Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:213)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
The Genesis of the Divine Laws
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿٢١٣﴾
2:213 Mankind was (in the beginning) a single community. Allah (SWT) sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings (of prosperity in return for faith and righteousness) and warners (against the consequences of straying and transgression), and He sent down with them (the prophets) the Book with truth (containing nothing false in it-so that the prophets) to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed.
And none differed over (interpretations) of the Book except (a group of) those who had received the Book – after the clear proofs came to them. (They differed) because of envious rivalry and insolence among themselves. And Allah (SWT) guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by God’s permission. And Allah (SWT) guides whom He wills to a straight path.
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً …﴿٢١٣﴾
2:212 Mankind was (in the beginning) one nation (that followed one faith);
The children of Prophet Adam (AS) and his early descendants, which are referred to as mankind in verse 2:123, lived together without having significant differences in beliefs and ways of living. They sustained their livelihoods by hunting and feeding on a wide variety of plants, grains, beans, and vegetables that were abundant in nature. As for their beliefs, as it is explained in the next paragraph, they worshipped Allah (SWT) and followed Prophet Adam (AS) in performing their duties to God.
Mankind innately aspires to worship Allah (SWT) and act morally upright (Ar-Room 30:30, Al-Hujarat ). Nonetheless, excess passion for worldly lust spoils the virtue of humanity. However, the early descendants of Adam (AS) had a primitive lifestyle, and the worldly attractions have not yet tarnished their virtues. Hence, in the beginning, mankind followed the Prophet Adam (AS) in worshipped Allah (SWT).
When the human population gradually increased, the early stages of human civilization were formed. People began to farm the land, raise livestock, trade with each other, and compete to improve the quality of their lives.
History shows that, after sometimes, disputes and disagreements, deceptions, and immoralities gradually emerged in society. The beliefs and conducts of early civilization are mentioned in chapter Al-A’raf (7:58-80). For instance, the nation of Noah worshipped idols instead of Allah (SWT), the nation of Shu’aib cheated in taking weights and measurements, and the nation of Lut indulged in forbidden intimate relationships.
Therefore, Allah (SWT), in His grace, sent prophets along with the Book to reform the beliefs and the conducts of mankind. Prophet Noah (AS) was the first prophet with the Book whose prophethood was the beginning of the revelation of divine laws for the guidance of humanity. With this brief explanation, we begin to describe the verse.
Once disputes and disagreements, immoralities, and deceptions became the norm in society, Allah (SWT) sent the prophets (فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ النَّبِيِّينَ) as bearers of glad tidings of prosperity in return to faith and righteousness (مُبَشِّرِينَ) and warners against the consequences of straying and transgression (وَمُنذِرِينَ). He sent down with them the Book with the truth (وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ) so that the prophets judge by the Book (لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ) on issues which people differ (فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ).
… فَبَعَثَ اللَّـهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ … ﴿٢١٣﴾
2:213 …then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Book in truth (containing nothing false in it) to judge between the people in which they differed.
Unfortunately, a group among those who received the Book (الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ) disputed the correct interpretation of the Book deliberately, after the most manifested truths came to them (مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ). It is imperative to realize that they differed not because of lack of knowledge and understanding, but because of envious rivalry and insolence amongst themselves (بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ):
.. وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ … ﴿٢١٣﴾
2:213 … And none differed over (interpretations) of the Book except (a group from) those who had received the Book – after the clear proofs came to them. (They differed) because of envious rivalry and insolence among themselves.
Nevertheless, Allah (SWT), in His grace (بِإِذْنِهِ), guides the sincere and devoted believers (فَهَدَى اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا) from doubt to the certainty and does not leave the believers in error (لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ):
… فَهَدَى اللَّـهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ … ﴿٢١٣﴾
2:213 …And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission.
Indeed, Allah (SWT) guides those who have pure intentions and spirits of submission to the truth. He reforms ideological errors, removes doubts, disputes, and disagreements from the hearts, enlightens the minds with the truth and wisdom, and brings peace and tranquility to the souls.
… وَاللَّـهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ ﴿٢١٣﴾
2:213 …And Allah (SWT) guides whom He wills to a straight path.
2:213 [كَانَ] was [النَّاسُ] mankind [أُمَّةً] a community [وَاحِدَةً] single [فَبَعَثَ] then raised up [اللَّـهُ] Allah [النَّبِيِّينَ] the Prophets [مُبَشِّرِينَ] as bearers of glad tidings [وَمُنذِرِينَ] and as warners [وَأَنزَلَ] and sent down [مَعَهُمُ] with them [الْكِتَابَ] the Book [بِالْحَقِّ] in the truth [لِيَحْكُمَ] to judge [بَيْنَ] between [النَّاسِ] the people [فِيمَا] in what [اخْتَلَفُوا] they differed [فِيهِ] in it.
[وَمَا] And did not [اخْتَلَفَ] differed [فِيهِ] in it [إِلَّا] except [الَّذِينَ] those who [أُوتُوهُ] were given it [مِن] from [بَعْدِ] after [مَا] what [جَاءَتْهُمُ] came to them [الْبَيِّنَاتُ] the clear proofs [بَغْيًا] out of envious rivalry [بَيْنَهُمْ] among themselves
[فَهَدَى] And guided [اللَّـهُ] Allah [الَّذِينَ] those who [آمَنُوا] believed [لِمَا] regarding what [اخْتَلَفُوا] they differed [فِيهِ] in it [مِنَ] of [الْحَقِّ] the truth [بِإِذْنِهِ] with His permission [وَاللَّـهُ] And Allah [يَهْدِي] guides [مَن] whom [يَشَاءُ] He wills [إِلَىٰ] to [صِرَاطٍ] a path [مُّسْتَقِيمٍ] straight.
[Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol. 2, P. 95].