Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah, verses 87-91
Extract from the book ‘At-Tayseer Fee Usool At-Tafseer’ written by the Ameer of Hizb ut Tahrir, Sheikh Ata Ibn Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah.
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لاَ تَهْوَى أَنفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقاً كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقاً تَقْتُلُونَ وَقَالُواْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّه بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَلَمَّا جَاءهُم مَّا عَرَفُواْ كَفَرُواْ بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّه عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ أَن يَكْفُرُواْ بِمَا أنزَلَ اللّهُ بَغْياً أَن يُنَزِّلَ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَبَآءُو بِغَضَبٍ عَلَى غَضَبٍ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُواْ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ قَالُواْ نُؤْمِنُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَيَكْفُرونَ بِمَا وَرَاءهُ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ قُلْ فَلِمَ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنبِيَاء اللّهِ مِن قَبْلُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“We gave Musa the Book and sent a succession of Messengers after him. We gave ‘Isa, son of Maryam, the Clear Signs and reinforced him with the Purest Ruh. Why then, whenever a Messenger came to you with something your lower selves did not desire, did you grow arrogant, and deny some of them and murder others? They say, ‘Our hearts are uncircumcised.’ Rather, Allah has cursed them for their kufr. What little iman they have! When a Book does come to them from Allah, confirming what is with them – even though before that they were praying for victory over the kafirun – yet when what they recognise does come to them, they reject it. Allah’s curse is on the kafirun. What an evil thing they have sold themselves for in rejecting what Allah has sent down, outraged that Allah should send down His favour on whichever of His slaves He wills. They have brought down anger upon anger on themselves. The kafirun will have a humiliating punishment. When they are told, ‘Have iman in what Allah has sent down,’ they say, ‘Our iman is in what was sent down to us,’ and they reject anything beyond that, even though it is the truth, confirming what they have. Say, ‘Why then, if you are muminun, did you previously kill the Prophets of Allah?’”
These verses explain the following:
1. Allah سبحانه وتعالى reminds Bani Israel of the favours that he blessed them with, and their rejection of them. Allah sent the Torah to Musa (as), then the Messengers followed his shari’ah after him (as), as one Prophet died another succeeded him until the time of Isa (as). The meaning of (وَقَفَّيْنَا) is to succeed or to make follow, one after the other, just as a man (يقفو) stands behind a man if he travels in his footsteps behind him. It is originally from (القفى) i.e. the back. Here it is to indicate the following by the Prophets of Musa until the time of Isa (as).
2. Allah سبحانه وتعالى reminds them of the sending of Isa (as) to them, supported by clear indications of miracles, establishing that he is a Messenger from Allah, including raising the dead, healing the blind and the leper, and informing them of what they have stored away.
أَنِّي أَخْلُقُ لَكُم مِّنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ فَأَنفُخُ فِيهِ فَيَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَأُبْرِئُ الأكْمَهَ والأَبْرَصَ وَأُحْيِي الْمَوْتَى بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا تَأْكُلُونَ وَمَا تَدَّخِرُونَ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it and it will be a bird by Allah’s permission. I will heal the blind and lepers, and bring the dead to life, by Allah’s permission. I will tell you what you eat and what you store up in your homes. There is a Sign for you in that if you are Believers.”
And Allah سبحانه وتعالى supported Isa (as) with the (رُوحِ الْقُدُسِ), who is Jibreel (as), (أَيَّدْنَاهُ) means We helped him and We strengthened him, as in the saying أيدك الله meaning He strengthened you.
(بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) is a لفظ مشترك homonym, but here it comes to mean Jibreel (as), or the book revealed to Isa (the Injeel) or the word that Isa would say to raise the dead.
(الْقُدُسِ) is purity and(بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) here is Jibreel (as). This is proven by the other verse:
إِذْ قَالَ اللّهُ يَا عِيسى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَى وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدتُّكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلاً وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِي وَتُبْرِئُ الأَكْمَهَ وَالأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوتَى بِإِذْنِي
“Remember when Allah will say, ”Isa, son of Maryam, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Ruh so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Injil; and when you created a bird-shape out of clay by My permission, and then breathed into it and it became a bird by My permission; and healed the blind and the leper by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission”
So, the noble verse mentioned the (رُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) and mentioned the Injeel, therefore the (رُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) is other than the Injeel. Similarly, the (رُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) was mentioned in the verse before the creation from clay and raising the dead, so it is not the word that Isa would raise the dead with, so it follows that the (رُوحِ الْقُدُسِ) is Jibreel (as).
3. Then Allah سبحانه وتعالى expounds their wickedness and hardness in their hearts, such that every time a Prophet was sent to them with other than what they desired, such that he did not realise for them their worldly interests, they would arrogantly not follow him, and they would kill some of those Prophets and accuse others of them of lying. They would mockingly say that their hearts were created closed (غُلْفٌ), so they do not open up for those Prophets. All of that: The accusations of lying, the killing and the closed hearts was as a result of their arrogance.
