The Quran

Commentaries for 4.161

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.161 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And of their taking usury) of their making usury lawful (when they were forbidden it) in the Torah, (and of their devouring) and because of their consumption of (people's wealth by false pretences) through transgression and bribery, We forbade them the fat which covers the stomach and bowels and the meat and milk of camels, which were before lawful for them. (We have prepared for those of them who disbelieve) among the Jews (a painful doom) the pain of which will reach to their hearts.
4.161 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And because of their taking usury when they had been forbidden it, in the Torah, and their consuming people’s wealth through falsehood, through bribes in adjudications, and We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful chastisement.
4.161 Kashani - Kashani
And because of their taking, the usury of the excesses of knowledge, such as disputation and argumentativeness, corporeal pleasures and shares from which they had been forbidden; and their consuming people's wealth through falsehood, through the vice of covetousness and [their wicked] nature, as in the acceptance of bribes and wages for falsification and deception, or [through] the use of the knowledge of the spiritual faculties from reflection to speculative or scientific reason in order to secure foods and drink, and the acquisition of the useless ephemera [of this world], as well as the actualisation of sensory pleasures and lusts and predatorial and beastly goals, [We have prepared] a painful chastisement for the existence of their preparedness.
4.160-162 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Some Foods Were Made Unlawful for the Jews Because of their Injustice and Wrongdoing
Allah states that because of the injustice and transgression of the Jews, demonstrated by committing major sins, He prohibited some of the lawful, pure things which were previously allowed for them. This prohibition could be only that of decree, meaning that Allah allowed the Jews to falsely interpret their Book and change and alter the information about what was allowed for them. They thus, out of exaggeration and extremism in the religion, prohibited some things for themselves. It could also mean that in the Tawrah, Allah prohibited things that were allowed for them before. Allah said,
كُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِـلاًّ لِّبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ إِلاَّ مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَءِيلُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ
(All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Isra'il made unlawful for himself before the Tawrah was revealed.) We mentioned this Ayah before, which means that all types of food were allowed for the Children of Israel before the Tawrah was revealed, except the camel's meat and milk that Isra'il prohibited for himself. Later, Allah prohibited many things in the Tawrah. Allah said in Surat Al-An`am (chapter 6),
وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ هَادُواْ حَرَّمْنَا كُلَّ ذِى ظُفُرٍ وَمِنَ الْبَقَرِ وَالْغَنَمِ حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ شُحُومَهُمَآ إِلاَّ مَا حَمَلَتْ ظُهُورُهُمَآ أَوِ الْحَوَايَآ أَوْ مَا اخْتَلَطَ بِعَظْمٍ ذَلِكَ جَزَيْنَـهُم بِبَغْيِهِمْ وِإِنَّا لَصَـدِقُونَ
(And unto those who are Jews, We forbade every (animal) with undivided hoof, and We forbade them the fat of the ox and the sheep except what adheres to their backs or their entrails, or is mixed up with a bone. Thus We recompensed them for their rebellion. And verily, We are Truthful.) This means, We prohibited these things for them because they deserved it due to their transgression, injustice, defying their Messenger and disputing with him. So Allah said;
فَبِظُلْمٍ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ هَادُواْ حَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ طَيِّبَـتٍ أُحِلَّتْ لَهُمْ وَبِصَدِّهِمْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَثِيراً
(For the wrongdoing of the Jews, We made unlawful to them certain good foods which had been lawful to them, and for their hindering many from Allah's way.) This Ayah states that they hindered themselves and others from following the truth, and this is the behavior that they brought from the past to the present. This is why they were and still are the enemies of the Messengers, killing many of the Prophets. They also denied Muhammad and `Isa, peace be upon them. mAllah said,
وَأَخْذِهِمُ الرِّبَا وَقَدْ نُهُواْ عَنْهُ
(And their taking of Riba' though they were forbidden from taking it,) Allah prohibited them from taking Riba', yet they did so using various kinds of tricks, ploys and cons, thus devouring people's property unjustly. Allah said,
وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَـفِرِينَ مِنْهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً
(And We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment. ) Allah then said,
لَّـكِنِ الرَّاسِخُونَ فِى الْعِلْمِ مِنْهُمْ
(But those among them who are well-grounded in knowledge...) firm in the religion and full of beneficial knowledge. We mentioned this subject when we explained Surah Al `Imran (3). The Ayah;
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ
(and the believers...) refers to the well-grounded in knowledge;
يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ
(believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you;) Ibn `Abbas said, "This Ayah was revealed concerning `Abdullah bin Salam, Tha`labah bin Sa`yah, Zayd bin Sa`yah and Asad bin `Ubayd who embraced Islam and believed what Allah sent Muhammad with. Allah said,
وَالْمُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَوةَ
(and give Zakah,) This could be referring to the obligatory charity due on one's wealth and property, or those who purify themselves, or both. Allah knows best.
