رَبَّنَا وَ ابۡعَثۡ فِیۡہِمۡ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡہُمۡ یَتۡلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیٰتِکَ وَ یُعَلِّمُہُمُ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ وَ یُزَکِّیۡہِمۡ ؕ اِنَّکَ اَنۡتَ الۡعَزِیۡزُ الۡحَکِیۡمُ ﴿۱۳۰﴾٪
رَبَّنَا وَٱبۡعَثۡ فِيهِمۡ رَسُولٗا مِّنۡهُمۡ يَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَايَٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ وَٱلۡحِكۡمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمۡۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ
b. 2:152; 3:165; 62:3. (close)
147. The verse serves as a summary of the subject-matter of the entire Surah which constitutes not only its enlargement but treats the various subjects in exactly the same order in which they have been mentioned in this verse, i.e. first come the Signs, then the Book, then the Wisdom of the Law, and last of all the Means of national progress (See Introduction to the Surah).
It may be of interest to note here that the Qur’an speaks of two separate prayers of Abraham—one about the progeny of Isaac and the other about that of Ishmael. The former prayer is mentioned in 2:125 and the latter in the verse under comment. In his prayer about the progeny of Isaac, Abraham asks that Imams or Reformers may be raised from among them, but he makes no mention of their special work or status—they are ordinary Divine Reformers who will follow one another for the reformation of the Israelites. In his prayer in the present verse, however, he prays to God to raise among his progeny a great Prophet with a specific mission. This difference indeed constitutes a marvellously true picture of the two branches of the House of Abraham. In making mention of the two prayers of Abraham in vv. 125-130 the Surah alludes to the fact that Abraham did not only pray for the prosperity of the children of Isaac but also for the posterity of Ishmael, his first-born. The offspring of Isaac lost the gift of Prophethood on account of their evil deeds. The Prophet promised and prayed for in the present verse must, therefore, belong to the other descendants of Abraham who were the children of Ishmael. In order to point out that the expected and promised Prophet was to be an Ishmaelite, the Qur’an has quite appropriately made mention of the construction of the Ka‘bah by Abraham and Ishmael and of the prayers offered by Abraham for the posterity of his eldest son. To this natural conclusion Christian critics generally bring forward two objections: (1) That the Bible makes no mention of any promise having been made by God to Abraham concerning Ishmael, and (2) that, admitting that God did make any such promise, there is no proof of the fact that the Prophet of Islam was descended from Ishmael.
As regards the first objection, even if the Bible be shown to contain no prophecy about Ishmael, it does not mean that such a prophecy was never made. Moreover, if the biblical evidence can be taken to establish the existence of a promise about Isaac and his sons, why should not the evidence of the Qur’an and, for that matter, of the children of Ishmael, be accepted to establish the fact that promises were held out by God to Ishmael and his sons also. But the Bible itself does contain references to the future prosperity of the sons of Ishmael similar to those it contains about the sons of Isaac (Gen. 16:10-12; 17:6-10; 17:18-20). As a matter of fact, the promise made to Ishmael does not materially differ from that made to Isaac—they were both to be blessed, both were to be made fruitful, the descendants of both were to multiply exceedingly and both were to be made great nations, and kingdom and dominion are promised to the progeny of both. So when the nature of the promise made to both the brothers does not substantially differ, the kind of reward granted to the children of Isaac will have also to be admitted for the children of Ishmael. This fact has been admitted by some very eminent Christian scholars (The Scofield Reference Bible, p. 25).
In reply to the second objection that even if the covenant be understood to include the sons of Ishmael, it has yet to be proved that the Holy Prophet belonged to the House of Ishmael, the following points may briefly be noted: (1) The Quraish, the tribe to which the Holy Prophet belonged, always believed and declared themselves to be the descendants of Ishmael and this claim was recognized by all the people of Arabia. (2) If the claim of the Quraish and, for that matter, that of other Ishmaelite tribes of Arabia, to Ishmaelite descent had been false, the real descendants of Ishmael would have protested against such a false claim; but no such objection is known to have ever been raised. (3) In Gen. 17:20 God had promised to bless Ishmael, to multiply his progeny, to make him a great nation and the father of twelve princes. If the people of Arabia are not his descendants, where is the promised nation? The Ishmaelite tribes of Arabia are indeed the only claimants in the field. (4) According to Gen. 21:8-14 Hagar had to leave her home in order to satisfy the vanity of Sarah. If she was not taken to Hijaz, where are her descendants found, and which is the place of her banishment? (5) The Arab geographers are all agreed that Paran is the name given to the hills of Hijaz (Mu‘jamul-Buldan). (6) According to the Bible the generations of Ishmael "dwelt from Havilah unto Shur" (Gen. 25:18), and the phrase "from Havilah unto Shur" designates the opposite extremes of Arabia (Bib. Cyc. by J. Eadie, London, 1862). (7) The Bible calls Ishmael 'a wild man' (Gen. 16:12) and the Word A‘rabi, i.e. 'a dweller of the desert' conveys almost the same sense. (8) Even Paul has admitted Hagar’s connection with Arabia (Gal. 4:25). (9) Kedar was a son of Ishmael and it is admitted that his descendants settled in the southern part of Arabia (Bib. Cyc. London, 1862). (10) Prof. C. C. Torrey says: "The Arabs were Ishmaelites according to the Hebrew tradition ... The 'twelve princes' (Gen. 17:20) subsequently named in Gen. 25:13ff, represent Arabian tribes or districts; notice especially Kedar, Duma (Dumat al-Jandal), Teima. The great nation is the people of Arabia" (Jewish Foundation of Islam, p. 83). 'The Arabs, from physical characteristics, language, the occurrence of native traditions ... and from the testimony of the Bible are mainly and essentially Ishmaelites' (Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, New York, p. 685). (II) 'Let us always blame the foul inclination of the sons of Hagar, and specially the people (the tribe) of Kuraish who are like animals' (Leaves from Three Ancient Qur’ans, edited by the Rev. Mingana, D. D., Intro. xiii). (close)
a. 2:152; 3:165; 62:3. (close)
136. Important Words:
آیات (Signs) is the plural of آیة which means, a sign, token, or mark by which a person or thing is known or recognized; it properly signifies any apparent thing inseparable from a thing not equally apparent, so that when one perceives the former, one knows that one also perceives the latter which one cannot perceive by itself; it also means a miracle, a wonder. The word is also used in the sense of a sentence; a part of speech; a verse (Lane & Aqrab).
