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
87. "And We gave Moses the Book, and after him sent Messengers in succession; and We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear Signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whensoever (thereafter) there came to you a Messenger, with what your selves desire not, you became arrogant? - Some you denied, and others you slay."
88. "And they said: Our hearts are covered’. Nay! Allah has cursed them for their disbelief. Little is that which they believe."
In these verses, again, the Children of Israel are addressed. Yet the concepts and criteria mentioned in them are universal and apply to all.
At first, it says:
There came Messengers such as David, Solomon, Joshua, Zacharia and John.
This domination of desire on you was so intense that from among those prophets:
This verse makes a fact clear that the Divine apostles, when communicating their prophecies, on the path of Allah, were heedless of the oppositions of the materialists. And, it must be so, because a correct sincere leadership is not anything save that.
If prophets tend to follow the unconditioned desires of people and adapt themselves to people's selfish inclinations, they will be the followers of the misled, rather than being a divine leader for the followers of the path of truth.
And it is for the same reason that: “...Little is that which they believe."
The above sentence may be about the Jews who either rejected the prophets (S) or killed them. It is also probable that it refers to the Jews who were con temporary with the holy Prophet (S) and used to inflexibly oppose him with obstinacy and enmity.
However, it states the fact that Man, following his desires, may reach a point that he be cursed by Allah and be deprived of His Mercy. It is in this case that his heart is enclosed in a covering so tight that the truth can rarely penetrate into it.
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 أنَزَلَ اللّهُ بَغْياً أَن يُنَزِّلُ اللّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء مِنْ عِبَادِهِ فَبَآؤُواْ بِغَضَبٍ عَلَى غَضَبٍ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
89. "When there came to them a Book from Allah, confirming what was with them -and, from before, they had been praying for victory over those who rejected the Truth -when there came to them that which they recognized (to be Truth), they disbelieved in it. So Allah's curse is on the disbelievers."
90. "Evil is the thing they have sold themselves for, denying in what Allah has sent down, out of envy that Allah should send down of His grace on whomever He wills of His servants, and they have incurred Wrath upon Wrath, and for the disbelievers awaits a humiliating punishment."
The words in these verses are again about the Jews and their lives. They formerly had an ardent love and were desirous for the advent of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (S) for which they had settled in Medina waiting to see the signs of the new Prophet (S) about which they had studied in their heavenly Book, the Turah.
From before, they usually gave each other the happy tidings of the advent of such a Prophet (S) and they hoped that his appearance would help them to be able to defeat their enemies. But when they received a Book from Allah, the Qur'an, which contained the same message that the Jews had had with them, in the Turah, they rejected it.
"When there came to them a Book from Allah, confirming what was with them -and, from before, they had been praying for victory over those who rejected the Truth -when there came to them that which they recognized (to be Truth), they disbelieved in it..."
Yet, it sometimes happens that a person eagerly pursues a certain fact, but when he reaches it and finds it opposite to his personal interests, he, being affected by his low desires, refuses it and abandons it, or even sometimes he stands against it.
In fact, the Jews have willingly acquired defeat. Those people who, with the purpose of accepting and following the promised Prophet (S) had emigrated from their own homes and, with many difficulties, had settled in Medina in order to attain their goal, ultimately joined the camp of the pagans and hostile disbelievers. Therefore, the Qur'an says:
It seemed they expected that the promised prophet (S) would be one from among the Children of Israel. They were displeased of the Qur'an having been sent down to someone else. Then they, surrendering themselves to infidelity and disbelief in the Truth, showed their envy to the holy Prophet Muhammad (S). Therefore, at the end of the verse, it says:
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُواْ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ قَالُواْ نُؤْمِنُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَيَكْفُرونَ بِمَا وَرَاءهُ وَهُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ قُلْ فَلِمَ تَقْتُلُونَ أَنبِيَاء اللّهِ مِن قَبْلُ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
وَلَقَدْ جَاءكُم مُّوسَى بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ثُمَّ اتَّخَذْتُمُ الْعِجْلَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَنتُمْ ظَالِمُونَ
وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ وَرَفَعْنَا فَوْقَكُمُ الطُّورَ خُذُواْ مَا آتَيْنَاكُم بِقُوَّةٍ وَاسْمَعُواْ قَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا وَأُشْرِبُواْ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْعِجْلَ بِكُفْرِهِمْ قُلْ بِئْسَمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِهِ إِيمَانُكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ مُّؤْمِنِينَ
91. "When it is said to them: Believe in what Allah has sent down " they said: We believe (only) in what was sent down to us (before)’. But they disbelieve in what is beyond that, while it is the Truth confirming what is with them. Say: Why then were you slaying the Prophets of Allah in former times, if you were (indeed) faithful?' "
92. "And, also, Moses came to you with clear signs; yet you took to worship of the Calf after him (in his absence) and you were (willful) wrongdoers."