Allah explains at the end of the verse that they are liars in their claim that their hearts were created such, but that they deserve the curse of Allah and expulsion from His mercy, because they disbelieved in Allah by their own choice and they disbelieved in His Messengers knowingly. They do not believe except in a little; that which agrees with their desires. i.e. they believe in some and reject some, as Allah described them. They denied some of what was in their book of the description of Rasool Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم and other than that of what they themselves do not desire.
(فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ) – the Faa’ (الفاء) is for causality to explain the cause of their curse and their disbelief. They did not believe except in a little of what was sent down to them. (ما) the Maa is extra to emphasize the meaning of littleness. Allah said that a little iman is kufr, so that means that whoever does not believe in all of what was sent down until his time is a disbeliever, because Allah سبحانه وتعالى says: (بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّه بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلاً مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ) i.e. That they are considered to be disbelievers for their iman in a little and not all of what was sent down to them. Puttingبَل before the words, refutes what was before it. Therefore, (قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّه بِكُفْرِهِمْ) means an accusation of lying from Allah سبحانه وتعالى for those of the Jews who say (قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ)
4. As an example of their corruption and filth, Allah سبحانه وتعالى informs of how they were before the sending of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم praying for victory (يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ) over the idolaters, if they fought them with the Prophet whom they found described in their books, promising what they would do to them when he is sent, as they would be among his followers. Except that the rejected him صلى الله عليه وسلم when he was sent with al-Qur’an al-Kareem that confirms what was in their book of his description and qualities. They knew certainly that he is the promised Prophet whom they used to praying for him to bring them victory.
يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءهُمْ
“They recognize it as they recognize their own sons.”
With that they deserved the curse of Allah for their disbelief (فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّه عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ)
5. Because they rejected the Messenger, whom they knew of his truthfulness, they were oppressive and jealous بَغْياً that he was from other than them, as they had wanted him to be from them from the lineage of Ishaq. So, when they found him from Ismail’s line (as), they rejected what was in the Torah about him, so they knowingly disbelieved, which is the extreme of evil and stubbornness. With that they presented themselves for a severe punishment from Allah that will not leave them ever (عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ) i.e. a punishment that brings humiliation and despair to the victim, never leaving him, so he eternally remains in it. This is specific for the people of kufr.
Based on that, the Jews brought Allah’s punishment on themselves and they spent themselves in exchange for rejecting what was sent by Allah to His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم – the Quran – because He was not sent from them. So, they sold themselves in exchange for disbelief and the lowly punishment. What an evil sale that one would sacrifice himself and fritter it away for a price that includes a punishment in the fire of Jahannam for ever and all eternity. The profitable sale is the one spends himself in exchange for Allah’s pleasure and gardens in which blessings are bestowed. As for their sale, it is a lowly loser’s sale (بِئْسَمَا اشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ أَن يَكْفُرُواْ بِمَا أنزَلَ اللّهُ)
(اشْتَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ) i.e. they sold them selves. شرى and اشترى come with the meaning of selling and buying, with the qareenah determining the meaning. If these verbs are used for the self (nafs) like when it is said: شرى نفسه or اشترى نفسه i.e. he sold it, because he is the owner of himself (his nafs). It is not correct to say he bought (اشترى) it. As for if these verbs were used for other than the self’s owner, such as when it is said: اشترى زيد من عمرو نفسه i.e. Amr himself, so it means buying from him. This is like His Saying سبحانه وتعالى:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ
“And among the people there are some who give up everything, desiring the good pleasure of Allah.”
i.e. he sells himself in Allah’s way, and His سبحانه وتعالى Saying:
إِنَّ اللّهَ اشْتَرَى مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الجَنَّةَ
“Allah has bought from the muminun their selves and their wealth in return for the Garden.”
i.e. buying from them in exchange for a grand price, which is entering Jannah.
(فَبَآءُو بِغَضَبٍ عَلَى غَضَبٍ) i.e. they returned and dispersed, as a result of these actions, with wrath upon wrath, meaning severe anger: anger at their disbelief in the signs of Allah in the time of Musa (as) and their disbelief in Isa (as) an likewise their disbelief in Rasool Allah Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم knowing of His is truthfulness. Therefore, the severe anger accompanies them in their coming and going.
6. Then Allah سبحانه وتعالى explains their lie and their contradiction in what they say. When they were asked ‘why do you not believe in what Allah revealed – al-Quran al-Kareem – they said ‘we will not believe except in what was sent down to us from the Torah and we will not believe in a book after it’ while knowing that this Qur’an confirms what is mentioned in their book about the description of The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم. They know that, except that they are stubborn and reject. Allah established the proof against them and exposes their lie in what they say (نُؤْمِنُ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا) , as they did not believe in what was sent down to them when they killed the Prophets of Allah, while to kill them was forbidden in the Torah that was sent down to them, that they claim they believe in (قُلْ فَلِمَ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنبِيَاء اللّهِ مِن قَبْلُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ)
In this Allah سبحانه وتعالى explains that the Jews who were in the time of Rasool Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم were following in the same footsteps as their predecessors. They were not believers in what was sent down to them, as they claimed they were, nor in the books that were sent down from Allah (the Injeel and al-Quran al-Karim).