The Quran

Commentaries for 2.102

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.102 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
The Jews left the guidance of all the prophets (And they followed that which the devils falsely related) they acted upon what the devils had written (against the kingdom of Solomon) about the collapse of Solomon's kingdom, and 40 days of sorcery and white magic. (Solomon disbelieved not) did not write this sorcery and white magic; (but the devils disbelieved) did write it, (teaching mankind) the devils taught people, as it is said that the Jews taught people (magic and that which was revealed to the two angels) but the angels were not taught sorcery and white magic; and it is said that this means: they also taught what the angels were inspired with (in Babel, Harut and Marut. Nor did they teach it to anyone) nor did the angels describe anything to anyone (till they had said) at the outset: (We are only a temptation) we have been tried with calling people to this in order that we reduce the intensity of the torment inflicted on ourselves, (therefore disbelieve not) do not learn or act upon it. (And from these two (angels) people learn) without being taught by them (that by which they cause division between man and wife) that by which a man finds excuse to leave his wife; (but they injure thereby) with sorcery and causing rift (no one save by Allah's leave) except through Allah's will and with His knowledge. (And they learn) the devils, the Jews and sorcerers learn from each other (that which harms them) in the Hereafter (and profits them not) in this world or the next. (And surely they do know) this refers to the angels, and it is said that it refers to the Jews in their Book, as it is said that his refers to the devils (that he who trafficketh therein) chooses sorcery and white magic (will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter) in Paradise; (and surely evil is the price for which they sold their souls) by choosing sorcery for themselves, and the reference here is to the Jews, (if they but knew) but they do not know; and it is said that this means: and they did know this from their own Book.
2.102 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And they follow (wa’ttaba‘ū is a supplement to nabadha, ‘[it] cast away’) what the devils used to relate, during the time of, Solomon’s kingdom, in the way of sorcery: it is said that they [the devils] buried these [books of sorcery] underneath his throne when his kingdom was taken from him; it is also said that they used to listen stealthily and add fabrications to what they heard, and then pass it on to the priests, who would compile it in books; this would be disseminated and rumours spread that the jinn had knowledge of the Unseen. Solomon gathered these books and buried them. When he died, the devils showed people where these books were, and the latter brought them out and found that they contained sorcery, and said, ‘Your kingdom was only thanks to what is in here’; they then took to learning them and rejected the Scriptures of their prophets. In order to demonstrate Solomon’s innocence and in repudiation of the Jews when they said, ‘Look at this Muhammad, he mentions Solomon as one of the prophets, when he was only a sorcerer’, God, exalted, says: Solomon disbelieved not, that is, he did not work magic because he disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery (this sentence is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the person governing the verb kafarū); and, teaching them, that which was revealed to the two angels, that is, the sorcery that they were inspired to [perform] (al-malakayn, ‘the two angels’: a variant reading has al-malikayn, ‘the two kings’) who were, in Babylon — a town in lower Iraq — Hārūt and Mārūt (here the names are standing in for ‘the two angels’, or an explication of the latter). Ibn ‘Abbās said, ‘They were two sorcerers who used to teach [people] magic’; it is also said that they were two angels that had been sent to teach [sorcery] to people as a trial from God. They taught not any man, without them saying, by way of counsel, ‘We are but a temptation, a trial from God for people, so that He may test them when they are taught it: whoever learns it is a disbeliever, but whoever renounces it, he is a believer; do not disbelieve’, by learning it; if this person refused and insisted on learning it, they would teach him.
