Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then mentions the claims of the Jews and Christians that their respective religion is the true Religion, saying: (And Jews) the Jews of Medina (say Christians follow nothing) as religion from God and there is no true religion except Judaism, (and Christians) the Christians of Najran (say Jews follow nothing) as religion from God and there is no true religion except Christianity; (though both are readers of the Scripture) both parties read the Book and do not believe in it and further claim things that are not mentioned therein. (Even thus spoke those who know not) knew the Oneness of Allah through their own forefathers; and it is said this means: they knew the Book of Allah from others. (Allah will judge between them) between the Jews and Christians (on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they differ).
The Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing’, that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Jesus; and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing’, that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Moses; yet they, both groups, recite the Scripture, revealed to them: in the Scripture of the Jews there is the confirmation of Jesus, and in that of the Christians there is the confirmation of Moses (yatlūna’l-kitāba, ‘they recite the Scripture’: the sentence is a circumstantial qualifier). Thus, in the way that these have said, the ignorant, from among the Arabs and others, say the like of what these say (this last phrase [mithla qawlihim, ‘the like of what they say’] is the explication of dhālika, ‘that [way]’): that is to say, to every person of religion they would say, ‘You have no basis’; God shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences, in religion and will admit the confirmer into Paradise and the falsifier into the Fire.
The Jews say, 'The Christians have nothing', because of their being veiled by their religion from their [the Jews'] religion; likewise say the Christians because of their being veiled by the esoteric aspect from the exoteric one, as the Jews are veiled from the esoteric aspect by the exoteric one, which is the situation today with the various schools of Islam; and the Christians say, 'The Jews stand on nothing'; yet they recite the Scripture, which contains what would guide them to the removal of that veil and seeing the truth of every religion and [every] dogmatic school, for the truth of the people of that religion or school is not false since they adhere to those beliefs: otherwise what is the difference between them and those who have neither knowledge nor scripture, as is the case with the polytheists, for what these [latter] say is the same as what the former say, nay they [the polytheists] are less blameworthy since there is only the proof of the intellect against them, while the others have both the proofs of the intellect and those of the Law. [Thus, the ignorant say the like of what these say]; God shall decide between them regarding their differences, [He shall decide between them] with the truth concerning their differences, on the Day of, the event of the major, Resurrection, and the manifestation of the Essential Unity upon the emergence of the Messiah (al-Mahdī), peace be upon him. According to ḥadīth it is that God will disclose Himself to His servants in the form of their belief and they will know Him, whereupon He will transform Himself from that form to another form and they will not know Him: thereupon they will all be misguided and veiled, except what God wills; and He is the One whose Oneness is affirmed but who is not tied to the form of His belief.
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
(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,
(Say) meaning, "Say O Muhammad:''
("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,
(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,
(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,
(his face (himself)) meaning, in his religion.
(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,
(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,
(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,
(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,
(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).
(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,
(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.
(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 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),
(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).
(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).
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
It refers to the idolaters of Arabia, who were ignorant of the Scriptures, and sanctuary for mankind and enjoined the people to dedicate to worship the place where Abraham used to stand for prayer, and We urged Abraham and Ismail to keep My House pure for those who would go round it and those who would retire to it for devotion and prayer and for those who would bow down and prostrate themselves there in worhsip.
The Jews say “The Christians stand on nothing”; and the Christians say “The Jews stand on nothing”; yet they recite the scripture. Thus the ignorant say the like of what these say; God shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences. The allusion in this verse is an inversion of its apparent sense. Today the enemies [of God] disclaim one another [as they have done in the past] but the friends [of God] also do something like that. Nonetheless it is said that the Sufis will remain in a good state as long as they quarrel and do not accept one other because if they were to accept one another they would stay with each other [rather than turning to God].
(And the Jews say the Christians follow nothing (true)…) [2:113]. This was revealed about the Jews of Medina and the Christians of Najran. When the delegation of Najran came to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, the Jewish rabbis came to see them. They had a debate with each other and the debate got so heated up that they shouted at each other. The Jews said: “You are not following the true religion”, and declared their disbelief in Jesus and the Gospel. In response, the Christians said: “You are not following the true religion”, and declared their disbelief in Moses and the Torah. Allah therefore revealed this verse.