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ
(and believe in Allah and in the Last Day,) They believe that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, believe in Resurrection after death and the reward or punishment for the good or evil deeds. Allah's statement,
أُوْلَـئِكَ
(It is they,) those whom the Ayah described above,
سَنُؤْتِيهِمْ أَجْراً عَظِيماً
(To whom We shall give a great reward.) means Paradise.
4.156-162 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This is in continuation of the theme under discussion.
The calumny against Mary concerning the birth of Jesus has been declared here as "disbelief" because it was not directed against the person of innocent Mary or her son but against Jesus Christ, the Messenger of God. The Jews had absolutely no ground for suspicion about his miraculous birth without father, because God had caused the whole Community to stand as witness to the miracle. When Virgin Mary, who belonged to the noble and well-known religious family of the Israelites, came home with the new-born child, a large crowd gathered there and demanded an explanation from her. But she simply pointed to the child. The crowd could not understand how a child in the cradle could speak, but to their utter astonishment, the child began to speak clearly and fluently and addressing the crowd, he declared, "I am Allah's servant: Allah has given me the Book and made me a Prophet." (Maryam, XIX : 30) Thus Allah cut at the very root of the slander about his birth. That is why none ever accused Mary of fornication nor taunted Jesus with being an illegitimate son until he stained his maturity. But when at the age of thirty, he started his mission to invite the people to the way of God and rebuked the Jews for their evil deeds and exposed the hypocrisies of their scholars and jurists and warned the whole community of the consequences of moral degradation, they turned against him. Instead of accepting his message and making sacrifices for the cause of God, and reforming their evil ways, these impudent and unscrupulous criminals resorted to all sorts of dirty tricks and devilish designs to suppress the voice of Truth. It was then that they made that monstrous calumny which they had never uttered before during the previous thirty years of his life, because they knew it for certain that Mary and her son were absolutely free from this taint. Thus their calumny, in fact, was not due to any real suspicion, which they might be harboring in their hearts, but it was a pure calumny, which they deliberately invented for opposing the Truth. That is why Allah declared it to be disbelief instead of wickedness and falsehood, for their real aim by this accusation was to hinder the people from the Way of God and not merely to slander an innocent lady.
The fact that they bragged of slaying Jesus, knowing him to be a Messenger of God, shows how bold they had become in their crimes. We have shown in the previous Note that the miracle of his speech in the cradle had let no doubt whatsoever to remain in the minds of the Jews about his Prophethood. Then the clear signs that they witnessed from him (III : 49) were a conclusive proof that he was really a Prophet of God. Therefore their wicked behavior towards him was not the result of any misunderstanding about his Prophethood, but was an intentional crime against the one who had been appointed by Allah as Messenger.
Though it appears very strange that a community should slay a person whom they know to be and acknowledge a Prophet of Allah, yet it is so, for the ways of wicked communities are strange. They cannot and do not tolerate a person who criticizes them for their evil ways and prohibits unlawful things. Such people, even though they be the Prophets of Allah, have always been persecuted, imprisoned and slain by their own wicked people.
As a proof thereof, the following is quoted from the Talmud: "When the city (Jerusalem) had been captured, Nebuchadnezzar marched with the princes and officers of the Temple...... On one of the walls he found the mark of an arrow's head as though somebody had been killed or hit nearby, and he asked who was killed there.
"Zachariah, the son of Yehoyadah, the high priest", answered the people. "He rebuked us incessantly on account of our transgressions and we were tired of his words and put him to death."
Even according to the Bible, when the Prophet Jeremiah rebuked the Jews on account of their transgressions, they accused him of being in conspiracy with the Chaldeans and traitor against his people and sent him to prison. Likewise had the Jews treated John the Baptist a couple of years before the crucifixion of the Prophet Jesus. They counted John as a Prophet and acknowledged him as one of the most righteous men of their community, but when he criticized Herod (the ruler of Judea) for his evil ways, he was not tolerated. He was first sent to prison, then beheaded on the demand of Herod's beloved, the dancing girl.
It is, therefore, obvious from their record that when they presumed that they had crucified Jesus Christ, they bragged: "We have slain a Messenger of Allah. "
This is another parenthesis.
