The Quran

Commentaries for 2.26

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.26 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah mentioned the Jews' objection to the Qur'an's similes, saying: (Lo! Allah disdaineth not), He cannot abstain from coining similes, and how can He disdain mentioning something that if all created being were to join forces to create, they would not be able to do so. Allah does not disdain (to coin the similitude) Allah does not disdain explaining to people a similitude (even of a gnat), even regarding a gnat, (or what is above it) let alone a simile of something greater than a gnat such as a fly, or a spider. (Those who believe) in Muhammad and the Qur'an (know that it), the simile, (is the Truth from their Lord; but those who disbelieve), in Muhammad and the Qur'an, (say: What doth Allah wish (to teach) by such similitude?) say: O Muhammad! What Allah wishes by such simile is that (He misleadeth many thereby) of the Jews from the true Religion, (and He guideth many thereby) of the believers, (and He misleadeth thereby), by such similes, (only miscreants), the Jews.
2.26 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
God is not ashamed to strike, to make, a similitude (mathal: is the first direct object; mā either represents an indefinite noun described by what comes after it and constitutes a second direct object, meaning ‘whatever that similitude may be’; or it [the mā] is extra to emphasise the vileness [involved], so that what follows constitutes the second direct object); even of a gnat, (ba‘ūda is the singular of ba‘ūd), that is, small flies; or anything above it, that is, larger than it, so that this explanation is not affected [by the size of the creature] with regard to the judgement [God is making]; as for the believers, they know it, the similitude, is the truth, established and given in this instance, from their Lord; but as for disbelievers, they say, ‘What did God desire by this for a similitude?’ (mathalan is a specification, meaning, ‘by this similitude’; mā is an interrogative of rejection and is the subject; dhā means alladhī, whose relative clause contains its predicate, in other words, ‘what use is there in it?’). God then responds to them saying: Thereby, that is, by this similitude, He leads many astray, from the truth on account of their disbelieving in it, and thereby He guides many, believers on account of their belief in it; and thereby He leads none astray except the wicked, those that reject obedience to Him.
2.26 Kashani - Kashani
God is not ashamed, He is not prohibited by what would [normally] prohibit the one who experiences shame, to strike a similitude even of a gnat, or anything above it, for in the eyes of God the disbeliever is lowlier than a gnat and this world [lowlier] than its wings, as stated by the ḥadīth.
[as for the believers, they know] it is the truth from their Lord, because of the interrelationship between the thing struck as similitude and the one for whom the similitude has been struck; [but as for disbelievers, they say, 'What did God desire by this for a similitudeḍ' Thereby He leads many astray and thereby He guides many];
and thereby He leads none astray except the wicked, those who have departed from the station of the heart to the station of the soul and from obedience to the Compassionate to obedience of Satan, being the second group among the wretched ones and not the first group, for they are in error with regard the same matter in any case neither because of it [the similitude[ or because of any other reason. Their being led into error thereby [i.e. by the similitude struck] is caused by their wickedness in reality, since the fact that the ruling follows from the description gives the impression of it [the description] being the cause, and that is their increasing obstinacy, their denial, their spitefulness and the overpowering of their hearts by the attributes of their souls upon the mention of the QurÌān, increasing their distance and [increasing them] in darkness upon darkness.
2.26-27 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
In his Tafsir, As-Suddi reported that Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, and some Companions said; "When Allah gave these two examples of the hypocrites'' meaning Allah's statements,
مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِى اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً
(Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire), and,
أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ
(Or like a rainstorm from the sky), "The hypocrites said, `Allah's far more exalted than for Him to make such examples.' So Allah revealed these Ayat (2:26-27) up to:
هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ
(Who are the losers)''. Sa`id said that Qatadah said, "Allah does not shy away from the truth when He mentions a matter as a parable, whether this matter is significant or not. When Allah mentioned the flies and the spider in His Book, the people of misguidance said, `Why did Allah mention these things.' So Allah revealed;
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْىِ أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا
(Verily, Allah is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger (or less when it is smaller) than it).''
