Islamicstudies.info
Tafheem.net | About |
Zoom Page: Ctrl+, Ctrl-, Ctrl0
Help | FontUpdated | Contact us
Towards Understanding the Quran
With kind permission: Islamic Foundation UK
Introduction to Tafheem | Glossary | Verbs
Other resources: Maarif | Dawat 

 Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:12-19 [3/16]
  
|
Intro
 
Display
|
Recite
|
Display Options [
V1 /
V2 /
V3 /
Book /
S1 /
S2 /
En /
Ar |
W
]
Section
Verse Summary -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
۞ وَلَقَدْAnd certainly
أَخَذَ ٱللَّهُAllah took
مِيثَـٰقَa Covenant
بَنِىٓ(from the) Children
إِسْرَٲٓءِيلَ(of) Israel
وَبَعَثْنَاand We appointed
مِنْهُمُamong them
ٱثْنَىْ عَشَرَtwelve
نَقِيبًا‌ۖleaders.
وَقَالَ ٱللَّهُAnd Allah said,
إِنِّى`Indeed, I (am)
مَعَكُمْ‌ۖwith you,
لَئِنْif
أَقَمْتُمُyou establish
ٱلصَّلَوٲةَthe prayer
وَءَاتَيْتُمُand give
ٱلزَّكَوٲةَthe zakah
وَءَامَنتُمand you believe
بِرُسُلِىin My Messengers
وَعَزَّرْتُمُوهُمْand you assist them
وَأَقْرَضْتُمُand you loan
ٱللَّهَ(to) Allah
قَرْضًا حَسَنًاa goodly loan,
لَّأُكَفِّرَنَّsurely I will remove
عَنكُمْfrom you
سَيِّـَٔـاتِكُمْyour evil deeds
وَلَأُدْخِلَنَّكُمْand I will surely admit you
جَنَّـٰتٍ(to) gardens
تَجْرِىflow
مِنfrom
تَحْتِهَاunderneath them
ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ‌ۚthe rivers.
فَمَنBut whoever
كَفَرَdisbelieved
بَعْدَafter
ذَٲلِكَthat
مِنكُمْamong you,
فَقَدْthen certainly
ضَلَّhe strayed
سَوَآءَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ(from) the right way.
﴿١٢﴾
فَبِمَاSo for
نَقْضِهِمtheir breaking
مِّيثَـٰقَهُمْ(of) their covenant
لَعَنَّـٰهُمْWe cursed them
وَجَعَلْنَاand We made
قُلُوبَهُمْtheir hearts
قَـٰسِيَةً‌ۖhard.
يُحَرِّفُونَThey distort
ٱلْكَلِمَthe words
عَنfrom
مَّوَاضِعِهِۦ‌ۙtheir places,
وَنَسُواْand forgot
حَظًّاa part
مِّمَّاof what
ذُكِّرُواْthey were reminded
بِهِۦ‌ۚof [it].
وَلَا تَزَالُAnd you will not cease
تَطَّلِعُ عَلَىٰto discover
خَآئِنَةٍtreachery
مِّنْهُمْfrom them
إِلَّاexcept
قَلِيلاًa few
مِّنْهُمْ‌ۖof them.
فَٱعْفُBut forgive
عَنْهُمْthem
وَٱصْفَحْ‌ۚand overlook.
إِنَّIndeed,
ٱللَّهَAllah
يُحِبُّloves
ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَthe good-doers.
﴿١٣﴾
وَمِنَAnd from
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
قَالُوٓاْsaid,
إِنَّاIndeed we
نَصَـٰرَىٰٓ(are) Christians,`
أَخَذْنَاWe took
مِيثَـٰقَهُمْtheir covenant;
فَنَسُواْbut they forgot
حَظًّاa part
مِّمَّاof what
ذُكِّرُواْthey were reminded
بِهِۦof [it].
فَأَغْرَيْنَاSo We aroused
بَيْنَهُمُbetween them
ٱلْعَدَاوَةَ[the] enmity
وَٱلْبَغْضَآءَand [the] hatred
إِلَىٰtill
يَوْمِ(the) Day
ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ‌ۚ(of) the Resurrection.
وَسَوْفَAnd soon
يُنَبِّئُهُمُ ٱللَّهُAllah will inform them
بِمَاof what
كَانُواْthey used to
يَصْنَعُونَdo.
﴿١٤﴾
يَـٰٓأَهْلَO People
ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ(of) the Book!
