3 - Al Imran (The family of Imran)

7 Tafsir(s) related to verse 3.59

Al-Jalalayn

Truly, the likeness of Jesus, his remarkable case, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness, as the case of Adam, whom God created without father or mother: this is a comparison of one remarkable thing with another more remarkable, so that it convinces the disputer and establishes itself in one’s mind more effectively. He created him, Adam, that is, his form, of dust, then said He to him, ‘Be,’, a human being, and he was; similarly, He said to Jesus, ‘Be’ — without a father — and he was.

Al-Qushairi

Truly the likeness of Jesus in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness"

He chose both of them to be purified of the spirit (rūḥ) from passing from one body to another (tanāsukh) in the loins. He singled out Adam in creating him by His own hand, and Jesus (ʿa) in selecting the blowing of the spirit into him as a form of honor. Even though these two were weighty beings, the imperfection of events and creatureliness were nonetheless unavoidable for them:... then He said to him, 'Be', and he was [3:59].

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam") [3:59]. The commentators of the Qur'an said: "The delegation of Najran said to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace: 'Why do you insult Jesus?' He said: 'What did I say about him?' They said: 'You say that he is a servant'. He said: 'Indeed, he is the servant and messenger of Allah, as well as His word which He cast into the Virgin Mary'. They became angry and said: 'Have you ever seen a human being who was born without a father? If you are truthful, show us such a person'. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse". Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Harithi informed us> 'Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ja'far> Sahl Abu Yahya al-Razi> Sahl ibn 'Uthman> Yahya> Waki'> Mubarak> al-Hasan who said: "Two monks from Najran came to see the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and he invited them to surrender to Allah. One of them said: 'We have surrendered to Allah before you'. He said: 'You lie! Three things prevent you from surrendering to Allah: your worship of the cross, eating pork and your claim that Allah has a son'. They said: 'Then who is the father of Jesus?' The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was not in the habit of giving hasty answers but waited for Allah's answer instead. Then Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam")".

Ibn Al Kathir

The Similarities Between the Creation of Adam and the Creation of `Isa

Allah said,

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِندَ اللَّهِ

(Verily, the likeness of `Isa before Allah) regarding Allah's ability, since He created him without a father,

كَمَثَلِ ءَادَمَ

(is the likeness of Adam), for Allah created Adam without a father or a mother. Rather,

خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

(He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: "Be!'' and he was.)

Therefore, He Who created Adam without a father or a mother is able to create `Isa, as well, without a father. If the claim is made that `Isa is Allah's son because he was created without a father, then the same claim befits Adam even more. However, since such a claim regarding Adam is obviously false, then making the same claim about `Isa is even more false.

Furthermore, by mentioning these facts, Allah emphasizes His ability, by creating Adam without a male or female, Hawa' from a male without a female, and `Isa from a mother without a father, compared to His creating the rest of creation from male and female. This is why Allah said in Surah Maryam,

وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ ءَايَةً لِّلْنَّاسِ

(And We made him a sign for mankind) 19: 21.

Allah said in this Ayah,

الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَلاَ تَكُنْ مِّن الْمُمْتَرِينَ

((This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of those who doubt.) meaning, this is the only true story about `Isa, and what is beyond truth save falsehood Allah next commands His Messenger to call those who defy the truth, regarding `Isa, to the Mubahalah (the curse).

The Challenge to the Mubahalah

فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَآءَنَا وَأَبْنَآءَكُمْ وَنِسَآءَنَا وَنِسَآءَكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ

(Then whoever disputes with you concerning him after the knowledge that has come to you, say: "Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves'') for the Mubahalah,

ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ

(then we pray), supplicate,

فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتُ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَـذِبِينَ

(and we invoke Allah's curse upon the liars) among the two of us.

The reason for the call to Mubahalah and the revelation of the Ayat from the beginning of this Surah until here, is that a delegation from the Christians of Najran (in Yemen) came to Al-Madinah to argue about `Isa, claiming that he was divine and the son of Allah. Allah sent down the beginning of this Surah until here, to refute their claims, as Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar and other scholars stated.

Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar said in his famous Sirah, "The delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah. The delegation consisted of sixty horsemen, including fourteen of their chiefs who make decisions. These men were Al-`Aqib, also known as `Abdul-Masih, As-Sayyid, also known as Al-Ayham, Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, of the family ofBakr bin Wa`il and Uways bin Al-Harith. They also included, Zayd, Qays, Yazid, Nabih, Khuwaylid, `Amr, Khalid, `Abdullah and Yuhannas. Three of these men were chiefs of this delegation, Al-`Aqib, their leader and to whom they referred for advice and decision; As-Sayyid, their scholar and leader in journeys and social gatherings; and Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, their patriarch, priest and religious leader. Abu Harithah was an Arab man from the family ofBakr bin Wa`il, but when he embraced Christianity, the Romans and their kings honored him and built churches for him (or in his honor). They also supported him financially and gave him servants, because they knew how firm his faith in their religion was.'' Abu Harithah knew the description of the Messenger of Allah from what he read in earlier divine Books. However, his otherwise ignorance led him to insist on remaining a Christian, because he was honored and had a high position with the Christians. Ibn Ishaq said, "Muhammad bin Ja`far bin Az-Zubayr said that, `The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the `Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Ka`b. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that... Then Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah and Al-`Aqib `Abdul-Masih or As-Sayyid Al-Ayham spoke to the Messenger of Allah, and they were Christians like the king (Roman King). However, they disagreed about `Isa; some of them said, `He is Allah,' while some said, `He is the son of Allah,' and some others said, `He is one of a trinity.' Allah is far from what they attribute to Him.''

Indeed, these are the creeds of the Christians. They claim that `Isa is God, since he brought the dead back to life, healed blindness, leprosy and various illnesses, told about matters of the future, created the shape of birds and blew life into them, bringing them to life. However, all these miracles occurred by Allah's leave, so that `Isa would be a sign from Allah for people.

They also claim that `Isa is the son of Allah, since he did not have a father and he spoke when he was in the cradle, a miracle which had not occurred by any among the Children of Adam before him, so they claim. They also claim that `Isa is one of a trinity, because Allah would say, `We did, command, create and demand.' They said, `If Allah were one, he would have said, `I did, command, create and decide.' This is why they claim that `Isa and Allah are one (Trinity). Allah is far from what they attribute to Him, and we should mention that the Qur'an refuted all these false Christian claims.

Ibn Ishaq continued, "When these Ayat came to the Messenger from Allah, thus judging between him and the People of the Book, Allah also commanded the Prophet to call them to the Mubahalah if they still refused the truth. The Prophet called them to the Mubahalah. They said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! Let us think about this matter and get back to you with our decision to what we want to do.' They left the Prophet and conferred with Al-`Aqib, to whom they referred to for advice. They said to him, `O `Abdul-Masih! What is your advice' He said, `By Allah, O Christian fellows! You know that Muhammad is a Messenger and that he brought you the final word regarding your fellow (`Isa). You also know that no Prophet conducted Mubahalah with any people, and the old persons among them remained safe and the young people grew up. Indeed, it will be the end of you if you do it. If you have already decided that you will remain in your religion and your creed regarding your fellow (`Isa), then conduct a treaty with the man (Muhammad) and go back to your land.' They came to the Prophet and said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! We decided that we cannot do Mubahalah with you and that you remain on your religion, while we remain on our religion. However, send with us a man from your Companions whom you are pleased with to judge between us regarding our monetary disputes, for you are acceptable to us in this regard.'''

Al-Bukhari recorded that Hudhayfah said, "Al-`Aqib and As-Sayyid, two leaders from Najran, came to the Messenger of Allah seeking to invoke Allah for curses (against whoever is unjust among them), and one of them said to the other, `Let us not do that. By Allah, if he were truly a Prophet and we invoke Allah for curses, we and our offspring shall never succeed afterwards.' So they said, `We will give you what you asked and send a trusted man with us, just a trusted man.' The Messenger of Allah said;

«لَأَبْعَثَنَّ مَعَكُمْ رَجُلًا أَمِينًا حَقَّ أَمِين»

فاستشرف لها أصحاب رسول اللهصلى الله عليه وسلّم، فقال:

«قُمْ يَا أَبَا عُبَيْدَةَ بْنَ الْجَرَّاح»

فلما قام، قال رسول اللهصلى الله عليه وسلّم:

«هَذَا أَمِينُ هذِهِ الْأُمَّة»

("Verily, I will send a trusted man with you, a truly trustworthy man.'' The Companions of the Messenger of Allah all felt eager to be that man. The Messenger said, "O Abu `Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah! Stand up.'' When Abu `Ubaydah stood up, the Messenger of Allah said, "This is the trustee of this Ummah.''')

Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said on another occasion,

«لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَمِينٌ، وَأَمِينُ هذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بْنُ الْجَرَّاح»

(Every Ummah has a trustee, and the trustee of this Ummah is Abu `Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah.)

