The Quran

Commentaries for 2.111

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.111 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And they say) i.e. the Jews: (None entereth Paradise unless he be a Jew) unless he dies as a Jew, allegedly (or a Christian) as the Christians also claimed. (These are their own desires) what they wish from Allah even though it is not in their Books. (Say) O Muhammad, to both parties: (Bring your proofs) from your own respective Books (if ye are truthful) in your claim.
2.111 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And they say, ‘None shall enter Paradise except those who are Jews (hūd is the plural of hā’id) or Christians’: this is what the Jews of Medina and the Christians of Najrān said when they disputed with the Prophet (s), each party separately claiming Paradise for its members exclusively. Such, sayings, are their desires, their false passions. Say, to them: ‘Produce your proof, your evidence for this, if you speak truly’, in this matter.
2.111 Kashani - Kashani
And they say, 'None shall enter the Garden except those who are Jews or Christians', that is to say, the Jews said that none shall enter the Garden promised to them in the covenant, that is, the exoteric Garden and the world of the kingdom, which is the Garden of the acts and the Garden of the soul, except those who were Jews; while the Christians said that none shall enter the Garden promised to them in [their] covenant, that is, the esoteric Garden and the world of the angelic realm, which is the Garden of the attributes and the Garden of the heart except those who were Christians, which is why Jesus, peace be upon him, said, when calling them to their Garden: 'Whoever is not born again and his call is not directed towards the heaven, that is, the spiritual heaven, shall not probe the angelic realm of the heavens'. Such are their desires, that is, the utmost extent of their demands, at the limits of which they stopped, veiling themselves therewith from what is above them. Say, 'Produce your proof, that is, the evidence that demonstrates all except you are denied entry into your Garden, if you speak truth', concerning what you claim, nay, all evidence points to the contrary of what you claim.
2.111-113 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Hopes of the People of the Book
Allah made the confusion of the Jews and the Christians clear, since they claim that no one will enter Paradise, unless he is a Jew or a Christian. Similarly, Allah mentioned their claims in Surat Al-Ma'idah:
نَحْنُ أَبْنَاءُ اللَّهِ وَأَحِبَّاؤُهُ
(We are the children of Allah and His loved ones) (5:18).
Allah refuted this false claim and informed them that they will be punished because of their sins. Previously we mentioned their claim that the Fire would not touch them for more than a few days, after which they would be put in Paradise. Allah rebuked this claim, and He said about this baseless claim, m
تِلْكَ أَمَانِيُّهُمْ
(These are their own desires). Abu Al-`Aliyah commented, "These are wishes that they wished Allah would answer, without basis.'' Similar was stated by Qatadah and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Allah then said,
قُلْ
(Say) meaning, "Say O Muhammad:''
هَاتُواْ بُرْهَـنَكُمْ
("Produce your Burhan...'') meaning, "Your proof'', as Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, As-Suddi and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas stated. Qatadah said that the Ayah means, "Bring the evidence that supports your statement,
إِن كُنتُمْ صَـدِقِينَ
(if you are truthful) in your claim. ''
Allah then said,
بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ
(Yes! But whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah (i.e. follows Allah's religion of Islamic Monotheism) and he is a Muhsin) meaning, "Whoever performs deeds in sincerity, for Allah alone without partners.'' In a similar statement, Allah said,
فَإنْ حَآجُّوكَ فَقُلْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَجْهِىَ للَّهِ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِ
(So if they dispute with you (Muhammad ) say: "I have submitted myself to Allah (in Islam), and (so have) those who follow me.'') (3:20)
Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi` said that,
بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ
(Yes! But whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah) means, "Whoever is sincere with Allah.''
Also, Sa`id bin Jubayr said that,
بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ
(Yes! But whoever submits) means, he is sincere,
وَجْهَهُ
(his face (himself)) meaning, in his religion.
وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ
(and he is a Muhsin) following the Messenger. For there are two conditions for deeds to be accepted; the deed must be performed for Allah's sake alone and conform to the Shari`ah. When the deed is sincere, but does not conform to the Shari`ah, then it will not be accepted. The Messenger of Allah said,
«مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَد»
(Whoever performs a deed that does not conform with our matter (religion), then it will be rejected.)
This Hadith was recorded by Muslim. Therefore, the good deeds of the priests and rabbis will not be accepted, even if they are sincerely for Allah alone, because these deeds do not conform with the method of the Messenger, who was sent for all mankind. Allah said regarding such cases,
وَقَدِمْنَآ إِلَى مَا عَمِلُواْ مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَآءً مَّنثُوراً
(And We shall turn to whatever deeds they (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust.) (25:23)
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ أَعْمَـلُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَآءً حَتَّى إِذَا جَآءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئاً
(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water, until he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing.) (24:39) and,
وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ خَـشِعَةٌ - عَامِلَةٌ نَّاصِبَةٌ - تَصْلَى نَاراً حَامِيَةً - تُسْقَى مِنْ عَيْنٍ ءَانِيَةٍ
(Some faces, that Day will be humiliated. Laboring, weary. They will enter in the hot blazing Fire. They will be given to drink from a boiling spring) (88:2-5).