قَدْSurely
جَآءَكُمْhas come to you
رَسُولُنَاOur Messenger
يُبَيِّنُmaking clear
لَكُمْto you
كَثِيرًاmuch
مِّمَّاof what
كُنتُمْyou used to
تُخْفُونَconceal
مِنَof
ٱلْكِتَـٰبِthe Scripture
وَيَعْفُواْ عَنand overlooking
كَثِيرٍ‌ۚmuch.
قَدْSurely
جَآءَكُمhas come to you
مِّنَfrom
ٱللَّهِAllah
نُورٌa light
وَكِتَـٰبٌ مُّبِينٌand a clear Book
﴿١٥﴾
يَهْدِىGuides
بِهِwith it
ٱللَّهُAllah
مَنِ(those) who
ٱتَّبَعَseek
رِضْوَٲنَهُۥHis pleasure
سُبُلَ(to the) ways
ٱلسَّلَـٰمِ(of) the peace,
وَيُخْرِجُهُمand brings them out
مِّنَfrom
ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِthe darknessess
إِلَىto
ٱلنُّورِthe light
بِإِذْنِهِۦby His permission,
وَيَهْدِيهِمْand guides them
إِلَىٰto
صِرَٲطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ(the) straight way.
﴿١٦﴾
لَّقَدْCertainly
كَفَرَdisbelieved -
ٱلَّذِينَthose who
قَالُوٓاْsaid,
إِنَّ`Indeed,
ٱللَّهَAllah,
هُوَHe
ٱلْمَسِيحُ(is) the Messiah,
ٱبْنُson
مَرْيَمَ‌ۚ(of) Maryam.`
قُلْSay,
فَمَن`Then who
يَمْلِكُhas power
مِنَagainst
ٱللَّهِAllah
شَيْــًٔا(in) anything
إِنْif
أَرَادَHe intends
أَنto
يُهْلِكَdestroy
ٱلْمَسِيحَthe Messiah,
ٱبْنَson
مَرْيَمَ(of) Maryam,
وَأُمَّهُۥand his mother
وَمَنand whoever
فِى(is) in
ٱلْأَرْضِthe earth
جَمِيعًا‌ۗall?`
وَلِلَّهِAnd for Allah
مُلْكُ(is the) dominion
ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ(of) the heavens
وَٱلْأَرْضِand the earth
وَمَاand what
بَيْنَهُمَا‌ۚ(is) between both of them.
يَخْلُقُHe creates
مَاwhat
يَشَآءُ‌ۚHe wills,
وَٱللَّهُand Allah
عَلَىٰ(is) on
كُلِّevery
شَىْءٍthing
قَدِيرٌAll-Powerful.
﴿١٧﴾
وَقَالَتِAnd said,
ٱلْيَهُودُthe Jews
وَٱلنَّصَـٰرَىٰand the Christians
نَحْنُ`We (are)
أَبْنَـٰٓؤُاْ(the) children
ٱللَّهِ(of) Allah
وَأَحِبَّـٰٓؤُهُۥ‌ۚand His beloved.`
قُلْSay,
فَلِمَ`Then why
يُعَذِّبُكُم(does He) punish you
بِذُنُوبِكُم‌ۖfor your sins?`
بَلْNay,
أَنتُمyou (are)
بَشَرٌhuman beings
مِّمَّنْfrom among (those)
خَلَقَ‌ۚHe created.
يَغْفِرُHe forgives
لِمَن[for] whom
يَشَآءُHe wills
وَيُعَذِّبُand punishes
مَنwhom
يَشَآءُ‌ۚHe wills.
وَلِلَّهِAnd for Allah
مُلْكُ(is the) dominion
ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ(of) the heavens
وَٱلْأَرْضِand the earth
وَمَاand whatever
بَيْنَهُمَا‌ۖ(is) between them,
وَإِلَيْهِand to Him
ٱلْمَصِيرُ(is) the final return.
﴿١٨﴾
يَـٰٓأَهْلَO People
ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ(of) the Book!
قَدْSurely
جَآءَكُمْhas come to you
رَسُولُنَاOur Messenger,
يُبَيِّنُhe makes clear
لَكُمْto you
عَلَىٰ[on]
فَتْرَةٍ(after) an interval (of cessation)
مِّنَof
ٱلرُّسُلِthe Messengers,
أَنlest
تَقُولُواْyou say
مَا`Not
جَآءَنَا(has) come to us
مِنۢany
بَشِيرٍbearer of glad tidings
وَلَاand not
نَذِيرٍ‌ۖa warner.`
فَقَدْBut surely
جَآءَكُمhas come to you
بَشِيرٌa bearer of glad tidings
وَنَذِيرٌ‌ۗand a warner.
وَٱللَّهُAnd Allah
عَلَىٰ(is) on
كُلِّevery
شَىْءٍthing
قَدِيرٌAll-Powerful.
﴿١٩﴾