A Parable about the Life of This World
Abu Ja`far Ar-Razi reported that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas commented on this Ayah (2:26); "This is an example that Allah has given for the life of this world. The mosquito lives as long as it needs food, but when it gets fat, it dies. This is also the example of people whom Allah mentioned in the Qur'an: when they acquire (and collect the delights of) the life of this world, Allah then takes them away.'' Afterwards, he recited,
فَلَمَّا نَسُواْ مَا ذُكِّرُواْ بِهِ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ أَبْوَابَ كُلِّ شَىْءٍ
(So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of every (pleasant) thing) (6:44)
In this Ayah (2:26) Allah stated that He does not shy away or hesitate in making an example or parable of anything, whether the example involves a significant or an insignificant matter.
Allah's statement,
فَمَا فَوْقَهَا
(Or so much more when it is bigger than it) Fama fawqaha means, something bigger than the mosquito, which is one of the most insignificant and tiniest of creatures. Muslim narrated that Aishah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يُشَاكُ شَوكَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا إِلَّا كُتِبَتْ لَهُ بِهَا دَرَجَةٌ، وَمُحِيَتْ عَنْهُ بِهَا خَطِيئَة»
(No Muslim is harmed by a thorn, Fama fawqaha (or something larger), but a good deed will be written for him and an evil deed will be erased from his record.)
So Allah has informed us that there is no matter that is too small that is exempt from being used as an example, even if it was as insignificant as a mosquito or a spider. Allah said,
يأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُواْ لَهُ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَن يَخْلُقُواْ ذُبَاباً وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُواْ لَهُ وَإِن يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئاً لاَّ يَسْتَنقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ
(O mankind! A similitude has been coined, so listen to it (carefully): Verily, those on whom you call besides Allah, cannot create (even) a fly, even though they combine together for the purpose. And if the fly snatches away a thing from them, they will have no power to release it from the fly. So weak are (both) the seeker and the sought.) (22:73),
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُواْ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَآءَ كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتاً وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ
(The likeness of those who take (false deities as) Awliya' (protectors, helpers) other than Allah is the likeness of a spider who builds (for itself) a house; but verily, the frailest (weakest) of houses is the spider's house ـ if they but knew.) (29:41), and,
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِى السَّمَآءِ - تُؤْتِى أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ - وَمَثلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الاٌّرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ - يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِى الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِى الاٌّخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّـلِمِينَ وَيَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ مَا يَشَآءُ
(See you not how Allah sets forth a parable A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high). Giving its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord, and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember. And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree uprooted from the surface of earth, having no stability. Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in life of this world (i.e. they will keep on worshipping Allah alone and none else), and in the Hereafter. And Allah will cause the Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers) to go astray those and Allah does what He wills.) (14:24-27). Allah said,
ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً عَبْدًا مَّمْلُوكًا لاَّ يَقْدِرُ عَلَى شَىْءٍ
(Allah puts forward the example of (two men ـ a believer and a disbeliever); a servant under the possession of another, he has no power of any sort) (16:75). He then said,
وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً رَّجُلَيْنِ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَبْكَمُ لاَ يَقْدِرُ عَلَى شَىْءٍ وَهُوَ كَلٌّ عَلَى مَوْلاهُ أَيْنَمَا يُوَجِّههُّ لاَ يَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِى هُوَ وَمَن يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ
(And Allah puts forward (another) example of two men, one of them dumb, who has no power over anything, and he is a burden on his master; whichever way he directs him, he brings no good. Is such a man equal to one who commands justice) (16:76). Also, Allah said,
ضَرَبَ لَكُمْ مَّثَلاً مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ هَلْ لَّكُمْ مِّن مَّا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُكُمْ مِّن شُرَكَآءَ فِى مَا رَزَقْنَـكُمْ
(He sets forth for you a parable from your own selves: Do you have partners among those whom your right hands possess (i.e. your servants) to share as equals in the wealth we have bestowed on you) (30:28).
