Al-Maidah · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 109

The Messengers Will Be Asked About Their Nations

After talking about various commands and the warnings for not honoring them Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds us of the Day of Judgment.

Talking about the Day when He will assemble everyone He mentions the question that He will ask His Messengers.

يَوْمَ يَجْمَعُ اللَّهُ الرُّسُلَ فَيَقُولُ مَاذَآ أُجِبْتُمْ قَالُواْ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّـمُ الْغُيُوبِ

“On the Day when Allah will gather the Messengers together and say to them: ‘What was the response you received?’ They will say: ‘We have no knowledge, verily, only You are the Knower of all that is hidden.’”

Though on the Day of Judgment, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will gather every human being born from the beginning to the end of time to give an account of their deeds, the questioning will first begin from the Prophets.

The question asked will be, “How were you responded to?” meaning when you invited your communities towards Allah and His true religion, how did the people react to your call. Did they act as they were commanded to? Or did they say no to the call and opposed it?

We find similar statements elsewhere in the Qur’an. For example, in Surah al-A’raf ayah 6 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

فَلَنَسْـَلَنَّ الَّذِينَ أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَنَسْـَلَنَّ الْمُرْسَلِينَ 

“Then surely, We shall question those [people] to whom it [the Book] was sent and verily, We shall question the Messengers.”

Similarly, in Surah al-Hijr ayaat 92 and 93 He says,

فَوَرَبِّكَ لَنَسْـَلَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ – عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ

“So by your Lord, We shall certainly call all of them to account. For all that they used to do.”

One may wonder what’s the purpose of asking this question when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala very well knows the answer? The objective is to rebuke those who rejected the messengers and prophets.

The Messengers will reply by saying,

لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَآ

“We have no knowledge.” 

Why would the Prophets give this reply while they have full account of how their people responded to their call? This response is out of respect before the Lord, Most Honored, and it means, we have no knowledge compared to Your encompassing knowledge. Therefore, our knowledge only grasped the visible behavior of these people, not the secrets of their hearts. You are the Knower of everything, our knowledge compared to Your knowledge is similar to not having any knowledge at all.

This is similar to the reply of the angels when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala informed them about His intention to create human beings, the angels asked, “Will You place upon it [earth] one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala replied, “I know that which you do not know.” Later the angels replied, “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You Who is the Knowing, the Wise.” [Surah al-Baqarah ayaat 230 – 232]

Whenever the Sahabahs radhiAllahu anhum were asked a question, they would respond by saying, “Allah and His Messenger know best.”


– We learn about the seriousness, terror, enormity of the Day when everyone will be gathered. It’s the Day when young children’s hair will turn grey. It is the Day pregnant women will miscarry. It is the Day that everyone should remember. Fear it. Be worried. And prepare for this Day.

– The Messengers do not know about ghayb [unseen]. They don’t know about the future. There are some people who claim they know the future. They will tell you the name of your future spouse, how many children you will have, what kind of future they will have, etc. So any person who claims to know the unseen is committing kufr because he is denying the statement of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And anyone who believes in one part of the Qur’an and denies another is committing kufr.

– It is of the etiquettes of knowledge that a person develops humility that no matter how much he knows he still knows a little. Truly learned person is the one who the more he learns the more he realizes how ignorant he is. If a person thinks he knows everything he is not going to bother to study further, to question more, to gather more knowledge. He will be quick to pass judgments and come to conclusions regarding critical matters.

[SOURCE: Tafseer Ibn Katheer and Tafseer Lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]


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