43 - Az Zukhruf (Gold)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 43.58

Al-Jalalayn

And they say, ‘Are our gods better or he?’, Jesus. We are satisfied that our gods be [in the same predicament] with him. They only cite this, that is, the example, to you for the sake of contention, [merely] arguing with falsehood, for they know that [the particle] mā [of wa-mā ta‘budūna, ‘and what you worship’] refers [only] to non-rational beings and cannot therefore include Jesus, peace be upon him. Nay, but they are a contentious lot, an extremely disputatious folk.

Ibn Al Kathir

The Contempt of the Quraysh for the son of Maryam, and His true Status with Allah

Allah tells us how the Quraysh persisted in their disbelief and stubborn arguments:

وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلاً إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ

(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) Several others narrated that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, As-Suddi and Ad-Dahhak said, "They laughed, i.e., they were astounded by that.'' Qatadah said, "They were repelled by that and they laughed.'' Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "They turned away.'' The reason for this was mentioned by Muhammad bin Ishaq in As-Sirah. He said, "According to what I have heard, the Messenger of Allah sat down one day with Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah in the Masjid, and An-Nadr bin Al-Harith came and sat down with them. There were also other men from the Quraysh in the gathering. The Messenger of Allah spoke, then An-Nadr bin Al-Harith came up to him and the Messenger of Allah spoke to him until he defeated him in argument. Then he recited to him and to them,

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ أَنتُمْ لَهَا وَارِدُونَ

(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you will enter it.) (21:98) Then the Messenger of Allah got up and went to sit with `Abdullah bin Al-Zab`ari At-Tamimi. Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah said to him, `By Allah, An-Nadr bin Al-Harith could not match the son of `Abd Al-Muttalib in argument. Muhammad claims that we and these gods that we worship are fuel for Hell.' `Abdullah bin Az-Zab`ari said, `By Allah, if I meet with him I will defeat him in argument. Ask Muhammad whether everyone that is worshipped instead of Allah will be in Hell with those who worshipped him, for we worship the angels, and the Jews worship `Uzayr, and the Christians worship the Messiah `Isa bin Maryam.' Al-Walid and those who were sitting with him were amazed at what `Abdullah bin Az-Zab`ari said, and they thought that he had come up with a good point. He said this to the Messenger of Allah, who said:

«كُلُّ مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُعْبَدَ مِنْ دُونِ اللهِ فَهُوَ مَعَ مَنْ عَبَدَهُ، فَإِنَّهُمْ إِنَّمَا يَعْبُدُونَ الشَّيْطَانَ وَمَنْ أَمَرَهُمْ بِعِبَادَتِه»

(Everyone who likes to worship something other than Allah will be with the one whom he worshipped, for indeed they are worshipping the Shaytan and whomever told them to worship that person.)'' Then Allah revealed the words:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ سَبَقَتْ لَهُمْ مِّنَّا الْحُسْنَى أُوْلَـئِكَ عَنْهَا مُبْعَدُونَ

(Verily, those for whom the good has preceded from Us, they will be removed far therefrom (Hell)) (21:101), meaning that `Isa, `Uzayr and rabbis and monks who were also worshipped, who spent their lives in devotion towards Allah. The misguided people who came after them took them as lords instead of Allah. Concerning the notion of worshipping the angels as daughters of Allah, the following words were revealed:

وَقَالُواْ اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَـنُ وَلَداً سُبْحَانَهُ بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُّكْرَمُونَ

(And they say: "The Most Gracious has begotten a son (or children).'' Glory to Him! They are but honored servants.) (21:26) Concerning `Isa bin Maryam, the fact that he is worshipped instead of Allah, and to the amazement of Al-Walid and the others who were present at the argument, the following was revealed:

وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلاً إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ

(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) meaning, they take this argument as a basis for rejecting your message. Then Allah mentions `Isa bin Maryam and says:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلاَّ عَبْدٌ أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلْنَـهُ مَثَلاً لِّبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ - وَلَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ مَّلَـئِكَةً فِى الاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ

(He was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel. And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth. And he (`Isa) shall be a known sign for the Hour. ) meaning, the miracles and signs that happened at his hands, such as raising the dead and healing the sick, are sufficient as signs of the approach of the Hour.

فَلاَ تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا وَاتَّبِعُونِ هَـذَا صِرَطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ

(Therefore have no doubt concerning it. And follow Me! This is the straight path).'' Ibn Jarir mentioned that Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, commented on the Ayah:

وَلَمَّا ضُرِبَ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ مَثَلاً إِذَا قَوْمُكَ مِنْهُ يَصِدُّونَ

(And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) "This means the Quraysh, when it was said to them:

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ أَنتُمْ لَهَا وَارِدُونَ

(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you will enter it.) (21:98) The Quraysh said to him: `What about `Isa bin Maryam' He said:

«ذَاكَ عَبْدُاللهِ وَرَسُولُه»

(He is the servant and Messenger of Allah.) They said, `By Allah, he means that we should take him as a lord just as the Christians took `Isa son of Maryam as a lord.' Then Allah said:

مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلاَّ جَدَلاَ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ

(They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people).''

