قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِنَّ فِیۡہَا قَوۡمًا جَبَّارِیۡنَ ٭ۖ وَ اِنَّا لَنۡ نَّدۡخُلَہَا حَتّٰی یَخۡرُجُوۡا مِنۡہَا ۚ فَاِنۡ یَّخۡرُجُوۡا مِنۡہَا فَاِنَّا دٰخِلُوۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾
قَالُواْ يَٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّ فِيهَا قَوۡمٗا جَبَّارِينَ وَإِنَّا لَن نَّدۡخُلَهَا حَتَّىٰ يَخۡرُجُواْ مِنۡهَا فَإِن يَخۡرُجُواْ مِنۡهَا فَإِنَّا دَٰخِلُونَ
732. This means that the annals of these people were known to the Israelites. The Amalekites and other unruly Arab tribes lived in the Holy Land at that time. The Israelites were very much afraid of them. (close)
733. Compare this insolent and cowardly attitude of the companions of Moses to the willing and almost unbelievable sacrifices of the Companions of the Holy Prophet, who were ever eager to jump into the very jaws of death at the slightest bidding of their Master. When the Holy Prophet, with a handful of his ill-equipped Companions intended to go forth to meet the vastly superior and much better-equipped Meccan force at Badr, he consulted them about it. Thereupon one of the Companions stood up and addressed the Holy Prophet in the memorable words: "We would not say to thee, O Prophet of God, as was said by the companions of Moses, 'go thou and thy Lord and fight and here we sit.' On the contrary, O Prophet of the Lord! We are ever with thee and we will go with thee whither thou goest. We will fight the enemy on thy right and on thy left and in thy front and behind thy back; and we trust God that thou wilt see from us what will comfort thine eyes" (Bukhari). (close)
659. Important Words:
جبّارین (haughty and powerful) is the plural of جبار which is derived from جبر. They say جبرالعظم (jabaral-‘azma) or جبّرالعظم(jabbaral-‘azma), i.e. he set the bone; he reduced it from the fractured state. جبرالرجل (jabaral-rajula) or جبّرالرجل (jabbaral-rajula) means, he restored the man from the state of poverty and weakness to that of wealth and strength. جبرت الیتیم means, I put the affairs of the orphan into good order. جبّره means, he compelled and forced him against his will. جبّار means, one who magnifies himself and behaves proudly, haughtily and insolently; one who slays when in anger or one who slays unjustly; one who domineers over others by absolute force and power; one extravagant in acts of wrongdoing, disobedience and rebellion; one huge, tall and strong; a giant. When used about God, الجبّار means, One Who can force His creatures to obey His commands; the Supreme, the Unattainable, the High above His creatures; the Restorer of the poor and the weak to wealth and power; the Reformer of the people by raising them from a low state to a high one (Lane & Aqrab).
Compare this insolent and cowardly attitude of the companions of Moses to the willing and almost unbelievable sacrifices of the Companions of the Holy Prophet, who were ever eager to jump into the very jaws of death at the bidding of their Master. (close)
قَالَ رَجُلٰنِ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ یَخَافُوۡنَ اَنۡعَمَ اللّٰہُ عَلَیۡہِمَا ادۡخُلُوۡا عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡبَابَ ۚ فَاِذَا دَخَلۡتُمُوۡہُ فَاِنَّکُمۡ غٰلِبُوۡنَ ۬ۚ وَ عَلَی اللّٰہِ فَتَوَکَّلُوۡۤا اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۲۴﴾
قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَنۡعَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡهِمَا ٱدۡخُلُواْ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡبَابَ فَإِذَا دَخَلۡتُمُوهُ فَإِنَّكُمۡ غَٰلِبُونَۚ وَعَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوٓاْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤۡمِنِينَ
734. The "two men" spoken of here are generally supposed to be Joshua, the son of Nun; and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh (Num. 14:6). But from the context Moses and Aaron appear more likely to be the "two men" here referred to. The word Rajul (man) is expressive of manliness and courage. That these two brave men were Moses and Aaron themselves may also be inferred from the fact that Moses prayed for himself and his brother, Aaron (5:26). God does not name these two men but simply speaks of them as "two brave men" in order to praise their manliness and courage and also to condemn by implication the cowardice of the other Israelites who were with them. (close)
a. 3:161; 5:12; 9:51. (close)
660. Important Words:
علیھم (against them). The word علی as a particle has several meanings. Here it gives the meaning of "against" (Lane). The Quran says: ولھم علی ذنب i.e. and they have a crime or offence standing against me (26:15). In his Arabic Grammar, Wright says that the particle علی is sometimes used in "a hostile sense in which case it can be generally rendered as 'against' or 'upon', as in خرج علیه i.e. he went out against him or he rebelled against him."