کتاب (Book) means, anything written; a book; a prescribed law (Aqrab). See also 2:54.
حکمة (Wisdom) is derived from حکم (hakama). They say, حکمه i.e. he prevented or restrained him (from acting in an evil manner). حکم بالامر means, he judged and decreed in the matter. حکم (hakuma) means, he became wise (Aqrab). حکمةmeans, what prevents or restrains one from ignorant behaviour; knowledge or science; knowledge of the true nature of things; wisdom or wisdom underlying a commandment; an action according to the requirements thereof (Mufradat & Lane).
یزکیھم (purify them) is derived from زکی (zakka) which again is derived from زکا meaning, he or it grew and increased and developed; he or it became purified. زکی means, he purified; he caused to grow and increase. تزکیة means, the act of purifying and increasing (Aqrab).
العزیز (the Mighty) is derived from عز i.e. he was or became mighty, potent or powerful; or high, elevated or illustrious; or hard and resisting. عزیز means, mighty and powerful or high and elevated; or hard and resisting. It also sometimes means, distressing or grievous. العزیز used as the attributive name of God means, the Mighty Who overcomes everything; the Incomparable or Unparalleled (Lane). See also 2:207 and 5:55.
الحکیم (the Wise) is derived from the same root from which حکمة (for which see above) is derived. حکیم means, possessing knowledge or science or wisdom; wise; a sage; a philosopher; a physician; one who performs or executes affairs firmly, soundly, thoroughly, skilfully and well. الحکیم is one of the names of God meaning the All-Wise (Lane). Applied to the Quran the word would signify the book that is full of wisdom and is free from all defect and imperfection, having no incongruity or unsoundness; or the book which judiciously decides religious differences.
In this verse which is one of the most important, attention is drawn to the prayer of Abraham when he was leaving his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael to live in the arid valley of Mecca. The great prayer was to the effect that God might raise from among the Meccans a Prophet, who should (1) lay before the people Signs of God that may carry conviction to their minds; (2) teach them the Law of God; (3) initiate them into the philosophy of divine commandments, because until the wisdom underlying a commandment is brought home, one does not feel disposed to attend to it, but rather looks upon it as a burden, as was the case with the Christians who, unable to understand the underlying wisdom of the Mosaic Law, began to look upon it as a curse (Rom. 4:15; Gal. 3:13); and finally (4) purify the lives of men and open out to them the avenues of progress. See also 2:152.
This prayer of Abraham, offered from the very depth of his heart, was fulfilled in the person of the Holy Prophet. The wonderful way in which the Holy Prophet combined in his person the four characteristics mentioned in this prayer is a fact of history to which even his most hostile critics have testified. By universal consent the Prophet of Islam has been acclaimed as "the most successful Prophet".
The fact that Abraham did not here pray for many Prophets, but for one Prophet only shows that while offering this prayer, he had in view a very great Prophet, a Master-Prophet who was to transcend all. This prayer of Abraham has been applied by the Holy Prophet to himself. He is reported to have said انا دعوة ابراھیم i.e. "I am the prayer (personified) of Abraham" (Jarir & ‘Asakir).
As mentioned in the introductory remarks in the beginning of this chapter, the verse under comment serves as a summary of the entire chapter which is not only an enlargement of the subject matter of this verse but treats its various subjects in exactly the same order in which they have been mentioned in this verse, i.e. first come the Signs, then the Book, then the Wisdom of the Law, and last of all the means of national progress.
It may be of interest to note here that the Quran speaks of two separate prayers of Abraham—one about the progeny of Isaac and the other about that of Ishmael. The former prayer has been mentioned in 2:125 and the latter in the verse under comment. In his prayer about the progeny of Isaac, Abraham asks that Imams or Reformers may be raised from among them, but he makes no mention of their special work or status—they are ordinary Reformers who will follow one another for the reformation of the Israelites. On the other hand, when Abraham prays about the progeny of Ishmael, he begs his Lord to raise among them a special Prophet with a specific and lofty mission. Again, when God answers the first-mentioned prayer of Abraham, He does not make any mention of the Reformers to be raised but leaves their appearance to be inferred only by implication; but He does make a pointed reference to the fact that in spite of these Reformers, the Israelites will end as transgressors. On the contrary, God makes no such mention about the progeny of Ishmael, thereby hinting that after the Promised Prophet has been raised, their glorious days will continue till the end of the world. This is indeed a marvellously true portrait of the two branches of the House of Abraham.
