Aal-Imran · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Abraham was Neither a Jew Nor a Christian

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 65-68

We have learned in the previous ayaat the background of the revelation of these ayaat. It is important that we keep the context in mind when studying the Qur’an, in sha Allah.

A Christian delegation from Najran had come to Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to discuss faith. When the Jews heard about this meeting, they also joined to discuss their religion.

Both the Jews and the Christians claimed that they are on the religion of Prophet Ibraheem [Abraham] ‘alayhi salaam. In these ayaat, this false claim is being rejected that how can Prophet Ibraheem be a Jew or a Christian when the Torah and the Gospel were not even revealed in his time.

Muhammad ibn Ishaq reported than Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) said, “The Christians of Najran and Jewish rabbis gathered before the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and disputed in front of him. The rabbis said, ‘Ibraheem was certainly Jewish.’ The Christians said, ‘Certainly, Ibrahim was Christian.’ So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down, ‘O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Ibraheem…’ meaning, ‘how is it that you, Jews, claim that Ibraheem was a Jew, although he lived before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down the Torah to Prophet Musa [Moses]. How is it that you, Christians, claim that Ibraheem was a Christian, although Christianity came after his time?’”

This is why it was said, “Then will you not reason?” meaning use your intellect. How can this be possible that someone is from a religion that didn’t even exist in their time?

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says, “Here you are – those who have argued about that of which you have [some] knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge?”

The ayah criticizes those who argue and dispute without knowledge, just as the Jews and Christians did concerning Prophet Ibraheem. Had they disputed about their religions, which they had knowledge of, and about the Law that was legislated for them until Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sent, it would have been better for them. Rather, they disputed about what they had no knowledge of, so Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala criticized them for this behavior. He commanded them to refer what they have no knowledge of to He Who knows the seen and unseen matters and Who knows the true reality of all things. This is why He said, “And Allah knows, while you know not.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala firmly establishes, “Ibraheem was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists.” Through this ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala rejects all false claims about Prophet Ibraheem. He was neither a Jew, nor a Christian or a Mushrik. He was a true Hanifa – meaning one who is on the straight path and does not deviate.

Ibn Katheer comments that this ayah is similar to Surah Al-Baqarah ayah 135, where it was said, “They say, ‘Be Jews or Christians [so] you will be guided.’ Say, ‘Rather, [we follow] the religion of Ibraheem [Abraham], inclining toward truth, and he was not of the polytheists.’” (Qur’an 2: 135)

[Tafseer of Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 135]

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then talks about the true followers of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam, “Indeed, the most worthy of Ibraheem [Ibraham] among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah] and this prophet, and those who believe [in his message].” It means that the people who have the most right to be called the followers of Prophet Ibraheem are those who followed his religion and this Prophet, meaning Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and his Companions from the Muhajireen, Ansar and those who followed their lead.

[Prophet Ibraheem’s Supplication for Prophet Muhammad and His Followers]

Sa’eed bin Mansur recorded that Ibn Mas’oud (RA) said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

إِنَّ لِكُلِّ نَبِيَ وُلَاةً مِنَ النَّبِيِّينَ، وَإِنَّ وَلِيِّي مِنْهُمْ أَبِي وَخَلِيلُ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَل

“Every prophet had a wali [supporter, best friend] from among the prophets. My wali among them is my father Ibraheem, the Khaleel [intimate friend] of my Lord, the Exalted and Most Honored.”

[Prophet Ibraheem is the Khaleel of Allah (SWT)]

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then recited,

إِنَّ أَوْلَى النَّاسِ بِإِبْرَهِيمَ لَلَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ

“Indeed, the most worthy of Ibraheem [Ibraham] among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah]…”

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the address by reminding us that He is the Wali [Protector and Helper] of the believers. He says, “And Allah is the Ally of the believers.” It means that we don’t need to fear anyone or anything. As long as we are on the right path, are the true believers, perform what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has instructed us to do and abstain from what He has prohibited, then certainly He will protect us from all kinds of evils and harms.

[Allah is the Wali of the Believers]

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of the true believers and make us firm in His path, ameen.

Lessons:

-It has been years since Prophet Ibraheem has departed from the world, and while people are arguing about him, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala defends His Khaleel. Allah is the Ally of His truthful servants. If we want the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, then we need to follow the path of the prophets ‘alayhim salaam.

-It teaches us that when someone is wrongfully being accused then we must stand up for the truth and defend the person

-The closer a person is to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the stronger this friendship between the Lord and His servant would be

-If we want Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to include us among His friends, then we need to do what Prophet Ibraheem did. When he was instructed to “submit,” he said: I have submitted to the Lord of all the worlds. Our parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, colleagues or neighbors cannot stop us from submitting to the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 65-68

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]
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