وَقَالُواْ ءَأَالِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هُوَ

(And say: "Are our gods better or is he''). Qatadah said, "They were saying, `our gods are better than him'.'' Qatadah said; "Ibn Mas`ud, may Allah be pleased with him, recited it (أَآلِهَتُنَا خَيْرٌ أَمْ هذَا) (Are our gods better or is this (person))'' they mean Muhammad.

مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلاَّ جَدَلاَ

(They quoted not the above example except for argument.) means, for the sake of stubborn argument, for they knew that he (`Isa ) was not included in the Ayah (21:98), because that would not make sense. The words,

إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ

(Certainly you and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell!) (21:98) are addressed to the Quraysh, for they used to worship idols and false gods -- they did not worship the Messiah so why should he be included in what the Ayah says What they said was only for the sake of argument; they did not really believe in it. Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him, recorded that Abu Umamah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The Messenger of Allah said:

«مَا ضَلَّ قَوْمٌ بَعْدَ هُدًى كَانُوا عَلَيْهِ، إِلَّا أُوْرِثُوا الْجَدَل»

g(No people go astray after having been guided, but they resort to (futile) argument.) Then the Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah:

مَا ضَرَبُوهُ لَكَ إِلاَّ جَدَلاَ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ خَصِمُونَ

(They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people).'' It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Jarir. At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Hasan Sahih, we do not know it except from the Hadith of Hajjaj bin Dinar...''

إِنْ هُوَ إِلاَّ عَبْدٌ أَنْعَمْنَا عَلَيْهِ

(He (`Isa) was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him,) means, `Isa, peace be upon him; he was no more than one of the servants of Allah whom Allah blessed with prophethood and messengership.

وَجَعَلْنَـهُ مَثَلاً لِّبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ

(and We made him an example for the Children of Israel.) means, `a sign, proof and evidence of Our power to do whatever We will.'

وَلَوْ نَشَآءُ لَجَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ مَّلَـئِكَةً فِى الاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُفُونَ

(And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth.) As-Suddi said, "They would have taken your place on (the earth). '' Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and Qatadah said, "They would have succeeded one another just as you succeed one another.'' This view is implied by the former veiw. Mujahid said, "They would have populated the earth instead of you.'' Allah's saying:

وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ

(And he (`Isa) shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) The correct view concerning this phrase is that it refers to his descent before the Day of Resurrection, as Allah says:

وَإِن مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـبِ إِلاَّ لَيُؤْمِنَنَّ بِهِ قَبْلَ مَوْتِهِ

(And there is none of the People of the Scripture but must believe in him before his death) (4:159). -- meaning before the death of `Isa, peace be upon him --

وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ يَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيداً

And on the Day of Resurrection, he will be a witness against them )4:159(. This meaning has the support from an alternate recitation of the Aya0t؛ (وَإِنَّهُ لَعَلَمٌ لِلسَّاعَةِ) (And he shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) means, evidence that the Hour will surely come. Mujahid said:

وَإِنَّهُ لَعِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ

(And he shall be a sign for (the coming of) the Hour.) means, sign and "One of the signs of the Hour will be the appearance of `Isa son of Maryam before the Day of Resurrection. '' Something similar was also narrated from Abu Hurayrah, Ibn `Abbas, `Abu Al-`Aliyah, Abu Malik, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and others. Many Mutawatir Hadiths report that the Messenger of Allah said that `Isa will descend before the Day of Resurrection as a just ruler and fair judge.

فَلاَ تَمْتَرُنَّ بِهَا

(Therefore have no doubt concerning it.) means, do not doubt that it will surely come to pass.

وَاتَّبِعُونِ

(And follow Me.) means, `in what I tell you about it.'

هَـذَا صِرَطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌوَلاَ يَصُدَّنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَـنُ

(This is the straight path. And let not Shaytan hinder you.) means, from following the truth.

إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌوَلَمَّا جَآءَ عِيسَى بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ قَالَ قَدْ جِئْتُكُم بِالْحِكْمَةِ

(Verily, he (Satan) to you is a plain enemy. And when `Isa came with (Our) clear proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah...''), meaning prophethood:

وَلأُبَيِّنَ لَكُم بَعْضَ الَّذِى تَخْتَلِفُونَ فِيهِ

(and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) in which you differ.) Ibn Jarir said, "This means religious matters, not worldly matters.'' What he said is good.

فَاتَّقُواْ اللَّهَ

(Therefore have Taqwa of Allah) means, `with regard to what I command you to do.'

وَأَطِيعُونِ

(and obey me.) means, `in what I bring to you.'

إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ رَبِّى وَرَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ هَـذَا صِرَطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ

(Verily, Allah! He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is the straight path.) means, `you and I are enslaved to Him, in need of Him and we commonly share in the worship of Him Alone, associating none with Him.'