When the deed conforms to the Shari`ah outwardly, but the person did not perform it sincerely for Allah alone, the deed will also be rejected, as in the case of the hypocrites and those who do their deeds to show off. Similarly, Allah said,
إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ يُخَـدِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلَوةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى يُرَآءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
(Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salah (the prayer), they stand with laziness to be seen by people, and they do not remember Allah but little.) (4:142) and,
فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُصَلِّينَ - الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَن صَلَـتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ - الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَآءُونَ - وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ
(So woe unto those performers of Salah (prayers) (hypocrites). Those who delay their Salah (from their stated fixed times). Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men). And withhold Al-Ma`un (small kindnesses)) (107:4-7).
This is why Allah said,
فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَآءَ رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلاً صَـلِحاً وَلاَ يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدَا
(So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord) (18: 110).
He also said in this Ayah,
بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ
(Yes, but whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah (follows Allah's religion of Islamic Monotheism) and he is a Muhsin).
Allah's statement,
فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(Shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve) guaranteed them the rewards and safety from what they fear and should avoid.
فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ
(There shall be no fear on them) in the future,
وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(nor shall they grieve) about what they abandoned in the past. Moreover, Sa`id bin Jubayr said,
فَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ
"(There shall be no fear on them) in the Hereafter, and
وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
(nor shall they grieve) about their imminent death.''
The Jews and Christians dispute among Themselves out of Disbelief and Stubbornness
Allah said,
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَـرَى عَلَى شَىْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَـرَى لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَى شَىْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَـبَ
(The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture.)
Allah explained the disputes, hatred and stubbornness that the People of the Book have towards each other. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When a delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah, the Jewish rabbis came and began arguing with them before the Messenger of Allah. Rafi` bin Huraymilah said, `You do not follow anything,' and he reiterated his disbelief in Jesus and the Injil. Then a Christian man from Najran's delegation said to the Jews, `Rather, you do not follow anything,' and he reiterated his rejection of Musa's prophethood and his disbelief in the Torah. So Allah revealed the Ayah,
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَـرَى عَلَى شَىْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَـرَى لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَى شَىْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَـبَ
(The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture. )''
Allah made it clear that each party read the affirmation of what they claimed to reject in their Book. Consequently, the Jews disbelieve in Jesus, even though they have the Torah in which Allah took their Covenant by the tongue of Moses to believe in Jesus. Also, the Gospel contains Jesus' assertion that Moses' prophethood and the Torah came from Allah. Yet, each party disbelieved in what the other party had.
Allah said,
كَذَلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ
(Like unto their word, said those who know not) thus exposing the ignorance displayed by the Jews and the Christians concerning their statements that we mentioned. There is a difference of opinion regarding the meaning of Allah's statement,
الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(who know not)
For instance, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said that,
كَذَلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(Like unto their word, said those said those who know not) means, "The Christians said similar statements to the Jews.'' Ibn Jurayj asked `Ata' "Who are those `who know not''' `Ata' said, "Nations that existed before the Jews and the Christians and before the Torah and the Gospel.'' Also, As-Suddi said that,
قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(said those who know not) is in reference to the Arabs who said that Muhammad was not following anything (i. e. did not follow a true or existing religion). Abu Ja`far bin Jarir chose the view that this Ayah is general and that there is no evidence that specifically supports any of these explanations. So interpreting the Ayah in a general way is better. Allah knows best.
Allah said,
فَاللَّهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ فِيمَا كَانُواْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ
(Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection about that wherein they have been differing.) meaning, that Allah will gather them all on the Day of Return. On that Day, Allah will justly judge between them, for He is never unjust with anyone, even as little as the weight of an atom. This Ayah is similar to Allah's statement in Surat Al-Hajj (22:17),
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالصَّـبِئِينَ وَالنَّصَـرَى وَالْمَجُوسَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيـمَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
(Verily, those who believe (in Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad ), and those who are Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Majus, and those who associate partners with Allah; truly, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, Allah is over all things a Witness).
Allah said,
قُلْ يَجْمَعُ بَيْنَنَا رَبُّنَا ثُمَّ يَفْتَحُ بَيْنَنَا بِالْحَقِّ وَهُوَ الْفَتَّاحُ الْعَلِيمُ
(Say: "Our Lord will assemble us all together (on the Day of Resurrection), then He will judge between us with truth. And He is the Just Judge, the Knower of the true state of affairs.'') (34:26).
2.111-112 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
It means, "In fact these are merely their own wishes, but they assert these as if it were actually going to happen so."
2.111 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And they say “None shall enter paradise except those who are Jews or Christians.” Such are their desires. Say “Produce your proof if you speak truly.” Each party ḥizb smooths things out for itself thinking salvation belongs to it and claiming access [to paradise] as its share. But mere guessing ḥusbān without the verification of proof burhān does not produce results lā yaÌtī bi-ḥāṣil nor is it of any use wa lā yaḥūz bi-ṬāÌil.