This verse is explicit on the point that the Prophet Jesus Christ was rescued from crucifixion and that the Christians and the Jews are both wrong in believing that he died on the cross. A comparative study of the Qur'an and the Bible shows that most probably it was Jesus himself who stood his trial in the court of Pilate, who sentenced him to death, but they could not kill or crucify him, for Allah raised him to Himself.
This is what happened, Pilate knew fully well that Christ was innocent and had been brought in his court out of jealousy. So he asked the crowd whether Jesus Christ should be released on the occasion of the Festival or Barabbas, a notorious robber. But the high priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas and for the crucifixion of Jesus. After this, God, Who can do any and everything He wills, raised Jesus to Himself and rescued him from crucifixion and the one who was crucified afterwards was somehow or other taken for Chris. Nevertheless, his miraculous escape does not lessen the wicked crime of the Jews, because they knew it well that the one, whom they crowned with a crown of thorns, and on whose face they spat and whom they crucified with disgrace was Christ, the son of Mary. As regards the matter how "it was made doubtful for them" that they had crucified Jesus, we have no means of ascertaining. Therefore it is not right to base on mere guess-work and rumors an answer to the question how the Jews were made to believe that they had crucified him, whereas in fact, Jesus, the son of Mary, had escaped from them.
"Those who have differed": the Christians. They do not agree in their versions of crucifixion. The very fact that they offer so many different accounts of the matter is by itself a proof that they possess no definite knowledge of it and are, therefore, in doubt about it. One version is that the person who was crucified was not Jesus but someone who bore his likeness, whom the Jews and the Romans had disgracefully put on the cross, while Jesus was standing nearby and laughing at their folly. Another version is that the one who was nailed to the cross was Jesus, but he did not die on the cross and was alive when he was taken down from it. Some others say that he died on the cross but came to life afterwards and met his disciples more than ten times and talked to them. Still others say that death due to crucifixion occurred on the physical body of Jesus and he was buried but the Divine Spirit within him was raised. There are still others who say that after his death Jesus came to life with his body and was raised with his body. Obviously, if the Christians had any knowledge of the truth, they would not have given so many different versions of it.
Here Allah has told the fact of the matter. The Qur'an explicitly states that the Jews did not succeed in putting Jesus to death and that Allah raised him to Himself, but it is silent about the nature and details of the matter and does neither say explicitly whether Allah raised him body and soul together from the earth to some place in heaven, nor that he died like other mortals and only his soul was raised to heaven. Therefore, on the basis of the Qur'an neither aspect can be definitely denied or affirmed. But a study of the style clearly shows that whatever be the nature of being raised in any case Allah certainly treated the Prophet Jesus in an extraordinary way. The following considerations lead to the conclusion that the incident was extraordinary:
First, the belief in the ascension of the Prophet Jesus, body and soul together, was already prevalent among the Christians, and was one of the causes which misled a large section of them to believe in his divinity. But, in spite of it, the Qur'an not only has not clearly refuted it but has used the same word "ascension" for the incident that the Christians use for it. Had it not been an extraordinary incident factually the Qur'an would not have used such ambiguous words as help support a doctrine of the divinity of Jesus.
Second, had Allah meant by the words used in verse 158 that "Allah caused his death", or that "Allah raised him in rank", more explicit words would have been used. In the first case, more appropriate words would be: "No doubt they did not slay him nor crucified him but Allah rescued him alive from them and then gave him natural death", and in the second: "The Jews intended to dishonor him by crucifixion, but Allah raised him very high in rank", as have been used in tire case of the Prophet Idris: "And We raised him to a high position". (Maryam, XlX : 57).
Third, if the incident related here meant merely the natural death of Christ, the words, "And Allah is All-Powerful and All-Wise", after it would be meaningless. These words can be appropriately used only in connection with some extraordinary manifestation of the power and wisdom of Allah.
The only argument that can be cited in support of the interpretation of verse 158 that Jesus died a natural death is the use of the word mutawaffika in verse 55 of Al-`Imran, in connection with the incident. But as we have explained in the corresponding E.N. 51, the word is not explicit in the meaning of natural death but can be applied both to take the soul and to take the body and soul together. As there is scope for both the interpretations in this word, its use cannot refute the above mentioned arguments against the meaning: "Allah caused his death". Those who insist on this interpretation argue that there is no other instance in which tawaffa might have been used for the seizure of both body and soul together. This is meaningless, for this is the only incident of its kind in the whole human history. The only thing to be considered is whether this word may lexically be used in this sense or not. If it can be used, we have to face the question: Why does the Qur'an not use a direct word for death instead of a word which is liable to support the doctrine of Ascension, which its turn, has given rise to the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus'? The use of this word is a clear proof that there was something extraordinary about the incident. Above all, the doctrine of Ascension is further strengthened by the Traditions according to which the Prophet Jesus, son of Mary, will come again to the earth before the Resurrection and fight the Dajjal. (These Traditions have been cited in the Appendix to the commentary of Surah Al Ahzab). These categorically prove the second coming of Jesus. Therefore, it would be snore rational to believe that he is living somewhere in the universe before this second coming than that he lies dead and buried somewhere before his advent.
