The Quran

Commentaries for 2.140

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.140 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Or say ye) O Jews and Christians (that Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and the tribes) the children of Jacob (were Jews or Christians) as you claim? (Say) to them, O Muhammad! (Do ye know best, or doth Allah?) do you know best about their religion or does Allah? Allah has already informed us that Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian. (And who is more unjust) in his disbelief and more insolent and daring vis-à-vis Allah (than he who hideth a testimony which he hath received from Allah) in the Torah concerning the prophethood of this Prophet (pbuh)? (Allah is not unaware) heedless (of what ye do) about concealing your testimony.
2.140 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Or, nay, do you say (taqūlūna, also read yaqūlūna, ‘do they say?’): ‘Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes — they were Jews, or they were Christians?’ Say, to them: ‘Have you then greater knowledge, or has God?, that is, God has greater knowledge; He dissociated Abraham from both [groups], when He said, Abraham was not a Jew, nor a Christian [Q. 3:67]; and those mentioned with him [Abraham] are his followers [in not belonging to either group]. And who does greater injustice than he who conceals, hides from people, a testimony, he has, received from God?, that is, there is none more unjust than him: these are the Jews, for they concealed God’s testimony about Abraham’s pure faith in the Torah; And God is not heedless of what you do’: [this is] a threat for them.
2.140 Kashani - Kashani
Or do you say: 'Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes - they were Jews, or they were Christiansḍ' Say: 'Have you then greater knowledge, or has Godḍ And who does greater injustice than he who conceals a testimony received from Godḍ And God is not heedless of what you do'.
2.139-141 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Allah directed His Prophet to pre-empt the arguments with the idolators:
قُلْ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِى اللَّهِ
(Say (O Muhammad to the Jews and Christians), "Dispute you with us about Allah) meaning, "Do you dispute with us regarding the Oneness of Allah, obedience and submission to Him and in avoiding His prohibitions,
وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ
(while He is our Lord and your Lord) meaning, He has full control over us and you, and deserves the worship alone without partners.
وَلَنَآ أَعْمَـلُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَـلُكُمْ
(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds.) meaning, we disown you and what you worship, just as you disown us. Allah said in another Ayah,
وَإِن كَذَّبُوكَ فَقُل لِّى عَمَلِى وَلَكُمْ عَمَلُكُمْ أَنتُمْ بَرِيئُونَ مِمَّآ أَعْمَلُ وَأَنَاْ بَرِىءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
(And if they belie you, say: "For me are my deeds and for you are your deeds! You are innocent of what I do, and I am innocent of what you do!'') (10:41), and,
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). Allah said about Ibrahim,
وَحَآجَّهُ قَوْمُهُ قَالَ أَتُحَاجُّونِّى فِى اللَّهِ
(His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah'') (6:80), and,
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِى حَآجَّ إِبْرَهِيمَ فِى رِبِّهِ
(Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord (Allah)) (2:258). He said in this honorable Ayah,
وَلَنَآ أَعْمَـلُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَـلُكُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ
(And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him.) meaning, "We disown you just as you disown us,''
وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ
(And we are sincere to Him), in worship and submission.
