Al-Maidah · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Ma’idah Ayah 116

Eesa [aalyhi salaam] Rejects Shirk and Affirms Tawheed

In this ayah Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us of a conversation that He will have with Eesa aalyhi salaam on the Judgment Day in the presence of those who worshipped him and his mother as god besides Allah. He says,

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يعِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَءَنتَ قُلتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِى وَأُمِّىَ إِلَـهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ

“And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): ‘O Eesa, son of Maryam! Did you say to the people: `Worship me and my mother as two deities besides Allah.’…”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will ask Eesa aalyhi salaam if he commanded his people to worship him and his mother. The verbal past tense “remember this day” has been used to show the certainty of this event. It is as though it has already happened. It is that certain.

Notice that in the ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala doesn’t put the question to the followers of Eesa aalyhi salaam. He didn’t ask, “Did Eesa aalyhi salaam ask you to worship him and his mother?” This indicates reproach. He is so angry or upset with them that He doesn’t even want to talk to them.

قَالَ سُبْحَـنَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِى أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِى بِحَقٍّ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِى وَلاَ أَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِكَ

“…He will say: ‘Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). If I ever said it then You would know it. You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours,…”

Eesa aalyhi salaam would say, “Subhanaka”. How can I ever say such a thing?

The word Subhan is a noun which is from the root letters seen-ba-ha and it means to swim, to fly or float quickly. It gives the sense of removing something far away from someone. When we use the word Subhan’Allah for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, we declare that He is above, free and far away from any fault, deficiency, naqs or aaib; from anything that doesn’t befit Him. He has no resemblance to His creation.

When Eesa aalyhi salaam says, “Subhanaka”, it means Glorified are You. You don’t deserve a partner. How could I ever command people to worship me? It’s not permissible for me to exceed my limits. It would be completely unjustified if I said such a thing. If I had ever said such a thing You would have known. Nothing escapes Your knowledge. I have not said these words nor did the thought even cross my mind. You know that I’m a slave to You. You know me inside out.

إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّـمُ الْغُيُوبِ

“…indeed You, You alone are the Knower of the unseen.’”

There are two types of unseen, one is hidden from some people for example angels have the knowledge that we don’t have. Similarly, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam was shown some things when he ascended to the heavens [mairaj journey] that we don’t know. There is another type of unseen that’s absolute meaning only Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows about them. So it is Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Who is Knower of all the unseen.


– Eesa aalyhi salaam was the believer in the Oneness of Allah. This means his followers too should follow the same pattern.

– People who believe in the divinity of Eesa aalyhi salaam that he was god or son of god such people will be reproached on the Day of Judgment. That will be a humiliation for them.

– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is above having any partner. He doesn’t need any partner. He is Unique. He is Al-Ahad.

– We should accept and acknowledge our status. We should accept who we are. Eesa aalyhi salaam felt no humiliation in acknowledging the fact that he is only a servant of Allah. When someone exalts our status above who we really are, we say, “O let them think like that.” Even, if they have a completely false image of ours. A hypocrite loves to be praised for a matter that he has not done.

– We should only say that which suits us. We should refrain from making statements that don’t suit us.

– Since Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows what we know in our hearts we should be mindful of what we hold in our hearts.

– We also learn about the khushu in Salah, sometimes when we are praying we appear humble by our appearance but our hearts are distracted. We are thinking about worldly matters. If we are worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then our focus should be entirely Him.

– Anyone who claims he knows the unseen then such a person is committing shirk.

[SOURCE: Tafseer Ibn KatheerTafseer Lecture of Taimiyyah Zuberi]

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