2.102 Kashani - Kashani
And they follow, that is, the Jews and the spiritual faculties follow, what the devils, the devils of mankind who are the evil disobedient powerful rebels and the devils of the jinn who are the illusions, images and imaginations that are veiled from the light of the spirit that disobeys the command of the intellect and rebels against obedience of the heart, used to relate in, the time of, Solomon's kingdom: [Solomon] the prophet, or Solomon of the spirit, from the books and sciences of sorcery, claiming that this was the knowledge by which Solomon seized kingship and [by which] he subjugated to his service those jinn, humans and birds, as well as the science of trickery, magic, illusions, play-acting and sophistry. Solomon did not disbelieve, by attributing the effects [of such devices] to any other than God, since sorcery is disbelief and a veiling from the effect-creation of God by the attribution of effect to other than Him; but the devils disbelieved, they became veiled and were not aware that there is no Effect other than God; teaching the people sorcery; and that which was revealed to the two angels, namely, the speculative intellect and the practical [one] that incline to the soul, degenerates of the well of nature because of their orientation to it through the soul's enticement of them to it, in Babylon, of the breast [- Hārūt and Mārūt], chastised the two of them by the narrowness of the place between the moistures of the substrata and the fumes of the fires of lust in the way of sciences and deeds in the form of trickery, cartomancy and talismans according to both interpretations. They taught not any man, without them saying, 'We are but a temptation, a test and a trial from God of the power of luminosity and the subsistence of the spiritual [angelic] world within the two [angels], so that they might be alerted to their state by the light of the intellect; do not disbelieve', by employing such science for corrupt purposes and [to commit] what is prohibited and attributing to it the effects. From them they learned how they might cause division between [a man and his wife], [between] the heart and the soul and between the spirit and the soul and the sullying of the heart; yet they did not harm any man thereby save by the leave of God, in other words, except if God willed that he be harmed after that act and does what He wishes so that this ends up being a further trial for the sorcerer and a respite to him in his disbelief and his being veiled since he considers that to be the effects of his sorcery [and not from God]; and they learned what harmed them, by increasing their [state of] being veiled and the intensity of deviation and caprice; and did not profit them, by the lifting of the veil upon their seeing that this was a trial from God and their seeking refuge with God so that He might protect them from its evil.
And surely they knew well that whoever buys it, he shall have no share in the Hereafter, that is, [he shall have no] portion for his total concern with the soul and caprice, and his use of that to earn the [temporary] enjoyments and transient things of this world. [evil then would have been that they sold themselves for, if they had but known].
2.99-103 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Proofs of Muhammad's Prophethood
Imam Abu Ja`far bin Jarir said that Allah's statement,
وَلَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ ءَايَـتٍ بَيِّنَـتٍ
(And indeed We have sent down to you manifest Ayat) means, "We have sent to you, O Muhammad, clear signs that testify to your prophethood.'' These Ayat are contained in the Book of Allah (Qur'an) which narrates the secrets of the knowledge that the Jews possess, which they hid, and the stories of their earlier generations. The Book of Allah also mentions the texts in the Books of the Jews that are known to only the rabbis and scholars, and the sections where they altered and distorted the rulings of the Tawrah. Since Allah mentioned all of this in His Book revealed to His Prophet Muhammad, then this fact alone should be enough evidence for those who are truthful with themselves and who wish to avoid bringing themselves to destruction due to envy and transgression. Further human instict testifies to the truth that Muhammad was sent with and the clear signs that he brought which he did not learn or acquire from mankind. Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said that,
وَلَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ ءَايَـتٍ بَيِّنَـتٍ
(And indeed We have sent down to you manifest Ayat) means, "You recite and convey this Book to them day and night, although you are an Ummi (unlettered) who never read a book. Yet, you inform them of what they have (in their own Books). Allah stated that this fact should serve as an example, a clear sign and a proof against them, if they but knew.''
The Jews break Their Covenants
When the Messenger of Allah was sent and Allah reminded the Jews of the covenant that they had with Him, especially concerning Muhammad, Malik bin As-Sayf said, "By Allah! Allah never made a covenant with us about Muhammad, nor did He take a pledge from us at all.'' Allah then revealed,
أَوَكُلَّمَا عَـهَدُواْ عَهْدًا نَّبَذَهُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُم
(Is it not (the case) that every time they make a covenant, some party among them throw it aside) Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that Allah's statement,
بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
(Nay! (the truth is:) most of them believe not) means, "There is not a promise that they make, but they break it and abandon it. They make a promise today and break it tomorrow.''
