Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of
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Next to miracles, sinlessness is the most important argument of a Christian relating to the greatness of Jesus Christ. In fact, the very basis of the Christian religion is laid on the exclusive sinlessness of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ was not sinless or if any other person was sinless as well as Jesus, in both cases the Christian religion falls to the ground. The fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam is that the former teaches that every human child is born sinful, while the latter teaches that every human child is born sinless. According to the former, therefore, it would not avail a man to try to be good and perfect and to walk in the ways of truth and righteousness; for sin is inherent in human nature and man therefore can only be saved by the redemption of the Son of God. This view is so abhorrent in itself that it does not require to be refuted at any great length. That man is born sinful, or that sin is inherent in human nature, is to take the lowest possible view of human nature. No greater insult could be offered to humanity than to say that the new-born child was a sinful being. Yet on this is based the Christian doctrine that the child that dies before it is baptised shall burn in hell for the fault which can only be attributed to God Himself that He created him sinful. And if man is born sinful, and sin is therefore inherent in human nature, it is the height of absurdity to preach virtue to him and to tell him to shun every evil, for this in fact amounts to telling him that he should go against his nature. Such a doctrine could never have been conceived by him who believed in the innocence of little children:
Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14).
Thus Christ himself taught the sanctity of childhood. But the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, taught in clear words that "every child is born true to nature," i.e. sinless, and that he is a Muslim at his birth and "it is his parents that make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian." And the Holy Qur'an says in still plainer words:
Then set your face upright for religion in the right state -- the nature made by Allah in which He has made men ... that is the right religion (30:30).
Thus in Islam human nature is raised to the highest dignity by a plain declaration of its purity, while in Christianity it is brought down to the depth of degradation by declaring its inherent sinfulness, against which it is really impossible for it to go. This low view of human nature which forms the foundation-stone of the Christian religion must, sooner or later, be abandoned by the civilised world.
Not only does Islam start on the basis of the sinlessness of human nature and take its stand on the firm ground that every human child is born quite innocent, but it goes further and gives rules and regulations to keep up that inherent sinlessness. In the very first prayer taught by it, the prayer which is repeated five times a day by a Muslim, he is taught to aspire to sinlessness; nay far beyond that, to the great spiritual eminence to which arose the prophets and the truthful ones who were the greatest benefactors of humanity. Thus it says:
Guide us on the right path, the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours (1:5-6).
The chief distinction between the Muslim prayer and the Lord's prayer of the Christians is that while in the Lord's prayer forgiveness is sought for wrongs done, in the Muslim prayer man is taught to aspire to a place where wrong is not done at all, where not only evil is shunned but the greatest good is actually done. The former asks for forgiveness of sins, the latter for sinlessness, and for the doing of good. Thus if, on the one hand, Islam elevates the dignity of human nature, on the other, it makes its aspirations to be the highest possible.
It is due to this fundamental difference between the two religions that Islam teaches the doctrine of the sinlessness of all the prophets of God, while Christianity inculcates the abhorrent doctrine that all the righteous men to whom humanity owes such a heavy debt of gratitude were sinful, and that Jesus alone, being more than a mortal, was sinless. Now, in the first place, it must be borne in mind that mere sinlessness is no proof of greatness. Sinlessness only implies the shunning of evil which is an inferior step in the progress of man to the doing of good, and it is on the measure of good which a man does that his greatness depends. We never ascribe greatness to a man simply because he has done harm to nobody; nay, it is the good which he does to humanity which entitles us to place him above the ordinary level. The question of sinlessness, therefore, on which the Christians lay so much stress, is one of very minor significance, while the real question is which prophet did the greatest amount of good to humanity. There may be, nay, there have been, hundreds of thousands of men who have passed their lives without doing any harm to anybody; they may have only been placed in circumstances in which they could not do any harm, or they may have chosen the life of a hermit, or living in the world they may have resisted its great temptations. Therefore for mere sinlessness, a man may not sometimes even deserve respect; at other times his conduct may be admirable; but in no case does he deserve to be called a great benefactor of humanity for merely avoiding to do harm to it. And the greatest benefactor of humanity, one who actually did the greatest amount of good to fellow-men is the great Prophet who is called "a mercy for the nations." He it is who did away with idolatry, who freed the world of the mighty demon of drink, who befriended the cause of the orphans, the poor and the weak, who established the principle of the equality of man, who did away with all invidious distinctions between race and race, who breathed a new spirit of union into the human race, who made knowledge take the place of ignorance, and who was a source of blessings to humanity in a thousand other ways.