The two "men" spoken of here are generally supposed to be Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh (Num. 14:6). But from the context Moses and Aaron appear more likely to be the two "men" here referred to.
The word رجل (man) is thus here expressive of manliness and courage. By using this word, the Quran means to say that of that big host of cowardly people there were only two men who were truly brave and courageous. That these two brave men were Moses and Aaron themselves may also be inferred from the fact that when these two "men" spoke to their people, and urged them to "enter" the land, the latter, in reply, addressed none other but Moses, saying, O Moses, we will never enter it so long as they remain in it (5:25), thus making it clear that it was Moses himself who had spoken to them the words contained in this verse. Again, when the people refused to obey Moses, he is reported to have prayed to God, saying, My Lord, I have power over none but myself and my brother, therefore make Thou a distinction between us and the rebellious people (5:26). Now, if the two "men" had been other than Moses and Aaron, they should have certainly been included in his prayer by Moses, because they had deserved it by boldly offering to enter the land in spite of resistance, exhorting others also to do so. But Moses prayed only for himself and his brother, which shows that the two men whom God praises as "men", (i.e. brave men) and of whom He speaks as His favoured ones were Moses and Aaron themselves. God does not name them but simply speaks of them as رجلان i.e. "two brave men" in order to praise their manliness and courage and at the same time to condemn by implication the cowardice of the other Israelites who were with them.
The expression, enter the gate advancing against them, possesses a spiritual connotation as well. For every person there is a "holy land", which is his goal and paradise. Allah has "ordained" this "holy land" for man (5:22) because he has been created for it. But the cowardly and the low-spirited are always afraid of entering it. They are too timorous to face "the rebellious ones", i.e. the evil ones and their own evil inclinations. They desire to enter Heaven without deserving it, without any exertion on their part, without facing and fighting their evil passions and without fighting those who stand in their way. They tremble and quail before the trials and tribulations that confront them. But here, too, God has created for every person "two men", i.e. two wise counsellors who encourage him and exhort him not to be afraid of difficulties and to follow undauntedly the path that leads to eternal happiness and everlasting bliss. These two counsellors are (1) human reason and (2) man’s pure and unsullied nature. These two go on telling man and urging him that he need only be up and doing and God will help him. He should boldly face trials and God will make everything easy for him, and he will come out of the struggle victorious and triumphant. Most men, however, wish that the power of their enemies should break of itself, but it cannot break without their using the weapon of self-sacrifice. "Forty years", as hinted in 5:27 below, is the time required by man to attain to perfect manhood. This is a sufficiently long time. If he does not mend his ways during this period and defies the dictates of reason and conscience, he is lost, and there is little hope for him. But if he makes up his mind boldly to meet the evil influences, he may be saved. He need only take heart and make bold to enter the struggle, and what appears to him to be a thick jungle of difficulties will turn out to be a garden, the seeming "Hell" assuming the form of a veritable "Heaven". (close)
قَالُوۡا یٰمُوۡسٰۤی اِنَّا لَنۡ نَّدۡخُلَہَاۤ اَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوۡا فِیۡہَا فَاذۡہَبۡ اَنۡتَ وَ رَبُّکَ فَقَاتِلَاۤ اِنَّا ہٰہُنَا قٰعِدُوۡنَ ﴿۲۵﴾
قَالُواْ يَٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّا لَن نَّدۡخُلَهَآ أَبَدٗا مَّا دَامُواْ فِيهَا فَٱذۡهَبۡ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَٰتِلَآ إِنَّا هَٰهُنَا قَٰعِدُونَ
