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Sūrah Āl-‘Imrān (21-41)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَيَقْتُلُونَ الِّذِينَ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْقِسْطِ مِنَ النَّاسِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ أُولَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن نَّاصِرِينَ (٢١-٢٢)

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ نَصِيبًا مِّنَ الْكِتَابِ يُدْعَوْنَ إِلَى كِتَابِ اللّهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّى فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ وَهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَالُواْ لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلاَّ أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ وَغَرَّهُمْ فِي دِينِهِم مَّا كَانُواْ يَفْتَرُونَ فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جَمَعْنَاهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ لاَّ رَيْبَ فِيهِ وَوُفِّيَتْ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ (٢٣-٢٥)

قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاء وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاء وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاء وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاء بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ إِنَّكَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ تُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي الْنَّهَارِ وَتُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَتُخْرِجُ الَمَيَّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَتَرْزُقُ مَن تَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (٢٦-٢٧)

لاَّ يَتَّخِذِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الْكَافِرِينَ أَوْلِيَاء مِن دُوْنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ أَن تَتَّقُواْ مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَإِلَى اللّهِ الْمَصِيرُ قُلْ إِن تُخْفُواْ مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ أَوْ تُبْدُوهُ يَعْلَمْهُ اللّهُ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأرْضِ وَاللّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُّحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوَءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا وَيُحَذِّرُكُمُ اللّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَاللّهُ رَؤُوفُ بِالْعِبَادِ (٢٨-٣٠)

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ قُلْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ (٣١-٣٢)

إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَى آدَمَ وَنُوحًا وَآلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَآلَ عِمْرَانَ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ ذُرِّيَّةً بَعْضُهَا مِن بَعْضٍ وَاللّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ (٣٣-٣٤)

إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَةُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَى وَاللّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالأُنثَى وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وِإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَـذَا قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ (٣٥-٣٦)

هُنَالِكَ دَعَا زَكَرِيَّا رَبَّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنْكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاء فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَـى مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ وَسَيِّدًا وَحَصُورًا وَنَبِيًّا مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ قَالَ رَبِّ أَنَّىَ يَكُونُ لِي غُلاَمٌ وَقَدْ بَلَغَنِيَ الْكِبَرُ وَامْرَأَتِي عَاقِرٌ قَالَ كَذَلِكَ اللّهُ يَفْعَلُ مَا يَشَاء قَالَ رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّيَ آيَةً قَالَ آيَتُكَ أَلاَّ تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلاَثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلاَّ رَمْزًا وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ كَثِيرًا وَسَبِّحْ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالإِبْكَارِ (٣٨-٤١)

So give glad tidings1 of a woeful torment to those who have been denying God’s revelations and slaying the prophets unjustly2 and slay those among men who called people to adhere to justice. These are the ones whose deeds shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come, and now there shall be none to help them.3 (21-22)

Have you not seen4 those who have received a portion of the Book: they are being called to this very Book of God5 that it may decide the [differences] among them [then have you not seen that] one group among them turns away6 and [in reality] they are ones who turn away.7 The reason for this attitude of theirs is that they declare: “We shall endure the Fire for a few days only,” [and another reason for this attitude is that] things which they are fabricating have deceived them in the matter of religion.8 Bur what will they do when We gather them all together upon a day which is sure to come9 and [in which] every soul will be fully given what it earned and no injustice will be faced by anyone? (23-25)

[Their era has ended, so now] pray you: “Lord, the Sovereign of all sovereignty, You grant sovereignty to whom You please and take it away from whom You please; You grant honour to whomever You please and humiliate whomever You please. All good lies in Your hand; Indeed You have power over all things.10 [We know that] You make the night to pass into the day, and the day to pass into the night and [know that] You bring forth the living from the dead and bring forth the dead from the living.11 And You give unlimited sustenance to whom You please.”12 (26-27)