وَلَقَدۡ اَخَذَ اللّٰهُ مِيۡثَاقَ بَنِىۡۤ اِسۡرآءِيۡلَ​ۚ وَبَعَثۡنَا مِنۡهُمُ اثۡنَىۡ عَشَرَ نَقِيۡبًا​ ؕ وَقَالَ اللّٰهُ اِنِّىۡ مَعَكُمۡ​ؕ لَـئِنۡ اَقَمۡتُمُ الصَّلٰوةَ وَاٰتَيۡتُمُ الزَّكٰوةَ وَاٰمَنۡتُمۡ بِرُسُلِىۡ وَعَزَّرۡتُمُوۡهُمۡ وَاَقۡرَضۡتُمُ اللّٰهَ قَرۡضًا حَسَنًا لَّاُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنۡكُمۡ سَيِّاٰتِكُمۡ وَلَاُدۡخِلَـنَّكُمۡ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِىۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِهَا الۡاَنۡهٰرُ​ۚ فَمَنۡ كَفَرَ بَعۡدَ ذٰ لِكَ مِنۡكُمۡ فَقَدۡ ضَلَّ سَوَآءَ السَّبِيۡلِ‏  فَبِمَا نَقۡضِهِمۡ مِّيۡثَاقَهُمۡ لَعَنّٰهُمۡ وَجَعَلۡنَا قُلُوۡبَهُمۡ قٰسِيَةً​ ۚ يُحَرِّفُوۡنَ الۡـكَلِمَ عَنۡ مَّوَاضِعِهٖ​ۙ وَنَسُوۡا حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُوۡا بِهٖۚ وَلَا تَزَالُ تَطَّلِعُ عَلٰى خَآئِنَةٍ مِّنۡهُمۡ اِلَّا قَلِيۡلًا مِّنۡهُمۡ​ فَاعۡفُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَاصۡفَحۡ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يُحِبُّ الۡمُحۡسِنِيۡنَ‏  وَمِنَ الَّذِيۡنَ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا نَصٰرٰٓى اَخَذۡنَا مِيۡثَاقَهُمۡ فَنَسُوۡا حَظًّا مِّمَّا ذُكِّرُوۡا بِهٖ فَاَغۡرَيۡنَا بَيۡنَهُمُ الۡعَدَاوَةَ وَالۡبَغۡضَآءَ اِلٰى يَوۡمِ الۡقِيٰمَةِ​ ؕ وَسَوۡفَ يُنَبِّئُهُمُ اللّٰهُ بِمَا كَانُوۡا يَصۡنَعُوۡنَ‏   يٰۤـاَهۡلَ الۡكِتٰبِ قَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ رَسُوۡلُـنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَـكُمۡ كَثِيۡرًا مِّمَّا كُنۡتُمۡ تُخۡفُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡكِتٰبِ وَيَعۡفُوۡا عَنۡ كَثِيۡرٍ​ ؕ قَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ مِّنَ اللّٰهِ نُوۡرٌ وَّكِتٰبٌ مُّبِيۡنٌ ۙ‏  يَّهۡدِىۡ بِهِ اللّٰهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضۡوَانَهٗ سُبُلَ السَّلٰمِ وَيُخۡرِجُهُمۡ مِّنَ الظُّلُمٰتِ اِلَى النُّوۡرِ بِاِذۡنِهٖ وَيَهۡدِيۡهِمۡ اِلٰى صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِيۡمٍ‏   لَـقَدۡ كَفَرَ الَّذِيۡنَ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡمَسِيۡحُ ابۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ​ؕ قُلۡ فَمَنۡ يَّمۡلِكُ مِنَ اللّٰهِ شَيۡـئًـا اِنۡ اَرَادَ اَنۡ يُّهۡلِكَ الۡمَسِيۡحَ ابۡنَ مَرۡيَمَ وَاُمَّهٗ وَمَنۡ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ جَمِيۡعًا​ ؕ وَلِلّٰهِ مُلۡكُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَمَا بَيۡنَهُمَا​ ؕ يَخۡلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ​ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيۡرٌ‏  وَقَالَتِ الۡيَهُوۡدُ وَالنَّصٰرٰى نَحۡنُ اَبۡنٰٓؤُا اللّٰهِ وَاَحِبَّآؤُهٗ​ ؕ قُلۡ فَلِمَ يُعَذِّبُكُمۡ بِذُنُوۡبِكُمۡ​ؕ بَلۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ بَشَرٌ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقَ​ ؕ يَغۡفِرُ لِمَنۡ يَّشَآءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَنۡ يَّشَآءُ​ ؕ وَلِلّٰهِ مُلۡكُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَمَا بَيۡنَهُمَا​ وَاِلَيۡهِ الۡمَصِيۡرُ‏  يٰۤـاَهۡلَ الۡـكِتٰبِ قَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ رَسُوۡلُـنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَـكُمۡ عَلٰى فَتۡرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا مَا جَآءَنَا مِنۡۢ بَشِيۡرٍ وَّلَا نَذِيۡرٍ​ فَقَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ بَشِيۡرٌ وَّنَذِيۡرٌ​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ عَلٰى كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيۡرٌ‏  