هَـذَا صِرَطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ

(This is the straight path) means, `what I have brought to you is the straight path, which is the worship of the Lord, may He exalted, Alone.'

فَاخْتَلَفَ الاٌّحْزَابُ مِن بَيْنِهِمْ

(But the sects from among themselves differed. ) means, they differed and became parties and factions, some who stated that he (`Isa) was the servant and Messenger of Allah -- which is true - while others claimed that he was the son of Allah or that he himself was Allah -- glorified be Allah far above what they say. Allah says:

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمٍ أَلِيمٍ

(So woe to those who do wrong from the torment of a painful Day)!

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

In verse 45 above, it was said: "You may ask all other Messengers whom We sent before you whether We had appointed any other gods to be worshiped beside the Merciful God." When this discourse was being presented before the people of Makkah, a person called `Abdullah ibn az-Ziba'ra in the traditions, put forward the objection: "Well, is it not a fact that the Christians regard the son of Mary as the son of God and worship him ? What is then wrong with our gods?" This caused much laughter among the crowd of the disbelievers and they started clamoring for an answer to this objection. But at this foolish behavior, the continuity of the revelation was not broken, but was first completed and then the objection of the questioner was taken up. (It should be borne in mind that this incident has been reported in the books of commentaries in different ways which contain great variations, but after a study of the context and the traditions the real incident in our view is the same as we have mentioned above).

"Making an example of Our power" implies causing the Prophet Jesus to be born without a father, and then granting him such miracles as had not been granted to anyone before him nor to anyone after him. He would make a bird of clay and then breathe into it and it would become a living bird; he would give sight to those born blind; he would cure the lepers; so much so that he would raise the dead back to life. What Allah means to say is: "It is wrong to worship him as son of God and regard him as above servitude only because of his extraordinary birth and the great miracles granted to him. He was no more than a mere servant, whom We had blessed and made an example of Our power." (For details, see Al`Imran: 42-49, 59; An-Nisa: 156; Al-Ma`idah: 17, 110; Maryam: 17-35; AIAnbiya`: 91, Al-Mu'minun: 50).

Another translation can be: ".............make some of you angels.

Another translation of this sentence can be: "He is a means of the knowledge of Resurrection." Here the question arises: What is implied by "he¦? According to Hadrat Hasan Basri and Said bin Jubair it implies the Quran. That is, one can learn from the Qur'an that Resurrection will come. But this commentary is irrelevant to the context. There is nothing in the context on the basis of which it may be said that it refers to the Qur'an. Other commentators almost unanimous]y have expressed the opinion that it implies the prophet Jesus Christ, and this is suitable to the context. Now the question is: In what sense has Jesus Christ been called a Sign or a means of the knowledge of Resurrection? Ibn 'Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, Suddi, Dahhak, Abul `Aliyah and Abu Malik say that this refers to the second coming of the Prophet Jesus as has been foretold in a large number of the Traditions, and the verse means that when he comes the second time to the world, it wilt become known that Resurrection is not far behind. But in spite of the great authority that these scholars hold it is difficult to believe that in this verse the second advent of the Prophet Jesus has been called a Sign of Resurrection, or a means of its knowledge. For it is contradicted by the next verse. His second advent, indeed, can be a means of the knowledge of Resurrection only for those people who will be living in that future period or will be born after that. How could he be regarded as a means of the knowledge for the pagans of Makkah, who are being asked "not to have any doubt about it"? Therefore, the correct interpretation in our opinion is the one that has been given by some other commentators, according to which the Prophet Jesus' birth without a father and his making a bird out of clay and his raising the dead back to life has been presented as a proof of the possibility of Resurrection. So, the Divine Words would mean: why do you think it is impossible for God to raise you and all mankind from death when He can create a child without a father and a servant of His can breathe life into an image of clay and raise the dead back to life?"

"...... hinder you from this" : hinder you from believing in Resurrection.

That is, "The Prophet Jesus himself had never claimed that he was God or son of God, and that the people should worship him, but, on the contrary, his message was the same as of all other Prophets, the same as was now being conveyed to you through Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace)." (For explanation, see Al-`Imran: 50-51, An-Nisa: 171-172, Al-Ma'idah: 72, 116-117, Maryam: 30-36).

That is, one group of the people denied him and in their antagonism went to the extent of accusing him of illegitimate birth and got him crucified as they thought; the other group believed in him but owing to exaggerated reverence made him son of God, and then the question of man's being God became such a riddle for it that every effort to resolve it caused it to be divided into countless sects. (For explanation, see An-Nisa: 171, AI-Ma'idah 17, 77,116-117 and the corresponding E.N.'s),

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(And say) i.e. 'Abdullah al-Zib'ari: (Are our gods better) O Muhammad, (or is he) i.e. Jesus the son of Mary? For if he is allowed in the Fire with the Christians, we are also allowed therein with our deities. (They raise not the objection) they do not mention Jesus the son of Mary (save for argument) save for wrangling and dispute. (Nay! but they are a contentious folk) they argue in defence of falsehood.