[This is the decision of God and shall soon be imposed on the People of the Book, so] let not the believers make friends with these disbelievers leaving aside the Muslims13 and  [they should remember that] those who will do this, the Almighty will have nothing to do with them – this warning is not in case you protect yourself from them the way it can be done best.14 God strikes His fear in you and [does so that one day you] have to return to God alone.15 Tell [these Muslims O Prophet!:] “Whatever is in your hearts16 whether you hide it or reveal it, it is known to God. And He also knows whatever is between the heavens and the earth and God has power over all things.” The day when each soul will be confronted with whatever good it did.17 On that day, it will yearn that an interval of time should stand between him and this [Day. This is the counsel of God] and God frightens you of Himself and [frightens you because] God is compassionate towards His servants.18 (28-30)

Tell them: “If you love God, follow me. God will love you and forgive your sins and [you know that] God is forgiving and ever-merciful.”19 Tell them: “Obey God and the Prophet.” Then [even if after this] they turn away [tell them that] God does not like such disbelievers.20 (31-32)

 [21These People of the Book want to argue with you.] No doubt, God whilst giving preference to Adam and Noah, Abraham’s family ‘Imrān’s family22 over all the nations chose them to guide these nations.23 They are the progeny of one another and [whatever they have been saying and doing, God is aware of it because] God hears all and knows all.24 (33-34)

Remind them of the incident when ‘Imrān’s wife prayed: “Lord! I dedicate to Your service this child which is in my womb by relieving it of all responsibilities.25 Accept it from me. You alone hear all and know all.” And when she delivered the child, she said: “Lord, I have given birth to a daughter”26 – God well knew of what she had delivered27 – and [said:] “A boy is not like a girl.28 [I accept her] and have named her Mary and I give her and her progeny in your refuge from Satan, the Accursed One.” [These were her feelings]; however, Her Lord graciously accepted this [girl] and He made her grow a goodly child and made Zakariyyā29 her guardian. [So] whenever Zakariyyā visited her30 in the mihrāb,31 he would see the blessings of God.32 [At one such occasion, he asked:] “Mary where do you get this from?”33 She replied: “This is from God.”34 [Blessings of your Lord were for this girl]. Indeed, God gives without measure to whom He desires.35 (35-37)

It was then that Zakariyyā prayed to his Lord, saying: “Lord, grant me of Your own grace pious offspring [like her]. Indeed You hear the prayers [of Your servants].”36 In reply, the angels37 called out to him whilst he was praying in the mihrāb38 saying: “God gives you glad tidings of the birth of John,39 who shall confirm the directive of God,40 be a leader,41 an abstinent person42 and a prophet from among the righteous.”43 In amazement, he asked: “Lord how shall I have a son when I am old and my wife is also barren?” He replied: “In this manner, God does what He pleases.”44 He said: “Lord please set forth a sign for me.”45 He replied: “The sign for you is that for three days and three nights you shall not speak to any man except through gestures. [Of course you would be able to declare the glory and exaltedness of the Almighty; so you should spend these days thus] and [during this time] remember your Lord very much and glorify Him morning and evening.”46 (38-41)

(Translated from Ghāmidī’s al-Bayān by Shehzad Saleem)

 

 

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1. The Arabic words used are: فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابِ العَلِيْم. This expression is the enunciative (khabr) of إِنَّ. The particle ف is appended to it because the noun (ism) of the particle إِنَّ encompasses the meaning of a conditional sentence which requires an apodosis. It is customary in Arabic that the particle فَ be appended to the apodosis.

2. The mention of this word here firstly reflects the severity of the crime of the Jews because cruelty of murdering an innocent person and that too a prophet can only be imagined; secondly, it expresses the exaltedness of the truth: it is such a great thing that even a prophet is not beyond it.

3. This prediction of the Qur’ān materialized word for word. Consequently, in a very short time, all their plans ended in failure and they were expelled from the Arabian peninsula in such a humiliating manner that they had no one to support or help them.

