The Quran

Commentaries for 2.104

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.104 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah mentions His prohibition to the believers not to use the same vocabulary used by the Jews, saying: (O ye who believe) in Muhammad and the Qur'an, (say not) to Muhammad: ( " Listen to us " ) lend us your ear (but say " Look upon us, " ) look at us and hear us, and it is for this reason that Allah forbade the believers to use the Jews' vocabulary (and be ye listeners) to what you have been commanded to do and obey. (For disbelievers) for the Jews (is a painful doom) which will extend to their hearts.
2.104 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
O you who believe, do not say, to the Prophet (s), ‘Observe us’, (rā‘inā is an imperative form from murā‘āt) which they used to say to him, and this was a derogatory term in Hebrew, derived from the noun al-ru‘ūna [‘thoughtlessness’]. They found this very amusing and used to address the Prophet (s) in this way, and so the believers were forbidden to use it; but say, instead, ‘Regard us’, that is, look at us, and give ear, to what you are commanded and be prepared to accept it; and for disbelievers awaits a painful chastisement, that is, the Fire.
2.104 Kashani - Kashani
O you who believe, do not say, 'Observe us'; but say, 'Regard us', and give ear; and for disbelievers awaits a painful chastisement.
2.104-105 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Manners in Speech
Allah forbade His believing servants from imitating the behavior and deeds of the disbelievers. The Jews used to use devious words that hide what they really meant. May Allah's curse be upon them. When they wanted to say, `hear us,' they would use the word Ra`ina, which is an insult (in Hebrew, but means `hear us' in Arabic). Allah said,
مِّنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُواْ يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا وَاسْمَعْ غَيْرَ مُسْمَعٍ وَرَعِنَا لَيّاً بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ وَطَعْناً فِى الدِّينِ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا وَاسْمَعْ وَانْظُرْنَا لَكَانَ خَيْراً لَّهُمْ وَأَقْوَمَ وَلَكِن لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
(Among those who are Jews, there are some who displace words from (their) right places and say: "We hear your word (O Muhammad ) and disobey,'' and "Hear and let you (O Muhammad ) hear nothing.'' And Ra`ina with a twist of their tongues and as a mockery of the religion (Islam). And if only they had said: "We hear and obey,'' and "Do make us understand,'' it would have been better for them, and more proper; but Allah cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not except a few) (4:46).
Also, the Hadiths stated that when they would greet Muslims, they would say, `As-Samu `alaykum,' meaning, `death be to you'. This is why we were commanded to answer them by saying, `Wa `alaykum,' meaning, `and to you too', then our supplication against them shall be answered, rather than theirs against us.
Allah forbade the believers from imitating the disbelievers in tongue or deed. Allah said,
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَقُولُواْ رَعِنَا وَقُولُواْ انظُرْنَا وَاسْمَعُواْ وَلِلكَـفِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
(O you who believe! Say not (to the Messenger ) Ra`ina but say Unzurna (make us understand) and hear. And for the disbelievers there is a painful torment) (2:104).
Also, Imam Ahmad narrated that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«بُعِثْتُ بَيْنَ يَدَيِ السَّاعَةِ بِالسَّيْفِ حَتَّى يُعْبَدَاللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَجُعِلَ رِزْقِي تَحْتَ ظِلِّ رُمْحِي، وَجُعِلَتِ الذِّلَّةُ وَالصَّغَارُ عَلَى مَنْ خَالَفَ أَمْرِي، وَمَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَومٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُم»
(I was sent with the sword just before the Last Hour, so that Allah is worshipped alone without partners. My sustenance was provided for me from under the shadow of my spear. Those who oppose my command were humiliated and made inferior, and whoever imitates a people, he is one of them.)
Abu Dawud narrated that the Prophet said,
«مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُم»
(Whoever imitates a people is one of them.)
These Hadiths indicate, along with their threats and warnings, that we are not allowed to imitate the disbelievers in their statements, deeds, clothes, feasts, acts of worship, etc., whatever actions of the disbelievers that were not legislated for us.
Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah,
لاَ تَقُولُواْ رَعِنَا
(Say not (to the Messenger ) Ra`ina) "They used to say to the Prophet, Ar`ina samak (which is an insult).'' Ibn Abu Hatim said that it was reported that Abu Al-`Aliyah, Abu Malik, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, `Atiyah Al-`Awfi and Qatadah said similarly. Further, Mujahid said, "`Do not say Ra`ina' means, `Do not dispute'.'' Mujahid said in another narration, "Do not say, `We hear from you, and you hear from us.''' Also, `Ata' said, "Do not say,
(Ra`ina), which was a dialect that the Ansar used and which was forbidden from use by Allah.''
