Prophet bitterly and persistently, but at the Fall of Mecca they submitted to him and were consequently saved from Divine punishment. Later, all of them believed in his mission and became the inheritors of Divine grace. In this way the Holy Prophet came to bear a great resemblance to the Prophet Jonah.
Jonah is a Prophet who has been mentioned in six different places in the Quran. In 37:140 he has been spoken of as a heavenly Messenger; in 6:87 and 4:164 he has been reckoned among the Prophets of God; in 21:88 and 68:49 he has been called ذوالنون and صاحب الحوت (i.e. "he of the fish" or "the man of the fish"), in allusion to the incident of the fish. Reference has also been made to him in the words of the Holy Prophet who is reported to have said on one occasion, "Do not declare me to be better than Jonah, son of Amittai" (Muslim). The saying does not mean that the Holy Prophet was not superior to the Prophet Jonah, for he uttered these words before he had been informed by God of his superior spiritual rank. Later on, however, he himself said انا سید ولد آدم i.e. "I am the chief of the children of Adam," meaning thereby that he was the best of all mankind and the Head of the human race (Tirmidhi, ch. on al-Manaqib).
The above saying of the Holy Prophet can also be explained in another way, which has a particular bearing on the verse under comment. The superiority referred to in this saying may not mean superiority in all respects but superiority in one respect only, viz. that all the people of Jonah finally believed in him––a distinction which till then was not shared by any other Prophet. Hence the Holy Prophet hesitated to ascribe unqualified superiority to himself over Jonah until he had seen the end of his people. But subsequent events conferred this distinction on him also, as, like the people of Jonah, all his people too finally believed in him.
In the Bible, Jonah is spoken of as an Israelite Prophet (2 Kings 14:25), who was bidden to go to Nineveh and "cry" against it. But fearing that the Ninevites may repent, he fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. The Quran differs from the Bible on these points. The Prophets of God are, according to the Quran, incapable of disobeying Him in the way in which Jonah is represented to have done in the Bible. They are held out, in the Quran, as models whose example other people should follow (4:65 & 6:91). Disobedience to God is therefore the last thing of which a Prophet is capable. Again, it appears from the Quran that Jonah was sent to his own people, i.e. to a people to whom he belonged. According to Jewish tradition, however, he was a Jew but was sent to the people of Nineveh, which was the capital of Ashur. So in the light of the Quranic version Jonah was either not an Israelite or he was sent not to Nineveh but to a section of his own people. Biblical scholars themselves are not agreed as to Jonah’s being an Israelite. In the two points on which the Quran differs from the Bible, reason favours the Quran. (close)
وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّکَ لَاٰمَنَ مَنۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ کُلُّہُمۡ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ اَفَاَنۡتَ تُکۡرِہُ النَّاسَ حَتّٰی یَکُوۡنُوۡا مُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰۰﴾
وَلَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّكَ لَأٓمَنَ مَن فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ كُلُّهُمۡ جَمِيعًاۚ أَفَأَنتَ تُكۡرِهُ ٱلنَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُواْ مُؤۡمِنِينَ
a. 6:150; 16:10. (close)
b. 2:257; 18:30. (close)
1289. From this verse it is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that Islam does not allow or countenance the use of force for its propagation. See also 319. (close)
a. 6:150; 16:10. (close)
b. 2:257; 18:30. (close)
As the previous verse expressed a desire on the part of God that all men should believe, therefore there is likely to arise in the minds of some people the question why God, Who is All-Powerful, does not carry out His wish and force all men to believe. This question has been very beautifully answered in this verse, which says that if God had exercised compulsion to carry out His wish, He would not have confined His compulsion to one people but would have guided all who are in the earth. But He does not resort to compulsion and has left the matter of faith to the option of individuals, although He desires all His creatures to follow guidance and rise spiritually.
The clause, Wilt thou then force men to become believers?, is capable of two interpretations: (1) It may be taken as an argument in support of the statement made in the first part of the verse. In this case it would mean that God cannot resort to compulsion in the matter of faith, for to compel a person to accept a certain religion can serve no useful purpose. The Quran thus asks the Holy Prophet if he would like to force men to accept his faith against their will and, implying an answer in the negative,—for the Prophet would never countenance compulsion—the verse declares that God, Who knows the secrets of all hearts, cannot have recourse to compulsion. (2) The verse may also be taken to be addressed to each and every believer and to say to him that the denial of truth by disbelievers should not so enrage anyone as to make him resort to compelling men to accept it, arguing that when God, Who is the Lord and Master of all beings, does not use force, no mortal has any right to do so. Whichever of these two interpretations may be put upon this verse, it is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that Islam does not allow the use of force for its propagation. (close)