93. "And (remember) when We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount, above you, (saying): Hold you fast that which We have given you with the strength, and hear (Our commandments)’. They said: We hear and disobey '; and they were made to imbibe (the love of) the Calf into their hearts because of their disbelief. Say: Evil is what your faith bids you if you be, indeed, faithful’."
In commenting on the previous verses, it was said that the Jews tolerated a lot of trouble and toil on the path of reaching the Prophet (S) that the Turah had promised, but when he (S) came, they did not believe in him, because of envy, or for the reason that this prophet (S) was not from the Children of Israel, or because their personal interests were in danger.
Now, through the verses under discussion, the Qur'an refers to the racial bigotries of the Jews by which they are known throughout the world. It says:
The Jews believed neither in the Evangel (Ingu) nor in the Qur'an, but they paid attention only to the racial aspects and their personal benefits.
The Jews said that they believed in what had been revealed to, them, i.e. to the Israeli prophets (as) and they would not believe in anything revealed to a non-Israeli prophet (i.e. the holy Prophet Mohammad (S)).
The reply to this arrogance is given in this verse saying that that which has been sent down to the holy Prophet (S) is truth verifying that which is in the Book with them, referring to their prophecy proclaimed in Duet. 18: 15-18. And, now, the Qur'an says:
Then, the Holy Quran uncovers their falsehood and says that their excuse for their disbelief is that Prophet Muhammad (S) is not from among them:
If they truly believed in the Turah, the Divine Book in which murder is considered a major sin, they would not slay the great prophets of Allah.
Furthermore, this statement that they say: "We believe (only) in what was sent down to us (before)", is a clear deviation from the path of Monotheism, or, in other words, it is, in itself, blasphemy. This is a kind of arrogance and selfishness whether it be in the form of a personal issue or racial one.
The purpose of Monotheism is to eradicate these disgraceful habits from the unity of human beings so that they accept Allah's commandments merely because they are issued from that Origin.
In other words, if the acceptance of the Divine instructions is only on the condition that they be sent down to us, it is, in fact, disbelief, rather than 'belief', or it is infidelity rather than 'faithfulness' in Islam. The acceptance of such instructions is not at all true evidence of Faith.
It is worthy to note that when the above verse says: "When it is said to them: 'Believe in what Allah has sent down,’ " it refers neither to Muhammad (S) nor to Moses (as) nor to Jesus (as). It merely says:
To make their falsehood clearer, in the next verse, the Quran provides further evidence against them. It says:
The Qur'an tells the Jews that if you are true and you believe in your prophet, why did you worship the Calf after those clear signs and that monotheistic evidence? What kind of faith is it that when Moses (as) goes to the Mount, in his absence, it escapes from your hearts and immediately infidelity is substituted therein; or the Calf takes the place of Monotheism?
Yes, with this wrong action, you committed an injustice both to yourselves and your society, and to your coming generations.
In the subsequent verse, the Holy Qur'an cites another example proving the meagerness of their claim. It refers to the covenant of Mount Sinai and says:
Yes, blasphemy and mammonism, whose symbol was the love of the golden Samaritan Calf, had influenced their hearts and took root throughout their souls. That was why they forgot their Lord.
Strange! What sort of Faith is it that condones both the slaying of prophets and the worshipping of the Calf, but neglects the observance of firm Divine Covenants?