However, we will take the question as put by a Christian. Is Jesus sinless? Are all the other prophets of God sinful? What does the Bible say on these two questions? What does the Holy Qur'an say?
Let us take the Gospels first, and the question of the sinlessness of Jesus Christ. At the very commencement of his ministry he underwent a great temptation by the Devil. The events described there were not visible transactions but, as the commentators of the Gospels say, the "experience" of Jesus recorded in "symbolical language." This means in plain language that these were suggestions made to Jesus by the Devil, and this is inconsistent with the theory of his absolute sinlessness. The suggestion of the Devil is really the coming of an evil idea into man's heart, and though the idea may finally be rejected, even the first reception of it by the heart is inconsistent with the absolute purity of the mind. In the case of Jesus, however, three such evil thoughts occurred to him. The first suggestion of the Devil was made when Jesus was very hungry after a long fast: "Command that these stones be made bread" (Matt. 4:3). The second was made by placing him on the pinnacle of a temple, or a platform as some would have it:
Cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone (Matt. 4:6).
The third was made by placing him on a high mountain from which "all the kingdoms of the world" and the glory of them was shown to him:
All these things I will give to thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me (Matt. 4:9).
This last was no doubt the culminating temptation and though Jesus rejected it with the significant words, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," the same cannot be said of his followers who have given themselves up to the worship of Mammon and the service of temporal glory to attain the self-same kingdoms. Here at any rate we have an incident which settles conclusively that Jesus did not possess absolute purity according to the Gospels, and the Devil could make suggestions to him as to any other human being. He had indeed the spiritual strength which enabled him to overcome the temptations, but if he had more of it, he would have been free from even the suggestions of the Devil. It may here be pointed out only by way of contrast that the Holy Qur'an and the reports both speak of the Holy Prophet as having reached that highest stage of perfection where the Devil could not even make an evil suggestion to him, and it is to this that an authentic report refers according to which the Holy Prophet said that the Devil had become submissive to him, his actual words being: "Except that God has helped me against him so that he has submitted to me."
What is more important than this is that three of the Gospels contain a plain denial of sinlessness by Jesus himself. I quote the words from Mark:
And when he was going forth into the way, there came one running and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God (Mark 10:17, 18).
Now here Jesus is accosted as good master and if he had taken no objection, nobody could have drawn from it the conclusion that he claimed to be sinless. But he immediately rebukes the man for calling him good, for only One, that is God, is good. Why should he have taken objection to the use of the word good if he believed himself sinless? Nobody can tell; yet even so modern a commentator as the Rev. J.R. Dummelow makes the bold assertion that "this cannot mean that he was not good, but that for some reason or other on the present occasion he refused the title." What that reason was that being good he should still refuse to be called good and even give an argument why he could not be called good, nobody has ever been or shall ever be able to tell but the two explanations given had better have been omitted.
The first explanation is that the title good "in the sense in which it was offered" was unequal to his merits and his claims. He called him good "in the sense in which he would have called any eminent Rabbi good." A very bold suggestion! He was something more than good in the ordinary sense of that word and therefore he refused to be called good! But is this argument in conformity with the argument given by Jesus Christ himself? Had Jesus given no argument, such an explanation could have been invented, but when Jesus himself gives an argument it is very bold to ignore that argument and to invent one opposed to it. Jesus' argument is that good is a word which cannot be applied to any but God, and hence it cannot be applied even to him; in other words, his merits and his claims are unequal to the word good. But we are asked to accept just the opposite of it.
The other explanation is equally ludicrous: "The human nature of Christ, although sinless during the whole of his earthly life, was not good in the absolute sense." This explanation would no doubt have been reasonable if Jesus Christ were looked upon as a mere mortal; it would in that sense have fitted in with the words, for there is none good but one that is God. But if Jesus was himself God, a Divine person, how could he refuse to be called good in the absolute sense, giving at the same time the reason that only God was good?