In making mention of the prayers of Abraham in verses 127 to 130 the Quran makes an allusion to the fact that Abraham did not only pray for the prosperity of the children of Isaac but also for the posterity of Ishmael, his firstborn. When the offspring of Isaac lost the gift of prophethood on account of their evil deeds, the next descendants of Abraham were the children of Ishmael and thus the Promised Prophet must belong to the House of the latter. In order to point out that the expected Prophet was to be an Ishmaelite, the Quran makes mention of the construction of the Ka‘bah by Abraham and Ishmael and of the prayers offered by Abraham for the posterity of his eldest son.
To this natural conclusion Christian critics generally bring forward two objections (1) that the Bible makes no mention of any promise having been made by God to Abraham concerning Ishmael, and (2) that, admitting that God did make such a promise, there is no proof of the fact that the Prophet of Islam was descended from Ishmael.
As regards the first objection, it should be borne in mind that even if the Bible be shown to contain no prophecy about Ishmael, the absence of such a mention in it cannot be considered as conclusive testimony that such a prophecy was not actually made. It is no secret that Sarah, the mother of Isaac, hated Ishmael and his mother, Hagar. This hatred of their mother for the House of Ishmael was inherited by her sons, the Israelites (Gen. 16:12). In these circumstances it would be idle to search for any express prophecy in favour of Ishmael and his progeny in the Bible; particularly when it was for a long time subjected to all sorts of interference on the part of the Israelites. Moreover, if the Biblical evidence can be taken to establish the existence of a promise about Isaac and his sons, why should not the evidence of the Quran and, for that matter, of the children of Ishmael, be accepted to establish the fact that promises were held out by God to Ishmael and his sons also. But the undeniable fact is that the Bible does contain references to the future prosperity of the sons of Ishmael similar to those it contains about the sons of Isaac. The following are some of these references:
(1) "And God said unto Abraham, thou shalt keep my covenant, therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised" (Gen. 17:9, 10). This covenant was made with Abraham before the birth of Isaac and after Ishmael had been born, which shows that it applied to Ishmael and his children.
(2) "And the angel of the Lord said unto her (Ishmael’s mother), I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man (it appears that here some expression like "Arab" or the dweller of a desert country, has been translated as "wild"); his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren"; i.e., although all will constantly oppose him and be jealous of him, yet he will succeed (Gen. 16:10-12).
(3) Further evidence of Ishmael and his posterity being included in the covenant which God established between Himself and Abraham and his seed after him is furnished by Gen. 17:6-8 which says, "And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." Now, has not the land of Canaan remained in the possession of the Ishmaelites for over 1,300 years? If the Arab Muslims are not the seed of Abraham, why has Canaan continued in their possession for so long?
(4) Again in Gen. 17:18-20, we read:
"And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! and God said,…And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee. Behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." It will thus be seen that the promises made for Ishmael are similar to those made for Isaac; nay, they are even greater in number, for, with regard to Ishmael, God says, (a) "I have blessed him"; (b) "I will make him fruitful"; (c) "I will multiply him exceedingly"; (d) "twelve princes shall he beget"; and (e) "I will make him a great nation".
(5) Further evidence of the fact that Ishmael was included in God’s covenant is furnished by the fact that circumcision which was instituted by God as a token of His covenant with Abraham and his seed after him, has continued among the descendants of Ishmael. Though Islam also enjoined it, yet it was already in vogue among the Arabs, which shows that they were the seed of Abraham and were consequently included in the covenant of which circumcision was instituted as a symbol.
In order to exclude Ishmael from God’s covenant, Christian writers sometimes bring forward the plea that the offspring of a handmaid cannot be included in Abraham’s seed. But this is entirely baseless; for, even conceding, for the sake of argument, that Ishmael’s mother was a handmaid, it has been clearly said with reference to Ishmael: "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation because he is thy seed" (Gen. 41:13).
The above-quoted verses of the Bible show (1) that Ishmael was born according to the promise of God given to Abraham before Ishmael’s birth; (2) that God blessed Ishmael and his mother, Hagar; (3) that He promised to make Ishmael and his mother fruitful and to multiply them exceedingly; (4) that God was with Ishmael; and (5) that the covenant of God with Abraham about the circumcision of every male child among his progeny applied to Ishmael and his children.
As a matter of fact, the promise made to Ishmael does not differ very much from that made to Isaac; they are both to be blessed, both to be made fruitful, the descendants of both to multiply exceedingly and both are to be made great nations, and kingdom and dominion is promised to the progeny of both. So when the nature of the promise made to both the brothers does not substantially differ, the kind of reward granted to the children of Isaac will have also to be admitted for the children of Ishmael. It would be wrong to think that as in Gen. 17:21 it is written that God will establish His covenant with Isaac, so Prophets were meant to be raised from among his children only, for a similar covenant was made with Abraham even before the birth of Isaac, and this clearly applied to Ishmael. This covenant is contained in Gen. 17:10, 11 according to which Ishmael was circumcised at the age of 13 and thenceforward circumcision became a religious rite with the posterity of Ishmael. It is therefore beyond any shadow of doubt that the covenant referred to above was intended for the children of Ishmael quite as much as for the children of Isaac. This fact has even been admitted by some eminent Christian writers of established authority (The Scofield Reference Bible, p. 25).
So far about verbal promises. Now let us see how God practically treated Ishmael. We read in Gen. 21:14-20, "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer."
This shows that God rendered miraculous help to Ishmael and brought into existence a well of water for his sake. It is now for the Christians to show what extraordinary thing God wrought for Isaac that may be compared with this. In the above passage it is also said that "God was with the lad", which means that Ishmael grew up under the special protection of the Lord.
