In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 23-25
In these ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala criticizes a particular belief of those who claim to follow their Books – the Torah and the Injeel.
Background of the Ayaat:
A Jewish married man and woman from the people of Khaybar (tribes of Banu Qurayzah and Banu Nadeer) committed adultery. According to the Torah, the punishment for this evil action was stoning until death. However, since the man was from an influential Jewish family the Rabbis tried to look for loopholes to let him escape the punishment. They knew that Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was an honest man. They thought that if they took the case to him, he would help them find the way out.
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the accepted leader of the Muslims, idolaters and the People of the Book. The idolaters and the People of the Book did not accept him as a prophet but they trusted his leadership skills and would bring their cases to him.
When the adultery case was brought to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he called for the Torah. This was from his fairness that he decided matters for people from other faiths according to their Scripture and not the Qur’an. The Jews presented before him one of their learned men who recited the passage from the Torah but skipped the verses that spoke about the punishment for adultery.
‘Abdullah ibn Salaam radhiAllahu ‘anhu who converted to Islam from Judaism knew the Torah. He indicated that the man has skipped the relevant verses. And hence their deception was proven.
It is for this reason that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says they turn away from guidance. When it comes to deciding their matters they choose what suits their desires and leave out what goes against them. When it comes to believing in the Prophet of Allah, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, when his description matches the description in the Torah and Gospel, they refuse and turn away. So what kind of a belief is this? You believe in some portion and reject the other?
The address is to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the reference is to the Torah given to the Jews. When they are asked to refer to their Books where Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded them to believe in and follow the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they turn away with aversion. If they were truly looking for guidance, they would have found it. They decided to be indifferent. The censure and criticism from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala was due to their defiance and rejection.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “That is because they say, ‘Never will the Fire touch us except for [a few] numbered days.’” This is a false claim, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not promise them this. We have read a similar ayah in Surah Al-Baqarah as well, where it was said, “And they say, ‘Never will the Fire touch us, except for a few days.’ Say, ‘Have you taken a covenant with Allah? For Allah will never break His covenant. Or do you say about Allah that which you do not know?’” (2:80)
The Jews believe that the Fire will not touch them – and even if they were thrown into the Hellfire then it would only be for a few numbered days, after which they will be taken out and forgiven. The scholars call this self-deception because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not make any such promises. Ibn Katheer writes what made them dare to challenge and defy the truth is their false claim that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will only punish them for seven days in the Fire, a day for every 1,000 years in this life.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “…they were deluded in their religion by what they were inventing.” It means what caused them to remain on their false creed is that they deceived themselves, believing that the Fire will only touch them for a few days for their errors. However, they were the ones who “invented” this notion. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not grant them the authority to support this claim.
In a threatening way, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “So how will it be when We assemble them for a Day about which there is no doubt?” It means how will they stand before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, on the Day of Judgment, after uttering lies about Him, rejecting His messengers and killing His prophets and the scholars who enjoined righteousness and forbade evil? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will ask them about all this and punish them for what they have done. “…for a Day about which there is no doubt…” means that this day will certainly come. Each person will be compensated according to his deeds.
We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for a good life in this world and the next, ameen.
-The first thing that we learn is that we need to fix our belief. We cannot claim to believe in the Qur’an and then turn away from the commands that go against our desires and opinions. Our conduct should be like the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum who said: We hear and we obey. It did not take them much time to reform themselves. They surrendered to the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as soon as they heard them. If today we are facing a hard time in accepting some of the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then we must ask Him to open up our hearts to their understanding. We must beg Him to make us strong and Allah-conscious [those who have Taqwa] and make it easy for us to surrender to His commands (ameen).
-We also learn that their belief [aqeeda] was corrupt. They believed they would not enter the Hellfire and even if they do it would only be for a few numbered days. Today, our belief is that Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam will save us on the Day of Judgment. We forget that he cannot intercede for us if we do not follow his path. We must stay away from innovations and evil desires of our hearts.
-We also learn that we should never say things about Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala or the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about which we have no knowledge. There is a great punishment for the one who utters lies about Allah, His Book and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. If you are in a discussion with someone and you want to prove your point but the appropriate ayah, hadeeth or text does not come to your mind, don’t create anything on your own. You should say: I will look or read up on this and get back to you. Sometimes we take our arguments and discussions lightly, but we must observe caution regarding what comes out of our mouth. Each word is being recorded. Let us not speak anything but the truth.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 23-25