(5:12) Surely Allah took a covenant with the Children of Israel, and We raised up from them twelve of their leaders,31 and Allah said: 'Behold, I am with you; if you establish Prayer and pay Zakah and believe in My Prophets and help them,32 and lend Allah a good loan,33 I will certainly efface from you your evil deeds,34 and will surely cause you to enter the Gardens beneath which rivers flow. Whosoever of you disbelieves thereafter has indeed gone astray from the right way.35 (5:13) Then, for their breach of the covenant We cast them away from Our mercy and caused their hearts to harden. (And now they are in such a state that) they pervert the words from their context and thus distort their meaning, and have forgotten a good portion of the teaching they were imparted, and regarding all except a few of them you continue to learn that they committed acts of treachery. Pardon them, then, and overlook their deeds. Surely Allah loves those who do good deeds. (5:14) We also took a covenant from those who said: 'We are Christians';36 but they forgot a good portion of the teaching they had been imparted with. Wherefore We aroused enmity and spite between them till the Day of Resurrection, and ultimately Allah will tell them what they had contrived. (5:15) People of the Book! Now Our Messenger has come to you: he makes clear to you a good many things of the Book which you were wont to conceal, and also passes over many things.37 There has now come to you a light from Allah, and a clear Book. (5:16) through which Allah shows to all who seek to please Him the paths leading to safety.38 He brings them out, by His leave, from darkness to light and directs them on to the straight way. (5:17) Indeed those who said: 'Christ, the son of Mary, he is indeed God', disbelieved.39 Say (O Muhammad!): 'Who could have overruled Allah had He so willed to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, and his mother, and all those who are on earth?' For to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them; He creates what He wills.40 Allah is All-Powerful. (5:18) The Jews and the Christians say: 'We are Allah's children and His beloved ones.' Ask them: 'Why, then, does He chastise you for your sins?' You are the same as other men He has created. He forgives whom He wills and chastises whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them. To Him is the eventual return. (5:19) People of the Book! After a long interlude during which no Messengers have appeared there has come to you Our Messenger to elucidate the teaching of the true faith lest you say: 'No bearer of glad tidings and no warner has come to us.' For now there indeed has come to you a bearer of glad tidings and a warner, Allah is All-Power-ful.41