Further evidence of the fact that Ishmael was looked upon as the seed of Abraham, on a par with Isaac, is furnished by the following circumstances:
In Gen. 25:6, we read that when Abraham grew old and was nearing his end, he sent away the sons of the concubines. And then the Bible goes on to say: "And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred three score and fifteen years, and Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah." (Gen. 25:7-9). Now, if Ishmael was also treated as the offspring of a concubine, he ought to have been treated as the other children, who were the issue of concubines, were treated. But such was not the case; for when Abraham died, the children of the concubines were away and only Ishmael and Isaac were present, and both of them participated in the burial ceremony of their father. This shows that Ishmael was not treated as the offspring of a concubine, but was looked upon as the equal of Isaac and was treated accordingly.
In reply to the second objection that even if the covenant be understood to include the sons of Ishmael, it is yet to be proved that the Holy Prophet belonged to the House of Ishmael, the following points may briefly be noted:
(1) The best way to know the origin of a race is to refer to the traditions and the testimony of the race itself; and, as we all know, the Quraish, the tribe to which the Holy Prophet belonged, always believed and declared themselves to be the descendants of Ishmael and this claim was recognized by all the people of Arabia.
(2) If the claim of the Quraish and, for that matter, that of other Ishmaelite tribes of Arabia, to Ishmaelite descent had been false, the real descendants of Ishmael would have protested against such a false claim; but no such objection is known to have been ever raised.
(3) In Gen. 17:20 God had promised to bless Ishmael, to multiply his progeny, to make him a great nation and the father of twelve princes. If the people of Arabia are not his descendants, where is the promised nation? The Ishmaelite tribes of Arabia are indeed the only claimants in the field,
(4) According to Gen. 21:8-14 Hagar had to leave her home in order to satisfy the vanity of Sarah. If she was not taken to Hedjaz, where are her descendants found, and which is the place of her banishment?
(5) After her banishment Hagar dwelt in the wilderness of Paran (Gen. 21:21). Christian writers have tried to prove that Paran is Feiran near Jebel Serbal in the Sinai Peninsula. But the great English commentator of the Old Testament, who devoted his whole life to the study of the Bible, Dr. S. R. Driver, has had to confess after all that "the site of Paran, from which the wilderness derives its name, is, however, unknown" (Deut. p.4). On the contrary, the Arab geographers are all agreed that Paran is the name given to the hills of Hedjaz (Mu‘jamul-Buldan).
(6) We are told that the generations of Ishmael "dwelt from Havilah unto Shur" (Gen. 25:18) and the phrase "from Havilah unto Shur" designates the opposite extremes of Arabia (Bib. Cyc. by J. Eadie, London, 1862).
(7) The Bible calls Ishmael "a wild man" (Gen. 16:12) and the word اعرابی (A‘rabi) "a dweller of the desert" conveys almost the same sense.
(8) Even Paul has admitted Hagar’s connection with Arabia (Gal. 4:25).
(9) Kedar was a son of Ishmael and it is admitted that his descendants settled in the southern part of Arabia (Bib. Cyc. London, 1862).
(10) Prof. C. C. Torrey says: "The Arabs were Ishmaelites according to the Hebrew tradition…The 'twelve princes' (Gen. 17:20) subsequently named in Gen. 25:13ff, represent Arabian tribes or districts; notice especially Kedar, Duma (Dumatul-Jandal), Teima. The great nation is the people of Arabia." (Jewish Foundation of Islam, p.83).
(11) Similarly, the learned authors of the Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, New York, (1877, p. 685) admit that "the Arabs, from physical characteristics, language, the occurrence of native traditions…and the testimony of the Bible are mainly and essentially Ishmaelites."
(12) Lastly there is the opinion of Narsai, a Syrian writer who lived about a hundred years before the birth of the Holy Prophet. Mingana quotes Narsai as saying: "The raid of the sons of Hagar was more cruel even than famine, and the blow that they gave was more sore than disease; the wound of the sons of Abraham is like the venom of a serpent and perhaps there is a remedy for the poison of reptiles but not for theirs—let us always blame the foul inclination of the sons of Hagar, and specially the people (the tribe) of Kuraish who are like animals." (Leaves from Three Ancient Qurans, edited by the Rev. A. Mingana, D.D. Intro. xiii).
In the face of these conclusive proofs both the objections, that (1) Ishmael was not included in the covenant which God made with Abraham, and that (2) Ishmael did not settle in Arabia or that the Holy Prophet of Islam was not a descen-dant of Ishmael, fall to the ground.
Before passing on to the next verse a brief reference to Hagar, mother of Ishmael, will not be out of place here. C. J. Ellicott, Lord Bishop of Gloucester, says in his Commentary: "Hagar…was to be, not Abraham’s concubine, but his wife" (Vol. 1, p. 69). The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel tell us that "Sarah…took Hagar…and set her free, and gave her to Abraham, her husband, to wife" (Translation by J. W. Etheridge, London, 1862, p. 205). This setting free of the "handmaid" or "bondwoman" does not imply that Hagar was a barbarian slave or that she was a slave from her very childhood. Sir Leonard Wooley says that she was a "civilised creature sprung from the second great centre of culture in the ancient world" (Abraham, London, 1936, p. 144).