In fact, the words quoted above afford such clear and conclusive testimony against the doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus that an attempt was made very early to tamper with the Gospels and to alter these words, but a change was made only in one of them. Thus in Matthew, while the Authorised Version is the same as in the other Gospels, the Revised Version introduces a change and puts the reply of Jesus in these words: "Why askest thou me concerning that which is good? One there is who is good." Little judiciousness seems to have been exercised in making this change, for the reply is very awkward in the mouth of Jesus. The man asked him as to what good he should do to have eternal life, and he says: "Why askest thou me concerning that which is good." This answer means either that he should have asked somebody other than Jesus concerning that which is good, or that he should have asked Jesus not concerning that which is good, but concerning that which is evil. That the change, however awkward, was made to escape the clear conclusion that Jesus was not sinless, is an admitted fact. The Rev. J.R. Dummelow says:
The true version is clearly that of Mark and Luke. The author of Matthew (or perhaps an early scribe, for there is considerable reason for thinking that the original text of Matthew agreed with Mark and Luke) altered the text slightly, to prevent the reader from supposing that Christ denied that he was good.
The wish to do away with the words which were an obstacle in the way of establishing the sinlessness of Jesus may be looked upon by some as a pious one, but the act of altering the Holy Writ was no doubt one for which the Holy Qur'an has rightly blamed the Christians.
If then the scriptures do not allow us to attribute at least absolute sinlessness to Jesus Christ, we will see whether they allow us to call the other prophets of God sinful. The following references from the Old Testament may first be considered. "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)" To Abraham the Lord said: "Walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Gen. 17:1)" To Moses he said: "Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. (Deut. 18:13)" Can it be supposed that all these prophets were sinful notwithstanding their being perfect and their walking with God? Does not Jesus himself ask us to be perfect "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)" And what does perfection of the righteous servants of God mean except that they were sincere in heart, unblamable in life, innocent and harmless, and imitating God in doing good to others. In fact, perfect signifies much more than sinless. A man who is perfect in the sight of God is not only sinless but also the doer of immense good. David thus speaks of the holy ones of God:
Blessed are the perfect in the way who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity, they walk in his ways (Ps. 119:1-3).
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgement. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide (Ps. 37:30, 31).
If the Old Testament thus speaks of the sinlessness of the prophets and the righteous ones in such clear words, the Gospels also give similar evidence. Testimony is borne to the sinlessness of Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth in the following words:
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6).
If the doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus can be based on the solitary words of St. John, "which of you convinceth me of sin," the clear words about Zacharias and Elizabeth that they were blameless certainly afford a firmer foundation for their sinlessness. For Jesus' only claim is that no man can accuse him of sin, but a man may be sinful in the eye of God though no human being may be able to accuse him of a sin. On the other hand, one whom God himself calls blameless is nothing if not sinless. it is for this reason that the child born of these two sinless parents is spoken of in the Gospels as being "filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb. (Luke 1:15)" Now Jesus receives the Holy Ghost at thirty when he receives baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, but the Baptist is filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb. Which of these two has the greater title to be called sinless?
A consideration of the Christian scriptures therefore shows conclusively that while they refuse to call Jesus sinless, they speak of other prophets of God and of His righteous servants as being blameless and perfect. At any rate, the Christians have no ground, on the basis of their scriptures, to ascribe any degree of sinlessness to Jesus Christ which is not ascribable to other prophets. And now we come to the Holy Qur'an. The first question which we shall answer here is: Does the Holy Qur'an make any distinction between Jesus Christ and the other prophets of God so far as the doctrine of sinlessness is concerned? Not the least. All that can be said of Jesus is that it speaks of him in kind words, but that is because the religion of Islam is charitable towards other religions, and always speaks of the other prophets in terms of the highest respect, the more so of those who were abused at the time of its advent. It speaks of Jesus as "a spirit from Him," not because it considers his nature to be Divine, for it plainly speaks of him elsewhere as nothing more than a mortal, but because his enemies abused him as having been illegitimately born. The "spirit from God" in this case means only a pure soul, one who is not the offspring of an illegal connection. God is the great fountain-head of purity, and Jesus' soul is said to have come from Him, meaning that it was a pure soul, and there was nothing of the Devil in him as the Jews said when they called him illegitimate.
