Aal-Imran · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Only Allah Declares Things to be Lawful or Unlawful

Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 93-95

In the previous ayaat, we have been reading about the arguments by the People of the Book. The following ayaat were revealed in response to another argument that the Jews conducted with the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had declared that he followed the religion of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam in all aspects. The Jews objected by saying, “You eat camel’s meat and partake of its milk although they were unlawful for Ibraheem.”

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “No, this was lawful for him.” The Jews said, “All that we consider unlawful has continued to be unlawful since the days of Nuh [Noah] and Ibraheem [Abraham] ‘alayhim salaam to the point that this unlawfulness reached us.” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then revealed this ayah.

 

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “A group of Jews came to Allah’s Messenger and said, ‘Tell us about a few things that we will ask you, which only a prophet would know.’ He said, ‘Ask me about whatever you wish. However, give your pledge to Allah, similar to the pledge that Ya’qoob (‘alayhi salaam) took from his children that if I tell you something and you recognize the truth, you will follow me in Islam.’ They said, ‘Agreed.’

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘Ask me about whatever you wish.’

They said, ‘Tell us about four matters

  1. What kinds of food did Isra’el [Prophet Ya’qoob] prohibit for himself?
  2. What about the sexual discharge of the woman and the man, and what roles does each play in producing male or female offspring
  3. Tell us about the condition of the unlettered Prophet during sleep
  4. And who is his wali [supporter] among the angels?

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took their covenant that they will follow him if he answers these questions and they agreed. He said, ‘I ask you by He Who sent down the Torah to Musa [Moses], do you not know that Isra’el once became ill? When his illness was prolonged, he vowed to Allah that if He cures his illness, he would prohibit the best types of drink and food for himself. Was not the best food to him camel’s meat and the best drink camel’s milk?’ They said, ‘Yes, by Allah.’ The Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘O Allah, be Witness against them.’

Then the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered their other two questions.

They said, ‘Tell us about your wali among the angels, for this is when we either follow or shun you.’ He said, ‘My wali (who brings down the revelation from Allah) is Jibreel, and Allah never sent a prophet, but Jibreel is his wali.’ They said, ‘We then shun you. Had you a wali other than Jibreel, we would have followed you.’

On that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed,

قُلْ مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِّجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَىٰ قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“Say, ‘Whoever is an enemy to Jibreel [Gabriel] – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.’” [Al-Baqarah 2:97]

[Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah Ayah 97]

Allah’s statement, “…before the Torah was revealed,” means Prophet Ya’qoob ‘alayhi salaam forbade that for himself before the Torah was revealed.

Ibn Katheer writes that there are two objectives behind revealing this segment of the ayah. First, he forbade himself the most delightful things for Allah’s sake. This practice was allowed during his period of Law, and is, thus suitable that it is mentioned after ayah 92. For us, what is suitable is to spend from what we love and covet in Allah’s obedience and not to prohibit upon ourselves what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made permissible. Hence, to live as a pauper when one can afford a good life is disliked. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants us to enjoy the blessings by being grateful, sharing them with others and not becoming arrogant and stingy.

[Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayah 92]

The second objective behind revealing this ayah is refutation of false claims made by the Jews.

For instance, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has stated in Torah that when Prophet Nuh [Noah] ‘alayhi salaam departed from the Ark, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allowed him to eat the meat of all types of animals. Later, Prophet Ya’qoob ‘alayhi salaam forbade the meat and milk of camels for himself due to an illness and his children imitated this practice. The Torah later prohibited this type of food and added other types of prohibitions.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allowed Adam ‘alayhi salaam to marry his daughters to his sons, and this practice was later forbidden.

The Law of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam allowed the man to take female servants as companions along with his wife, as he did when he took Hajar ‘alayhi salaam while he was married to Sarah ‘alayhi salaam. Later, Torah prohibited this practice. Likewise, previously it was allowed to take two sisters in the marriage at the same time, as Prophet Ya’qoob did. Later this was prohibited too.

All these examples are in the Torah and constitute a Naskh [abrogation] of the Law.

[The Abrogation of the Ayaat and the Wisdom behind it]

This is why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

كُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِلًّا لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِلَّا مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ ۗ

“All food was lawful to the Children of Israel except what Israel had made unlawful to himself before the Torah was revealed.” It means before the Torah was revealed, all types of food were allowed except what Prophet Ya’qoob ‘alayhi salaam prohibited for himself.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says,

قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

“Say, ‘So bring the Torah and recite it, if you should be truthful,’” for the Torah affirms what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is stating here.

[Altering the Words of the Scripture]

“And whoever invents about Allah untruth after that – then those are [truly] the wrongdoers.” This is in reference to those who lie about Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and claim that He made the Sabbath and the Torah eternal. They are those who claim that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not send another prophet calling to Allah, although their proofs and evidence go against their statement. Therefore, they are the wrongdoers.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Say, ‘Allah has told the truth. So follow the religion of Ibraheem [Abraham], inclining toward truth; and he was not of the polytheists.’” It means, O Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has said the truth in what He conveyed and legislated in the Qur’an. Therefore, follow the religion of Ibraheem ‘alayhi salaam that Allah legislated in the Qur’an. Indeed, this is the truth, there is no doubt in it, and the perfect way and no prophet have brought a more complete, clear, plain and perfect way than he did.

Lessons:

  • Only Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has the authority to declare something lawful or unlawful. We cannot say that dairy is haram or eating meat is being cruel towards the animals. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made it permissible, He created us and He knows what is best for us. People have modified crops and injected hormones in the animals that are causing diseases. We must fight against this corruption in nature and stop buying GMO foods instead of making the halal foods, haram on ourselves.

  • The claims of those who say there is no abrogation in Deen are false because we find evidence for it in the Qur’an. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala abrogated a few ayaat because they were appropriate for a certain period only. When the situation changed, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed another ayah which was better than the one abrogated.

  • Respond to criticisms with evidence. We should neither become defensive nor argumentative but rather prove our point with authentic evidence. Our opinions are not convincing as evidence.

  • When proven wrong we should accept our error and not continue arguing or fabricate lies about Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Qur’an or the religion

  • Whatever Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has informed us is the truth, therefore, do not doubt His Words. He knows the realities of the things, the secrets of the Unseen, and whatever is between the heavens and earth.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 93-95

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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