An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 46

Chastising the Jews for Altering Allah’s Words and Mocking Islam

In Ayah 46, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala talks about the people who intentionally and falsely alter the meanings of the Words of Allah. He says,

يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوَاضِعِهِ

“…they distort the words from their places…”

This means they used to alter the words and explain them in a different manner completing changing the meaning that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had intended to convey.

وَيَقُولُونَ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا  

“….and they say, ‘We hear and we disobey’”

Mujahid and Ibn Zaid have explained that this was said when the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam used to be addressing them. They would say:

“We hear what you say, O Muhammad, but we do not obey you in it.”

This is the implied meaning of the ayah which demonstrates the Jews’ disbelief, stubbornness and disregard for Allah’s Book after they understood it, while being fully aware of the sin and punishment that this behavior will earn for them. 

Allah’s statement,

وَاسْمَعْ غَيْرَ مُسْمَعٍ  

“…..and ‘Hear as one who does not hear’….”

Ad-Dahhak has reported from Ibn Abbas that this statement means hears our words, may you never hear anything. This was the Jewish way of mocking and jesting.

 وَرَعِنَا لَيّاً بِأَلْسِنَتِهِمْ وَطَعْناً فِى الدِّينِ  

“…. and ‘Raina’, twisting their tongues and defaming the religion.”

meaning they pretend to say, ‘Hear us’ when they say Raina while their actual aim is to curse the Prophet (a’oodubillah). In Hebrew, the word Raina is used as an insult whereas in Arabic it means ‘Listen to us’). Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said about them, while they pretend to say other than what they truly mean.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then said,

 وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا وَاسْمَعْ وَانْظُرْنَا لَكَانَ خَيْراً لَّهُمْ وَأَقْوَمَ وَلَكِن لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً  

“And if they had said, ‘We hear and we obey’ and ‘Hear and look at us’, surely it would have been better and more suitable for them. But Allah cursed them for their disbelief, so they do not believe, except a few.”

meaning their hearts are cast away from the path of righteousness and therefore, no beneficial part of faith enters it.

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