72.Here the verse tells the Jews that all the Prophets were muslims (submitters to God) whereas the Jews had deviated from islam (submission to God), and true to their chauvinistic sectarianism, were content with remaining merely 'Jews'.
73.Rabbani = religious scholars, theologians. Ahbar = religious jurists.
74. Cf. Exodus 21: 23-5.
75. Whoever forgoes his right of retaliation does a good deed which will atone for many of his sins. The same is confirmed by a tradition of the Prophet (peace be on him) in which he said: 'Whoever receives an injury on his body, then pardons (the inflictor of the injury), his sins are atoned for to the measure of his pardoning.' (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 5, pp. 316, 329 - Ed.)
76.The Messiah did not expound a new religion. That very religion which had been the religion of all the Prophets was also his religion, and it is towards that religion that he called people. He believed in the true teachings of the Torah which were extant in his time, and the Gospels (Injil) confirm this (see, for example, Matthew 5: 17-18). The Qur'an repeatedly stresses the fundamental fact that none of the Prophets of God, no matter in which part of the world they appeared, denied the Prophets who had preceded them. On the contrary, each Prophet confirmed the message of his predecessors and sought to promote the mission which was the sacred legacy of them all. God did not reveal any of the Books in order to repudiate the previous ones; each confirmed and supported the preceding ones.
77. Here three judgements are issued against those who do not judge in accordance
with the Law revealed by God. The first is that they are kafir (unbelievers);
the second, that they are zalim (wrong-doers); and the third, that they are
fasiq (transgressors). This clearly means that one who, in disregard of God's
commandments and of the Laws revealed by Him, pronounces judgements according
to man-made laws (whether made by himself or by others) is guilty of three major
offences. First, his act amounts to rejecting the commandment of God, and this
rejection is equivalent to kufr (infidelity, unbelief). Second, his act is contrary
to justice, for only the laws made by God are in complete accord with the dictates
of justice. Any judgement in contravention of God's injunctions amounts, therefore,
to committing injustice (zulm). Third, when he enforces either his own or anyone
else's law in disregard of the Laws of his Lord he steps out of the fold of
subjection and obedience, and this constitutes fisq (transgression).
Kufr, zulm and fisq are essential elements in deviation from God's commandments. One finds them wherever there is deviation from the commandment of God. There is variation in the degree of deviation and hence in the degree of these three offences. Whoever passes judgement on something in opposition to an injunction of God, believing that injunction to be false, and holds either his own or anyone else's judgement to be sound, is an unbeliever (kafir), wrong-doer (zalim) and transgressor (fasiq). A man who is convinced that the injunctions of God are right but makes judgements contrary to them in practice is not an unbeliever in the sense that he ceases to remain a member of the Islamic community, but he is guilty of adulterating his faith by blending it with kufr, zulm and fisq. In the same manner, those who deviate from the injunctions of God in all matters are unbelievers, wrong-doers and transgressors. For those who are obedient in some respects and disobedient in others, the blending of faith and submission to God with the opposite attributes of unbelief, wrong-doing and transgression in their lives will be exactly in proportion to the mixture of their obedience to and their deviation from God's commands.
Some commentators have attempted to restrict the application of these verses to the People of the Book alone. The verses, however, hardly lend themselves to such a restrictive interpretation. The best answer to such a restrictive interpretation has been given by the Companion Hudhayfah. When someone told him that these verses related merely to the Israelites, meaning that the unbelievers, wrong-doers and transgressors were only the Jews who passed judgement contrary to the injunctions revealed by God, Hudhayfah remarked: 'What good brothers these Israelites are to you! Whatever is bitter goes to them; whatever is sweet comes to you. Nay, by God, you will follow their way, your steps following theirs.'
78. This points to a fact of major significance. It could also have been said that the Qur'an confirms all those parts of the earlier divine books which are still extant in their true and original form. But the sense has been conveyed by employing the word 'the Book' rather than 'the previous Books'. This expression reveals that the Qur'an and all those Books sent down by God at various times and in different languages in reality constitute one and the same Book. Their Author is one and the same; their aim and purpose are the same; their teaching is the same; and the knowledge which they seek to impart to mankind is the same. The difference between these Books lies in their modes of expression, and this was necessarily so since they were addressed to different audiences. It is, therefore, not merely that these divine books support rather than contradict each other but that they are actually different editions of one and the same book - 'the Book'.