The Jews abandoned the Book of Allah and practiced Magic
As-Suddi commented on,
وَلَمَّا جَآءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ
(And when there came to them a Messenger from Allah (i.e. Muhammad ) confirming what was with them), "When Muhammad came to them, they wanted to contradict and dispute with him using the Tawrah. However, the Tawrah and the Qur'an affirmed each other. So the Jews gave up on using the Torah, and took to the Book of Asaf, and the magic of Harut and Marut, which indeed did not conform to the Qur'an. Hence Allah's statement,
كَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(As if they did not know!).''
Also, Qatadah said that Allah's statement,
كَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(As if they did not know!) means, "They knew the truth but abandoned it, hid it and denied the fact that they even had it.''
Magic existed before Sulayman (Solomon)
As-Suddi said that Allah's statement,
وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَـطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَـنَ
(They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman) means, "`During the time of Prophet Solomon.' Beforehand, the devils used to ascend to heaven and eavesdrop on the conversations of the angels about what will occur on the earth regarding death, other incidents or unseen matters. They would convey this news to the soothsayers, and the soothsayers would in turn convey the news to the people. The people would believe what the soothsayers told them as being true. When the soothsayers trusted the devils, the devils started to lie to them and added other words to the true news that they heard, to the extent of adding seventy false words to each true word. The people recorded these words in some books. Soon after, the Children of Israel said that the Jinns know matters of the Unseen. When Solomon was sent as a Prophet, he collected these books in a box and buried it under his throne; any devil that dared get near the box was burned. Solomon said, `I will not hear of anyone who says that the devils know the Unseen, but I will cut off his head.' When Solomon died and the scholars who knew the truth about Solomon perished, there came another generation. To them, the devil materialized in the shape of a human and said to some of the Children of Israel, `Should I lead you to a treasure that you will never be able to use up' They said. `Yes.' He said, `Dig under this throne,' and he went with them and showed them Solomon's throne. They said to him, `Come closer.' He said, `No. I will wait for you here, and if you do not find the treasure then kill me. ' They dug and found the buried books, and Satan said to them, `Solomon only controlled the humans, devils and birds with this magic.' Thereafter, the news that Solomon was a sorcerer spread among the people, and the Children of Israel adopted these books. When Muhammad came, they disputed with him relying on these books. Hence Allah's statement,
وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَـنُ وَلَـكِنَّ الشَّيْاطِينَ كَفَرُواْ
(Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved).
The Story of Harut and Marut, and the Explanation that They were Angels
Allah said,
وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَـرُوتَ وَمَـرُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ
(And such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).'' And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife).
There is a difference of opinion regarding this story. It was said that this Ayah denies that anything was sent down to the two angels, as Al-Qurtubi stated and then referred to the Ayah,
وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَـنُ
(Sulayman did not disbelieve) saying, "The negation applies in both cases. Allah then said,
وَلَـكِنَّ الشَّيْاطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ
(But the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels).
The Jews claimed that Gabriel and Michael brought magic down to the two angels, but Allah refuted this false claim.''
Also, Ibn Jarir reported, that Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement,
وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ
(And such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels)
"Allah did not send magic down.''
Also, Ibn Jarir narrated that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said about,
وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ
(And such things that came down to the two angels), "Allah did not send magic down to the them.'' Ibn Jarir commented, "This is the correct explanation for this Ayah.
وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَـطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَـنَ
(They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely) in the lifetime of Sulayman.) meaning, magic. However, neither did Solomon disbelieve nor did Allah send magic with the two angels. The devils, on the other hand, disbelieved and taught magic to the people of the Babylon of Harut and Marut.''
Ibn Jarir continued; "If someone asks about explaining this Ayah in this manner, we say that,
وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَـطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَـنَ
(They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely) in the lifetime of Sulayman.) means, magic. Solomon neither disbelieved nor did Allah send magic with the two angels. However, the devils disbelieved and taught magic to the people in the Babylon of Harut and Marut, meaning Gabriel and Michael, for Jewish sorcerers claimed that Allah sent magic by the words of Gabriel and Michael to Solomon, son of David. Allah denied this false claim and stated to His Prophet Muhammad that Gabriel and Michael were not sent with magic. Allah also exonerated Solomon from practicing magic, which the devils taught to the people of Babylon by the hands of two men, Harut and Marut. Hence, Harut and Marut were two ordinary men (not angels or Gabriel or Michael).'' These were the words of At-Tabari, and this explanation is not plausible.