Allah then criticized them in the claim that Ibrahim, the Prophets who came after him and the Asbat were following their religion, whether Judaism or Christianity. Allah said,
قُلْ ءَأَنتُمْ أَعْلَمُ أَمِ اللَّهُ
(Say, "Do you know better or does Allah'') meaning, Allah has the best knowledge and He stated that they were neither Jews, nor Christians. Similarly, Allah said in the Ayah,
مَا كَانَ إِبْرَهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلاَ نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَكِن كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُّسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
(Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Muslim Hanifa (to worship none but Allah alone) and he was not of Al-Mushrikin) (3:67) and the following Ayat. Allah also said,
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنْ كَتَمَ شَهَـدَةً عِندَهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ
And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony he has from Alla0h؟ )2:140(. Al-Hلasan Al-Basلri said, They used to recite the Book of Alla0h He sent to them that stated that the true religion is Isla0m and that Muhلammad is the Messenger of Alla0h. Their Book also stated that Ibra0h0m, Isma0 0l, Ishلa0q, Ya qu0b and the tribes were neither Jews, nor Christians. They testified to these facts, yet hid them from the people. Alla0h s statement,
وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَـفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
(And Allah is not unaware of what you do), is a threat and a warning that His knowledge encompasses every one's deeds, and He shall award each accordingly. Allah then said,
تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ
(That was a nation who has passed away.) meaning, existed before you,
لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُم
(They shall receive the reward of what they earned, and you of what you earn.) meaning, they bear their deeds while you bear yours,
وَلاَ تُسْـَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
(And you will not be asked of what they used to do) meaning, the fact that you are their relatives will not suffice, unless you imitate their good deeds. Further, do not be deceived by the fact that you are their descendants, unless you imitate them in obeying Allah's orders and following His Messengers who were sent as warners and bearers of good news. Indeed, whoever disbelieves in even one Prophet, will have disbelieved in all the Messengers, especially if one disbelieves in the master and Final Messenger from Allah, the Lord of the worlds, to all mankind and the Jinns. May Allah's peace and blessings be on Muhammad and the rest of Allah's Prophets.
2.139-141 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, "What we only say is that Allah is Lord of all of us, and we should all submit to Him. Why should you then have any dispute with us concerning Allah? Is it a thing concerning which you should have any dispute with us'? As a matter of fact, it is we who have a cause of dispute and not you, for it is you (and not we) who associate other objects of worship with Allah." The original Arabic words tray also mean: "Are you having a dispute with us for the sake of Allah....?" It would then mean: "If you really are having a dispute with us for the sake of Allah and not for the sake of prejudice or worldly interests, it can be settled amicably.
That is, "You are responsible for your deeds and we are for ours. If you have associated other partners with Allah in His Godhead and if you worship and obey them, you are free to do so but you yourselves will bear its consequences. As to the dispute between us, it can be ended if you allow us the same freedom of worship that we allow you. When we do not dispute with you about your associating other gods with Allah, you should at least concede us the right to worship the One Allah without associating any partner with Him, Whom we have chosen for exclusive worship and submission."
This question was addressed to the common people of the Jews and Christians, who in their ignorance sincerely believed that all these great Prophets were Jews or Christians.
This question was addressed to their scholars, who were not ignorant of the fact that Judaism and Christianity with their special rituals, etc., were the products of a later age. In spite of this they were under the delusion that the Truth was confined to their own sects, and they kept their common people under the delusion that salvation depended on those beliefs, ways and regulations, which had been invented, long after the Prophets, by their own rabbis and priests, spiritual leaders and interpreters. Whenever they were confronted with the question: "To which of these sects of yours did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other Prophets belong?", they would never answer this directly. For they could not claim that those Prophets belonged to their particular sect as they knew that history proved that claim to be absurd. But, in spite of this established fact, they could not admit it in clear words that the Prophets were neither Jews nor Christians, because this would have automatically refuted their claims.
2.140 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Or do you say: “Abraham Ishmael Isaac and Jacob and the tribesthey were Jews or they were Christiansḍ” Say: “Have you then greater knowledge or has Godḍ And who does greater injustice than he who conceals a testimony received from Godḍ And God is not heedless of what you do.” Whoever looks from himself to creation forms an image of each thing based on his own character and considers everything to be something like him. When they by virtue of being outsiders [to the Real] judged the prophets [عليه السلام] according to their own state the Real سبحانه threw their conjecture back upon them and left them with their own opinion. Are those who have been drawn away from their own testimony like those who are veiled by itḍ Is the one who is snatched away from all of it equal to the one who is thrown back to what is like himḍ That is the conjecture of those who disbelieve-what misery is theirs!