79. In Arabic, haymana, yuhayminu, hayamanah signify 'to protect, to witness, to keep trust, to back and to support'. The expression 'haymana al-rajul al-shay' means that the man protected and guarded the thing. Likewise, 'haymana al-ta'ir 'alafirdkhih' means that the bird took its young ones under the protection of its wings. Once 'Umar said to the people: 'Inni da'in fa hayminu' ('I am praying; support me by saying amen'). To say that the Qur'an is muhaymin of al-kitab means that it preserves all the true teachings of the earlier divine books; that it has secured them from loss. The Qur'an also confirms those Books in that the contents of the Qur'an testify to the truth of those parts which are indeed from God. The Qur'an is, further, a witness over those Books in the sense that, with its help, the elements which embody true revelations from God can be distinguished from the accretions which have corrupted them. Whatever in these Books accords with the Qur'an is from God, and whatever is not in conformity with it is from human beings.
80. This is a parenthetical phrase, the purpose of which is to elucidate a question which is likely to arise in the mind of the reader who has read the above section and might feel uneasy. The question is: Why do the religious laws propounded by the various Prophets differ in matters of detail even though the Prophets and their Books preach one and the same religion (din) and even confirm and support each other? Why is it that in regard to the prescribed forms of worship, the regulations concerning what is permitted and what is prohibited, and the detailed legal regulations governing the social and collective life, there is some disagreement among the various laws propounded by the different Prophets and the divine Books?
81. This constitutes a detailed answer to the above question (see n. 80).
It consists of the following points:
(1) It is a mistake to think that variations in religious laws result from a difference of source. It is God Himself Who altered the legal prescriptions to suit different nations at different times and in different circumstances.
(2) It was indeed possible, by divising one legal code for all human beings, for all men to have been made into one nation (ummah). But one of the many benevolent considerations keeping the religious laws of various Prophets different from one another was that God wanted this difference to become a means of testing people. Those who understand true religion, who have grasped its spirit and essence, and who are aware of the true importance of the different legal prescriptions, always recognize the Truth and accept it whatever its form. They have no hesitation in accepting the new ordinances of God in place of the old ones, in contrast to those who are not conversant with the spirit of true religion and who seem to identify it with a specific body of legal minutiae. Such people have overlaid God-given principles with their own legal deductions, and have sub sequently fossilized this entire amalgam, seeking to preserve it in its entirety. They have grown so attached to it that, in order to preserve it, they spurn every directive which subsequently comes to them from God. In order to distinguish the people of the first category from those of the second God made the legal prescriptions of the various Prophets vary.
(3) The real purpose of all the divine religious laws is the attainment of goodness and righteousness. This purpose can be achieved only when a man obeys whatever commandment he receives from God at a particular time. The proper mode of conduct for people who keep their eyes fixed on this true purpose is to strive for God's good pleasure rather than quarrel about differences in the legal prescriptions of the various Prophets.
(4) The differences which have arisen because of the unjustified rigidity, prejudice, obduracy and erroneous attitudes of the human mind can be finally settled neither in the debating hall nor on the battlefield. The final judgement will be made by God Himself. Then the reality of everything will be fully uncovered, and it will be clear how much truth and falsehood underlay the squabbles which whole lives were wasted over.
82. Following this parenthetical clause, the previous subject is resumed.
83. The word jahiliyah (literally 'ignorance') is used as an antonym to Islam. Islam is the way of 'ilm (true knowledge), since it is God Himself Who has shown this way, and His knowledge embraces everything. In contrast is the way that diverges from Islam - the path of Ignorance (jahiliyah). The pre-Islamic period in Arabia is designated as jahiliyah because this was the era when human beings derived their norms from either superstitious beliefs, conjectures and imagination or from their desires. Whenever such an attitude is adopted, it is bound to be designated as Ignorance. The appellation 'jahiliyah' will apply to every aspect of life which is developed in disregard of the knowledge made available by God, based only on man's partial knowledge blended with imagination, superstitious fancies, conjectures and desires.