Mujahid commented on Allah's statement,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْىِ أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا
(Verily, Allah is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger than it.) "The believers believe in these parables, whether they involve large matters or small, because they know that they are the truth from their Lord, and Allah guides the believers by these parables.''
In his Tafsir, As-Suddi reported that Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and other people among the Companions said,
يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا
(By it He misleads many), "Meaning the hypocrites. Allah guides the believers with these parables, and the straying of the hypocrites increases when they reject the parables that Allah mentioned for them which they know are true. This is how Allah misleads them.''
وَيَهْدِي بِهِ
(And He guides thereby) meaning, with the parables,
كَثِيراً
(many) from among the people of faith and conviction. Allah adds guidance to their guidance, and faith to their faith, because they firmly believe in what they know to be true, that is, the parables that Allah has mentioned. This is guidance that Allah grants them;
وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفَـسِقِينَ
(And He misleads thereby only the Fasiqin (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah)), meaning, the hypocrites. The Arabs say that the date has Fasaqat, when it comes out of its skin, and they call the mouse a Fuwaysiqah, because it leaves its den to cause mischief. The Two Sahihs recorded `A'ishah saying that the Messenger of Allah said,
«خَمْسٌ فَوَاسِقُ يُقْتَلْنَ فِي الْحِلِّ وَالْحَرَمِ: الغُرَابُ وَالْحِدَأَةُ وَالْعَقْرَبُ وَالْفَأْرَةُ وَالْكَلْبُ الْعَقُور»
(Five animals are Fawasiq, and they must be killed during Ihram and otherwise: the crow, the kite, the scorpion, the mouse and the rabid dog.) eFasiq, includes the disbeliever and the disobedient. However, the Fisq of the disbeliever is worse, and this is the type of Fasiq that the Ayah is describing here, because Allah described them as,
الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَـقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الاٌّرْضِ أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ
(Those who break Allah's covenant after ratifying it, and sever what Allah has ordered to be joined and do mischief on earth, it is they who are the losers.)
These are the characteristics of the disbelievers and they contradict the qualities of the believers. Similarly, Allah said in Surat Ar-Ra`d,
أَفَمَن يَعْلَمُ أَنَّمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَبِّكَ الْحَقُّ كَمَنْ هُوَ أَعْمَى إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَـبِ - الَّذِينَ يُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ وَلاَ يِنقُضُونَ الْمِيثَـقَ - وَالَّذِينَ يَصِلُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ وَيَخَافُونَ سُوءَ الحِسَابِ
(Shall he then, who knows that what has been revealed unto you (O Muhammad ) from your Lord is the truth, be like him who is blind But it is only the men of understanding that pay heed. Those who fulfill the covenant of Allah and break not the Mithaq (bond, treaty, covenant). And those who join that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they are good to their relatives and do not sever the bond of kinship), and fear their Lord, and dread the terrible reckoning.) (13:19-21)) until,
وَالَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَـقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ
(And those who break the covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah's mercy), and for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell).) (13:25)
The covenant that these deviant people broke is Allah's covenant with His creation, that is, to obey Him and avoid the sins that He prohibited. This covenant was reiterated in Allah's Books and by the words of His Messengers. Ignoring this covenant constitutes breaking it. It was said that the Ayah (2:27) is about the disbelievers and the hypocrites among the People of the Book. In this case, the covenant that they broke is the pledge that Allah took from them in the Tawrah to follow Muhammad when he is sent as a Prophet, and to believe in him, and in what he was sent with. Breaking Allah's covenant in this case occured when the People of the Book rejected the Prophet after they knew the truth about him, and they hid this truth from people, even though they swore to Allah that they would do otherwise. Allah informed us that they threw the covenant behind their backs and sold it for a miserable price.
