98 - Al Bayyina (Clear proof)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 98.1

Al-Jalalayn

The disbelievers from among (min: explicative) the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, that is, the idol-worshippers (wa’l-mushrikīna is a supplement to ahl, ‘the People of’) were not going to leave off (munfakkīna is the predicate of yakun, ‘were’), that is to say, they were not going to abandon their ways, until the clear proof, namely, Muhammad (s), should come to them, that is, [until] it came to them;

Ibn Al Kathir

Mentioning the Situation of the Disbelievers among the People of the Scripture and the Idolators

As for the People of the Scripture, they are the Jews and the Christians, and the idolators are the worshippers of idols and fire among the Arabs and the non-Arabs. Mujahid said, they are not going

مُنفَكِّينَ

(to leave) "Meaning, they will not be finished until the truth becomes clear to them.'' Qatadah also said the same thing.

حَتَّى تَأْتِيَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ

(until there came to them the Bayyinah.) meaning, this Qur'an. This is why Allah says,

لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـبِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ مُنفَكِّينَ حَتَّى تَأْتِيَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ

(Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Scripture and idolators, were not going to leave until there came to them the Bayyinah.) Then He explains what the Bayyinah is by His saying,

رَسُولٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ يَتْلُو صُحُفاً مُّطَهَّرَةً

(A Messenger from Allah, reciting purified pages.) meaning, Muhammad and the Magnificent Qur'an he recites, which is written down among the most high gathering in purified pages. This is similar to Allah's statement,

فَى صُحُفٍ مُّكَرَّمَةٍ - مَّرْفُوعَةٍ مُّطَهَّرَةٍ - بِأَيْدِى سَفَرَةٍ - كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ

(In Records held in honor. Exalted, purified, in the hands of scribes (angels). Honorable and obedient.) (80:13-16) Then Allah says,

فِيهَا كُتُبٌ قَيِّمَةٌ

(Wherein are upright Books.) Ibn Jarir said, "Meaning in the purified pages are Books from Allah that are upright, just and straight. They have no mistakes in them because they are from Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.''

The Differing only occurred after the Knowledge came

Allah says,

وَمَا تَفَرَّقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ إِلاَّ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَةُ

(And the People of the Scripture differed not until after there came to them the Bayyinah.) This is similar to Allah's statement,

وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاخْتَلَفُواْ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ الْبَيِّنَـتُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

(And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the Bayyinat came to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.) (3:105) This refers to the people of those divinely revealed Scriptures that were sent down to the nations that were before us. After Allah established the proofs and evidences against them, they divided and differed concerning that which Allah had intended in their Scriptures, and they had many differences. This is like what has been reported in a Hadith that has many routes of transmission,

«إِنَّ الْيَهُودَ اخْتَلَفُوا عَلَى إِحْدَى وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً، وَإِنَّ النَّصَارَى اخْتَلَفُوا عَلى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً، وَسَتَفْتَرِقُ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةُ عَلَى ثَلَاثٍ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَةً، كُلُّهَا فِي النَّارِ إِلَّا وَاحِدَة»

(Verily, the Jews differed until they became seventy-one sects. And verily, the Christians differed until they became seventy-two sects. And this Ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, and all of them will be in the Fire except one.) They said, "Who are they, O Messenger of Allah'' He replied,

«مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَصْحَابِي»

((Those who are upon) what I and my Companions are upon.)

The Command of Allah was merely that They make their Religion solely for Him

Allah says,

وَمَآ أُمِرُواْ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُواْ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ

(And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, making religion purely for Him alone,) This is similar to Allah's statement,

وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ نُوحِى إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لا إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنَاْ فَاعْبُدُونِ

(And We did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him: La ilaha illa Ana.) (21:25) Thus, Allah says,

حُنَفَآءَ

(Hunafa') meaning, avoiding Shirk and being truly devout to Tawhid. This is like Allah's statement,

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِى كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الْطَّـغُوتَ

(And Verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah, and avoid the Taghut (false deities).'') (16:36) A discussion of the word Hanif has already been mentioned previously and in Surat Al-An`am, so there is no need to repeat it here.

وَيُقِيمُواْ الصَّلَوةَ

(and perform Salah) And this is the best of the physical forms of worship.

وَيُؤْتُواْ الزَّكَوةَ

(and give Zakah,) This is doing good to the poor and the needy.

وَذَلِكَ دِينُ القَيِّمَةِ

(and that is the right religion.) meaning, the upright and just religion, or the nation that is straight and balanced.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Here the word kufr (unbelief ) has been used in its widest sense, which includes different forms of the unbelieving attitude. For example, some were unbelievers in the sense that they did not acknowledge Allah at all: some did acknowledge Allah but did not regard Him as the One and only God, but worshiped others as well, thinking they were associates in Divine Being or Divine attributes and powers in one way or the other; some acknowledged oneness of God but committed some kind of shirk as well; some acknowledged God but did not acknowledge His Prophets and the guidance brought by them; some acknowledged one particular Prophet and did not acknowledge another; 'others rejected the Hereafter. In short, there were different kinds of kufr in which the people were involved. And the statement: "the disbelievers from among the people of the Book and the mushriks... ",does not mean that some of them were not involved in kufr, but that those who were involved in kufr were of two kinds: the followers of the Book and the mushriks. Here, min has not been used for division but for explanation, as,. for example, in Surah Al-Hajj: 30, where it has been said Fajtanib-ur rijsa min al-authan. which means: "therefore, guard yourselves against the filth of idols'-, and not: "guard yourselves against the filth which is in the idols." Likewise, alladhina kafaru min ahl-il-Kitabi wal-mushrikin means: "the, disbelievers from among the followers of the.Book and the mushriks... ", and not: "those who have disbelieved from these two groups.

