The Quran

Commentaries for 4.47

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.47 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(O ye unto whom the Scripture hath been given!) O you to whom knowledge of the traits and description of Muhammad in the Torah has been given. (Believe in what We have revealed) the Qur'an (concerning that which) confirms what (ye possess) in terms of Allah's divine Oneness and the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) (before We destroy countenances) before We change your hearts (so as to confound them) so as to turn them away from the lights of guidance and transform their faces to the back of their heads, (or curse them) turn them into animals (as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers (of old time)) by turning them into apes. (And the commandment of Allah is always executed) after the revelation of this verse 'Abdullah Ibn Salam and his companions embraced Islam.
4.47 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
O you who have been given the Scripture, believe in what We have revealed, of the Qur’ān, confirming what is with you, of the Torah, before We obliterate faces, erasing the eyes, noses and eyebrows in them, and turn them inside out, and make them like the napes of the neck, a flat plate, or curse them, by transforming them into apes, as We cursed, [as] We transformed, those of the Sabbath, among them, and God’s command, His decree, is done: after this was revealed, ‘Abd Allāh b. Salām converted to Islam, and so it was said that this had been a conditional threat of punishment, so that when some of them converted to Islam, it [the threat] was lifted. It is also said that obliteration and transformation will take place before the rising of the Hour.
4.47 Kashani - Kashani
O you who have been given the Book, the Book of preparedness, believe, a true belief of eyewitness by bringing out what is in the Book of your preparedness [from potentiality] to actuality by the affirmation of the oneness of the Essence, before We obliterate faces, by the removal and effacement of their preparednesses, and turn them on their backs, which is the lowest of the low in the world of bodies which is posterior to every [other] world, or We curse them, We chastise them by transforming [them] as We transformed, those of the Sabbath, and God's command is done, that is, fulfilled for all eternity, none able to change it or revoke it.
4.47-48 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Calling the People of the Book to Embrace the Faith, Warning them Against Doing Otherwise
Allah commands the People of the Scriptures to believe in what He has sent down to His servant and Messenger, Muhammad, the Glorious Book that conforms to the good news that they already have about Muhammad. He also warns them,
مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّطْمِسَ وُجُوهاً فَنَرُدَّهَا عَلَى أَدْبَـرِهَآ
(before We efface faces and turn them backwards) Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said that `effacing' here refers to blindness,
فَنَرُدَّهَا عَلَى أَدْبَـرِهَآ
(and turn them backwards) meaning, We put their faces on their backs, and make them walk backwards, since their eyes will be in their backs. Similar was said by Qatadah and `Atiyah Al-`Awfi. This makes the punishment even more severe, and it is a parable that Allah set for ignoring the truth, preferring the wrong way and turning away from the plain path for the paths of misguidance. Therefore, such people walk backwards. Similarly, some said that Allah's statement,
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا فِى أَعْنـقِهِمْ أَغْلَـلاً فَهِىَ إِلَى الاٌّذْقَـنِ فَهُم مُّقْمَحُونَ وَجَعَلْنَا مِن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ سَدّاً
(Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars reaching to the chins, so that their heads are raised up. And We have put a barrier before them) that is a parable that Allah gave for their deviation and hindrance from guidance.
Ka`b Al-Ahbar Embraces Islam Upon Hearing this Ayah [4:47]
It was reported that Ka`b Al-Ahbar became Muslim when he heard this Ayah 4:47. Ibn Jarir recorded that `Isa bin Al-Mughirah said: We were with Ibrahim when we talked about the time when Ka`b became Muslim. He said, `Ka`b became Muslim during the reign of `Umar, for he passed by Al-Madinah intending to visit Jerusalem, and `Umar said to him, "Embrace Islam, O Ka`b.' Ka`b said, `Do you not read in your Book,
مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ حُمِّلُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ
(The likeness of those who were entrusted with the Tawrah...) 62:5 until,
(Books) I am among those who were entrusted with the Tawrah.' `Umar left him alone and Ka`b went on to Hims (in Syria) and heard one of its inhabitants recite this Ayah while feeling sad,
يَـأَيُّهَآ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ ءَامِنُواْ بِمَا نَزَّلْنَا مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا مَعَكُمْ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّطْمِسَ وُجُوهاً فَنَرُدَّهَا عَلَى أَدْبَـرِهَآ
(O you who have been given the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Believe in what We have revealed confirming what is with you, before We efface faces and turn them backwards). Ka`b said, `I believe, O Lord! I embraced Islam, O Lord!' for He feared that this might be struck by this threat. He then went back to his family in Yemen and returned with them all as Muslims.'' Allah's statement,
أَوْ نَلْعَنَهُمْ كَمَا لَعَنَّآ أَصْحَـبَ السَّبْتِ
(or curse them as We cursed the people of the Sabbath.) refers to those who breached the sanctity of the Sabbath, using deceit, for the purpose of doing more work. Allah changed these people into apes and swine, as we will come to know in the explanation of Surat Al-A`raf (7). Allah's statement,
وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ مَفْعُولاً
(And the commandment of Allah is always executed.) means, when He commands something, then no one can dispute or resist His command.
