An-Nisa · Juz 6 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 171

Prohibiting the People of the Book from Going into Extremes

This ayah is directly addressed to the Christians. In it Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala forbids the People of the Scriptures from going to extremes in religion, which is a common trait of theirs. The Christians exaggerated over Eesa aalyhi salaam until they elevated him above the grade that Allah gave him. They elevated him from the rank of Prophethood to being a god, whom they worshiped just as they worshiped Allah. They exaggerated even more in the case of those who they claim were his followers, claiming that they were inspired, thus following every word they uttered whether true or false, be it guidance or misguidance, truth or lies.

يأَهْلَ الْكِتَـبِ لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِى دِينِكُمْ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقَّ

“O People of the Scripture! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah except the truth….”

This means, do not lie and claim that Allah has a wife or a son, Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him. Allah is glorified, praised, and honored in His might, grandeur and greatness, and there is no deity worthy of worship nor Lord but Him.

This is why Allah said in Surah at-Tawbah ayah 31:

اتَّخَذُواْ أَحْبَـرَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـنَهُمْ أَرْبَاباً مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ

“They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah.”

إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَـهَا إِلَى مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ

“Al-Maseeh Eesa, son of Maryam, was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He bestowed on Maryam and a spirit from (created by Him)…”

Eesa is only one of Allah’s servants and one of His creatures. Allah said to him, `Be’, and he was, and He sent him as a Messenger. Eesa was a word from Allah that He bestowed on Maryam, meaning He created him with the word `Be’ that He sent with Jibreel to Maryam. Jibreel blew the life of Eesa into Maryam by Allah’s leave, and Eesa came to existence as a result. This incident was in place of the normal conception between man and woman that results in children. This is why Eesa was a word and a Ruh (spirit) created by Allah, as he had no father to conceive him. Rather, he came to existence through the word that Allah uttered, `Be,’ and he was, through the life that Allah sent with Jibreel.

We learn in Surah Ale-Imran ayah 59 that Allah said,

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ ءَادَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ

“Verily, the likeness of Eesa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: “Be! ـ and he was.”

Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands:

فَـَامِنُواْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ ثَلَـثَةٌ

“… so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: “Three!””

Believe that Allah is One and Alone and that He does not have a son or wife. Know and be certain that Eesa is the servant and Messenger of Allah. Do not elevate him and his mother to be gods with Allah. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him. In Surah al-Ma’idah ayah 73, Allah said,

لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَـلِثُ ثَلَـثَةٍ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـهٍ إِلاَّ إِلَـهٌ وَحِدٌ

“Surely, disbelievers are those who said: ‘Allah is the third of the three.’ But there is none who has the right to be worshiped but One God.”

The Christians have no limit to their disbelief because of their ignorance, so their deviant statements and their misguidance grows. Some of them believe that Eesa is Allah, some believe that he is one in a trinity and some believe that he is the son of Allah. Their beliefs and creeds are numerous and contradict each other, prompting some people to say that if ten Christians meet, they would end up with eleven sects!

Allah said,

“Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One God, glorified is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs…”

All creatures, property and servants are under Allah’s control and disposal, and He is the Disposer of the affairs. Therefore, how can He have a wife or a son among them? Allah doesn’t need children, whatever is there in the earth and the heavens belongs to Him.

LESSONS:

– Excessiveness is prohibited in our deen, talking too much, spending money too much, living an extravagant lifestyle, sleeping too much and especially matters of deen. For example, there are four rakah of Salah, no one can say no I enjoy Salah so I am going to offer 5 rakah. That’s not acceptable and is going against the commands of Allah.

– This ayah was not just released for the Christians, but they are relevant to us as well. At times, we elevate the rank of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam upto the rank of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Some people when they leave for pilgrimage they say, “We have received the invitation from Rasoolullah.” or “We have been invited by Rasoolullah.” It is Allah Who has the power. It is He Who wills whatever He wills for us. Some people also give more weightage to visiting the Prophet’s mosque instead of Baitullah i.e. the Ka’abah. This is wrong.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu said that Umar radhiAllahu anhu said that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

لَا تُطْرُونِي كَمَا أَطْرَتِ النَّصَارَىِ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ. فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا عَبْدٌفَقُولُوا: عَبْدُاللهِ وَرَسُولُه

“Do not unduly praise me like the Christians exaggerated over  Eesa, son of Maryam. Verily, I am only a servant, so say, `Allah’s servant and His Messenger.’” [Bukhari]

Imam Ahmad recorded that Anas bin Malik radhiAllahu anhu said that a man once said, “O Muhammad! You are our master and the son of our master, our most righteous person and the son of our most righteous person…” The Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ عَلَيْكُمْ بِقَوْلِكُمْ، وَلَا يَسْتَهْوِيَنَّكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ،أَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِاللهِ، عَبْدُاللهِ وَرَسُولُهُ، وَاللهِ مَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ تَرْفَعُونِي فَوْقَ مَنْزِلَتِي الَّتِي أَنْزَلَنِي اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَل

“O people! Say what you have to say, but do not allow Shaytan to trick you. I am Muhammad bin Abdullah, Allah’s servant and Messenger. By Allah! I do not like that you elevate me above the rank that Allah has granted me.”

– Don’t say anything about Allah about which you have no certainty. “Maybe” and “what if” can lead us to shirk.

– This ayah tells us about the status of Prophet Eesa aalyhi salaam. He was a Messenger like any other Messenger, he had no divine attributes.

– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is enough to control all the affairs of the universe. He doesn’t need a son or Eesa aalyhi salaam to manage some of His affairs. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is free from any resemblance to human beings, He doesn’t need children.

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