In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
We have read throughout the Qur’an that sometimes the reason behind revelation of an ayah is not guidance but giving solace to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was assigned a great mission. He was to convey the Message of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, teach people the etiquette of living the worldly life and eradicate social evils. In doing so, he faced intense opposition and ridicule. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala loves those who strive in His path, so to comfort His Beloved Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, He revealed some ayaat. The ayah under study is one of those.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins by saying that He has honored some prophets to others. This also appears at other places in the Qur’an. For instance in Surah Al-Isra ayah 55, He says, “And We have made some of the prophets exceed others [in various ways], and to Daw’oud [David] We gave the Zaboor [Psalms].” (17:55)
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has honored His Messengers in different ways, for example, in the ayah He says, “Among them were those to whom Allah spoke…” According to Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is referencing to His direct conversation with Prophet Adam ‘alayhi salaam, Prophet Musa [Moses] ‘alayhi salaam and Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (as recorded in Saheeh ibn Hibban from Abu Dharr radhiAllahu ‘anhu).
“…and He raised some of them in degree,” as is evident in the hadeeth about the ‘Isra journey, when Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw other prophets ‘alayhim salaam in the various heavens according to the ranks with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
In the two Saheehs collected from Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu it has been reported: Once a Muslim man and a Jew had an argument and the Jew said, “No, by Him Who gave Musa (‘alayhi salaam) superiority over all human beings!” Hearing him, the Muslim man raised his hand and slapped the Jew on his face and said, “Over Muhammad (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) too, O evil one!” The Jew went to the Prophet and complained to him. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
لَا تُفَضِّلُونِي عَلَى الْأَنْبِيَاءِ، فَإِنَّ النَّاسَ يَصْعَقُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَأَكُونُ أَوَّلَ مَنْ يُفِيقُ، فَأَجِدُ مُوسَى بَاطِشًا بِقَائِمَةِ الْعَرْشِ، فَلَا أَدْرِي أَفَاقَ قَبْلِي أَمْ جُوزِيَ بِصَعْقَةِ الطُّورِ؟ فَلَا تُفَضِّلُونِي عَلَى الْأَنْبِيَاء
“Don’t give me superiority above the Prophets, for the people will become unconscious on the Day of Resurrection, and I will be the first to be resurrected to see Musa holding on to the pillar of Allah’s Throne. I will not know whether the unconsciousness Musa suffered on the Day of the Trumpet sufficed for him, or if he got up before me. So, do not give me superiority above the Prophets.” In another narration, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Do not give superiority to some Prophets above others.”
This hadeeth prohibits preferring some prophets above others in cases of dispute and argument. It also indicates that it is not up to creation to decide which Prophet is better, for this is Allah’s decision. The creation is only required to submit to, obey and believe in Allah’s decision.
Allah’s statement, “…And We gave Eesa [Jesus], the son of Mariam [Mary], clear proofs…” refers to the proofs and unequivocal evidence that testify to the truth that Eesa a’alyhi salaam delivered to the Children of Israel, thus testifying that he was Allah’s servant and His Messenger to them. Ruh-il-Qudoos or the Pure Spirit means Angel Jibreel [Gabriel] ‘alayhi salaam.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says if He had willed then the succeeding generations would not have fought against one another. It means that all of this happened by Allah’s decree and He does what He intends.
-The first lesson for us is to respect and honor all the prophets of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala without making any comparisons between them.
-Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has honored His Messengers differently, however, for us, as the followers, it is mandatory for us to believe in all the Messengers and in the Books that were revealed to them. Our emaan [faith] would be incomplete, if we believe in some and reject others. This is because, in Surah Al-Baqarah we have read, “And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you…” (2: 4)
-Being from the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam should not make us arrogant. It was Allah’s decision to raise us from his Ummah. The real work for us is to emulate the Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, live by it and spread its message to others. We should not go on arguing with people of other faiths regarding who is better than who, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows best.
– Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala informs us that differences are part of His planning, had He willed He would have created all of us from the same Ummah. When the Jews refused to believe in Eesa ‘alayhi salaam, they not only rejected him but were so intense in their hatred for him that they agreed to kill him. We need to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings – and think before engaging in arguments with other people. If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has prohibited us from making comparisons or belittling others then we should hold on to their command.
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