"According to Midrash", says another authority, "Hagar had been given as a slave to Abraham by her father, the Pharaoh of Egypt, who said, "My daughter had better be a slave in the house of Abraham, than mistress in any other" (Translation of the Targums by J. W. Etheridge, note 8, on page 204). (close)
وَ مَنۡ یَّرۡغَبُ عَنۡ مِّلَّۃِ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ اِلَّا مَنۡ سَفِہَ نَفۡسَہٗ ؕ وَ لَقَدِ اصۡطَفَیۡنٰہُ فِی الدُّنۡیَا ۚ وَ اِنَّہٗ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ لَمِنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۱۳۱﴾
وَمَن يَرۡغَبُ عَن مِّلَّةِ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ إِلَّا مَن سَفِهَ نَفۡسَهُۥۚ وَلَقَدِ ٱصۡطَفَيۡنَٰهُ فِي ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَإِنَّهُۥ فِي ٱلۡأٓخِرَةِ لَمِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
a. 3:96; 4:126; 6:162. (close)
148. The different forms of the word Safiha, Safaha and Safuha give different meanings, Safiha meaning, he was ignorant or foolish or light-witted. When the word is used with Nafsa-hu as its seeming object as in this verse, it does not actually become transitive but simply looks so (Lisan & Mufradat). The words also mean: "Who has ruined his soul." (close)
b. 2:125; 3:34; 16:121, 122; 60:5. (close)
137. Important Words:
یرغب (will turn away) is derived from رغب which is used either with the preposition فی or عن giving different meanings. رغب فیه means, he sought or desired it; and رغب عنه means, he turned away from it or he left or loathed it ( Aqrab).
سفه نفسه (is foolish of mind). The word سفه is used in three different forms: سفه (1) (safiha), (2) (safaha), and (3) (safuha). All these give different meanings. The Quran uses the first form, i.e. سفه (safiha) which means, he was ignorant or he behaved ignorantly; he was foolish or he acted foolishly; he was lightwitted or he behaved light-wittedly. When the word سفه is used with نفسه as its seeming object as in the verse under comment, it does not actually become transitive but simply looks so (as does the verb خسر which see under 2:28). In fact, as most lexicographers have explained, the expression سفه نفسهis really either سفه فی نفسه or سفه ھو نفسا or سفھت نفسه and means, either he is foolish of mind, or he is foolish himself, or his mind acts foolishly (Aqrab, Mufradat, Lisan & Lane).
اصطفیناه (him did We choose) is derived from صفا which means, it became pure and clean. اصفاه بکذا means, he chose him for that, or he honoured him with that. اصطفاه means, he chose or selected him from among others; he chose him in preference to others (Aqrab).
The attention of Jews and Christians is drawn to the point that when it has been proved that, in accordance with the prayer of Abraham, a Prophet was to appear from among the children of Ishmael and that Prophet has actually appeared, it is incumbent upon them to ponder over his claims and not to belie the prayer of Abraham and go against their own religion. The verse emphasizes the fact that anybody who departs from the way of the great patriarch of the People of the Book betrays his own folly. The religion of Abraham leads to salvation, whereas defection from it leads to ruin and deprivation. (close)
اِذۡ قَالَ لَہٗ رَبُّہٗۤ اَسۡلِمۡ ۙ قَالَ اَسۡلَمۡتُ لِرَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۳۲﴾
إِذۡ قَالَ لَهُۥ رَبُّهُۥٓ أَسۡلِمۡۖ قَالَ أَسۡلَمۡتُ لِرَبِّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ
b. 3:68; 4:126. (close)
a. 3:68; 4:126. (close)
138. Important Words:
اسلم (submit), being in the imperative mood, means, submit or surrender or resign thyself; or become a Muslim, i.e. one resigned to God. For a fuller discussion of the word see 2:113.
The Jews are here told that the greatness of their ancestor Abraham lay in the fact that he was always ready to submit fully and resign himself completely to the will of God. Therefore, if they too wish to become great in the sight of God, they should also submit to Him and obey His commands and accept His Prophet.
The verse beautifully describes Abraham’s religion. When God asked him to submit, he immediately replied, I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds. This reply of Abraham points to two important inferences: (1) That Abraham does not use the words "I will submit" or even "I do submit" but I have submitted, which means that he was so eager to obey his Lord that he took no time in making his submission, as if the act were already a thing accomplished. (2) That Abraham does not merely say I have submitted, but adds the words to the Lord of the worlds, which signifies that his submission was not based on any ulterior motive but on the simple fact that the "Being" to Whom he was submitting was the Lord and Master of the world and hence entitled to obedience. (close)
وَ وَصّٰی بِہَاۤ اِبۡرٰہٖمُ بَنِیۡہِ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبُ ؕ یٰبَنِیَّ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ اصۡطَفٰی لَکُمُ الدِّیۡنَ فَلَا تَمُوۡتُنَّ اِلَّا وَ اَنۡتُمۡ مُّسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۳﴾ؕ
وَوَصَّىٰ بِهَآ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمُ بَنِيهِ وَيَعۡقُوبُ يَٰبَنِيَّ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱصۡطَفَىٰ لَكُمُ ٱلدِّينَ فَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنتُم مُّسۡلِمُونَ
c. 3:103. (close)
149. As there is no time fixed for death, one should pass every moment of his life in complete submission to God. The verse may also mean that a true believer should always be so perfectly resigned to God’s will and should so completely win His pleasure that God may, out of His limitless bounty, so arrange that death may come to him at a time when he is completely resigned to His will. (close)
a. 3:103. (close)
139. Important Words:
وصی (did enjoin upon). وصی فلانا بکذا means, he enjoined this upon him, he ordered him to do this, he charged him with this. وصی علیه بالصلوة means, he exhorted him or enjoined him to observe Prayers. وصی له بماله means, he made a will in his favour, making him heir of his property after his death (Aqrab).
