Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 174 – 176
In the previous ayaat, we learned some of the guidelines of what is permissible and impermissible to eat. In the present ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala points out to an evil practice of the past scholars who after receiving true knowledge concealed the truth. Not only that but they charged money from people to give a verdict of their liking. These ayaat contain warning for all the religious scholars who distort the ayaat of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to gain a paltry profit of this world.
Ibn Katheer writes in his Tafseer that these ayaat were about the Jews who concealed their Book’s description of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. His description in the Torah testified him being a Messenger and Prophet. They concealed the truth fearing the loss of their own authority and position over the illiterate Arabs. The Arabs revered the Jews because they were the People of Book – the knowledgeable ones.
The Jews thought that if they revealed what they knew about Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then the people will abandon them and follow Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instead. They decided to hide the truth and retain the position that they held among the Arabs. This position did not only demand authority, but through this status they were able to draw money from the Arabs and issue a verdict of their liking hence distorting the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They preferred temporary profits of this world over eternal bliss of the Hereafter. Had they revealed the truth and accepted and followed Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam they would have profited in both the worlds. But they chose loss for themselves and for those who fell for their lies.
Despite their tricks, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala disclosed the truth about the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Those whom the Jews feared would follow him, believed in him and followed him anyway, and became his supporters against them. Such is the result of going against the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, concealing the truth or earning money against faith.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…they eat into their bellies nothing but fire,” meaning whatever they eat in return for hiding the truth will turn into a raging fire in their stomachs on the Day of Resurrection.
Not only are they filling their bellies with fire but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will refuse to speak with them on the Day of Judgment, “Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor purify them, and theirs will be a painful torment.” A believer looks forward to meeting and seeing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, for He is the One that we have been worshiping and obeying without ever seeing Him. There is a natural desire in one to see the One he has loved the most. But those who have disobeyed Him will be deprived of this blessing. It is because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is furious with them for concealing the truth. They thus deserve Allah’s anger. He will not look at them or purify them. Rather, they will be given a severe torment for their despicable act.
About them, He says, “Those are they who have purchased error for guidance.” They opposed the guidance by not announcing the Prophet’s description they found in their Books, the news about his prophecy and the good news of his coming which the previous Prophets proclaimed, as well as following and believing in him. Instead, they preferred misguidance by denying him, rejecting him and concealing his descriptions that were mentioned in their Books.
“…and torment at the price of forgiveness…” meaning they preferred torment over forgiveness due to the sins they have committed. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “How bold they are (for evil deeds which will push them) to the Fire.” Ibn Katheer explains that this means that those who will see these people getting this severe punishment will be amazed at how they could bear it. We seek refuge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from the punishment of the grave, from the punishment of the Fire and an evil end. Allahumma aameen.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ نَزَّلَ الْكِتَـبَ بِالْحَقِّ
“That is because Allah has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) in truth.”
They deserve this painful torment because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has revealed Books to His Messenger Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Prophets before him, and these revelations bring about truth and expose falsehood. Yet, they took Allah’s signs for mockery. Their Books ordered them to announce the truth and to spread the knowledge, but instead, they defied the knowledge and rejected it. This Final Messenger – Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – called them to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, commanded them to work righteousness and forbade them from committing evil. Yet, they rejected, denied and defied him and hid the truth that they knew about him. They, thus, mocked the ayaat that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed to His Messengers, and deserved the torment and the punishment. This is why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said here, “That is because Allah has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) in truth. And verily, those who disputed about the Book are far away in opposition.”
– We learn the consequences of concealing true knowledge. Why do people conceal knowledge? It is because knowledge is power. It brings awareness. Some people fear that if others learn and gain knowledge then their authority or command over other people will be over. Therefore, we see that in the third world countries the leaders do not offer free, quality education to the poor. They fear that if people have access to quality education their days of authority will be over. Same happens in religious circles. If the father is a religious scholar he will focus on his children more than other students to keep the leadership in his family. Some people do not share their special skills or talents with others fearing that if they teach others then they will be replaced. We should remember that rizq [sustenance] is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. By not sharing our rizq with others we are only revealing our stinginess.
– Another kind of concealing knowledge is not teaching anything to others unless they are paid for it. For example, people earn a degree in one of the religious disciplines but refuse to teach it to others voluntarily. They seek payment for something which was only availed by the favor of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Had He not paved the way, one could not earned their degree. It should be remembered that while some scholars have permitted earning on religion this is not well-liked. A person should look for another source of earning and not earn his dunya over his Deen.
– Spreading knowledge for any worldly desire such as acquiring wealth, status, fame, etc. also comes under selling Deen. We need to keep our intentions checked.
– If one is knowledgeable, he must consider it a special favor from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and not conceal it. One should especially teach those who cannot afford quality education because learning and teaching Deen is everyone’s responsibility. Many people do earn a degree or do a religious course and then put their certificate aside and get involved in We need to get out of these Satanic traps and exhaust ourselves in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as we tire ourselves in chasing dunya.
– Not only should we voluntarily teach others but also become like ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Awf radhiAllahu ‘anhu who was a successful businessman. Whenever he returned from his business trips, he would donate a large portion of his earning in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It was because of the selflessness and generosity of people like him that the religious education was free for all and no one earned a living by teaching a basic necessity such as learning to read the Qur’an. If the wealthy do not support the religious institutes, then the institutes have no option but to charge people to pay their utility bills and bare administration costs.
We should ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to not test us in the matters of Deen, and not make us of those who earn a living through religion. We should be the one supporting and spreading the Deen, and not the ones making it a business. Allahumma aameen.
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