The companions of Moses perhaps never fell so low as on the present occasion. They were cowardly, faithless and slothful. Compare with this the noble example of the Companions of the Holy Prophet of Islam. There is a report to the effect that when the Holy Prophet, with a handful of his ill-equipped Companions, intended to go forth to meet the vastly superior and much better-equipped Meccan force at Badr, he consulted them about it. Thereupon one of he Companions stood up and addressed the Holy Prophet in the following memorable words, "We would not say to thee, O Prophet of God! as said the companions of Moses, 'Go thou and thy Lord and fight and here we sit'. On the contrary, O Prophet of the Lord! We are ever with thee and we will go with thee whither thou goest. We will fight the enemy on thy right and on thy left and in thy front and behind thy back; and we trust God that thou wilt see from us what will comfort thine eyes." The tradition says that when the Holy Prophet heard these words, his face beamed with delight; and no wonder (Bukhari & Hisham). (close)
قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ لَاۤ اَمۡلِکُ اِلَّا نَفۡسِیۡ وَ اَخِیۡ فَافۡرُقۡ بَیۡنَنَا وَ بَیۡنَ الۡقَوۡمِ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۶﴾
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي لَآ أَمۡلِكُ إِلَّا نَفۡسِي وَأَخِيۖ فَٱفۡرُقۡ بَيۡنَنَا وَبَيۡنَ ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡفَٰسِقِينَ
Even if, as the Bible says, "the two men" referred to in 5:24 above were Joshua and Caleb, the present prayer of Moses remains true; for Aaron being a Prophet of God was the only one truly entitled to the guarantee expressed by Moses. (close)
قَالَ فَاِنَّہَا مُحَرَّمَۃٌ عَلَیۡہِمۡ اَرۡبَعِیۡنَ سَنَۃً ۚ یَتِیۡہُوۡنَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ فَلَا تَاۡسَ عَلَی الۡقَوۡمِ الۡفٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿٪۲۷﴾
قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡۛ أَرۡبَعِينَ سَنَةٗۛ يَتِيهُونَ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ فَلَا تَأۡسَ عَلَى ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلۡفَٰسِقِينَ
a. 2:244. (close)
735. When the Israelites behaved in a cowardly manner, God decreed that they should continue to wander in the wilderness for 40 years in order that the life of the desert should invigorate them and infuse in them a new life and should strengthen their morals. In the meantime, the old generation had become practically extinct and the younger generation grew brave and strong enough to conquer the Promised Land. (close)
662. Important Words:
یتیھون (they shall wander in distraction) is derived from تاه meaning: (1) he lost his way in the desert; (2) he was or became confounded or perplexed; (3) he went away in the land confounded or perplexed and was unable to see his right course; (4) his intellect or mind was or became disordered and confused and he perished; (5) he magnified himself or behaved proudly or insolently (Aqrab & Lane).
When the Israelites behaved in a cowardly manner, God decreed that they should remain in the desert for a period of 40 years so that the life of the desert should invigorate them and strengthen their morals. In the mean-time, the old generation became practically extinct and the younger generation grew brave and strong enough to conquer the Promised Land. See also note on 5:24 above. For the relevant portion of the Bible see Num. ch. 14. (close)
وَ اتۡلُ عَلَیۡہِمۡ نَبَاَ ابۡنَیۡ اٰدَمَ بِالۡحَقِّ ۘ اِذۡ قَرَّبَا قُرۡبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنۡ اَحَدِہِمَا وَ لَمۡ یُتَقَبَّلۡ مِنَ الۡاٰخَرِ ؕ قَالَ لَاَقۡتُلَنَّکَ ؕ قَالَ اِنَّمَا یَتَقَبَّلُ اللّٰہُ مِنَ الۡمُتَّقِیۡنَ ﴿۲۸﴾
۞وَٱتۡلُ عَلَيۡهِمۡ نَبَأَ ٱبۡنَيۡ ءَادَمَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ إِذۡ قَرَّبَا قُرۡبَانٗا فَتُقُبِّلَ مِنۡ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمۡ يُتَقَبَّلۡ مِنَ ٱلۡأٓخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقۡتُلَنَّكَۖ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ ٱللَّهُ مِنَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ
736. "The two sons of Adam" figuratively signify any two individuals from among mankind. The parable also illustrates the inimical attitude of the Israelites towards the descendants of Ishmael because Prophethood had become transferred from them to the Ishmaelites in the person of the Holy Prophet. (close)
663. Important Words:
قربا (they offered) and قربانا (offering) are both derived from قرب (qaruba) which means, he or it was or became near, either in place or in station or grade or rank. قربه (qarraba-hu) means, he caused or made him to become near; he made him to be a near associate; or he made him an object of favour or honour. قرب لله قربانا means, he offered or presented to God an offering or oblation. Hence قربان means, an offering or oblation; a sacrifice; anything by means of which one seeks nearness to God; a near or particular or favourite associate or companion (Lane).
As sacrifice is at the root of all success, whether individual or national, the Quran here fittingly turns to the subject of sacrifice, the lack of which proved the fall of the followers of Moses. "The two sons of Adam" may be taken in the figurative sense as well, meaning any two individuals from among mankind.
The words, Allah accepts only from the righteous, addressed by Abel to his brother Cain (both sons of Adam) are intended to mean that the latter would gain nothing by slaying the former, except that he would become all the more removed from righteous-ness—a quality essential for the acceptance of an offering.
The concluding words of the verse point to the important truth that in sacrifice mere outward form is nothing. It is only the underlying spirit that makes it acceptable and fruitful. The story is continued in the following verses. (close)
لَئِنۡۢ بَسَطۡتَّ اِلَیَّ یَدَکَ لِتَقۡتُلَنِیۡ مَاۤ اَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ یَّدِیَ اِلَیۡکَ لِاَقۡتُلَکَ ۚ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اللّٰہَ رَبَّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۲۹﴾
لَئِنۢ بَسَطتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقۡتُلَنِي مَآ أَنَا۠ بِبَاسِطٖ يَدِيَ إِلَيۡكَ لِأَقۡتُلَكَۖ إِنِّيٓ أَخَافُ ٱللَّهَ رَبَّ ٱلۡعَٰلَمِينَ
The expression, I am not going to stretch out my hand against thee to kill thee, does not mean that Abel did not even desire to defend himself. These words only mean that if he were forced to stretch forth his hand towards his brother, it would not be with the intention of slaying him, but only in self-defence. The declaration was necessary, for there are cases in which both the slayer and the slain become equally guilty. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said that not unoften "both the slayer and the slain go to Hell." This hadith obviously refers to such slain persons as engage in a fight with the intention of killing their opponents, but it so happens that the latter get the better of them and kill them. In such cases, the intention of both parties being equally criminal, both are guilty and both deserve to be cast into Hell. But Abel, who desired to live righteously and die righteously, would not stain his conduct even in a moment of extreme danger and wanted to take good care that he did not overstep the limits of the right of self-defence. (close)
اِنِّیۡۤ اُرِیۡدُ اَنۡ تَبُوۡٓاَ بِاِثۡمِیۡ وَ اِثۡمِکَ فَتَکُوۡنَ مِنۡ اَصۡحٰبِ النَّارِ ۚ وَ ذٰلِکَ جَزٰٓؤُا الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚ۳۰﴾
إِنِّيٓ أُرِيدُ أَن تَبُوٓأَ بِإِثۡمِي وَإِثۡمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنۡ أَصۡحَٰبِ ٱلنَّارِۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَـٰٓؤُاْ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ
737. Uridu is derived from Rada which sometimes does not express an actual wish but simply a practical state or condition likely to develop in a certain manner (18:78). The verse does not mean that Abel desired his brother Cain to be cast into Hell. What he meant was simply that the natural and inevitable result of his own non-aggressive attitude would be that his brother would go to Hell. (close)
738. Ithmi means, "the sin committed against me." The would-be victim is only describing the consequences of his brother’s intended action. (close)
665. Important Words:
ارید (I wish) is derived from راد i.e. he or it went to and fro; or he desired or sought (a thing). ارید means, he intended or willed or wished or desired or sought. But sometimes the word does not express an actual will or wish but simply a practical state or condition likely to develop in a certain manner. The Arabs say of a seriously sick person یرید ان یموت (lit. he wishes to die) meaning, he is about to die or his condition bespeaks of nearness of death. The Quran says: یرید ان ینقض viz.the wall intended to fall down, i.e. it was about or ready to fall down (18:78) (Aqrab & Lane).