Abraham not only submitted himself to the will of God but also took special care that his children too should inculcate that spirit and lead lives of submission and resignation. The name of Jacob or Israel (grandson of Abraham) has been particularly added here to point to the fact that as Jacob also issued a similar injunction to his children, it becomes all the more binding on the Israelites to submit to the will of God and accept the Prophet who has come with the specific mission of اسلام i.e. submission to God’s will.
The words, so let not death overtake you except when you are in a state of submission, beautifully point to the fact that as nobody knows the time of his death, one should always lead a life of submission to God’s will so that whenever death comes, it may not find one in a state other than that of submission. The words may also mean that a true believer should be so perfectly resigned to God’s will and should so completely win His pleasure that He may, out of His limitless bounty, arrange that death may not come to him except at a time when he is resigned to His will.
This, as well as the preceding verse, forcefully brings out the important point that Islam really means absolute obedience and complete submission to the will of God. Only he who is completely resigned to the will of God is a true Muslim. Thus every true pre-Islamic religion that inculcated the spirit of submission will, within this meaning of the term, fall under the true definition of Islam, because previous to the religion preached by the Holy Prophet, to follow Islam was to obey the then expressed will of God, or, in other words, the revelation of the day. The point of difference between the religion brought by the Holy Prophet and the other true preceding faiths is—although they are Islamic in essence—those faiths were not called by the name of Islam, the reason for this being that they were not perfect and each of them was to be replaced by a succeeding one, and so, if all these had been given the name of Islam, there would have been great confusion. Hence, only the faith which was perfect in every way and was meant for all mankind and was to last forever was given that name so that its very name might be illustrative of its underlying purpose. The name Islam is "the new name" referred to in Isa. 62:2.
When the Quran calls the former Prophets Muslims, it obviously does not mean that they followed Quranic teachings. It simply means that, as explained above, they followed the true faith of their day and manifested in themselves, though partly of course, the spirit of اسلام i.e. submission to the will of God. (close)
اَمۡ کُنۡتُمۡ شُہَدَآءَ اِذۡ حَضَرَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ الۡمَوۡتُ ۙ اِذۡ قَالَ لِبَنِیۡہِ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِیۡ ؕ قَالُوۡا نَعۡبُدُ اِلٰہَکَ وَ اِلٰـہَ اٰبَآئِکَ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ اِلٰـہًا وَّاحِدًا ۚۖ وَّ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۴﴾
أَمۡ كُنتُمۡ شُهَدَآءَ إِذۡ حَضَرَ يَعۡقُوبَ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ إِذۡ قَالَ لِبَنِيهِ مَا تَعۡبُدُونَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِيۖ قَالُواْ نَعۡبُدُ إِلَٰهَكَ وَإِلَٰهَ ءَابَآئِكَ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَٰقَ إِلَٰهٗا وَٰحِدٗا وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ مُسۡلِمُونَ
150. Ishmael was the uncle of Jacob, and yet the children of Jacob here include Ishmael among their "fathers" which shows that the word Ab (father) also sometimes means uncle. Jacob’s sons, the Israelites, held Ishmael in great respect. (close)
151. In corroboration of what the Qur’an says about Jacob’s will to his sons, Rodwell quotes the following from Midrash Rabbah: "At the time when our father Jacob quitted this world, he summoned his twelve sons and said to them, 'Hearken to your father Israel' (Gen. 49:2). Have you any doubts in your hearts concerning the Holy One, blessed be He. They said, Hear, O Israel, our father, as there is no doubt in thy heart, so neither is there in ours. For the Lord is our God, and He is one" (Mider. Rabbah on Gen. par. 98, & on Deut. par. 2). Compare also Targ. Jer. on Deut. 6:4. (close)
140. Important Words:
اله (God) is derived from اله (alaha) which means, he worshipped. So اله means, a thing or person or being worshipped, whether true or false; a deity (Aqrab).
Jacob or Israel was the son of Isaac who was a son of Abraham. Thus Ishmael was the uncle of Jacob, and yet the children of Jacob here include Ishmael among their "fathers" which proves two things: firstly, that the word اب (father) is also used of uncle; and secondly, that up to the time of Jacob’s sons, Ishmael was held in due respect by the Israelites. Nay, the children of Israel mention the name of Ishmael even before that of their own grandfather, Isaac, and do not mention any other son of Abraham.
The words, were you present when death came to Jacob, signify that the principle of submission to the will of God is not an innovation introduced by Islam, but has been recognized by good and righteous people in all times and even Israel, the founder of the Jewish tribes, acted upon that principle, so much so, that the only thought that came to his mind when death approached him was to enjoin the same noble principle upon his children. Israel wished his sons to become pious Muslims; will not the Jews of the Holy Prophet’s day act upon that principle?