Allah Does not Forgive Shirk, Except After Repenting From it
Allah said that He,
لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ
(forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship),) meaning, He does not forgive a servant if he meets Him while he is associating partners with Him,
وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ
(but He forgives except that) of sins,
لِمَن يَشَآءُ
(to whom He wills) of His servants. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Dharr said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«إِنَّ اللهَ يَقُولُ: يَا عَبْدِي مَا عَبَدْتَنِي وَرَجَوْتَنِي، فَإِنِّي غَافِرٌ لَكَ عَلى مَا كَانَ فِيكَ، يَا عَبْدِي إِنَّكَ إِنْ لَقِيتَنِي بِقُرَابِ الْأَرْضِ خَطِيئَةً مَا لَمْ تُشْرِكْ بِي، لَقِيتُكَ بِقُرَابِهَا مَغْفِرَة»
(Allah said, "O My servant! As long as you worship and beg Me, I will forgive you, no matter your shortcomings. O My servant! If you meet Me with the earth's fill of sin, yet you do not associate any partners with Me, I will meet you with its fill of forgiveness.'') Only Ahmad recorded this Hadith with this chain of narration. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Dharr said, "I came to the Messenger of Allah and he said,
«مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ قَالَ: لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا اللهُ ثُمَّ مَاتَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ، إِلَّا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّة»
قلت:وإن زنى وإن سرق؟ قال:
«وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَق»
. قلت: وإن زنى وإن سرق؟ قال:
«وَإِنْ زَنَى وَإِنْ سَرَقَ ثَلَاثًا»
، ثم قال في الرابعة:
«عَلَى رَغْمِ أَنْفِ أَبِي ذَر»
("No servant proclaims,`There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah,' and dies on that belief, but will enter Paradise.'' I said, "Even if he committed adultery and theft'' He said, "Even if he committed adultery and theft.'' I asked again, "Even if he committed adultery and theft'' He said, "Even if he committed adultery and theft.'' The fourth time, he said, "Even if Abu Dharr's nose was put in the dust.'') Abu Dharr departed while pulling his Izar and saying, "Even if Abu Dharr's nose was put in the dust.'' Ever since that happened, Abu Dharr used to narrate the Hadith and then comment, "Even if Abu Dharr's nose was put in dust.'' The Two Sahihs recorded this Hadith Al-Bazzar recorded that Ibn `Umar said, "We used to refrain from begging (Allah) for forgiveness for those who commit major sins until we heard our Prophet reciting,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ
(Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills;), and his saying,
«أَخَّرْتُ شَفَاعَتِي لِأَهْلِ الْكَبَائِرِ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة»
(I have reserved my intercession on the Day of Resurrection for those among my Ummah who commit major sins.)'' Allah's statement,
وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَى إِثْماً عَظِيماً
(and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.) is similar to His statement,
إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ
(Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed.) In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn Mas`ud said, "I said, `O Messenger of Allah! Which is the greatest sin' He said,
«أَنْ تَجْعَلَ للهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَك»
(To make a rival with Allah, while He Alone created you.)''
4.47-48 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Please refer to E.N. 2, AI -i-`Imran.
Please refer to E.N.'s 82 and 83, Al-Baqarah.
The people of the Book have been admonished for being guilty of shirk, though they professed to believe in the Prophets and the revealed Books.
This does not mean that if one refrains from shirk, then one may freely indulge in other sins. This is merely to bring home to them the gravity of this heinous sin, which they regarded as a trivial thing. That is why the warning has been given that shirk is the most heinous of all sins; so much so that this is the only sin for which forgiveness is not possible.
The Jewish Rabbis were very particular in the observance of minor laws;nay, they spent most of their time in measuring and weighing those regulations which were not explicitly mentioned in their Scriptures but were derived from them. On the contrary, they regarded shirk as a trivial matter: they not only themselves were involved in it but they did not try to save their community from.shirk and acts of shirk. Accordingly, they did not consider that there was anything wrong in entering into alliance with mushrik communities and helping them.
4.47 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
O you who have been given the scripture believe in what We have revealed confirming what is with you before We obliterate faces and turn them inside out or curse them as We cursed those of the Sabbath and God's command is done. In We obliterate faces and turn them inside out the allusion is to the turning away of hearts from spiritual desire irāda to the states of the people of habit ahl al-ʿāda so that despite the abundance of His calls to reject the present world they no longer pay any attention to them.
4.47 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…Before We obliterate faces…This means that God turns them back from guidance and insight to their natural disposition (ṭabʿ al-jibilla). His words, Exalted is He: