Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then mentions the dispute of the Jews and Christians and the question which they put to the Prophet (pbuh) regarding who really follows the religion of Abraham. When the Prophet (pbuh) told them that they were both far from the Religion of Abraham, they said that they did not accept this judgement. Hence, Allah said: (Seek they) with you (other than the religion of Allah) Islam (complete surrender to Allah), (when unto Him submiteth) acknowledges Islam and Allah's divine Oneness (whosoever is in the heavens) of angels (and the earth) of believers, (willingly) the dwellers of the heavens willingly, (or unwillingly) the dwellers of the earth unwillingly. It is also said that this means: the sincere among the believers acknowledge this willingly while the hypocrites do so unwillingly; it is also said this means: those who are born Muslim acknowledge this willingly while those who were made to embrace Islam do so unwillingly, (and unto Him they will be returned) after death.
What! Do they, the ones who turn away, desire (yabghūna, is also read tabghūna, ‘[do] you desire?’) other than God’s religion, when to Him has submitted, [to Him] has yielded, whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly, without refusal, or unwillingly, by the sword and by seeing what it [such refusal] results in, and to Him they shall be returned? (yurja‘ūna, may also be read turja‘ūna, ‘you shall be returned’; the hamza at the beginning of the verse [a-fa-ghayra, ‘what…other’] denotes a disavowal).
What! Do they desire other than God's religion, when all who are in the heavens and the earth abide by His religion, willingly, such as [all those] other than human beings and Satan, or unwillingly, such as human beings and Satan, since disbelief cannot embrace any other existent. All [these other existents] comply with what God has commanded them obediently. Man, on the other hand, veils himself of his own free will and because he has forgotten God's covenant and has accepted the call of Satan, corresponding to him by virtue of his [man's] ego-centric darkness: he does not believe, nor does he comply except unwillingly, God knows, except the one whom God has protected [from such sin] and chosen [for such protection]. Satan, on account of his veiling himself with his conceit and ego, when he said I am better than him [Q. 7:12], and because of his refusal and arrogance, disbelieved even as he knew that he was being disobedient, realising that his disbelief took place by God's will: that is the essence of faith, as God says: like Satan when he says to man, 'Disbelieve!'… he [then] says to him, 'Lo! I am absolved of you. Indeed I fear God, the Lord of the Worlds [Q. 59:16]. He also says: And that Satan adorned their deeds for them and said, 'Today no person shall overcome you, for I shall be your protector'. But when the two armies sighted each other, he turned his back in flight saying, 'I am quit of you, for I see what you do not see. I fear God and God is severe in retribution' [Q. 8:48]; and in another place: And Satan says, when the issue has been decided, 'Truly God promised you a promise of truth, whereas I promised you, then failed you, for over you I had no warrant, except that I called you and you responded to me. So do not blame me, but blame yourselves. I cannot heed your [distress] call, nor can you heed mine. Lo! I disbelieved in your making me an associate of God before [Q. 14:22]. All of these verses are proof that he [Satan] has faith, but when it shall not profit him; and to Him they shall be returned, in the final sequel, when there shall be no religion other than God's religion. Nay, all upon this return shall be upon His religion:
'All are followers of the religion of the Truth if they [only] could discern, for a religion that is not for [sake of] the Truth, is not one that is lawful'.
(Have they not observed things that Allah has created: (how) their shadows incline to the right and to the left, making prostration unto Allah, and they are lowly And to Allah prostrate all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, of the moving creatures and the angels, and they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded) 16: 48-50.
Therefore, the faithful believer submits to Allah in heart and body, while the disbeliever unwillingly submits to Him in body only, since he is under Allah's power, irresistible control and mighty kingship that cannot be repelled or resisted. Waki` reported that Mujahid said that the Ayah,
(and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Ismai`0l, Ishaq, Ya`qub) the scriptures and revelation,
(and the Asbat,) the Asbat are the twelve tribes who originated from the twelve children of Israel (Ya`qub).
وَمَا أُوتِىَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى
(and what was given to Musa, `Isa) the Tawrah and the Injil,
وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ
(and the Prophets from their Lord.) and this encompasses all of Allah's Prophets.
لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ
(We make no distinction between one another among them) we believe in all of them,
وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
(And to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam))
Therefore, faithful Muslims believe in every Prophet whom Allah has sent and in every Book He revealed, and never disbelieve in any of them. Rather, they believe in what was revealed by Allah, and in every Prophet sent by Allah. Allah said next,
(Whoever commits an action that does not conform to our matter (religion) then it is rejected).
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, "When the whole universe and everything in it follow `Islam' and submit to Allah, what other way of life than Islam do these rejectors, who live in the same universe, seek to follow?"
That is, "We do not have different ways of treatment for different Prophets: we accept each and everyone of them and do not reject any one of them and we treat all of them as truthful Prophets and none as a liar. We are free from prejudice and zeal for ignorance; we bear witness to the fact that each and every servant of Allah, who brought the Truth from Him to any place whatever in the world, was in the right.
What! Do they desire other than God's religion when to Him has submitted whoever is in the heavens and the earth willing or unwillingly and to Him they shall be returnedḍ Anyone who pays attention to what is not real ghayr al-ḥaqīqa or looks to what is other than Him in imagining divinity ilāhiyya is like one who sees a mirage he thinks is water māÌ but when he comes to it he finds only dust habāÌ. The errors of mere suppositions cut one off and confuse; those who descend into them have entered a desolate wadi. To Him has submitted whoever is in the heavens and the earth willingly because of the lights of divine self-disclosure coming down continually to their innermost selves or unwillingly because of the flow of the divine decree overpowering them.
(Seek they other than the religion of Allah…) [3:83]. Said ibn ‘Abbas: “The people of the two Scriptures [the Jews and the Christians] went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, to settle a dispute regarding Abraham's religion, for one of these parties claimed that they had the best claim to his religion. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘None of the parties has anything to do with the religion of Abraham’. But this statement angered both parties. They said: ‘By Allah, we do not accept your judgement nor are we going to follow your religion!’ Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (Seek they other than the religion of Allah…)”.