In corroboration of what the Quran says about Jacob’s will to his sons, Rodwell quotes the following from Midrash Rabbah: "At the time when our father Jacob quitted this world, he summoned his twelve sons and said to them, Hearken to your father Israel (Gen. 49:2). Have you any doubts in your hearts concerning the Holy One, blessed be He. They said, Hear, o Israel, our father, as there is no doubt in thy heart, so neither is there in ours. For the Lord is our God, and He is One" (Midr. Rabbah on Gen. par. 98, and on Deut. par. 2). Compare also Targ. Jer. on Deut. 6:4. (close)
تِلۡکَ اُمَّۃٌ قَدۡ خَلَتۡ ۚ لَہَا مَا کَسَبَتۡ وَ لَکُمۡ مَّا کَسَبۡتُمۡ ۚ وَ لَا تُسۡـَٔلُوۡنَ عَمَّا کَانُوۡا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۵﴾
تِلۡكَ أُمَّةٞ قَدۡ خَلَتۡۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتۡ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبۡتُمۡۖ وَلَا تُسۡـَٔلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ
a. 2:142. (close)
a. 2:142. (close)
The People of the Book are here warned that the fact that they are the descendants of God’s Prophets would not avail them in any way. Their forefathers reaped the rewards of their good deeds and won God’s favours; and if they also wish to become His favourites, they must perform similar deeds and show implicit obedience to God and complete submission to His will. The fact that they are descended from holy persons makes them all the more responsible. (close)
وَ قَالُوۡا کُوۡنُوۡا ہُوۡدًا اَوۡ نَصٰرٰی تَہۡتَدُوۡا ؕ قُلۡ بَلۡ مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہٖمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ ﴿۱۳۶﴾
وَقَالُواْ كُونُواْ هُودًا أَوۡ نَصَٰرَىٰ تَهۡتَدُواْۗ قُلۡ بَلۡ مِلَّةَ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ حَنِيفٗاۖ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ
b. 2:112. (close)
c. 3:68; 6:80; 16:124; 22:32. (close)
152. Hanif means, (1) one who turns away from error to guidance (Mufradat); (2) one who steadily follows the right faith and never swerves from it; (3) one inclining in a perfect manner to Islam and continuing firm therein (Lane); (4) one who follows the religion of Abraham (Aqrab); (5) one who believes in all Prophets (Kathir). (close)
142. Important Words:
حنیفا (ever inclined to God) is derived from حنف which means, he became inclined. حنیف means: (1) one who turns away from error to guidance (Mufradat); (2) one who steadily follows the right faith and never swerves from it; (3) one inclining in a perfect manner to Islam and continuing firm therein (Lane); (4) one who follows the religion of Abraham (Aqrab).
There is a notion prevalent among the followers of different religions that salvation is confined to their respective folds only. This view is, however, quite erroneous. Salvation depends upon the grace and mercy of God, and submission to His will is the only way to win His grace and mercy. So long as the following of a religion involves submission to God’s will, there is salvation in it. But when this condition ceases to exist in a religion, that religion can no more offer salvation. The verse points out that the Jews and the Christians are wrong in asserting that the bare entry of a person into their respective religions assures salvation. Not so, says Allah, but salvation lies in what Abraham taught––absolute submission to God’s will. And Abraham was a rightly guided person who taught and practised the spirit of Islam.
The words, he was not of those who set up gods with God, are not used here to remove any misconception about Abraham but to point out to the People of the Book that, while their progenitor Abraham was not an idol-worshipper, they had for themselves practically set up so many equals to God. They outwardly professed belief in God’s Oneness but in their hearts lay hidden, scores of idols which they loved and revered as one should love and revere God alone. (close)
قُوۡلُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا بِاللّٰہِ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَیۡنَا وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہٖمَ وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ وَ الۡاَسۡبَاطِ وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ مُوۡسٰی وَ عِیۡسٰی وَ مَاۤ اُوۡتِیَ النَّبِیُّوۡنَ مِنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ ۚ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَیۡنَ اَحَدٍ مِّنۡہُمۡ ۫ۖ وَ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ مُسۡلِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۷﴾
قُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٰهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَآ أُوتِيَ ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٖ مِّنۡهُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ مُسۡلِمُونَ
d. 3:85. (close)
153. The word children here refers to the twelve tribes of Israel named after the twelve sons of Jacob—Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Gen. 35:23-26:49: 28). (close)
154. It indeed redounds to the great credit of Islam that it is the only religion which recognizes the Prophets of all nations, whereas other religions confine Prophethood to their own respective spheres. Naturally, the Qur’an mentions only the names of those Prophets who were known to the Arabs to whom the Message of Islam was first given; but it makes a general remark to the effect that, there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent (35:25). The words, "We make no distinction between any of them," mean that a Muslim makes no difference between the different Prophets in respect of their Prophethood. The words should not be construed to mean that all the Prophets are of the same spiritual rank. Such an idea is against 2:254. (close)
a. 2:286; 3:85; 4:153. (close)
a. 3:85. (close)
b. 2:286; 3:85; 4:153. (close)
143. Important Words:
اسباط (children) is derived from سبط. They say سبط الشعر i.e. the hair was or became loose and hanging. سبط المطر means, the rain was copious and extensive. سبط signifies the idea of length and extensiveness. شعر سبط means, hair that is long and not curly. سبط الکفین means, a generous man, literally one possessing long and open hands, because his helping hand extends to every needy person. A grandson is also called سبط (sibt) because his birth signifies increase of progeny. In a still wider sense, the word might signify progeny generally. The expression here refers to the twelve tribes of Israel named after the twelve sons of Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Gen. 35:23-26; 49:28).
The verse is addressed to Muslims who are enjoined to reply to Jews and Christians by saying that the central point in religion is belief in, and submission to, God; and so everything that comes from God must be accepted and it is simply foolish to say that a people believing in some Prophets of God need not believe in others. All Messengers of God and all revelations coming from Him must be accepted and no distinction is to be made between this Prophet and that or between this revelation and that, so far as belief in them is concerned. One Prophet may be higher in status than another and one revelation may be more important than another; but all of them must be accepted without discrimination. The words, to Him we submit ourselves, have been used as an argument in support of the above assertion. When we submit to God, everything coming from Him must be accepted.
It indeed redounds to the great credit of Islam that it is the only religion which recognizes the Prophets of all countries and all nations, whereas other faiths limit prophethood only to their own respective spheres. Naturally the Quran mentions only the names of those Prophets who were known to the Arabs to whom the message of Islam was first given; but it makes a general remark to the effect that, there is no people to whom a warner has not been sent (35:25).
