In the following ayaat, we learn about the justice of Qur’an. It does not count everyone among the Jews and the Christians as being in the same lot. Whoever among them has some good quality has been acknowledged openly. For example, the current ayah.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّا نَصَارَى
Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: “We are Christians.”
This ayah pertains to a specific group among the Christians which did not have prejudice that the Jews were known for. To escape the prosecution in Makkah some Muslims had migrated to Ethiopia. They were heartily welcomed to take refuge and practice their religion. Upon hearing the ayaat of Qur’an, Najashi [Negus], the King of Ethiopia and his courtiers wept acknowledging that this is a Book of Allah.
Later, a deputation of thirty came from Ethiopia came to meet the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. When they heard the recitation of Qur’an, they had tears in their eyes and took their Shahadah as Muslims.
The word tajiddunna تَجِدَنَّ is from the root letters wau-jeem-dal. The word wajood means existence, to find what was lost, or perceive.
In this ayah, we learn that the people who are more intense in their animosity towards Muslims are the Jews and the mushrikeen. Why do they have hatred? It is because the Jews refuse to accept Prophet Muhammad salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam as a Messenger of Allah. The mushrikeen on the other hand had animosity because their form of worship [praying to the idols] was being rejected. The contradiction of belief led to animosity.
The word muwaddatan مَّوَدَّةً is from the root letters wau-dal-dal which means “to be fond of or affection”. Therefore, those who hold warm feelings for the Muslims are the Christians. This however does not mean that they love the Muslims or none of them hates Muslims, because the word used in the ayah is aqrabahum أَقْرَبَهُمْ. The word aqraba is from the root letters qaf-ra-ba. Qurb means to be near or closer.
And why are they more affectionate towards the Muslims? We learn about it later in the ayah.
ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَاناً وَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
That is because among them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.
Three reasons have been mentioned here. We will learn more in the following ayaat.
Qisiseen is the plural of the word qisis which is from the root letters qaf-seen-seen. Qasa means “to strive and search for something, to be inquisitive.” Generally, it means to search by night. Only such a person can work at night after striving throughout the day because they really want something. Qasoos from the same root letters denotes a shepherd who doesn’t separate from his camels. For example, children don’t leave their pets. Such a shepherd is a really good person. Similarly, the term qisees is used for a Christian priest. With knowledge comes the fear of Allah, regardless of the fact whether he believes in Allah or some other god.
Priesthood is encouraged in Christianity. People leave their families and dedicate their time to studying. They are neither greedy nor attached to the world. This is why they have fear of Allah; therefore they have compassion towards people.
We see this absent in the Jews. [Not all Jews are the same, but generally they are not afraid of God]. Therefore, they are not compassionate towards other people.
The word rahib is from the root letters ra-ha-ba, it means “fear”. Such as a fear that stays in the heart for a longtime. Rahib is so afraid of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that he is constantly engaged in dhikr, and he is pondering over His creation.
Since, the Christians have scholars and devoted worshippers, and they aren’t arrogant either they hold affection for the Muslims.
– We learn that the Jews and the mushrikeen are severe against the Muslims while the Christians are affectionate. We see in Makkah when the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam approached the Jews and the mushrikeen, they plotted schemes against him. But when he approached a Christian king, he was warmly welcomed.
– The enmity that the yahood and the mushrikeen have towards Muslims is explicit. They show it through their actions and words. They don’t keep it in their heart.
– Non-Muslims vary in their enmity towards Muslims. Just if a person is a non-Muslim, we cannot call him our enemy. We can’t generalize.
– The reason behind nasara being affectionate towards believers is that they have scholars and devoted worshippers among them. This shows that knowledge and worship benefits a person, even if the knowledge is of an incorrect religion. Knowledge and worship make a person humble.
– The reason behind acceptance of truth is humility. The Christians were not arrogant therefore they accepted Islam upon recitation of Qur’an. Humility leads to acceptance of truth.
– Yahood and the mushrikeen are arrogant towards Muslims. We see the examples in Qur’an. In Surah al-Furqan ayah 41, we read how the Jews and the mushrikeen mocked at the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam, “And when they see you, [O Muhammad], they take you not except in ridicule, [saying]: Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a messenger?” Moreover, we read in Surah az-Zukhruf ayah 31, we read, “And they said: Why was this Qur’an not sent down upon a great man from [one of] the two cities?”
This shows their arrogance towards the Prophet.