31. The word naqib in Arabic denotes supervisor and censor. There were twelve tribes among the Israelites and each tribe was required to appoint one of its members as a naqib, to look after their affairs and try to prevent them from becoming victims of irreligiousness and moral corruption. Although the Book of Numbers in the Bible does mention these twelve men, it does not seem to convey the sense of their being religious and moral mentors, as the term naqib employed by the Qur'an does. The Bible simply mentions them as the chiefs and dignitaries of their tribes.

32. The assurance of God's support is made conditional upon their continuous response to the call of God and for support of His Prophets.

33. This expression signifies spending one's wealth for the sake of God. Since God has promised to return to man every penny that he spends in His way along with His reward, which will be several-fold, the Qur'an characterizes this spending as a loan to God. This spending is considered a loan provided it is a 'good loan', that is, provided the money spent in the cause of God has been acquired by legitimate means and has been spent in accordance with the laws of God and with sincerity and earnestness.

34. To efface someone's evil deeds signifies two things. First, that if a man decides to follow the Straight Path and strives to follow God's directives in both thought and action his soul will be purged of many evils and his way of life will gradually become free of corruption. Second, if, in spite of this reform, weaknesses still persist in a man's life he is assured that God will not punish him and will have his failing erased from his record. For God is not too exacting over trivial errors, providing a man has sincerely accepted the basic guidance and reformed his character.

35. That is, they once found the 'right way' and then allowed it to be lost and thus put themselves on the road to perdition. We have translated the Qur'anic expression 'sawa' al-sabil' as the 'right way' for the sake of brevity. A better rendering could be, 'the highroad of balance and moderation', but even this would fail to bring out the meaning fully.

In order to grasp the full significance of what is being said here one should bear in mind that in himself man constitutes a microcosm of society. He has innumerable powers and potentialities, myriad desires, feelings and inclinations, and a host of divergent urges. Social life consists of a huge network of complex relationships, and with the growth of civilization and culture the complexity of these relationships increases. There is also a rich fund of resources in the world and there are countless possibilities for their utilization; as a result, man is confronted with a plethora of choices and problems.

The fact that man has inherent limitations means that he is incapable of viewing in one sweep and in a balanced way the entire span of existence. Hence, man is in no position to prescribe for his kind a judicious way of life - a way of life wherein justice is done to all his powers and capacities; in which a wholesome balance is maintained between all his inherent potentialities; in which all his urges are given their due; in which his two-fold need for inner satisfaction and external self-realization is fully met; in which various aspects of human life are taken into proper consideration, giving birth to an integrated scheme with a built-in capacity to harmonize the multifarious strains and stresses of social life; in which material resources are fully exploited in the best interests of both the individual and society and within the framework of equity, justice and righteousness. When man takes upon himself the task of prescribing the guidelines for his life and becomes his own law-maker, his mind tends to become preoccupied with one specific aspect of human life, with one of the numerous demands of his nature, with one of the myriad problems calling for solution. His mental involvement is liable to be so intense that he adopts - consciously or otherwise - an unjust attitude towards all the other aspects, requirements and problems of human life. Consequently, when such opinions are imposed, the balance which ought to prevail in man's life is disrupted and he begins to swing either towards one extreme or the other. Gradually, this deviation assumes intolerable proportions. A reaction sets in, and justice is demanded for the neglected aspects of human life. Still, human life remains deprived of justice. The reason for this failure is that man's reaction to imbalance is itself devoid of balance. The new dispensation in turn persists in excessive preoccupation with either one specific aspect, problem or requirement of human life at the expense of all the others. Thus human life is denied judicious and balanced progress. Man continues to stumble hither and thither; from one form of self-destruction to another. All courses of life charted by man himself are winding and crooked. They move in the wrong direction, reach the wrong end and then turn back in another wrong direction.