As already pointed out, this verse should not be understood to mean that the Quran regards all Prophets to be equal in rank. In fact, the Quran clearly states that different Prophets possess different ranks, some of them being spiritually higher than others (2:254). The sentence, We make no difference between any of them, thus only means that a Muslim makes no distinction between the different Prophets in respect of their prophethood.
Some Christian critics have objected to the verse under comment and have demanded proof of the prophethood of Ishmael. But what proof is there, it may be asked, of the prophethood of Isaac? If the Bible testifies to the prophethood of Isaac, the Quran testifies to the prophethood of Ishmael. If the testimony of the Quran cannot be accepted as a proof for the prophethood of Ishmael, there is no earthly reason why the testimony of the Bible be accepted as a proof for Isaac’s prophethood. And even the Bible is not without evidence of the fact that God made a number of promises to Abraham about the future greatness of Ishmael and his progeny (see note on 2:130). (close)
فَاِنۡ اٰمَنُوۡا بِمِثۡلِ مَاۤ اٰمَنۡتُمۡ بِہٖ فَقَدِ اہۡتَدَوۡا ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَوَلَّوۡا فَاِنَّمَا ہُمۡ فِیۡ شِقَاقٍ ۚ فَسَیَکۡفِیۡکَہُمُ اللّٰہُ ۚ وَ ہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ ﴿۱۳۸﴾ؕ
فَإِنۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمِثۡلِ مَآ ءَامَنتُم بِهِۦ فَقَدِ ٱهۡتَدَواْۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوۡاْ فَإِنَّمَا هُمۡ فِي شِقَاقٖۖ فَسَيَكۡفِيكَهُمُ ٱللَّهُۚ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ
b. 3:21. (close)
155. Muslims are here told that if Jews and Christians agree with them in holding that Religion is not an hereditary matter, but consists in accepting all revealed guidance, then there is no basic difference between them, otherwise their ways stand apart and a wide gulf separates them, responsibility for the schism and the resulting hostility in this case lying with Jews and Christians and not with Muslims. (close)
a. 3:21. (close)
144. Important Words:
شقاق (schism) is from شاق which is from شق meaning, he split up a thing, or he tore it up. شق عصا القوم means, he created a split or schism in the community which before stood united. شق النبت means, the vegetation sprouted forth from the earth. الشقmeans, one side as opposed to another. شاقه means, he opposed him and became hostile to him so that each sided with a different party. شقاق means, opposition.; hostility; schism; being mutually remote (Aqrab). The word شقاق however, is not used about the party which sides with the truth (Muhit).
Muslims are here told that if Jews and Christians come to agree with them in holding that religion is not an hereditary matter, but consists in accepting all revealed guidance, then they are one with them; otherwise, their ways stand apart and a wide gulf separates them, responsibility for the schism and the resulting hostility in this case lying with Jews and Christians and not with the Muslims.
In this case, however, Muslims should not be afraid of Jews or Christians; for God is on their side and the God of Islam is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. If they pray to Him for protection, He will answer their prayers and even if there comes a time when they cannot pray, He will protect them; for He is not only All-Hearing but is also All-Knowing. The verse also refers to the special and personal divineprotection promised to the Holy Prophet (5:68) in view of the repeated attempts made by the Jews upon his life. (close)
صِبۡغَۃَ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ مَنۡ اَحۡسَنُ مِنَ اللّٰہِ صِبۡغَۃً ۫ وَّ نَحۡنُ لَہٗ عٰبِدُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳۹﴾
صِبۡغَةَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَنۡ أَحۡسَنُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ صِبۡغَةٗۖ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُۥ عَٰبِدُونَ
156. Sibghah means, dye or colour; kind or mode or nature of a thing; religion; code of laws; baptism. Sibghatullah signifies God’s religion; the nature with which God has endowed men (Aqrab). Religion is so called because it colours a man like a dye or colour. Sibghah is used here as an object of a verb which is understood. According to Arabic Grammar, sometimes when it is intended strongly to induce a person to do a certain thing, the verb is omitted and only the object is mentioned. Therefore, words like Na’khudhu (we have adopted) or Nattabi‘u (we have followed) will be taken as understood, and the clause would mean, "we have adopted or we have followed the religion which God wishes us to adopt or follow." (close)
145. Important Words:
صبغة (religion) is derived from صبغ. They say صبغه i.e. he dyed or coloured it. صبغ یده فی الماء means, he immersed his hand in the water. صبغ یده بالعمل means, he laboured in work and became notable therein. اصطبغ بکذا means, he became dyed or coloured with it. صبغة means, dye or colour; kind or mode of a thing; religion; code of laws; baptism. صبغة الله means, God’s religion; the nature with which God has endowed men (Aqrab). Religion is called صبغة because it covers a man like a dye or colour.
In the verse the word صبغة (religion) is used as an object, the subject of which is understood. According to the rules of Arabic grammar, sometimes when it is intended strongly to induce a person to do a certain thing, the verb is omitted and only the object is mentioned. Therefore words like خذوا (adopt) or اتبعوا (follow) will be taken to be understood before the words صبغة الله and the clause would mean, "adopt or follow the religion which God wishes you to adopt or follow". This indeed is the true baptism which can make one acquire God’s attributes and become His living manifestation. Compare with it the Christian baptism which seeks to procure for a man forgiveness of sins and everlasting life by the mere act of immersing him in water or sprinkling it on him at his christening ceremony. (close)