The verse does not mean, as some may be led to think, that Abel desired his brother, Cain, to be cast into Hell. What he meant by the word ارید (I wish), as explained under Important Words above, was simply that the natural and inevitable consequence of his own non-aggressive attitude would be that his brother would go to Hell. In fact, by using this expression, Abel desired to dissuade Cain from perpetration of the horrible crime of fratricide by picturing to him its awful consequences. He told his brother that, as for himself, he would rather die the death of one sinned against than raise his hand to kill him. The result of this would be that he (Cain) would take upon himself the burden of his (Abel’s) sin, (i.e.that of slaying him) as well as that of other sins of his own.
The expression may be explained in another way also. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said that on the Day of Judgement the good deeds of transgressors would be transferred to the account of the persons whom they had wronged and if transgressors had no good deeds to their account, the sins of the persons transgressed against would be transferred to them and thus wrongdoers would bear not only their own sins but also those of the persons whom they had wronged (Muslim, ch. on Birr Was-Silah). (close)
فَطَوَّعَتۡ لَہٗ نَفۡسُہٗ قَتۡلَ اَخِیۡہِ فَقَتَلَہٗ فَاَصۡبَحَ مِنَ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ ﴿۳۱﴾
فَطَوَّعَتۡ لَهُۥ نَفۡسُهُۥ قَتۡلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُۥ فَأَصۡبَحَ مِنَ ٱلۡخَٰسِرِينَ
Instead of directly and briefly saying that "he killed his brother", the verse expresses the same idea in a somewhat longer sentence, viz. his mind induced him to kill his brother, so he killed him. This is done to point to the great truth that it is man’s own نفس or mind, or more properly his own "self" which often becomes the source of evil for him. (close)
فَبَعَثَ اللّٰہُ غُرَابًا یَّبۡحَثُ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ لِیُرِیَہٗ کَیۡفَ یُوَارِیۡ سَوۡءَۃَ اَخِیۡہِ ؕ قَالَ یٰوَیۡلَتٰۤی اَعَجَزۡتُ اَنۡ اَکُوۡنَ مِثۡلَ ہٰذَا الۡغُرَابِ فَاُوَارِیَ سَوۡءَۃَ اَخِیۡ ۚ فَاَصۡبَحَ مِنَ النّٰدِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۛۙ۳۲﴾
فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ غُرَابٗا يَبۡحَثُ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ لِيُرِيَهُۥ كَيۡفَ يُوَٰرِي سَوۡءَةَ أَخِيهِۚ قَالَ يَٰوَيۡلَتَىٰٓ أَعَجَزۡتُ أَنۡ أَكُونَ مِثۡلَ هَٰذَا ٱلۡغُرَابِ فَأُوَٰرِيَ سَوۡءَةَ أَخِيۖ فَأَصۡبَحَ مِنَ ٱلنَّـٰدِمِينَ
739. Commentators differ as to whether the incident of the raven did actually happen or it is only a parable. It is not improbable that an incident of this nature might have actually occurred. Study of the ways and habits of birds has led to many useful discoveries. See Gen. 4:1-15; and 'The Jerusalem Targum.' (close)
Commentators differ as to whether the incident of the raven mentioned in the present verse was an actual fact or whether it is merely meant as a parable. It is not at all improbable that an incident of this nature might have actually occurred. The study of the ways and habits of birds has led to many useful discoveries. For the Biblical story of the two sons of Adam see Gen. 4:1-15 also the Jerusalem Targum. (close)