Among these numerous ways - all false - there is just one way that lies exactly in the middle. This way alone does full justice to all of man's various potentialities and urges, to all his instincts and predispositions, to all the multifarious claims of both the body and the spirit; in short, to all aspects of his life. In this way there is no crookedness; it is the one course of life in which nothing is given either too much consideration or too little, and nothing suffers inequity and injustice. Man's very nature thirsts for such a way, and the succession of revolts against false ways of life is merely a manifestation of his constant quest for this right and straight way. Left to himself, man is incapable of charting this way. It is God alone Who can direct him to it; and indeed the Prophets were sent for this very purpose.

The Qur'an designates this way as sawa al-sabil ('the right way') in the present verse and elsewhere as al-sirat al-mustaqim ('the straight way'). (See Towards Understanding the Qur'an, vol. I, (Surah 1, verse 5, and n. 8.) This is the road which goes amidst the countless winding and crooked paths of life; the road which leads man, disregarding all the curved and crooked paths, straight on to his success, right from this world to the Hereafter. Whoever goes along it enjoys rectitude in this world and success and felicity in the Next, but whoever loses this road is bound to become a victim of false beliefs and false ways of conduct and thus comes to have a wrong orientation in life. This will lead him to Hell, where all bent and crooked paths end. The following illustrates man's dilemma.

In modern times some philosophers have been so impressed by this constant swinging in human life, from one extreme to another, as to have mistakenly argued that the dialectical process is the natural course of human life. They conclude, therefore, that the only way for human life to progress is that a thesis should first swing it in one direction, and then an antithesis swing it in the opposite direction, after which there will emerge a synthesis which constitutes the course of human progress. These curved lines from one extreme to the other do not indicate the correct course of human progress. Rather they represent the tragic stumblings which again and again obstruct the true progress of human life. Every extreme thesis sets life on a certain course and continues to pull it in that direction for some time. When human life is thus thrown off its 'right course' the result is that certain realities of life - which had not received their due - rise up in revolt, and this revolt often assumes the form of an antithesis. This revolt begins to pull life in the opposite direction. As the 'right way' is approached the conflicting ideas - the thesis and antithesis - begin to effect some kind of mutual compromise, leading to the emergence of a synthesis. This synthesis comprises many elements conducive to the good of mankind. But since societies which do not submit to the guidance of the Prophets are deprived both of the signposts that might indicate the 'right way' and of faith to help steady man's feet thereon this synthesis does not permit human life to maintain the golden mean. Its momentum is so powerful that it once more pushes life to the opposite extreme. At this point, certain realities are once again denied their due, with the result that another antithesis emerges in reaction to the iniquities of the earlier ideology. Had the light of the Qur'an been available to these short-sighted philosophers, and had they been able to perceive the 'right way' envisaged by the Qur'an, they would have realized that this was the true course of human progress.

36. Some are of the opinion that the word Nasara (meaning Christians) is derived from Nasirah (Nazareth), the birth-place of the Messiah. In fact this word is not derived from Nasirah (Nazareth) but from the word nusrah, and the basis of this derivation is the question posed by the Messiah to his disciples: 'Who are my supporters (ansari) in the way of God?' In response to this they had said: 'We are the supporters (ansar) (in the way) of God.' Christian authors have been misled by the resemblance between the words Nasirah and Nasara into believing that the name of the sect founded in the early history of Christianity, and contemptuously characterized as either Nazarenes or Ebonites served as the basis of the Qur'anic designation of the Christians. But here the Qur'ijo categorically states that they had declared that they were 'Nasara' and it is obvious that the Christians never called themselves 'Nazarenes'.