Many among the Salaf, said that Harut and Marut were angels who came down from heaven to earth and did what they did as the Ayah stated. To conform this opinion with the fact that the angels are immune from error, we say that Allah had eternal knowledge what these angels would do, just as He had eternal knowledge that Iblis would do as he did, while Allah refered to him being among the angels,
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَـئِكَةِ اسْجُدُواْ لأَدَمَ فَسَجَدُواْ إِلاَّ إِبْلِيسَ أَبَى
(And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam.'' And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused) (20:116) and so forth. However, what Harut and Marut did was less evil than what Iblis, may Allah curse him, did. Al-Qurtubi reported this opinion from `Ali, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Ka`b Al-Ahbar, As-Suddi and Al-Kalbi.
Learning Magic is Kufr
Allah said,
وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ
(But neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).)
Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi said that Ar-Rabi' bin Anas said that Qays bin `Abbad said that Ibn `Abbas said, "When someone came to the angels to learn magic, they would discourage him and say to him, `We are only a test, so do not fall into disbelief.' They had knowledge of what is good and evil and what constitutes belief or disbelief, and they thus knew that magic is a form of disbelief. When the person who came to learn magic still insisted on learning it, they commanded him to go to such and such place, where if he went, Satan would meet him and teach him magic. When this man would learn magic, the light (of faith) would depart him, and he would see it shining (and flying away) in the sky. He would then proclaim, `O my sorrow! Woe unto me! What should I do.'' Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that this Ayah means, "The angels were sent with magic, so that the people whom Allah willed would be tried and tested. Allah made them promise that they would not teach anyone until first proclaiming, `We are a test for you, do not fall into disbelief.''' It was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Also, Qatadah said, "Allah took their covenant to not teach anyone magic until they said, `We are a test. Therefore, do not fall in disbelief.'''
Also, As-Suddi said, "When a man would come to the two angels they would advise him, `Do not fall into disbelief. We are a test. ' When the man would ignore their advice, they would say, `Go to that pile of ashes and urinate on it.' When he would urinate on the ashes, a light, meaning the light of faith, would depart from him and would shine until it entered heaven. Then something black that appeared to be smoke would descend and enter his ears and the rest of his body, and this is Allah's anger. When he told the angels what happened, they would teach him magic. So Allah's statement,
وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ
(But neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, "We are for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).)
Sunayd said that Hajjaj said that Ibn Jurayj commented on this Ayah (2:102), "No one dares practice magic except a disbeliever. As for the Fitnah, it involves trials and freedom of choice.''The scholars who stated that learning magic is disbelief relied on this Ayah for evidence. They also mentioned the Hadith that Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar recorded from `Abdullah, which states,
«مَنْ أَتَى كَاهِنًا أَوْ سَاحِرًا فَصَدَّقَهُ بِمَا يَقُولُ فَقَدْ كَفَر بِمَا أُنْزِلَ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍصلى الله عليه وسلّم»
(Whoever came to a soothsayer or a sorcerer and believed in what he said, will have disbelieved in what Allah revealed to Muhammad.)
This Hadith has an authentic chain of narration and there are other Hadiths which support it.
Causing a Separation between the Spouses is One of the Effects of Magic
Allah said,
فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ
(And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife,) This means, "The people learned magic from Harut and Marut and indulged in evil acts that included separating spouses, even though spouses are close to, and intimately associate with each other. This is the devil's work.'' Muslim recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَيَضَعُ عَرْشَهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ سَرَايَاهُ فِي النَّاسِ فَأَقْرَبُهُمْ عِنْدَهُ مَنْزِلَةً أَعْظَمُهُمْ عِنْدَهُ فِتْنَةً وَيَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ: مَا زِلْتُ بِفُلَانٍ حَتَّى تَرَكْتُهُ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ كَذَا وَكَذَا، فَيَقُولُ إِبْلِيسُ: لَا وَاللهِ مَا صَنَعْتَ شَيْئًا، وَيَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ: مَا تَرَكْتُهُ حَتّى فَرَّقْتُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ أَهْلِهِ، قَالَ: فَيُقرِّبُهُ وَيُدْنِيهِ وَيَلْتَزِمُهُ وَيَقُولُ: نِعْمَ أَنْت»
(Satan erects his throne on water and sends his emissaries among the people. The closest person to him is the person who causes the most Fitnah. One of them (a devil) would come to him and would say, `I kept inciting so-and-so, until he said such and such words.' Iblis says, `No, by Allah, you have not done much.' Another devil would come to him and would say, `I kept inciting so-and-so, until I separated between him and his wife.' Satan would draw him closer and embrace him, saying, `Yes, you did well.')
