The Quran

Commentaries for 2.44

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.44 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then He mentioned the story of the Jewish leaders, saying: (Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind), do you enjoin the Oneness of Allah and the following of Muhammad (pbuh) upon people of humble background (while ye yourself forget), while you yourself refrain from following him? (And you are readers of the Scripture!) to them. (Have ye then no sense?) do you not possess the common sense possessed by human beings?
2.44 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Will you bid others to piety, to belief in Muhammad (s), and forget yourselves, neglecting yourselves and not bidding them to the same, while you recite the Book?, in which there is the threat of chastisement, if what you do contradicts what you say. Do you not understand? the evil nature of your actions, that you might then repent? (the sentence about ‘forgetting’ constitutes the [syntactical] locus of the interrogative of disavowal).
2.44 Kashani - Kashani
Will you bid others to piety, which is the beautiful act that results in purity of the heart and wholesomeness of the soul whose illumination is thereby increased; and forget yourselves: will you not act in accordance with that by which you rise from the station of the self-disclosure of the acts to the self-disclosure of the attributesḍ while you recite the Book, of your primordial nature that commands you to follow Muḥammad in his religion, the one that will lead you to the path of God's unityḍ Do you not understandḍ, a rhetorically powerful rebuke and a provocation of their fanaticism.
2.44 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Condemnation of commanding Others to observe Righteousness while ignoring Righteousness
Allah said, "How is it, O People of the Book, that you command people to perform Al-Birr, which encompasses all types of righteousness, yet forget yourselves and do not heed what you call others to And you read Allah's Book (the Tawrah) and know what it promises to those who do not fulfill Allah's commandments.
أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ
(Have you then no sense) of what you are doing to yourselves, so that you might become aware of your slumber and restore your sight from blindness'' `Abdur-Razzaq said that Ma`mar stated that Qatadah commented on Allah's statement,
أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and every act of obedience to Allah) on the people and you forget (to practise it) yourselves,) "The Children of Israel used to command people to obey Allah, fear Him and perform Al-Birr. Yet, they contradicted these orders, so Allah reminded them of this fact.'' As-Suddi said similarly. Ibn Jurayj said that the Ayah:
أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ
(Enjoin you Al-Birr on the people) "Is about the People of the Book and the hypocrites. They used to command people to pray and fast. However, they did not practice what they commanded others. Allah reminded them of this behavior. So whoever commands people to do righteousness, let him be among the first of them to implement that command.'' Also, Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(And you forget yourselves,) means, "You forget to practice it yourselves,
وَأَنتُمْ تَتْلُونَ الْكِتَـبَ أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ
(While you recite the Scripture (Tawrah)! Have you then no sense) You forbid the people from rejecting the prophethood and the covenant that you have mentioned with you in the Tawrah, while you yourselves have forgoten it, meaning that `you have forgotten the covenant that I made with you that you will accept My Messenger. You have breeched My covenant, and rejected what you know is in My Book.' ''
Therefore, Allah admonished the Jews for this behavior and alerted them to the wrongs that they were perpetrating against themselves by ordering righteousness, yet refraining themselves from righteousness. We should state that Allah is not criticizing the People of the Book for ordering righteousness, because enjoining good is a part of righteousness and is an obligation for the scholars. However, the scholar is himself required to heed, and adhere to, what he invites others to. For instance, Prophet Shu`ayb said,
وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَى مَآ أَنْهَـكُمْ عَنْهُ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الإِصْلَـحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِى إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ
(I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent) (11:88).
Therefore, enjoining righteousness and performing righteousness are both required. Neither category is rendered not necessary by the practice of the other, according to the most correct view of the scholars among the Salaf (predecessors) and the Khalaf.
Imam Ahmad reported that Abu Wa'il said, "While I was riding behind Usamah, he was asked, `Why not advise `Uthman' He said, `Do you think that if I advise him I should allow you to hear it I advise him in secret, and I will not start something that I would hate to be the first to start. I will not say to a man, `You are the best man,' even if he was my leader, after what I heard from the Messenger of Allah.' They said, `What did he say' He said, `I heard him say,
«يُجَاءُ بِالرَّجُلِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامةِ فَيُلْقَى فِي النَّار فَتَنْدَلِقُ بِه أَقْتَابُهُ فيَدُورُ بِهَا فِي النَّار كَمَا يَدُورُ الْحِمَارُ بِرَحَاهُ فيُطِيفُ بِهِ أَهْلُ النَّار فَيَقُولُون: يَا فُلَانُ ما أَصَابَكَ؟ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ تَأْمُرُنَا بِالْمَعْرُوف وَتَنْهَانَا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ؟ فَيَقُولُ: كُنْتُ آمرُكُمْ باِلْمَعْرُوفِ وَلَا آتِيهِ وَأَنْهَاكُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَآتِيه»
(A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown in the Fire. His intestines will fall out and he will continue circling pulling them behind him, just as the donkey goes around the pole. The people of the Fire will go to that man and ask him, `What happened to you Did you not used to command us to do righteous acts and forbid us from committing evil' He will say, `Yes. I used to enjoin righteousness, but refrained from performing righteousness, and I used to forbid you to perform from evil while I myself did it.').'''
