The Quran

Commentaries for 2.120

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.120 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(and jews) the jews of medina (will not be pleased with thee, nor will christians) the christians of najran, (till thou follow their creed) their religion and direction of prayer. (say) o muhammad! (lo! the guidance of allah is guidance) the religion of allah is islam and allah's direction of prayer is the ka'bah. (and if thou shouldst follow their desires) their religion and direction of prayer (after the knowledge which hath come unto thee) that the religion of allah is islam and his direction of prayer is the ka'bah, (then wouldst thou have from allah) from his chastisement (no protecting friend) no one to benefit you (nor helper) to save you from this chastisement.
2.120 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
never will the jews be pleased with you, neither the christians, not until you follow their creed, their religion, say: ‘god’s guidance, that is, islam, is the true guidance’, besides which there is only error. and if you were (wa-la-in: the lām is for oaths) to follow their whims, hypothetically speaking, [whims] to which they are calling you, after the knowledge, the divine revelation, that has come to you, you shall have against god neither friend, to protect you, nor helper, to defend you against him.
2.120 Kashani - Kashani
[never will the jews be pleased with you, neither the christians, not until you follow their creed,] say: 'god's guidance is the true guidance', that is to say, the path of oneness that is specifically qualified by truth is the path and none other, as [imam] ʿalī [b. abī ṭālib], peace be upon him, said: 'right and left lead astray, only the middle path [in-between] is the [true] route'. and if you were to follow their whims, after the knowledge that has come to you, that is, the knowledge of oneness and gnosis, you shall have against god neither friend, nor helper, because of the impossibility of there existing any other than him.
2.120-121 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
وَلَن تَرْضَى عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلاَ النَّصَـرَى حَتَّى تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ
(never will the jews nor the christians be pleased with you (o muhammad ) till you follow their religion.) meaning, `the jews and the christians will never be happy with you, o muhammad! therefore, do not seek what pleases or appeases them, and stick to what pleases allah by calling them to the truth that allah sent you with.' allah's statement,
قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَى
(say: "verily, the guidance of allah (i.e. islamic monotheism) that is the (only) guidance'') emeans, `say, o muhammad, the guidance of allah that he sent me with is the true guidance, meaning the straight, perfect and comprehensive religion.''' qatadah said that allah's statement,
قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَى
(say: "verily, the guidance of allah (i.e. islamic monotheism) that is the (only) guidance) is, "a true argument that allah taught muhammad and his companions and which they used against the people of misguidance.'' qatadah said, "we were told that the messenger of allah used to say,
«لَا تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يُقَاتِلُونَ عَلَى الْحَقِّ ظَاهِرِينَ، لَا يَضُرُّهُمْ مَنْ خَالَفَهُمْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ أَمْرُ الله»
(there will always be a group of my ummah fighting upon the truth, having the upper hand, not harmed by their opponents, until the decree of allah (the last hour) comes.)
this hadith was collected in the sahih and narrated from `abdullah bin `amr.
وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَآءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَآءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ
(and if you (o muhammad ) were to follow their (jews and christians) desires after what you have received of knowledge (i.e. the qur'an), then you would have against allah neither any wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.)
this ayah carries a stern warning for the muslim ummah against imitating the ways and methods of the jews and christians, after they have acquired knowledge of the qur'an and sunnah, may allah grant us refuge from this behavior. although the speech in this ayah was directed at the messenger, the ruling of which applies to his entire ummah.
the meaning of correct tilawah
allah said,
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِهِ
(those to whom we gave the book. yatlunahu haqqan tilawatih.)
`abdur-razzaq said from ma`mar, from qatadah, "they are the jews and christians.'' this is the opinion of `abdur-rahman bin zayd bin aslam, and it was also chosen by ibn jarir. sa`id reported from qatadah, "they are the companions of the messenger of allah.'' abu al-`aliyah said that ibn mas`ud said, "by he in whose hand is my soul! the right tilawah is allowing what it makes lawful, prohibiting what it makes unlawful, reciting it as it was revealed by allah, not changing the words from their places, and not interpreting it with other than its actual interpretation.'' as-suddi reported from abu malik from ibn `abbas who said about this ayah (2:121): "they make lawful what it allows and they prohibit what it makes unlawful, and they do not alter its wordings.'' `umar bin al-khattab said, "they are those who when they recite an ayah that mentions mercy, they ask allah for it, and when they recite an ayah that mentions torment, they seek refuge with allah from it.'' this meaning was attributed to the prophet, for when he used to recite an ayah of mercy, he invoked allah for mercy, and when he recited an ayah of torment, he sought refuge from it with allah.
allah's statement,
أُوْلَـئِكَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ
(they are the ones who believe therein)
explains the ayah,
الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ يَتْلُونَهُ حَقَّ تِلاَوَتِهِ
(those to whom we gave the book. yatlunahu haqqa tilawatihi).