Separation between a man and his wife occurs here because each spouse imagines that the other spouse is ugly or ill-mannered, etc.
Allah's Appointed Term supercedes Everything
Allah said,
وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ
(But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's leave). Sufyan Ath-Thawri commented, "Except by Allah's appointed term.'' Further, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that,
وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ
(But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's leave) means, "Allah allows magicians to adversely affect whomever He wills and saves whomever He wills from them. Sorcerers never bring harm to anyone except by Allah's leave.'' Allah's statement,
وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنفَعُهُمْ
(And they learn that which harms them and profits them not.) means, it harms their religion and does not have a benefit compared to its harm.
وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِى الاٌّخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَـقٍ
(And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no (Khalaq) share in the Hereafter.) meaning, "The Jews who preferred magic over following the Messenger of Allah knew that those who commit the same error shall have no Khalaq in the Hereafter.'' Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and As-Suddi stated that `no Khalaq' means, `no share.'
Allah then said,
وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَـطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَـنَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَـنُ وَلَـكِنَّ الشَّيْاطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَـرُوتَ وَمَـرُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِى الاٌّخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَـقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ - وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُواْ واتَّقَوْا لَمَثُوبَةٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لَّوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ
(And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew. And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah, far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew!). Allah stated, o
وَلَبِئْسَ
(And how bad) meaning, what they preferred, magic, instead of faith and following the Messenger, if they but comprehend the advice.
وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُواْ واتَّقَوْا لَمَثُوبَةٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ
(And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah, far better would have been the reward from their Lord,) meaning, "Had they believed in Allah and His Messenger and avoided the prohibitions, then Allah's reward for these good deeds would have been better for them than what they chose and preferred for themselves.'' Similarly, Allah said,
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْعِلْمَ وَيْلَكُمْ ثَوَابُ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنْ ءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَـلِحاً وَلاَ يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ الصَّـبِرُونَ
(But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: "Woe to you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except As-Sabirun (the patient in following the truth).'') (28:80).
2.99-103 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Shayatin may refer both to the devils from among the jinn or to the devils from among human beings. Here it refers to both. When the Jews fell to the lowest depths of degeneration, morally and materially, and lost all the noble qualities because of their captivity, ignorance, poverty, homeless wanderings, etc. they turned to magic, sorcery, enchantment, witchcraft and other black arts and "occult sciences." They began to adopt methods through which they could attain all their ends without putting in any kind of labour and toil. Then the devils began to beguile them by ascribing the origin of the occult sciences to Solomon and proclaimed that Solomon owed his wonderful kingdom and his extraordinary powers to the occult sciences which they were teaching the people. Jews at once succumbed and welcomed these as a great boon: so much so that even their rabbis began to practise magical arts. Consequently they lost all their interest in the Scriptures and would not listen to those who invited them to Allah's Guidance. 104-a. Here the Quran refutes not only the false accusation of sorcery against Solomon, but also the other charges levelled against him in the Bible (I Kings, Chapter 11). According to it "Solomon was a lover of women and his wives seduced him to follow foreign gods, and he did what was evil in the eyes of the Eternal and put up shrines and idols of their gods." The Quran refutes these charges, so as to say, "Solomon was never involved in any practices of disbelief, and only that one who was a disbeliever could be guilty of `love of women', `worship of gods and idols' and what was evil in the eyes of the Eternal."
