Al-Anaam · Juz 7 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayah 20

People of the Book Recognize the Prophet as They Recognize Their Own Children

In Ayah 20, there is a refutation of the saying of those who had said that they had checked with the Jews and the Christians and none of them were ready to attest to his truth as a Messenger of Allah. Therefore, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

الَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَآءَهُمُ

“Those to whom We have given the Scripture recognize him, as they recognize their own children.”

The word ya’rifuna [يَعْرِفُونَهُ] is from the root letters ayn-ra-fa and it means “to discern, become acquainted with, perceive a thing, to acknowledge something by its signs”.

The People of the Book know about Muhammad sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam as they know their own children. This is because they received good news from the previous Messengers and Prophets about the coming of Muhammad. His attributes, homeland, his migration, and the description of his Ummah are all recorded in the Torah and Injeel. All of this is in such detail that it leaves no room for doubt in the recognition of his identity.

‘Abdullah ibn Salam radhiAllahu anhu belonged to the Jewish faith before he became a Muslim. Umar ibn Khattab radhiAllahu anhu asked him, “Allah ta’ala says in the Qur’an that you recognize our Rasoolullah as you would recognize your sons. What is the reason for it?” ‘Abdullah ibn Salam said, “Yes, we know the Prophet from his qualities and features revealed by Allah Almighty through the Torah. Therefore, this knowledge of ours is certain and absolute.”

Zayd ibn Sa’nah who first belonged to the people of the Book had recognized the Prophet through the description of his qualities and features stated in the Torah and the Injeel. There was only one quality which could not be confirmed from earlier information. So, this he confirmed by testing. That quality was ‘his forbearance will dominate his anger’. Therefore, he went to see the Prophet, made his test and found him a true bearer of this quality. He instantly became a Muslim.

Similarly, Salman Farsi radhiAllahu anhu came and settled in Madina because he knew the last Messenger will live here. When the Prophet came to Madina, one day Salman Farsi decided to take some sadaqah for the Messenger but the Prophet refused to accept it. Salman Farsi embraced Islam because he knew Allah’s Messenger won’t accept sadaqah.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said next,

الَّذِينَ خَسِرُواْ أَنفُسَهُم فَهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ

“Those who have lost (destroyed) themselves will not believe.”

The ones who deny the Prophet are not going to believe because of temporary gains of this life; accepting him meant accepting someone’s supremacy over them. There was pride for lineage and they were not willing to accept an outsider. Hence, they destroyed themselves forever.


– Upon recognizing the truth, even if it goes against one’s desires a person should accept it. For example, someone doesn’t know about hijab being mandatory and recently finds about it. One person denies outright stating there’s no hijab. The other says, “Yes, I know it’s mandatory and I hope one day I can adorn it too.” There is a difference of approach in both the cases.

Sometimes when we don’t like a person, we don’t want to listen to what they are saying. We should open up our hearts.

– A person who rejects the truth is putting himself to loss.

– A person who doesn’t believe despite the truth and becomes stubborn upon it, he doesn’t cause loss to either Allah or another person, but himself.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Al Anaam Ayah 20


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