Respect to All Divine Messengers: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:113) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

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Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:113)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Respect to All Divine Messengers
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۚ فَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ﴿١١٣﴾

Translation:

2:113 The Jews say, “The Christians are not on anything;” [i.e. have no valid ground for their beliefs] and the Christians say, “The Jews are not on anything.” Yet they both read the Scripture. Similarly, those who had no knowledge (of the scripture) said the same thing. Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their disputes.

Commentary: Commentators have narrated from Abd Allah ibn Abbas [Arabic: عبد الله ابن عباس‎] that a delegation of Christian priests from Najran (in Yemen) traveled to Medina and met the Prophet (SAW).

In their discussion with the Prophet, the Christians stated their belief that Isa (AS) is the son of God, since he was born without a father. The Prophet rebutted their argument and said that must mean that Prophet Adam (AS) is also the son of God since he came to existence without a father and mother [Al-i-Imran 3:59-61]. This meeting was open to the public and the Prophet’s companions and the Jews of Medina attended the discussion.

On one occasion, some Jewish rabbis intervened in the discussion and argued that Christians have no valid ground for their beliefs; their argument ultimately ended with the repudiation of Prophet Isa (AS) and the Injeel (Gospel). An individual (or some) from the Christian delegation equally criticized the Jewish faith and rejected the missions of Prophet Musa (AS) and Taurat (Torah). The aforementioned verse was then revealed, which admonished both sides for denying the missions of Prophet Musa and Isa:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ …. ﴿١١٣﴾

2:113 The Jews say, “The Christians are not on anything (have no valid ground for their belief);” and the Christians say, “The Jews are not based on anything.” ….

The verse states that the insolence of the Christians and the Jews towards each other was similar to the aspersion of the “idolaters of Mecca” towards the Prophet of Islam, though there was a subtle difference. The Jews and Christians had read the Scriptures [(وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ)] but the “idolaters of Mecca” had no prior knowledge of any divine books [(لَا يَعْلَمُونَ (الْكِتَابَ))].
….  كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ……﴿١١٣﴾
2:113 …..Similarly, the ignorant said the same thing (about the Prophet and the Quran). …

The verse admonishes the Jewish rabbis for categorically denying Prophet Isa (AS) and the Christian persistence towards emphatically denying Prophet Musa (AS), paralleling them to the idolaters of Mecca who had unequivocally denied the Prophet of Islam (SAW).

It is worth mentioning that the Quran has criticized the People of the Book also, declaring that they are not on anything until they uphold the Taurat (Torah), and Injeel (Gospel) and what else has been revealed from their Lord, which is Islam. Namely, Prophet Musa (AS) and Isa (AS) were both divine messengers to the Children of Israel. Prophet Musa (AS) took a covenant from the Israelites to believe in Prophet Isa (AS) and the Injeel (Gospel). Similarly, the Injeel (Gospel) affirms Prophet Musa’s (AS) mission and the Taurat (Torah), and also gives the glad tidings of the coming of the Prophet of Islam.

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ تُقِيمُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ ۗ…… ﴿٦٨﴾
5:68 Say, “O People of the Scripture! You have no valid ground for your beliefs until you uphold the Torah, and the Gospel, and what is revealed to you from your Lord.” …
In the end, the verse states that only Allah (SWT) will judge amongst his creations, the Jews, the Christian and the Muslims, regarding their disputes.
….  فَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ﴿١١٣﴾

2:113 ….. God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their disputes.

Appendix:

Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Arabic: عبد الله ابن عباس‎‎) was the son of Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, an uncle of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He is one of the first commentators of the Quran in the first century of Islamic calendar.
The phrase [(لَيْسَتِ …. عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ)] literally means “are not based on anything” and it implies “lack of a valid ground to uphold an arguments or belief”

Word-for-Word Translation:
2:113 [وَقَالَتِ] and said [الْيَهُودُ] the Jews [لَيْسَتِ] are not [النَّصَارَىٰ] the Christians [عَلَىٰ] on [شَيْءٍ] anything [وَقَالَتِ] and said [النَّصَارَىٰ] the Christians [لَيْسَتِ] are not [الْيَهُودُ] the Jews [عَلَىٰ] on [شَيْءٍ] anything [وَهُمْ] though they [يَتْلُونَ] recite [الْكِتَابَ] the Scriptures [كَذَٰلِكَ] similarly [قَالَ] said [الَّذِينَ] those who [لَا يَعْلَمُونَ] do not know [مِثْلَ] like [قَوْلِهِمْ] their words [فَاللَّـهُ] so Allah [يَحْكُمُ] shall judge [بَيْنَهُمْ] between them [يَوْمَ] on the Day [الْقِيَامَةِ] of Judgment [فِيمَا] about that [كَانُوا] they have been [فِيهِ] wherein [يَخْتَلِفُونَ] differing

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