The incident referred to in this verse has been interpreted in different ways, but what I have been able to understand is this: It appears that when the Istraelites were captives in Babylon, Allah sent two angels in human guise to test them. Just as the angels were sent to the people of the Prophet Lot as handsome boys, so they were sent to the Israelites as saints and religious guides. For this purpose, they might have set up an institution to teach magic and might also be warning everyone who came to learn these things, saying: "We are holding out these temptations merely for your trial. You should not, therefore, ruin your Hereafter by seeking this "science". But in spite of this warning, the people came to them in large numbers for talismans, charms and amulets. There is nothing strange in the coming of angels in human guise. Being agents of Divine Kingdom they are endowed with extraordinary powers to perform their respective duties. As to the question why they taught magic to the people, we can understand this by an illustration. It is like the case of the police who sometimes arrange to hand over signed currency notes to corrupt officials as bribes in order to catch them red-handed. Just as there is nothing wrong in this, so there is nothing wrong in what the angels did for the trial of the degenerate Jews.
The greatest demand on this occult science was for an amulet or a device to help separate a wife from her husband in order to entice her. This shows how depraved they had become. Their greatest enjoyment was to make love with other people's wives and to separate them from their husbands. This was the worst form of depravity because it struck at the root of family life which is the very foundation of society. If the relations between husband and wife are sound. the whole society will be sound and solid. But if they are bad, the whole society will become rotten. Thus they were the worst offenders because they cut at the root of those relations on which depended their own solidarity and that of their society. A Tradition of the Holy Prophet says that Satan sends his agents to the tour corners of the world. When they come back to him to report, they relate the deeds they have performed. One says that he has created such and such dispute and the other that he has spread chaos and so on, but Satan goes on commenting, "You have done nothing." Then comes another one who says; "I have caused division between a man and his wife." Satan hugs him and says, "You have indeed done a great deed." In the light of this Tradition, it becomes clear why the two angels were sent to the Israelites with the charm that caused division between man and wife; that was, in fact, the very standard which could measure accurately their moral degradation.
2.102 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And they follow what the devils used to relate during the reign of Solomon: Solomon disbelieved not but the devils disbelieved and taught the people sorcery; and that which was revealed to the two angels in BabylonHārūt and Mārūt. They taught not any man without them saying “We are but a temptation; do not disbelieve.” From them they learned how they might cause division between a man and his wife yet they did not hurt any man thereby save by the leave of God; and they learned what hurt them and did not profit them. And surely they knew well that whoever buys it he shall have no share in the hereafter; Whoever is divided by his whims ahwāÌ falls into one state of heedlessness ghafla after another so that every kind of ignorant affair welcomes him. Moreover those whose absence [from the Beloved] is prolonged become a warning to others and a temptation for whoever follows their path. Whoever emulates them in their transgression joins their community and becomes one of them. This is the case in the description of Hārūt and Mārūt and what happened to them-they became a temptation and a warning for men. One who listens to what they say and does not take into account their ignorance will share in their tribulation balāÌuhumā and suffer their distress ʿanāÌuhumā in the hereafter. The allusion in their story is to the one on this path Ṭarīqa who is inclined to affectation deception and pretension. He attracts followers whom he leads to hell by his falsehood and blocks them from the path of right direction by the evil of his darknesses. But those who take heed cross over to safety on its bridges and the one who is disgraced tahattaka by his inclinations to falsehoods-his veils astāruhu are torn tahattakat and his faults ʿawāruhu are exposed to anyone with eyes. When Hārūt and Mārūt were deceived by the disobedience to which they had become accustomed they blamed [their being deceived on] the disobedience of the children of Adam. Because of their tendencies toward carnal desires and the promptings to temptations and harmful things they plunged forward into disobedience. What happened to them is what the storytellers relate: they are hanging upside down until the Day of the Resurrection and if not for [God's] gentleness rifq toward them and their affair their punishment would not end then.
But God's kindness luṬf with all is abundant. And when God most high said “And they learned what hurt them and did not profit them” people of discernment know that knowledge of things can be undesirable even though [knowledge itself] is a praiseworthy attribute. The Prophet ﷺ said “I seek refuge in You from knowledge that has no benefit.” evil then would have been that they sold themselves for if they had but known. If the one who has been deceived knew what endures mādhā abqā and what brings trial mādhā ablā he would be torn apart by sorrows. But on the day when secrets are tested [86:9] he will know the precious gifts that have passed him by.