It was also reported that the Ayah (2:27) refers to all disbelievers, idol worshippers and hypocrites. Allah took their pledge to believe in His Oneness, showing them the signs that testify to His Lordship. He also took a covenant from them to obey His commands and refrain from His prohibitions, knowing that His Messengers would bring proofs and miracles that none among the creation could ever produce. These miracles testified to the truth of Allah's Messengers. The covenant was broken when the disbelievers denied what was proven to them to be authentic and rejected Allah's Prophets and Books, although they knew that they were the truth. This Tafsir was reported from Muqatil bin Hayyan, and it is very good. It is also the view that Az-Zamakhshari held.
Allah's statement next,
وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَآ أَمَرَ اللَّهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ
(And sever what Allah has ordered to be joined) is in reference to keeping the relations with the relatives, as Qatadah asserted. This Ayah is similar to Allah's statement,
فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُواْ أَرْحَامَكُمْ
(Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship) (47:22)
Ibn Jarir At-Tabari preferred this opinion. However, it has been said that the meaning of the Ayah (2:27) here is more general. Hence, everything that Allah has commanded to nurture, and the people severed, is included in its meaning.
The Meaning of `Loss
Muqatil bin Hayyan commented on Allah's statement,
أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ
(It is they who are the losers) "In the Hereafter.'' Similarly, Allah said,
أُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمُ اللَّعْنَةُ وَلَهُمْ سُوءُ الدَّارِ
(On them is the curse (i.e. they will be far away from Allah's mercy), and for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e. Hell)) (13:25).
Also, Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Every characteristic that Allah describes those other than the people of Islam - such as being losers - then it refers to disbelief. However, when they are attributed to the people of Islam, then these terms refer to sin.'' Ibn Jarir commented on Allah's statement,
أُولَـئِكَ هُمُ الْخَـسِرُونَ
(It is they who are the losers,) "`Losers is plural for loser, this word refers to whoever decreased his own share of Allah's mercy by disobeying Him, just as the merchant loses in his trade by sustaining capital loss. Such is the case with the hypocrite and the disbeliever who lose their share of the mercy that Allah has in store for His servants on the Day of Resurrection. And that is when the disbeliever and the hypocrite most desperately need Allah's mercy.''
2.26-27 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Here an objection has been answered without making mention of it. The objection was that if the Qur'an had been the Book of Allah, it would not have adduced illustrations from such insignificant things as gnats, spiders, ants, bees, etc.
Those people who do not want to understand the Reality and do not seek the Truth, get entangled in the words of such similitudes, draw wrong conclusions and go astray from the Truth on account of their own perversion. On the contrary, the seekers-after-truth, who are possessed of insight, ponder over the wisdom contained in them and are convinced that these sublime things can only be from Allah.
"Fasiq ": disobedient, the one who transgresses the bounds set by Allah.
The edicts or instructions issued by a sovereign to his subjects are called 'ahd according to the Arabic idiom, because they are obligatory on them. In this verse the word 'ahd has been used in the same sense. Allah's `ahd is His standing command to mankind to submit to Him, to obey Him and worship Him alone. The ratification of the same refers to the covenant to which the while of mankind agreed at the creation of Adam: it was that they would submit to Allah. (For further details, please refer to Al-A'raf, VII: 172).
That is, these people break off the relations which Allah has enjoined to be established and upon the establishment and strength of which depends man's individual and collective well-being. This concise sentence is so vast in meaning that it covers the whole of the moral world, ranging from relations between two persons to international relations. "Breaking off relations" not only implies violation of human relations but it also implies abuse of relations in any way, because the result will be the same if and when these relations are not observed rightly and. properly. The Qur'an, therefore, abhors not only their violation but also their abuse as it causes chaos, conflict and disorder in the world.
