In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Each Person will be Responsible for His Own Deeds
The following ayaat tell us that the good deeds of one’s forefathers shall not suffice one, if one has not been performing good deeds oneself. Similarly, one shall not have to suffer for the misdeeds of one’s forefathers, if one’s own account is clean.
The word khalat [خَلَتْ] is from the root kha-lam-wau and it means ‘to be empty or vacant, to pass away, to dismiss or to let go of a thing’. The word kasabat [كَسَبَتْ] is from the root kaf-seen-ba and it means ‘to gain, acquire or earn’.
The ayaat also refute the claim of the Jews that irrespective of what they had been doing they would go to Paradise on account of the good deeds of their forefathers.
Let this be a warning to those Muslims who, being the descendants of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or having a relationship with the righteous people, delude themselves with the hope that their sins would go unpunished in consideration of this privileged position. Our ancestors or our relationships with the pious people will not help us unless we perform good deeds ourselves. The Qur’an is very explicit on this point. For example:
“Each man shall reap the fruits of his own deeds, and no one shall bear the burden of another.” [Al-Anaam 6:164]
Addressing his own clan, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“Beware, O Banu Hashim! Let it not be that on the Day of Judgment while others bring their good deeds with them, you on your part, having neglected good deeds, bring with you only the trust in being my relations, and so I have to tell you that on that day, I cannot save you from the wrath of Allah.”
Another hadeeth says, “He who has been pulled back by his deeds cannot be pushed forward by his ancestry.”
We should not depend on our relations with other people or our being from the nation of Prophet Muhammad. Rather, we should be worrying about our good deeds and strive to raise our scales in the Hereafter.
The word haneefa [حَنِيفا] is from the root ha-noon-fa and it means ‘to lean on one side, incline or decline, turn away from error to guidance’.
It is reported from Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu that ‘Abdullah ibn Suriya Al-A’war said to the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “The guidance is only what we (Jews) follow. Therefore, follow us, O Muhammad, and you will be rightly guided.” The Christians too said something similar. Thereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed, “They say, ‘Be Jews or Christians (so) you will be guided.’ Say, ‘Rather, (we follow) the religion of Ibraheem, inclining toward truth, and he was not of the polytheists.’”
The earlier ayaat had defined the religion of Prophet Ibraheem and established that its present form is Islam. Now, the Jews and the Christians, in spite of their pretension to be his followers, did not follow his religion. Each of these two groups, instead of accepting Islam, used to ask the Muslims to accept its own religion in order to find true guidance. No doubt, each of these two religions was, in its own time and for its own time, a genuine religion, but in its present form each had become distorted, and had also been abrogated by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. In answer to them, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala asks the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to declare that the Muslims are and shall remain steadfast in the religion of Prophet Ibraheem who shunned all kinds of association [Shirk] and adored nothing but the One God and obeyed no one but Him.
This ayah highlights an important point that when one begins the journey of studying Islam everyone tries to pull him into their group. Each group claims that only they are the truly guided ones while others have strayed away. We are so divided that now it has become confusing for a new learner to assuage which group is on the truth. First step out of this trial is to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for help. Second, do not blindly follow anyone. Our main sources of guidance are the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Read the Qur’an and study the exegesis of the early predecessors. Study and understand the authentic ahadeeth under the tutelage of a reputed and trustworthy scholar. And keep making du’a to not be deluded either by considering yourself pious and better than others or by the whisperings of the Shaytan and people.
The word al-asbat [الْأَسْبَاط] is from the root seen-ba-ta and it means ‘to have branches, to become extended, grandchildren or tribes’.
In this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala directed His believing servants to believe in what He sent down to them through His Messenger Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and in what was revealed to the previous Prophets in general. Some prophets Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentioned by name, while He did not mention the names of many others. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala directed the believers to refrain from differentiating between the prophets and to believe in them all. They should avoid imitating whomever Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala described as,
“And wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, ‘We believe in some but reject others,’ and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers.” [An-Nisa 4:150-151]
This ayah carries the basic tenets of Islam:
(1) Muslims believe in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and in the guidance which He has sent them through the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
(2) They also believe in all the prophets Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has sent from time to time.
(3) Some of the prophets may in some ways be superior to others, but it is essential for a Muslim to believe in all the prophets without making any distinction.
(4) Muslims believe that the Shari’ah of all the prophets mentioned here was instituted by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Himself, but they have now been abrogated. So, Muslims follow the Shari’ah of Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for this alone is now valid.
(5) Muslims obey Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone, and submit themselves totally to Him.
In this ayah the progeny of Prophet Yaqoob [Jacob] has been described as asbat or tribes. He had twelve sons, and the offspring of each son came to form a tribe.
Al-Bukhari narrated that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and translate it into Arabic for the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
لَا تُصَدِّقُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ وَلَا تُكَذِّبُوهُمْ وقُولُوا: آمَنَّا بِاللهِ وَمَا أُنْزل إِلَيْنَا
“Do not believe the People of the Book, nor reject what they say. Rather, say, ‘We believe in Allah and in what was sent down to us.’”
Qatadah said, “Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded the believers to believe in Him and in all His Books and Messengers.” Sulayman bin Habib said, “We were commanded to believe in the (original) Torah and Injeel, but not to implement them.”
DOWNLOAD PDF: Al-Baqarah Ayaat 134-136