Also, As-Suddi said, "Rifa`ah bin Zayd, a Jewish man from the tribe of Qaynuqa`, used to come to the Prophet and say to him, `Hear, Ghayr Musma'in (let you hear nothing).' The Muslims used to think that the Prophets are greeted and honored with this type of speech, and this is why some of them used to say, `Hear, let you hear nothing,' and so on, as mentioned in Surat An-Nisa.'' Thereafter, Allah forbade the believers from uttering the word Ra`ina.'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam also said similarly.
The extreme Enmity that the Disbelievers and the People of the Book have against Muslims
Allah said next (2:105),
مَّا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـبِ وَلاَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ أَن يُنَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ
(Neither those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) nor Al-Mushrikin (the idolaters), like that there should be sent down unto you any good from your Lord).
Allah described the deep enmity that the disbelieving polytheists and People of the Scripture, whom Allah warned against imitating, have against the believers, so that Muslims should sever all friendship with them. Also, Allah mentioned what He granted the believers of the perfect Law that He legislated for their Prophet Muhammad. Allah said,
وَاللَّهُ يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَن يَشَآءُ وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
(But Allah chooses for His mercy whom He wills. And Allah is the Owner of great bounty) (2:105).
2.104-105 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
From this verse onward, the Believers have been warned to be on their guard against the different kinds of mischief which the Jews were fomenting against Islam and the Islamic Community. Besides this, doubts and suspicions which were being disseminated by them in the minds and hearts of the Muslims have been removed and those special problems which, came up for discussion between the Muslims and the Jews have been dealt with. Here it should also be kept in view that when the Holy Prophet came to live at Madinah, and Islam began to spread in the country' around it, the Jews tried to involve the Muslims in various kinds of religious disputes and theological controversies. They also tried to affect the simple and sincere Muslims with the same disease from which they themselves were suffering, that is, the malady of hair-splitting and asking frivolous and irrelevant questions. For this purpose, they attended even the meetings of the Holy Prophet and resorted to cunning and subtle talk, which showed how depraved they had become.
Whenever the Jews came to attend the Holy Prophet's assembly they showed every kind of outward respect to him but surreptitiously tried their worst to insult and slight him. They would use ambiguous words derisively or twist them into an insult by a slight mispronunciation. For instance, if they wanted to invite his attention to any particular thing they would say "Ra'i-na"which means "Just pay attention, please," but it has other meanings also. In Hebrew there was a word of similar sound which meant, "Listen, may you become deaf," and in Arabic itself it also meant, "a proud and ignorant person." Besides this, in colloquial speech it meant, "If you listen to us, we will listen to you." Then with a little twist of the tongue it could be turned into ra- i -ya-na which means "Our shepherd". In order to guard against the use of such ambiguous words as sounded complimentary but might be abused by wicked people, the Believers were advised to say, "unzurna: " Kindly pay attention to us," which could serve the same purpose without having any secondary bad sense like "ra'i-na. "They were also advised to listen attentively to the Holy Prophet so that there should be no need of inviting his attention.
2.104 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
O you who believe do not say “Observe us”; but say “Regard us” and listen; and for disbelievers awaits a painful chastisement. The objectives of enemies in all their states fī jamīʿi aḥwālihim including their actions and words min aʿmālihim wa-aqwālihim are malicious for they remain tied to their ways in what they do and do not do. The way of the friends [of God] is to avoid being like them and to adopt a path which is not their path.
2.104 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(O ye who believe, say not (unto the Prophet): “Listen to us” [ra‘ina] …) [2:104]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas according to the narration of ‘Ata’: “This is because the Arabs used to employ this expression [ra‘ina], so when the Jews heard them using it with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, they liked it. This same expression in the parlance of the Jews had the connotation of vile abusive language. They said: ‘Before, we used to abuse Muhammad secretly. Now, you can abuse him openly because this expression is used in their speech’. Therefore, they used to come to Allah’s Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and say: ‘O Muhammad! ra‘ina’, and the they would laugh. A man from the Helpers — Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubadah who understood well the language of the Jews—understood the reason. He said to them: ‘O enemies of Allah! May Allah’s curse be on you. By Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul, I will cut the head of any man of you who utters this expression’. They objected, saying: ‘But do you not use the same expression with him?’ And therefore Allah, exalted is He, revealed: (O ye who believe, say not (unto the Prophet): “Listen to us” [ra‘ina]) but say “Look upon us” [unzurna]…).