In these sentences the full definition of fasiq has been given: he is one who breaks off or vitiates relations between man and Allah or between man and man, and thus produces chaos on the earth.  "
2.26 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
God is not ashamed to strike a similitude even of a gnat or anything above it. For God most high being ashamed would mean the relinquishment tark [of His free agency]. When He describes Himself as being ashamed of something it means He does not do that and when it is said “He is not ashamed” it means He does not mind doing that. Creation in relation to the existence of the Real is in actuality less than a speck of dust in the air habāÌ fī hawāÌ because this is the perishing of one limited thing in another. Therefore the two-the throne and the gnat-are the same in His power. The creation of the throne is not too troublesome or difficult for Him and the creation of the gnat is not too insignificant or easy for him. He سبحانه is too holy to be attached to difficulty or ease. Since the matter can be described in this way He is not ashamed to strike a similitude of the gnat just as He is not ashamed to strike a similitude of the throne and what is below it. It is said that one aspect of the similitude of the gnat is the fact that when it is hungry it becomes strong and flies but once it is satiated it splits open and dies. Similarly Surely mankind goes too far for he thinks himself self-sufficient [96:6-7]. It is said that or anything above it means a [larger] flying insect dhubāb. [Here] one aspect of the allusion is the insolence of the fly in that it keeps returning no matter how much it is driven away. If that [quality] were to be in the lion no human being would be safe from him. But when He created power in the lion He created in him an aversion to humankind. When He created insolence in the fly He created weakness in him calling attention through this to the perfection of His wisdom and the effectiveness of His power. as for the believers they know it is the truth from their Lord; but as for the disbelievers they say “What did God desire by this as a similitudeḍ” As for those for whose eyes of inner consciousness have been opened they do not look to others or to traces or effects āthār unless it is to take heed iʿtibār or to increase the effectiveness of the faculty of insight ibtiṣār.
But for those whose eyes are like a drunken man's by virtue of their heedlessness similitudes only increase their ignorance and doubt. Thereby He leads many astray and thereby guides many; and thereby He leads none astray but the wicked. This Book is a healing and mercy for some people and a trial and misfortune for others. Those who acknowledged Him on the Day of the Covenant by the lights of [divine] assistance when they heard His words Am I not your Lordḍ [7:172] remembered at the time of the arrival of the intermediary ﷺ the primordial nature of His promise and the precedence of His love so they increased greatly in their insight. [But] those whom He marked with the ignominy of separation and [those whom He] made speak that day about the reckoning and the terror only increased their denials when the prophetic call arrived. The one with true proofs would not be hidden from them today if they had not already strayed. Because of that God most high said and thereby He leads none astray but the wicked.
2.26 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(Lo! Allah disdaineth not to coin the similitude) [2:26]. Ibn 'Abbas said, according to the report of Abu Salih: “When Allah, exalted is He, coined these two similitudes for the hypocrites - he means Allah's sayings (Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindleth fire…) [2:17] and (Or like a rainstorm from the sky….) [2:19] - they said: 'Allah is too exalted and sublime to coin similitudes'. Hence, Allah revealed this verse”. Al-Hasan and Qatadah said: “When Allah mentioned gnats and spiders in His Book and used them to coin similitudes for the disbelievers, the Jews laughed and said: 'this does not resemble Allah's speech', and so Allah revealed this verse”. Ahmad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn Ishaq al-Hafiz in his epistle informed us> Sulayman ibn Ayyub al-Tabarani> Bakr ibn Sahl> 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Sa'id> Musa ibn 'Abd al-Rahman> Ibn Jurayj> 'Ata'> Ibn 'Abbas who said regarding Allah's saying (Lo! Allah disdaineth not to coin the similitude): “This is because Allah mentioned the deities of the idolaters, saying: (And if the fly took something from them, they could not rescue it from him) [22:73]. He also mentioned the scheme of the deities and compared it to cobweb. Upon hearing this, they said: 'See how Allah mentions gnats and spiders in the Qur'an revealed to Muhammad; what is the use of this?' And so Allah revealed this”.