Despite the common factor of kufr between them the two groups have been mentioned by separate names. The followers of the Book imply the people who possessed any of the revealed Books, even if in corrupted form, sent to the former Prophets, and they believed in it. And the mushriks (idolaters) imply the people who did not follow any Prophet nor believed in any Book. Although in the Qur'an the shirk, (polytheism, idolatry) of the people of the Book has been mentioned at many places, e.g. about the Christians it has been said: "They say: God is one of the three" (Al-Ma'idah: 73); "The Messiah is son of God" (At Taubah: 30); "The Messiah; son of Mary; is God" (Al-Ma'idah: 17); and about the Jews it has been said: "They say: Ezra is son of God" (At-Taubah: 30), yet nowhere in the Qur'an has the term "mushrlk"been used for them, but they have been mentioned as "alladhina ul-ul-Kitaba" (those who were given the Book), or by the words Jews and Christians. For they believed in the principle of Tauhid (Oneness of God) as the we religion, and then committed shirk. Contrary to this, for others than the followers of the Book, the word mushrik has been used as a. term, for they acknowledged shirk (idolatry) as true religion and disacknowledged Tauhid. This distinction between the two groups holds good not only in the use of the term but also in the Shari`ah injunctions. Animal flesh duly slaughtered by the followers of the Book has been declared lawful for the Muslims if they slaughter a lawful animal in the name of Allah in the prescribed way, and permission to marry their women also has been given. On the contrary, neither the animal slaughtered by the mushriks is lawful for the Muslims nor is marriage with their women.

That is, "There was no means of their being freed from this state of unbelief except that a clear evidence (of the truth) should come and make them understand the falsity of every form of kufr and its being untrue, and should present the right way before them in a clear and rational way." This dces not mean that after the coming of the char evidence they would give up kufr but that in the absence of the clear evidence it was not at all possible that they would be delivered from that state. However, if even after its coming some of them still persisted in their kufr, then they themselves would be responsible for it; they could not complain that Allah had made no arrangement for their guidance. This same thing bas been expressed in the Qur'an at different places in different ways, e.g. in Surah An-Nahl: 9, it is said: "Allah has taken upon Himself to show the Right Way"; in Surah Al-Laila 12, it is said: "It is for Us to show the Way"; in Surah An-Nisa: 163-165: "O! Prophet, We have sent Revelation to you just as We had sent it to Noah and other Prophets after him... All these Messengers were sent as bearers of good news and warners so that, after their coming, the people should have no excuse left to plead before Allah"; and in Surah Al-Ma'idah: 19: "O people of the Book, this Messenger of Ours has come to you and is making clear to you the teachings of the Right Way after a long interval during which there had come no Messengers, lest you should say: `No bearer of good news nor warner came to us. Lo, now the bearer of good news and warner has come."

Here, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself has been called "the clear evidence", for his life before and after Prophethood, his presenting a Book like the Qur'an in spite of being.un-lettered, his bringing about an extraordinary revolution in the lives of the converts to Islam through education and training, his educating the people in rational beliefs, clean and pure forms of worship, excellent morals and the best principles and,injunctions for human life, perfect harmony and agreement between his word and deed, and his constancy of purpose in respect of his message in spite of every kind of resistance and opposition, all these were clear signs of the truth that he was Allah's Messenger.

Lexically, suhuf means "written pages", but in the Holy Qur'an this word has been used as a term for the Books revealed to the Prophets of Allah (peace be upon them); and by the holy scriptures are meant the scriptures which are free from every mixture of falsehood, every kind of error and moral filth. The full import of these words becomes evident when one studies the Bible (and the books of other religions as well) vis-a-vis the Holy Qur'an, and finds written in them along with sound teachings such things as are not only opposed to truth and reason but are also morally contemptible. After reading them when one turns to the Qur'an, one realizes how pure and hallowed this Book is.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture): '(Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture) i.e. the Jews and Christians (and the idolaters) the Arab idolaters (could not have left off (erring)) could not have remained in their denial of Muhammad (pbuh) the Qur'an and Islam (till the clear proof came unto them) until clarification of what is in their Scriptures, the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, came to them. There is another way of understanding the above: those who disbelieve among the people of the Scripture, before the advent Muhammad (pbuh) such as 'Abdullah Ibn Salam and his followers, and those who ascribed partners to Allah before the advent of Muhammad (pbuh) such as Abu Bakr and his fellow Arabs, would not have desisted from their disbelief and idolatry until the clear proof came to them, i.e. until Muhammad (pbuh) came to them.