4. This is a style which expresses wonder and is often employed in the Arabic language on such instances.

5. The implication is that they are being called to the very Book of which they had been given a part. It is obvious that the referred to Book is the Qur’ān. The scriptures of the Jews and Christians are regarded a part of it because the content of the Torah is mostly sharī‘ah and that of the Gospel is mostly hikmah. The Psalms are hymns which glorify the Almighty and are a forerunner to this hikmah of the Gospel. The Qur’ān was revealed as a masterpiece of literature comprising both sharī‘ah and hikmah. It is also a narrative of Muhammad’s preaching mission of indhār. Viewed thus, it is a complete and comprehensive scripture and the Torah, the Gospel and other divine scriptures are its part which have been given to previous nations of the prophets of God.

6. The Arabic words used are: ثُمَّ يَتَوَلَّى فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ. The real stress in them is on the word مِّنْهُمْ. The implication is that those who turn away are the People of the Book who should have been the first to recognize the Book of God and profess faith in it. Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī writes:

It was not difficult for people who were familiar with and believed in the Torah and the Gospel to recognize the Qur’ān if they were free from bias and prejudice. How is it possible for them to not recognize the Book whose initial chapters they had read, whose style and approach they were familiar with, whose initial scheme of teachings and guidance they were aware of, whose predictions were in their knowledge and what they were awaiting to be fulfilled – when this Book appeared before them in its full majesty and grandeur. Then how strange it is that the People of the Book turned away from the Qur’ān and deliberately became indifferent to it. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 60.)

7. This sentence is meant to rebuke the People of the Book and assure the Prophet (sws). The implication is that the hearts of these people cannot be softened. Showing indifference to the truth has become their second nature and if the Prophet’s call is not influencing them then it is not his fault. It is entirely the fault of their evil disposition.

8. The implication is that they have been led to believe that whatever their deeds, they would not be put in Hell forever. They would not be cast into it in the first place and if at all they would be, then they would necessarily be set free after enduring the punishment of their sins. This of course is a deception which their false desires have induce them into.

9. The Arabic words are: فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جَمَعْنَاهُمْ لِيَوْمٍ لاَّ رَيْبَ. A governed noun (mudāf ‘ilayh) is suppressed after particle ل in لِيَوْمٍ. The translation is done keeping in view this suppression.

10. This apparently seems to be a prayer; however, in reality, a little deliberation will show that great glad tidings are concealed in it for the Ishmaelites. The reason is that this prayer clearly indicates that the being in whose hands lies all good has decided that the sovereignty of the world should be bestowed upon the Ishmaelites and no amount of opposition from the Israelites would be able to change this decision. Humiliation after humiliation is destined for them. Consequently, if they will continue living in this world, they will live in subservience to the Ishmaelites. There is no other way in which they will be able to survive here.

Not only this, besides these glad tidings a great piece of advice is also hidden in the verse: the Ishmaelites while accepting this sovereignty should not become proud and conceited by considering themselves entitled to it; they should accept it with great humility and with emotions of serving the Almighty; this is because all good is in the hands of God and it is His mere blessing that He has chosen them – the Ishmaelite out all of the nations of the world for this position.

11. This is a testimony of the world around man on what has been said above: just as night appears from the day and vice versa and life from death and vice versa, on similar grounds are decisions made for the rise and fall, honour and disgrace and life and death of nations. The indication of life and death of the Israelites and the Ishmaelites found in this parable is explained thus by Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī:

The plant which Abraham (sws) had sown in the lush and fertile lands of Palestine had now withered away and as the Prophet John had said that an axe had been placed on its roots. On the other hand, the plant he had sown in the desolate and barren lands of Arabia and which had shrunk was now beginning to blossom and as referred to by the Prophet Jesus (sws): it was to become a strong tree and was destined to take the whole world in refuge of its shade. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 65)

12. He gives to such an extent that there is no limit to it and gives from where a person cannot even imagine.

13. This is an admonition sounded to Muslims who were not fully focused in understanding the requirements of their faith and at this stage also when the Almighty was about to decide the fate of the Jews and Christians were not only inclined towards them but would also became a pawn in their hands against Islam and other Muslims. The condition of مِن دُوْنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (against the Muslims) has been imposed so that if this friendship is not against the interest of Islam and the Muslims, then it was not prohibited even at that time.

