The Quran

Commentaries for 2.108

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.108 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Or would ye question your messenger) ask him to see your Lord, hear His speech and other similar things (as Moses was questioned) as the Children of Israel asked Moses (before) before the advent of Muhammad (pbuh)? (He who chooseth disbelief instead of faith, verily he hath gone astray from a plain road) he has relinquished the path of guidance.
2.108 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
When the Meccans asked [the Prophet] to enlarge the size of Mecca and make Safā full of gold, the following was revealed: Or do you desire to question your Messenger as Moses was questioned, by his people, aforetime?, when they asked him to show them God openly among other things; whoever exchanges belief for unbelief, taking the latter in place of the former by refraining from contemplating the clear proofs and by requesting others instead, has surely strayed from the even way, meaning, he has mistaken the proper path (al-sawā‘ essentially means al-wasat, ‘middle way’).
2.108 Kashani - Kashani
Or do you desire to demand of your Messenger, beforehand sensory religious pleasures and vile lusts of the soul, as was demanded of Moses aforetimeḍ Whoever exchanges [belief for unbelief], light for darkness, has surely strayed from the even way.
2.108 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Prohibition of Unnecessary Questions
In this Ayah, Allah forbade the believers from asking the Prophet numerous questions about matters that did not occur yet. Similarly, Allah said,
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْ أَشْيَآءَ إِن تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِن تَسْأَلُواْ عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْءَانُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ
(O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you) (5:101).
This Ayah means, "If you ask about a matter after it is revealed, it shall be duly explained to you. Therefore, do not ask about matters that have not occurred yet, for they might become prohibited, due to your questions.'' This is why the Sahih narrated,
«إِنَّ أَعْظَمَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ جُرْمًا مَنْ سَأَلَ عَنْ شَيْءٍ لَمْ يُحَرَّمْ، فَحُرِّمَ مِنْ أَجْلِ مَسْأَلَتِه»
(The greatest criminal among the Muslims is the one who asks if a thing is prohibited, which is not prohibited, and it becomes prohibited because of his asking about it.)
This is why when the Messenger of Allah was asked about a husband who finds another man with his wife; if he exposes the adultery, he will be exposing a major incident; if he is quiet about it, he will be quiet about a major matter. The Messenger of Allah did not like such questions. Later on, Allah revealed the ruling of Mula`anah Refer to Nur 24:6-9 in the Qur'an. The Two Sahihs recorded that Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah said that the Messenger of Allah "Forbade saying, `It was said' and `He said,' and wasting money and asking many questions.'' Muslim recorded that the Prophet said,
«ذَرُونِي مَا تَرَكْتُكُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ بِكَثْرَةِ سُؤَالِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافِهِمْ عَلى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ، فَإِذَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِأَمْرٍ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَإِنْ نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَاجْتَنِبُوه»
(Leave me as I leave you; those before you were only destroyed because of their excessive questioning and disputing with their Prophets. Therefore, when I command you with a matter, adhere to it as much as you can, and when I forbid from something, avoid it.)
The Prophet only said this after he told the Companions that Allah has ordered them to perform Hajj. A man asked, "Every year, O Messenger of Allah'' The Prophet did not answer him, but he repeated his question three times. Then the Prophet said,
«لَا، وَلَوْ قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ، لَوَجَبَتْ وَلَوْ وَجَبَتْ لَمَا اسْتَطَعْتُم»
(No. Had I said yes, it would have been ordained, and you would not have been able to implement it.)
This is why Anas bin Malik said, "We were forbidden from asking the Messenger of Allah about things. So we were delighted when a bedouin man would come and ask him while we listened.''
Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Muhammad bin Abi Muhammad told him that `Ikrimah or Sa`id said that Ibn `Abbas said that Rafi` bin Huraymilah or Wahb bin Zayd said, "O Muhammad! Bring us a Book sent down from heaven and which we could read, and make some rivers flow for us, then we will follow you and believe in you.'' Allah sent down the answer to this challenge,
أَمْ تُرِيدُونَ أَن تَسْـَلُواْ رَسُولَكُمْ كَمَا سُئِلَ مُوسَى مِن قَبْلُ وَمَن يَتَبَدَّلِ الْكُفْرَ بِالإِيمَـنِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ السَّبِيلِ
(Or do you want to ask your Messenger (Muhammad ) as Musa was asked before (i.e. show us openly our Lord) And he who changes faith for disbelief, verily, he has gone astray from the right way).
Allah criticized those who ask the Messenger of Allah about a certain matter just for the purpose of being difficult, just as the Children of Israel asked Musa out of stubbornness, rejection and rebellion. Allah said,
وَمَن يَتَبَدَّلِ الْكُفْرَ بِالإِيمَـنِ
(And he who changes faith for disbelief) meaning, whoever prefers disbelief to faith,
فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ السَّبِيلِ
(verily, he has gone astray from the right way) meaning, he has strayed from the straight path, to the path of ignorance and misguidance. This is the case of those who deviated from accepting the Prophets and obeying them and those who kept asking their Prophets unnecessary questions in defiance and disbelief, just as Allah said,
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ - جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَوْنَهَا وَبِئْسَ الْقَرَارُ
(Have you not seen those who have changed the blessings of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction Hell, in which they will burn and what an evil place to settle in!) (14:28-29).
Abu Al-`Aliyah commented, "They exchanged comfort for hardship.''
2.108-110 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The Jews were addicted to hair-splitting. They put subtle and unnecessary questions to the Muslims and would incite them to inquire about the same from the Holy Prophet. As they intended merely to create mischief, Allah warned the Muslims not to follow their example. The Holy Prophet also advised the Believers not to indulge in the pastime of making fine distinctions and asking unnecessary questions because such things had ruined the communities that went before them. They should do what they were asked to do and refrain from what they were prohibited. They should not waste their powers and energies in useless pursuits but attend to important matters.
That is "their enmity and jealousy should not incite you to lose your balance of mind and involve you in arguments, discussions and disputes with them. You should not lose your dignity and waste your precious time in such useless pursuits but should go on doing the right and wait patiently for Allah's judgement. You should remember Allah and do good deeds because these are the things that will avail you before Allah and not those things and the like."
2.108 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Or do you desire to question your messenger as Moses was questioned aforetimeḍ Whoever exchanges belief for unbelief has surely strayed from the even way. The children of Israel annoyed Moses عليه السلام and the Muslims were prohibited from following this precedent. They were commanded to be conscious of the bashfulness of the Messenger ﷺ as much as possible so that in his presence they were silent with awe. [God] most high said Support him and revere him [48:9].195 The beauty of refined behavior adab in outward circumstances is a model for the beauty of refined behavior with God inwardly.
2.108 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(Or would ye question your messenger…) [2:108]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “This verse was revealed about ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Umayyah and a group of people from the Quraysh who had said to the Prophet: ‘O Muhammad! Turn al-Safa into gold, expand for us the land of Mecca and make rivers gush out throughout it — if you do this, we will believe in you!’ Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse as a response to them”. The commentators of the Qur’an also said: “The Jews and other idolaters put their requests to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace; some said: ‘Bring us an entire book from heaven as did Moses bring the Torah’; some — ’Abd Allah ibn Umayyah al-Makhzumi — said: ‘Bring us a book from heaven which reads: This is from the Lord of the Worlds to Ibn Abi Umayyah: know that I have sent Muhammad to mankind’; others said: ‘We shall not believe in you until you bring the angels as guarantors’. Hence, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.