In this connection it should be recalled that Jesus never called his followers 'Christians' for he had not come to found a new religion named after him. His mission was to revive the religion of Moses and of all the Prophets who preceded him as well as of the one who was to appear after him. Hence, he neither formed any cult divorced from the Israelites and the followers of the Mosaic Law nor designated his followers by any distinctive name. Likewise, his early followers neither considered themselves to be separate from the Israelite community nor developed into an independent group nor adopted any distinctive symbol and name. They worshipped in the temple of Jerusalem along with other Jews and considered themselves to be followers of the Mosaic Law (see Acts 3:1-10; 21: 14-15,21). Later on the process of alienation began to operate on both sides. On the one hand, Paul, one of the followers of Jesus, declared independence from the Mosaic Law holding that faith in Christ was all that one needed for salvation. On the other hand, the Jewish rabbis declared the followers of Christ to be heretics and excommunicated them. Despite this, for some time the new sect had no distinct appellation of its own. The followers of Christ variously described themselves as 'disciples', as 'brethren', as 'those who believed', and as 'saints' (see Acts 2: 44; 4: 32; 9: 26; 11: 29; 13: 52; 15: 1; 23: 1 and Romans 15: 25 and Colossians 1: 2). The Jews sometimes designated them as 'Galileans' and as 'the sect of Nazarenes' (see Acts 24: 5; Luke 13: 2). These nicknames, which were originally contrived in,.ojder to ridicule them, referred to Nazareth, the home town of Jesus in the district of Galilee. These names, however, did not gain sufficient popularity to become the permanent names of the followers of Christ. They were called 'Christians' for the first time by the people of Antioch in 43 A.D. or 44 A.D. when Paul and Barnabas went there and began to preach their religion (Acts 11: 26). This appellation was flung at them by the opponents of the followers of Christ precisely in order to tease them by using an appellation which was unacceptable to them. But when their enemies began to call them consistently by this name their leaders reacted by saying that if they were called Christians because of their allegiance to Christ they had no reason to be ashamed of it (1 Peter 4: 16). It was thus that the followers of Christ also gradually began to call themselves by the same name which had originally been conferred upon them sarcastically. In the course of time the Christians ceased to realize that theirs had originally been a derogatory appellation chosen for them by outsiders rather than by themselves.

The Qur'an, therefore, does not refer to the followers of Christ as Christians. It reminds them rather that they belong to those who responded to the query of Jesus: 'Who are my supporters (ansari) in the way of God?' by saying that they were his ansar (supporters) in God's cause. See (Surah al-Saff 61: 14 - Ed.) It is an irony of fate that far from feeling grateful at being referred to by a dignified appellation Christian missionaries take offence at the fact that the Qur'an designates them as Nasara rather than as 'Christians'.

37. God discloses some of the dishonest and treacherous dealings of theirs where He deems it necessary in order to strengthen the cause of the true religion, and ignores the disclosure of those which are not truly indispensable.

38. The word 'safety' here denotes safety from false perception and outlook, safety from misdeeds and their consequences. Whoever seeks guidance from the Book of God and from the example of the Messenger (peace be on him) can find out how to keep himself safe from errors at each of life's crossroads.

39. The original mistake committed by the Christians in declaring Jesus to be a combination of human and divine essences turned Jesus into a mystery for them, and the more the Christian scholars tried to solve this mystery by resorting to conjecture and rhetorical extravagance the more involved the whole matter became. Those who were more impressed by the humanity of Jesus stressed his being the son of God and considered him to be one of the three gods. Those who were more impressed by the divinity of Jesus considered him to be none other than God, stressing that he was the human incarnation of God, and worshipped him as God. Those who tried to strike a middle path spent all their efforts hammering out subtle verbal formulations of the Trinity that would allow people to consider the Messiah to be God and man at one and the same time, to affirm that God and the Messiah are independent and simultaneously constitute an inseparable whole see (Surah 4, nn. 212, 213, 215) above.

40. This statement hints at the childishness of those who have been misled into believing that the Messiah himself is God either because of his miraculous birth or because of his flawless moral character or because of the miracles which he performed. The Messiah is merely a sign of the innumerable wonders of God's creation; a sign which somehow dazzled the eyes of those superficial people. Had their perception been wider they would have been able to see that there are even more inspiring examples of His creation and infinite power. If anything their attitude was indicative of the intellectual puerility of those who were so overawed by the excellence of a creature as to mistake him for the Creator. Those whose intelligence penetrates through the excellence of creatures, who look upon them merely as signs of the magnificent power of God, and who are led by such observations to a reinforcement of faith in the Creator are truly wise.

41. In the present context this sentence is extremely eloquent and subtle. It signifies that the same God who had sent warners and bearers of glad tidings to men in the past has now sent Muhammad (peace be on him) with the same task. At the same time it also means that they {should not treat the message of this warner and bearer of glad tidings lightly. They should bear in mind that if they disregard the injunctions of God, He can chastise them as He wills, for He is All-Powerful and All-Mighty.