14. The Arabic words are: إِلاَّ أَن تَتَّقُواْ مِنْهُمْ تُقَاةً. This sentence is an exception to the sentence فَلَيْسَ مِنَ اللّهِ فِي شَيْءٍ. The word تُقَاة is an object of emphasis (maf‘ūl mutlaq) in the very way it is in verse 102 of this sūrah: إِتَّقُوا اللهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ.

15. This is a warning to the weak and hypocritical Muslims who have been mentioned earlier. Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī writes:

[In it] is a special aspect of admonition to the Hypocrites. They should not ignore other attributes of God whilst being deceived from His nobility. If He forgives conspiracies, forgoes intrigues and does not take notice of rumour, then this does not mean that He does not consider these as crimes or that He cannot seize them for these offences; the only reason for this is that He gives utmost respite to people. However, this respite is in fact a respite which has to end one day. After this, His justice will manifest itself and this justice is also an aspect of His being, If it has not manifested itself as yet, no one should have the misconception that it will never do so. Decisions of God have their own time and may seem delayed but they are never cancelled. When this aspect of His being will manifest itself everyone will come to know that no one is more powerful, more just and a better organizer of affairs than Him. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 68)

16. The reference here is to the inclination which these Muslims had in their hearts for the Jews and Christians.

17. The Arabic words are: مَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوَءٍ. There is an ellipsis of the word مُحْضَرًا at the end of this sentence. The reason is that it is present in the previous sentence: مَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُحْضَرًا and this presence is evidence of its suppression here.

18. The implication is that since the Almighty is very gracious to His servants and wants to save them from a humiliating fate on the Day of Judgement, He is continuously warning them of Himself: they should not be misled by the respite granted by Him; they should know that when He seizes them, so firm will be His grasp that no one will be able to escape from Him.

19. Here these Muslims are taught the right attitude which as Muslims they must adopt.

20. In very stern words, these people are admonished to plainly obey God and His Prophet otherwise they too will be considered among these disbelievers with whom they have friendship.

In the words of Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī the points which must specifically be kept in consideration in this verse and in the previous one are:

Firstly, the tone of both these verses is different. The first verse has a ring of affection in it and the second one strikes admonition and in fact is a warning. In other words, affection and harshness are found intermingled at one place.

Secondly, the essence of faith is love for God and the condition for this love is that no other love should be its rival.

Thirdly, the sole means of loving the Almighty is to show obedience to the Prophet (sws). All other means which are adopted in this regard amount to religious innovation and deviation.

Fourthly, the only way in which a person is endeared to the Almighty is by showing obedience to the Prophet (sws). If the life of a person departs from the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws) and he still vainly believes that he is loved by the Almighty or that others regard him to be loved by Him, then this notion is absolutely wrong.

Fifthly, the least requirement of religion is to show obedience to God and the Prophet (sws). If a person is evasive in fulfilling this requirement, then he will be regarded as one who disbelieves in religion. God does not like such people. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 71)

21. The introductory part of the sūrah ends here. From here onwards, the Christians are communicated the truth to the extent that they be left with no excuse to deny it.

22. A mention of the family of ‘Imrān with that of Abraham (sws) has a special significance. ‘Imrān Ibn Mātān is the name of Mary’s father and as such he is the maternal grandfather of Jesus (sws). Since the topic which follows begins with the prayer of Mary’s mother, he is also emphatically mentioned here.

23. This is a reference to the position of prophethood and messengerhood and that of witnesses to the truth which was bestowed on Noah (sws) and Abraham (sws) in their individual capacity and on the progeny of Abraham (sws) in their collective capacity. The words آلَ عِمْرَانَ and آلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ instead of Abraham and ‘Imrān refer to this very fact.