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Abu Jahl, may Allah curse him, said, `If I see Muhammad praying next to the Ka`bah, I will step on his neck.' The Prophet later said,

«لَوْ فَعَلَ لَأَخَذَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ عِيَانًا، ولو أن اليهود تمنوا الموت لماتوا، ورأوا مقاعدهم من النار، ولو خرج الذين يباهلون رسول اللهصلى الله عليه وسلّم لرجعوا لا يجدون مالًا ولا أهلًا»

(Had he tried to do it, the angels would have taken him publicly. Had the Jews wished for death, they would have perished and would have seen their seats in the Fire. Had those who sought Mubahalah with the Messenger of Allah, went ahead with it, they would not have found estates or families when they returned home).'' Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i also recorded this Hadith, which At-Tirmidhi graded Hasan Sahih.

Allah then said,

إِنَّ هَـذَا لَهُوَ الْقَصَصُ الْحَقُّ

(Verily, this is the true narrative) meaning, what we narrated to you, O Muhammad, about `Isa is the plain truth that cannot be avoided,

وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـهٍ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُفَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ

(and none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. And indeed, Allah is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. And if they turn away,) by abandoning this truth,

فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُفْسِدِينَ

(then surely, Allah is All-Aware of those who do mischief.) for those who abandon the truth for falsehood commit mischief, and Allah has full knowledge of them and will subject them to the worst punishment. Verily, Allah is able to control everything, all praise and thanks are due to Him, and we seek refuge with Him from His revenge.

Kashani

Truly, the likeness of Jesus, in other words, his attribute in God's sight, his being created by [divine] power without a father, is as Adam's likeness, in having been created without parents. Know that the marvels of [divine] power are endless and there can be no analogy in this respect to the effect that there is an analogue from the world of wisdom for the creation of a human being without parents, since there are many deficient animal beings of unusual nature that are generated from the point of creation in a short period of time then reproduce and propagate [further]. Likewise, a human being can come into being by being generated in one of several cycles, then through propagation. Similarly is engenderment without a father, for the seminal fluid of a man is much hotter than that of a woman and contains a more powerful capacity for coagulation, just as in the case of rennets with regard to [the curdling of] cheese, whereas in the woman the more powerful capacity is that of being coagulated, as is the case with milk. When the two come together coagulation takes place, the fluids coagulate and the embryo is engendered. It is possible to have a strong female constitution that corresponds to a male constitution as can be seen in the case of many women, to the extent that what is generated in her right kidney [read: ovary?] is equivalent to male seminal fluid on account of its extreme heat sitting as it does next to the liver in the case of the woman the constitution of whose liver is sound and sufficiently hot, and that what is generated in her left kidney is equivalent to female seminal fluid. So when she experiences seminal emissions as a result of a male form overwhelming her imagination during sleep and consciousness because of her spirit's being joined to the holy spirit and to another angel and [by] the imagination's reproductive imitation (muḥākāt) of that [male form], as God, exalted be He says: and he became imaginalised to her as a man without fault [Q. 19:17], the two seminal fluids from both sides proceed to the womb. In the setting place on the right side is formed the stronger capacity for causing coagulation and in the setting place on the left side is formed the capacity for becoming coagulated whereupon the embryo is engendered and the spirit is attached to it.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

That is, "If one's miraculous birth entitles one to become God or the Son of God, then Adam was better entitled to it because he was created without either a human father or a mother, while Jesus was born without a father only.

The main points in the discourse presented before the Christians up to here are: First, they have been admonished to realize that their belief in the Godhead of Jesus is gravely ill-founded. He was only a man who was born in a miraculous way by the will of Allah and given the power to perform certain miracles as a clear proof of his Prophethood. As regards his "Ascension", Allah had arranged to recall him to Himself before the disbelievers could crucify him. In fact, the Master of the Universe has full powers to treat any of His servants in any special way He pleases. It is, therefore, wrong to infer from the exceptional treatment accorded to Jesus that he himself was the Master or the Master's Son or a partner in the authority of the Master.

Secondly, their attention has been drawn to the fact that Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) invites them to the same Truth that had been preached by Prophet Jesus (God's peace be upon him) in his own time and that the teachings of the two Prophets were basically identical.

Thirdly, the disciples of Jesus believed in and followed the same religion of Islam that is being presented in the Qur'an. However the Christians of the later age discarded the message of Jesus and digressed from the Faith of his disciples.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

Allah then explained the creation of Jesus without a father because the delegation of Najran asked the Prophet to provide proof from the Qur'an for his saying that Jesus was not the son of Allah, so Allah said: (Lo! the likeness of Jesus) the likeness of the creation of Jesus (with Allah) without a father (is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust) without a father or mother, (then He said unto him) to Jesus: (Be! and he is) a son without a father.