قُلْ إِن كَانَتْ لَكُمُ الدَّارُ الآَخِرَةُ عِندَ اللّهِ خَالِصَةً مِّن دُونِ النَّاسِ فَتَمَنَّوُاْ الْمَوْتَ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
وَلَن يَتَمَنَّوْهُ أَبَدًا بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمينَ
وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَى حَيَاةٍ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ وَمَا هُوَ بِمُزَحْزِحِهِ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ أَن يُعَمَّرَ وَاللّهُ بَصِيرٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ
قُلْ مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِّجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِّلّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَجِبْرِيلَ وَمِيكَالَ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ عَدُوٌّ لِّلْكَافِرِينَ
وَلَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ وَمَا يَكْفُرُ بِهَا إِلاَّ الْفَاسِقُونَ
أَوَكُلَّمَا عَاهَدُواْ عَهْداً نَّبَذَهُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُم بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ
وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللّهِ وَرَاء ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
94. "Say: ‘If the Last Abode with Allah is yours exclusively and not for other people, then long for death - if you are truthful’."
95. "But never will they long for death, because of what their hands have sent forth; for Allah who knows the unjust."
96. "Indeed, you will find them the greediest of people for life, even more than those who associate partners (to Allah); each one of them is covetous to live (even) a thousand years, yet the prolongation of his life shall not remove him further away from the punishment. Allah sees what they do. "
97. "Say (O' Muhammad): ‘Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel, who brought down (the Qur'an) upon your heart by Allah's leave, confirming what was before it, and a guidance and glad tidings for the believers ' ; "
98. "And whoever is an enemy to Allah, His angels, His Messengers, Gabriel and Michael (should know that) Allah is surely an enemy to the infidels."
99. "Verily, We have sent down to you clear Signs, and none denies them except the transgressors."
100. "What! Whenever they made a covenant, a group of them cast it aside? Nay, most of them do not (truly) believe. "
101. "And when there came to them a Messenger from Allah, confirming what was with them, a part of them who were given the Book cast the Book of Allah behind their backs, as though they knew (it) not! "
From the former verses, it was understood that the Jews claimed that they would not be touched by the Fire but for a few days when they worshipped the Calf, saying: "The Fire shall not touch us but for a few days".
Also, when they were told to believe in Allah's revelation they replied that they would believe only in their Book, the Turah: "We believe (only) in what was sent down to us (before)." They imagined that they were the only people who would be qualified for salvation and felicity, while other nations would be punished and receive eternal destruction in the Hereafter.
Then, to cancel this kind of idea and to verify that the case is not as they considered, it is told them:
The Messenger of Allah is commanded to tell them that if the abode of the Hereafter and the blessings of Heaven are exclusively theirs, they must strive to reach such bliss and invoke for death in order to get rid of the disasters and miseries of this world. It is in this situation that they would attain eternal happiness which they falsely think belongs to them alone.
And in another occurrence, as a protest to them, the Qur'an says:
Yes, a sincere friend desires to be with his friend, someone in love wishes to see one's love, and a seeker of a particular thing is anxious and desirous to obtain that which one is seeking.
Worldly affairs and materialism often stand as a curtain or barrier between Allah and His servants. They usually do not let one approach Him and be acquainted with his / her Creator deservingly. Therefore, the true sincerity towards Him is the desire of death.
Then, here, to unvail the falsehood of the statement of the Jews, Allah announces that if they truly believe that the future abode with Allah is exclusively theirs and think that only they are those who are the favoured people of Allah, not any other people, they must invoke death with their tongues, hearts, and actions to reach Him without any natural barrier.
But they never invoke death because they are the greediest of all people for the life of this world. They love the long life of this world even much more than pagans and idolators.
Besides their hideous deeds and that they do not seek death in order to meet the Lord, each of them would like to live one thousand years.
The figure (one thousand years) metaphorically refers to the idea that they wish to live a long life. This is evidence to their lie and they know that neither the Last Abode with Allah is theirs, nor are they the friends of Allah.
They arrogantly state these things, based on bigotry, in order to tell the Muslims that both the Jews and their ancestral religion are right, and Muslims are wrong and their religion is untrue. Then Allah, by this clear evidence, made their falsehood manifest by stating that the friends of Allah are those who are desirous of death to attain their goal.
That is, the Jews will never long for death, then how can they desire a long life when it does not save them from the punishment?
Yet, they are the greediest people for the low life of this world which can be a barrier obstructing entrance into the everlasting felicity of the life in the coming world.