24. The implication is that those who want to argue with God and His Prophet (sws) about the ideology, deeds and preaching of these noble people should know that they are dare trying to inform someone who knows and hears all.

25. Among the Israelites, devoting a child to God would mean that he be dedicated for the service of the Bayt al-Maqdis and he would have no obligation to earn, feed and run a household.

26. It is evident from this that the mother of Mary (sws) was expecting a male child and as a result of this expectation she had decided to dedicate it for the service of the place of worship.

27. This is a parenthetical sentence in between the words uttered by Mary’s mother. Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, while explaining it, writes:

The words of Mary’s mother: إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَى (I have given birth to a girl) were reflecting a kind of an inferiority complex about the new-born girl and she was regarding dedicating her to God to be something very trivial. The Almighty through His great mercy and sympathy explained that Mary’s mother was regarding her daughter to be something very ordinary simply because she was a girl, but He knew full well what a great and blessed lady she had given birth to. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 77)

28. This is an expression of the anxiety Mary’s mother was facing. She thought that there could be no comparison between the girl she had given birth to with the boy she had wanted to dedicate to the service of God. The reason for this anxiety was that among the Israelites girls and women would not be dedicated for such service.

29. The Prophet Zachariyyah (sws) mentioned here was from the family of the Prophet Aron (sws) and was the husband of Mary’s maternal aunt. According to the system of religious administration which was in vogue among the Israelites, the family of Jacob, son Levite was specifically reserved for religious service. Then from among the Levites also at the holy of holies the task of lighting the incense and consecrating holy things was entrusted to the family of Aaron (sws). Others from among the Levites were not allowed to go into the holy of holies. They would work in open verandahs and small quarters. They would present the burnt offerings and help the tribe of Aaron (sws) in guarding the holy of holies. The Prophet Zakariyyā was the head of the Abiah in the family of Aaron (sws). Consequently, it was he who on behalf of his family would serve the place of worship.

30. Two things are evident from this: firstly, Zakariyyā (sws) would often go to Mary (sws) to look after her and secondly, Mary (sws) would spend all her time in her abode in worshipping and remembering the Almighty.

31. The word محراب (mihrāb) here does not refer to the dome-shapted place which is constructed in our mosques so that the imām can stand in it. In the Bayt al-Maqdis the sites and spots which were made for the worshippers were called محراب (mihrāb). Here, this word refers to the abode where Mary (sws) would sit and worship the Almighty.

32. The Arabic words used are وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً. The word رِزْق (rizq) refers to the wisdom and cognizance which is bestowed on a person by the Almighty. At more than one place, the Qur’ān has used this word to signify divine revelation and guidance. In ancient scriptures also, this word is used thus.

33. This is not merely a question. It is a sentence expressing wonder and is meant to laud Mary (sws). It is as if Zakariyyā is asking her: “When I come to you, I smell the scent of some spiritual blessings; where do they come from?”

34. This answer of Mary (sws) reflects her maturity and insight at such a tender age. She did not regard it to be the result of her worship and adoration: on the contrary, she regarded these blessings to be a favour of the Almighty.

35. This sentence, as explained by Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, is not part of Mary’ s answer: it is a commendation of Mary (sws) by the Almighty and an expression of His immense blessings on her. The grandeur of the sentence makes it ill-suited to be regarded as a part of Mary’s discourse.

36. Zakariyyā (sws) was so moved by the wisdom and sagacity of Mary (sws) that he too became desirous of a child as pious and virtuous as her.

37. The plural form of this noun indicates the fact that it was not some specific angel who had come to Zakariyyā (sws). It was a voice from beyond which he heard. Consequently, the reason for adopting this plural form was to merely convey the fact that it was an angelic voice and not the fact that it was the voice of one or more angels.

38. It is evident from this that the most appropriate time to draw near to the angels and to invoke and supplicate before the Almighty is that of the prayer.