This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. eAlso, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i said, "I hesitate in advising people because of three Ayat:
أَتَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبِرِّ وَتَنسَوْنَ أَنفُسَكُمْ
(Enjoin you Al-Birr on the people and you forget (to practise it) yourselves).
يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لاَ تَفْعَلُونَ - كَبُرَ مَقْتاً عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقُولُواْ مَا لاَ تَفْعَلُونَ
(O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do Most hateful it is to Allah that you say that which you do not do) (61:2-3).''
And Allah informed us that the Prophet Shu`ayb said,
وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَى مَآ أَنْهَـكُمْ عَنْهُ إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الإِصْلَـحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِى إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ
(I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent) (11:88).
2.41-46 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
"Paltry gains": worldly gains for the sake of which these people discarded the commandments and precepts of Allah. As a matter of fact, even the whole wealth of the world put together is worthless, if it is gained in exchange for Allah's Guidance.
Such were the conditions when the Holy Prophet upon whom be peace) presented himself as a Prophet and began to invite the people to Islam; naturally the illiterate Arabs turned to the Jews for guidance in this matter, and said: "You are the followers of a Prophet and possess a Book, so tell us what you think of this man and his teachings, who claims to be a Prophet." This question was repeatedly asked of the Jews by the people of Makkah, and when the Holy Prophet came to Madinah, here also many people visited the Jewish scholars again and again to ask them the same question. But their scholars never gave them the right answer. For they could not say that the doctrine of Tauhid that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) was preaching was wrong, nor that the knowledge which he imparted about the Prophets, scriptures, angels, and the Hereafter was wrong, nor that there was something wrong about the moral principles that he taught. They were neither ready to admit in plain words the righteousness of the teachings of the Holy Prophet; nor had they the courage to refute it openly; nor were they willing to profess the Truth candidly. Instead, they devised a subtle strategy to oppose it: they created one suspicion or the other about the Holy Prophet, his followers and his mission; they would concoct allegations against him and his followers and make false propaganda against them or raise frivolous objections so as to involve them in useless discussions. That is why they have been warned not to conceal the truth by covering it with falsehood, nor suppress it by spreading suspicions and by raising silly objections, nor mix it up with falsehood.
The Salat and the Zakat have always formed the essential elements of the revealed religion (Islam). Like all other Prophets, the Israelite Prophets also had strictly enjoined these, but by and by the Jews became wholly neglectful of them. They gave up the performance of Salat in congregation and the majority of the people did not even offer it individually. Instead of paying Zakat, they started charging interest on money.
That is, "If you face some difficulties in following the righteous way, sabr and Salat will help remove the difficulties and strengthen you to walk the way easily." Lexically, sabr means to check and tie, but in usage it stands for patience, perseverance, endurance and fortitude. The Qur'an uses this word to express that fortitude, that moral strength, that firmness of purpose and decision, that determination, moral discipline and self-control which enable a person to proceed with patience and courage in the face of afflictions, privations and temptations on the way he chooses in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. What the Qur'an means to stress is that the Muslims should develop this moral quality in themselves and should observe the Salat regularly to reinforce it from without.
Salat is a hard task" only for the one who is disobedient to Allah and does not believe in the Hereafter. But it is a joyful duty for the one who is willingly and happily obedient to Allah and who believes that one day he will have therein. It is expected that this will lead you on to the paths of virtue and piety." But even after that you forsook the Covenant: nevertheless Allah did not withhold His grace and mercy from you; otherwise you would have been utterly ruined long before this.
2.44 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Will you bid others to piety and forget yourselves while you recite the Bookḍ Do you not understandḍ “Will you rouse others to be foremost while you are content to lag behindḍ” It is also said “Will you call created beings to Us while you hang back from Usḍ Will you give drink to the delegations while you yourselves hold back from the waterḍ Will you vie with others arguing with them over particulars content in your bankruptcy with externalsḍ” It is said “Do you look to the weight of a speck or the measure of a grain in people while you tolerate the mounds of sand and mountains in yourselvesḍ” The one who spoke for them said: Do you look to the mote in my eye when you do not see the beam in your ownḍ It is also said “Do you give the choicest drink while you do not drink in turnḍ” “While you recite the Bookḍ Then you persist obstinately with clandestine claims denying the shameful thoughts faḌīḥāt al-khawāṬir and the unmistakable driving cries [to blameworthy things] ṣarīḥāt al-zawājir hidden in your hearts. Do you not understand that these are blameworthy qualities dhamīmun min al-khiṣāl and ugly acts qabīḥun min al-fiʿālḍ”
2.44 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind while ye yourselves forget (to practise it)?) [2:44]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas, according to the narration of al-Kalbi>Abu Salih through the aforementioned chain of transmission: “This was revealed about the Jews of Medina. One of them would say to his brother-in-law, relatives or Muslims with whom they had milk relations: ‘Hold firm to your religion and that with which this man — meaning Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace — commands you, for what he has brought is the truth’. They used to enjoin people to follow Islam while abstaining themselves from doing so”.