Furthermore, the members of this group having belief in the Hereafter and the life after death are greedier for the life of this world than pagans and blasphemers, who wrongly believe that Man will be destroyed and perish after death.
The commentators believe that, as 'Abdullah-ibn-Abbas cites, the occasion of revelation of this verse was as follows:
One of the scholars of the Jews by the name of Ibn--Suriya, with a group of Jewish people from Fadak, was attending the holy Prophet (S) when he put forth some questions to test his gift of prophecy. Thereby being convinced that Muhammad (S) was a true prophet of Allah, he asked as to which of Allah's angels had conveyed the Divine messages to him, and he (S) answered that Gabriel had.
The Jew said he would not believe, as Gabriel was the enemy of his people and he is the angel of punishment, annoyance, displeasure, indignation, and execution; while Michael was not, and if Michael would have been the one who came down to the Prophet (S), then they would believe in him (S). So, Allah (s.w.t.) sent down this verse and told the holy Prophet (S) to say that he who is the enemy of Gabriel, is the enemy of the one:
Thus, the Qur'an attests to the rightfulness of all the heavenly Books such as the Turah, the Evangil, Psalms of David, the Written Sheets (Scriptures), and what Allah had sent to other prophets (as).
The word / hudan / 'a guidance' here, may refer to the guidance of the Qur'an for all of the believing members of the Jinn and humans. The guidance is apportioned to the believers perhaps for the reason that it is only the believers who are benefited by the Qur'an, so therefore, the glad tidings are given to them.
Now, this verse reiterates the subject matter of the previous verse but with more emphasis and accompanied with a threat. It says:
This statement is an indication to the meaning that these instances are not separable. The Essence of Allah, angels, all His Messengers, Gabriel and Michael or any other angels, from this point of view, are all the same and to have enmity with one of them is, in fact, having enmity with the others.
In other words, Allah's ordinances, which are helpful on the path to development of the human race, have been revealed from His Origin unto prophets (S) by means of angels.
And if there be any difference between their missions, it is a difference of the division of responsibilities, not a contrast in missions. They are all alongside the path of the same goal. So, being an enemy against one of them is showing enmity against Allah.
Upon the occasion of revelation of verse 99, there is a narration from Ibn-Abbas who said:
"lbn-Suriya, a Jewish scholar, told the Prophet (S): ‘O Muhammad, you have not brought anything for us that we understand it, and also the Lord has not sent a clear sign to you so that we follow you thereby’. Then, Allah sent down this verse which was a frank vivid answer to that statement. 1
Through this verse, the Qur'an points to the fact that Allah has given the Prophet of Islam (S) enough evidence and sufficient Signs all of which are so clear that nobody can deny them. Hence, those who deny them, indeed, have recognized the rightfulness of his invitation, but, because of their special evil intentions, they oppose it.
Contemplation over the verses of the Qur'an makes the way clear for any pure-hearted truth-seeker. By reciting these verses, the reality and truthfulness of the invitation of the Prophet of Islam (S), as well as the greatness of the Qur'an, can be understood.
But, only those can understand this meaning that their hearts have not been darkened as a result of committing sin. Thus, it is not surprising that transgressors and those who have stained themselves with sins by disobeying the commands of Allah, never believe in Islam.
With reference to the previous verses, this verse is also a protest against the Jews as to why some of these people neglect and breach their covenant that they make with Allah. They not only break their covenant but also have no faith at all. It may refer to this idea that if they believed in Allah and His prophets (as), they would never break their covenant or never fail in their promise.
The purpose of the term' Messenger', here, may be the Last Prophet (S), or it may refer to all those prophets (as) who came after Moses (as), because, according to the previous verses, the Qur'an protests against the Jews for rejecting all of the great prophets after Moses (as).
These prophets (as), with their Divine commissions, abrogated Moses' religion whereas, in the meantime, they confirmed the rightfulness of what the Jews had in their hands -the Turah -yet, some of them (the Jews) put the Book of Allah behind their backs:
Some of the learned men of the Jews put the Book of Allah, the Turah, which attested to the prophethood of the Last Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (S), "behind their backs" and, by neglecting his specific description which was recorded in the Turah, they abandoned it totally:
“...as though they knew (it) not!"
- 1. Majma'-ul-Bayan, vol, 1, p. 168