39. The Prophet Yahyā (sws) is called John in the Bible. He was born just six months before Jesus (sws).

40. The Arabic words used are: مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ. Verse forty five of this sūrah explains that these words refer to Jesus (sws). He is called كَلِمَةٌ مِّنَ اللّه because contrary to the general rule, his birth took place as a result of the word kun. The Christians have tried to prove the divinity of Jesus (sws) on this basis even though this actually negates their claim. Consequently, by not defining the word كَلِمَةٌ by the article alif lām, the Qur’ān has explained that from among many كَلِمَاتٌ Jesus (sws) is just one كَلِمَةٌ of God. Just as innumerable things of this world have been created by the word kun, Jesus (sws) too has been created by it.

41. This is a portrayal of his personality: he will have the air of a leader about him. Imām Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī writes:

A prophet by his very nature, his mission and his message is a leader. As a preacher he calls upon people and as a warner, he warns people and as a guide, directs them to he straight path. The Almighty fully equips his person with the abilities to undertake these tasks: his heart is brimful with sympathy and affection for his people, there is great majesty in his mannerism and great awe in his voice and style and his glistening forehead bears witness to his greatness and veracity. Even though he may wear ordinary clothes and eat ordinary food, however, even kings tremble with fear before him. He admonishes them also for the cause of truth the way he admonishes others. It is mentioned in the Gospels that both Jesus (sws) and John (sws) would talk as if they were invested with authority. This grandeur of authority in their discourses was obviously because of this leadership which they held by virtue of their position. A prophet is like a shepherd who has to mind the herd consigned to him and it does not matter the least to his honour if this herd obeys him or not. If he discharges his obligation, he actually fulfills his obligation of leadership and this is what is required of him. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 81)

42. The reason for this abstinence is that both John (sws) and Jesus (sws) were sent to communicate for the very last time the truth to the Israelites in such an ultimate manner that they would be left with no excuse to deny it. If they still denied, they would have to face the wrath of the Almighty. How could have they reared a family in a place which was in danger of a great flood and how could they have witnessed the lush green branches of a tree which was about to be uprooted. If the ones who were meant to warn people of the imminent flood by knocking at every door took to raising their families and to cultivating their lands, they would have been regarded as those who shirked their responsibilities. Thus both these persons never married and abstained from indulgence in life, remained content on subsistence which was just enough for survival, wore the clothes of paupers and lived their lives under the bare sky and over the bare earth. It is a misfortune of the Christians that instead of making people understand the nature of this responsibility of these prophets, they called it monasticism and then after regarding it to be the real requirement of their religion instituted a whole system of monasticism. Amongst Muslims also, the sūfīs while being unable to understand this aspect of the life of their prophets, were guilty of inducting many unknown concepts in religion and since the past many centuries have been able to influence scholars of Islam also in this matter.

43. The implication is that in spite of these attributes he was a righteous prophet and in no way possessed any divinity.

44. The implication is that their means and resources are merely an illusion: the real thing is God’s intention; if He wants He can turn a sea into a mirage and if He wants, He can produce water in a desert. None of this is difficult for Him.

45. It is evident from this that Zakariyyā (rta) was of the opinion that these glad tidings were from God but he also feared to some extent that they could also be the voice of his own heart and an inspiration from Satan and caught in the whirlpool of his own desires, he might have mistaken them for a revelation from the Angels.

46. This of course eliminates any possibility of a Satanic interference.

Imām Amīn Ahsan Islāhī writes:

… if this had arisen because of any Satanic influence, its result would have been the absolute opposite: a person could have indulged in worldly talk but it would have been difficult for him to indulge in remembering God. If Zakariyyā (sws) encountered such a state involuntarily, then it was certainly a sure sign that the glad tidings of a son were from God and they had nothing to do with any satanic whispering. The Qur’ān here has also negated in a passing manner what is written in the Gospel of Luke that this state encountered by Zakariyyā (sws) was as a punishment to his not accepting what the angel said to him and ended up demanding a sign from him. (Amīn Ahsan Islāhī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), 81)

   
 
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