these ayat mean, "those among the people of the book who perfectly adhered to the books that were revealed to the previous prophets, will believe in what i have sent you with, o muhammad!'' allah said in another ayah,
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيهِمْ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لاّكَلُواْ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم
(and if only they had acted according to the tawrah, the injil, and what has (now) been sent down to them from their lord (the qur'an), they would surely, have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet.) (5:66). the ayah,
قُلْ يَـأَهْلَ الْكِتَـبِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَى شَىْءٍ حَتَّى تُقِيمُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ
(say (o muhammad ) "o people of the scripture (jews and christians)! you have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the tawrah, the injil, and what has (now) been sent down to you from your lord (the qur'an).'') means, "if you adhere to the torah and the gospel in the correct manner, believe in them as you should, and believe in the news they carry about muhammad's prophethood, his description and the command to follow, aid and support him, then this will direct you to adhere to truth and righteousness in this life and the hereafter.'' in another ayah, allah said,
الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِىَّ الأُمِّىَّ الَّذِى يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِندَهُمْ فِى التَّوْرَاةِ وَالإِنجِيلِ
(those who follow the messenger, the prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. muhammad ) whom they find written with them in the tawrah and the injil.) (7:157) and,
قُلْ ءَامِنُواْ بِهِ أَوْ لاَ تُؤْمِنُواْ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْعِلْمَ مِن قَبْلِهِ إِذَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ يَخِرُّونَ لِلاٌّذْقَانِ سُجَّدًا - وَيَقُولُونَ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّنَآ إِن كَانَ وَعْدُ رَبِّنَا لَمَفْعُولاً
(say (o muhammad to them): "believe in it (the qur'an) or do not believe (in it). verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. and they say: "glory be to our lord! truly, the promise of our lord must be fulfilled.'') (17:107-108).
these ayat indicate that what allah promised for muhammad will certainly occur. allah also said,
الَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِهِ هُم بِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ - وَإِذَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ قَالُواْ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ إِنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّنَآ إنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلِهِ مُسْلِمِينَ - أُوْلَـئِكَ يُؤْتُونَ أَجْرَهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ بِمَا صَبَرُواْ وَيَدْرَؤُنَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ السَّيِّئَةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَـهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
(those to whom we gave the scripture (i. e. the tawrah and the injil) before it, they believe in it (the qur'an). and when it is recited to them, they say: "we believe in it. verily, it is the truth from our lord. indeed even before it we have been from those who submit themselves to allah in islam as muslims. these will be given their reward twice over, because they are patient, and repel evil with good, and spend (in charity) out of what we have provided them.) (28:52-54) and,
وَقُلْ لِّلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ وَالاٍّمِّيِّينَ ءَأَسْلَمْتُمْ فَإِنْ أَسْلَمُواْ فَقَدِ اهْتَدَواْ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَـغُ وَاللَّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِالْعِبَادِ
(and say to those who were given the scripture (jews and christians) and to those who are illiterates (arab pagans): "do you (also) submit yourselves (to allah in islam)'' if they do, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the message; and allah is the seer of (his) servants) (3:20).
allah said,
وَمن يَكْفُرْ بِهِ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ
(and whoever disbelieves in it (the qur'an), those are they who are the losers), just as he said in another ayah,
وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِهِ مِنَ الاٌّحْزَابِ فَالنَّارُ مَوْعِدُهُ
(but those of the sects (jews, christians and all the other non-muslim nations) that reject it (the qur'an), the fire will be their promised meeting place) (11:17).
as recorded in the sahih, the prophet said,
«وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَا يَسْمَعُ بِي أَحَدٌ مِنْ هذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ يَهُودِيٌّ وَلَا نَصْرَانِيٌّ ثُمَّ لَا يُؤْمِنُ بِي إِلَّا دَخَلَ النَّار»
(by he in whose hand is my soul! there is no member of this ummah (mankind and jinns), jew or a christian, who hears of me, yet does not believe in me, but will enter the fire.)
2.120-121 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
that is, "the reason why these people are displeased with you is not that they are sincere seekers after truth and that you have failed to make it as clear to them as it should have been. on the contrary, they. are offended with you just because you have made the truth so clear that no loop-hole has been left for them to make religion a paying concern for the gratification of their desires and lusts. therefore leave them alone and do not try to reconcile them because it is not possible to please them unless you also adopt the same attitude towards religion as they have adopted. they would have been very happy with you, if you had acted hypocritically like them and made god-worship a cloak for self-worship. it is impossible to please them unless you follow their bad example in your beliefs and practices."
the reference is to the pious among the people of the book, who study the qur'an honestly and sincerely and accept as true what is true according to the book of allah.
2.120 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
never will the jews be pleased with you neither the christians not until you follow their creed say: “god's guidance is the true guidance.” and if you were to follow their whims after the knowledge that has come to you you shall have against god neither friend nor helper. “do not concern yourself with pleasing the enemies after you have received our good pleasure riḍāì for they will not be pleased with you unless you follow their religions and that is impossible. so declare yourself free of them make your difference apparent and show enmity toward them. know that their reliance on what they find pleasing is the cause of endless wretchedness. do not worry yourself. call your community to free themselves from them and their path and be for us through us free of anyone other than us trusting in our help for you are through us and from us.”
2.120 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(and the jews will not be pleased with thee, nor will the christians…) [2:120]. the commentators of the qur’an said: “they used to ask the prophet, allah bless him and give him peace, for truce, giving him the impression that if he were to accord them truce and respite they will follow him and believe in him. and so allah, exalted is he, revealed this verse”. but ibn ‘abbas said: “this was revealed regarding the qiblah. this is because the jews of medina and the christians of najran were in the hope that the prophet, allah bless him and give him peace, will remain praying to their qiblah. when allah directed him to pray toward the ka’bah, they were disappointed and despaired of him ever following their religion. and so allah revealed this verse”.