2.102 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…But they could not thus harm anyone except by God’s permission…That is, save that it be in God’s prior knowledge, which precedes the occurrence of the act of the one doing it.Concerning His words, Exalted is He:
…Fear God as He should be feared…[Sahl said]:That is, by the worship He has prescribed for you, and not by that which God merits in His essence (fī dhātihi).
2.102 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon…) [2:102]. Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Qantari informed us> Abu'l-Fadl al-Haddadi> Abu Yazid al-Khalidi> Ishaq ibn Ibrahim> Jarir> Husayn ibn 'Abd al-Rahman> 'Imran ibn al-Harith who said: “Once as we were sitting with Ibn 'Abbas when he said: 'The devils used to eavesdrop on heaven. One of them would bring a word of truth from therein, and when he is trusted for telling the truth, he would add to it seventy lies with which he earns the hearts of people. When Solomon came to know about it, he took it and buried it beneath his throne. When he died, a devil stood in the street and said: 'Shall I guide you to Solomon's guarded treasure, the like of which he does not have?' They said: 'Yes, do'. He said: 'It is under his throne; go and unearth it'. They said: 'This is magic'. Different nations then copied it from them. And thus Allah, exalted is He, revealed Solomon's excuse (And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not.)' ”. Said al-Kalbi: “The devils wrote down magic and talismans (niranjiyyat) and attributed them to Asaf ibn Barakhiya. They wrote: 'This is what Asaf ibn Barakhiya has taught the king Solomon' and they buried it in the place where Solomon worshipped without him realizing it. This happened when Solomon was stripped of his kingdom. When Solomon died, they unearthed it from under his place of worship and said to people: 'Solomon left this in your possession so that you learn it'. As for the scholars of the Children of Israel, they said: 'Allah forbid that this be the knowledge of Solomon'. The lowly among people said: 'This is Solomon's knowledge', and therefore sought its knowledge and rejected the scriptures of their prophets. Solomon was later blamed for this and this remained the case until Allah sent Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace. Allah revealed Solomon's excuse was revealed in His own words. He showed his innocence from what he was blamed for (And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon…)”. Sa'id ibn al-'Abbas al-Qurashi informed us in his epistle that al-Fadl ibn Zakariyya informed them> Ahmad ibn Najdah> Sa'id ibn Mansur> 'Itab ibn Bashir> Khusayf who said: “Solomon used to ask any newly grown tree: 'Which disease can you cure?' The tree would say: 'This and that!' When the Carob tree (al-Khurnubah) grew, he asked it: 'What are you for?' it replied: 'I am for the purpose of destroying your sanctuary!' He said: 'Would you really destroy it?' 'Yes', came the reply. 'What an evil tree you are', said Solomon. Shortly after this he died. People began to say regarding their own sick ones: 'If only we had someone like Solomon'. The devils then wrote a book and buried it under the place where Solomon used to worship. After which they said [to the people]: 'We will direct to that with which Solomon used to treat others'. They then proceeded and unearthed that book which contained magic and spells. Allah, exalted is He, therefore revealed (And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon) up to His saying (therefore disbelieve not) [2:102]”. Said al-Suddi: “People in Solomon's time wrote magic from each other and devoted themselves to learning it. Solomon took all that which was written of magic, put it in a chest and buried it under his throne after he warned them against it. When Solomon died and all those who knew the incident of burying these writings then passed away after him, a devil appeared in the shape of a human and went to a group among the Children of Israel. He said to them: 'Shall I direct you to an inexhaustible treasure?' When they answered in the affirmative, he said: 'Dig under the throne [of Solomon]'. When they did, they found those writings. Upon unearthing them, the devil said: 'It is by means of these that Solomon controlled the jinn, humans, devils and birds'. The children of Israel used those writings from then on, and it is for this reason that one finds magic more widespread among the Jews. Allah, gloried and exalted is He, absolved Solomon of this deed and revealed this verse”.