The Quran

Commentaries for 2.88

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.88 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And they say) i.e. the Jews: (Our hearts are hardened) vis-à-vis what you say, O Muhammad, i.e. our hearts are capable of absorbing any knowledge, but they prove incapable of comprehending your knowledge or what you say. (Nay) this is a reply to them, (but Allah hath cursed them) sealed their hearts (for their disbelief) as a punishment for their disbelief. (Little is that which they believe) they believe neither much nor a little; it is also said that this means: they do not believe in what you say at all.
2.88 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And they say, to the Prophet mockingly: ‘Our hearts are encased’ (ghulf is the plural of aghlaf), that is to say, wrapped up in covers and cannot comprehend what you say; God, exalted be He, says: Nay (bal introduces the rebuttal), but God has cursed them, removed them far from His mercy and degraded them when they rejected [the messengers], for their unbelief, which is not the result of anything defective in their hearts; and little will they believe (fa-qalīlan mā yu’minūn: the mā here is extra, emphasising the ‘littleness’ involved): that is, their belief is minimal.
2.88 Kashani - Kashani
And they say: 'Our hearts are encased'. Nay, but God has cursed them for their unbelief; and little will they believe.
2.88 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said that,
وَقَالُواْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ
(And they say, "Our hearts are Ghulf.''), means, "Our hearts are screened.'' Mujahid also said that,
وَقَالُواْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ
(And they say, "Our hearts are Ghulf.''), means, "They are covered.''`Ikrimah said, "There is a stamp on them.'' Abu Al-`Aliyah said, "They do not comprehend.'' Mujahid and Qatadah said that Ibn `Abbas read the Ayah in a way that means, "Our hearts contain every type of knowledge and do not need the knowledge that you (O Muhammad) have.'' This is the opinion of `Ata' and Ibn `Abbas.
بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ
(Nay, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief) meaning, "Allah expelled them and deprived them of every type of righteousness.'' Qatadah said that the Ayah,
فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ
(So little is that which they believe.) means, "Only a few of them believe.'' Allah's statement,
وَقَالُواْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ
(And they say, "Our hearts are Ghulf.'') is similar to His statement,
وَقَالُواْ قُلُوبُنَا فِى أَكِنَّةٍ مِمَّا تَدْعُونَا إِلَيْهِ
(And they say: "Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us) (41:5).
This is why Allah said here,
بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ
(Nay, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so little is that which they believe.) meaning, "It is not as they claim. Rather, their hearts are cursed and stamped,'' just as Allah said in Surat An-Nisa' (4:155),
وَقَوْلِهِمْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ بَلْ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
(And of their saying: "Our hearts are wrapped (with coverings, i.e. we do not understand what the Messengers say) ـ nay, Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief, so they believe not but a little.)
There is a difference of opinion regarding the meaning of Allah's statement,
فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ
(So little is that which they believe.) and His statement,
فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
(So they believe not except a few). Some scholars said that the Ayat indicate that a few of them would believe, or that their faith is minute, because they believe in Resurrection and in Allah's reward and punishment that Musa foretold. Yet, this faith will not benefit them since it is overshadowed by their disbelief in what Muhammad brought them. Some scholars said that the Jews did not actually believe in anything and that Allah said,
فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ
(So little is that which they believe), meaning, they do not believe. This meaning is similar to the Arabic expression, "Hardly have I seen anything like this,'' meaning, "I have never seen anything like this.''
2.87-90 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
''Ruh-ul-Qudus" (Holy Spirit) May refer to Revelation or to angel Gabriel who brought it to the Prophets or to the Holy Soul of Jesus Christ which Allah had created pure. "Clear Signs" refer to his miracles and to his wonderful personal qualities and his miraculous birth, which were to every lover of truth a clear proof of the fact that he was a true Prophet of Allah.
By this they meant to say, "We are so staunch in our Faith that we are not going to be influenced by anything that you might say to the contrary." All those are slaves of irrational prejudices, delude themselves like this. They regard such an obstinate attitude as a sign of their firm Faith and, therefore, a virtue. In tact, there can be no greater vice than to stick to one's own traditional creeds and beliefs even though there are strong arguments against them.
Before the advent of the Holy Prophet, the Jews were looking forward with great longings to the Prophet about whom there were many prophecies in their own Scriptures. They used to pray: "May he come soon so that we should triumph over the disbelievers and regain our lost glory! ". The people of Madinah themselves bore witness that the Jews lived in this expectation. It had become a bye-word with them to proclaim: "Let the pagans tyrannise over us as much as they like. When that Prophet comes, we will settle accounts with them." Accordingly, when the people of Madinah learnt that Muhammad (Allah's peace he upon him) had declared himself to be a Prophet, they recalled these things and thought that he might be the very Prophet about whom they had heard so much from the Jews. So they said to one another, "Let us go and accept him lest the Jews should forestall us." That was the reason why the Muslims of Madinah could not understand the attitude of the Jews who, instead of accepting him as the Prophet for whom they had been so anxiously waiting, had become his greatest opponents. As to the fact that "they did recognize the Holy Prophet," many proofs were furnished at that very time. The most authentic evidence is that of Hadrat Safiyyah (one of the wives of the Holy Prophet), who was the daughter of one learned Jew and the niece of another. She says, "When the Holy Prophet migrated to Madinah, my father and uncle went to see him. When they returned home, I myself heard the following conversation between them: Uncle: Is he really the same Prophet about whom there occur prophecies in our books? Father: By God, he is the same. U Are you quite sure of it? F. Yes. U. Then what is your intention? F. I will oppose him as long as I live and will not let his mission succeed. ( lbn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 165, Cairo Edition, 1936).
The verse may also mean: "What a miserable thing it is for which they have sold off their future life and salvation in the Hereafter!"
They wished that the Prophet should have been one of their own race; therefore, they refused to accept him when he was raised among a race which they considered to be inferior to theirs. This meant that Allah ought to have consulted them before appointing His Messenger, and when Allah did not do so, and in His bounty appointed one He chose by Himself, they were offended.
2.88 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And they say: “Our hearts are encased.” Nay but God has cursed them for their unbelief; and little will they believe. If there had been anything in them free of pretension it would have become easy to find meanings [from God's signs and scripture]. But when [they must] recognize the truth the fangs of pretenders are bared... It is said: When tears flow down cheeks The one who is crying is distinguished from the one who is only pretending.