This has been interpreted in two ways and both are likely. (Here by the people of the Book are meant the Jews and may also be the Christians). According to the first interpretation, as adopted in the Translation, it means: "All the people of the Book, alive at the time of the natural death of Christ, will have believed in him, that is, in his Prophethood." The second interpretation of "There shall be none among the people of the Book but will believe in him before his death" is that all the people of the Book before their death do realize and believe that Christ is really a Messenger of God, though that belief will be of no avail at the time. Both these interpretations have been put forward by several Companions and their followers and renowned commentators, but its real meaning is only known to Allah.
That is, "In the court of God, Christ will give testimony against the Jews and the Christians that they rejected, neglected and distorted the Message brought by him." Some details of this testimony are given in vv. 116-117 of AI Ma'idah.
The main theme that was broken by the parenthesis, which ends here, has been resumed
It is an irony that the Jews, who possessed a Divine Book and the heritage of the Prophets, should not only have themselves discarded the way of God but also frequently stood in the way of God. It is a fact that they have always been opposing and placing obstacles in the way of those movements that have ever been started for the promulgation of the Truth and have been starting or helping start movements against the way of God. Their latest crime in this connection is Communism which has for the first time in history based a system of life and a system of government on the deliberate and explicit denial of God in open opposition to His Law for the eradication God-worship as its declared aims. The author of another perverted doctrine of the modern age, Freudianism, which has helped mislead the people from the way of Allah, is also a Jew.
Here is the Biblical law that clearly prohibits interest: "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury."
"If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that time the sun goeth down:
For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear: for I am gracious." (Exodus 22 : 25-27).
Besides this, interest has also been prohibited at several other places in the Torah, but in spite of these prohibitive decrees, the Jews, who profess to believe in the same Torah, are the biggest usurers in the world and have become proverbially notorious for their narrow-mindedness and hard-heartedness.
Probably this refers to the same thing that occurs in AI-An`am, V 1:146, that is, all animals with claws, and the fat of sheep and oxen were forbidden to the Jews. Besides this, possibly it may also refer to the restrictions and hardships which are contained in the law books composed by their own Jurists. Indeed, it is a great punishment that the bounds of life should be narrowed for any community. (For details please see E.N. 122, Al-An`am).
History bears witness to the exemplary punishment that Allah has prepared for those Jews who have discarded the Divine Faith and given up obedience to Allah and adopted the attitude of disbelief and rebellion. For the last two thousand years, they have never possessed a place where they could live with honor. They have been scattered all over the world and are treated like foreigners and disgracefully, cruelly and oppressively in one country or the other, and there is no place in the world, where they are sincerely respected, in spite of their great wealth. Above all, this community has remained a living object lesson for the other nations, for it has been kept in existence in spite of its degradation, whereas other nations are exterminated when they become worthless. Thus Allah is causing them to taste in this very world a bit of the torment of Hell where the evil-doers "will neither be in a state of death nor in a state of life." This is because they have been showing the audacity of rebelling against Allah while they were at the same time carrying the Book of Allah with them. As regards punishment in the Hereafter, it may safely be predicted that it shall be much more painful than this. In order to remove any misunderstanding that might arise regarding the existence of the State of Israel, it will be worthwhile to refer to v. 112 of Al-`Imran, and the corresponding E.N.90.
The reference is to those learned Jews who are fully acquainted with the real nature of the Divine Books, who are just, fair and free from every kind of prejudice, obduracy and self-worship, who do not blindly follow their fore-fathers but readily accept the Truth that they learn from the revealed Books. Therefore they are able to recognize easily that the teachings of the Qur'an are the same as were taught by the former Prophets, and then sincerely believe in both.
4.160-161 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
And because of the evildoing of some of those of the Jews We have forbidden them certain good things that were lawful for them and because of their barring from God's way many. And because of their taking usury when they had been forbidden it and their consuming people's wealth through falsehood and We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful chastisement. It is said that committing prohibited acts leads to the forbidding of what had been permitted. Whoever commits a prohibited act with his outward self is forbidden that which he used to find in his permitted states and the subtle kindnesses received in his innermost self.