As regards the use of the word Kalimatu-hu, i.e. His word, there is a misunderstanding. The meaning in this case simply is that he was born according to a prophecy, according to the word which was revealed to Mary, as the following quotation clearly shows:
When the angels said, O Mary, surely Allah gives you good news with a word from Him (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary (3:44).
It would, however, be seen that the use of both the words referred to above by no means entitles us to draw the conclusion that Jesus was sinless. Is it not said of Adam:
So when I have made him complete and breathed into him My spirit (15:29).
And the same spirit that is breathed into Adam is breathed into everyone of his children:
And He began the creation of man from dust. Then He made his progeny of an extract of water held in mean estimation. Then He made him complete and breathed into him of His spirit and made for you the ears and the eyes and the hearts (32:7-9).
In both cases it is the false Christian doctrine which teaches that evil is innate in man that is refuted in describing the soul of Adam or the soul of every man as coming from God. The soul of Adam was pure by nature and so is the soul of every man, because it proceeds from a pure source, from God, the fountain-head of all purity, and evil is not inborn in the soul; in other words, there is no such thing as Original Sin. Every man that is born in this world, from Adam downwards, is born pure. It is only by his evil deeds that he makes the pure gift of God impure. By nature every man is pure; by his deeds he may become impure. And therefore no one is sinless simply because he is born sinless. The same is true of Jesus, and it is wrong to infer his sinlessness simply from the fact of his being called a "spirit from God." Every human soul is a spirit from God, but that does not carry us further than that he is born sinless. To show that he retains sinlessness, something more is needed.
Similarly, Jesus cannot be called sinless simply because he was born in accordance with a Divine prophecy. As a creature of God, he was a word of God; in fact, every creature of God is a word of God. The Qur'an is very clear on this:
If the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though we were to bring the like of that sea to add thereto (18:109).
And elsewhere the context makes it clear that by the words of God is meant only the creation of God:
What is in the heavens and the earth is Allah's; surely Allah is the Self-sufficient, the Praised. And were every tree that is in the earth made into pens and the sea to supply it with ink, with seven more seas to increase it, the words of Allah would not come to an end; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. Neither your creation nor your raising is anything but as a single soul; surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing (31:26-28).
Jesus therefore enjoys no distinction in the claim to sinlessness by being called a word of God.
The real question to be considered is, what does the Holy Qur'an say of his conduct in life? Does it say that he led his life in sinlessness? Does it say that the other prophets did not lead their lives in sinlessness? No such distinction is met with anywhere in the pages of the Holy Book. All that is said of the conduct of Jesus is:
And to be kind to my mother; and He has not made me insolent, unblessed (19:32).
The Holy Qur'an in these words only clears him of the charge of insolence towards his mother which is implied in the incidents narrated in the Gospels. But it speaks of other prophets in terms of even higher praise. Thus it says of John, the Baptist:
And We granted him wisdom while yet a child, and tenderness from Us and purity, and he was one who guarded against evil, and dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient (19:12-14).
Now here we are plainly told not only that John was granted purity but also that he was not disobedient, i.e. never committed a sin, and thus he is plainly called sinless, an epithet not applied to Jesus Christ. Is it not wonderful that the Holy Qur'an mentions John and Jesus together, and yet while it says of the one that he was sinless, of the other it only says that he was not insolent to his mother? Why does it not speak of Jesus also as being sinless? Does this omission imply that the Holy Qur'an did not look upon Jesus as a sinless person? Not at all. The truth is that what the Holy Qur'an says of one prophet in such matters is true of all prophets. It is impossible that John should be sinless, while the other prophets are not sinless. But it has chosen John as a type in this case, and not Jesus, because the followers of Jesus had already gone so far as to raise him to the dignity of Godhead, and it its to warn them against their error that it does not speak of Jesus' conduct in the same commendatory words as of John's.
The pages of the Holy Qur'an teem with such examples. Abraham is called siddiq or most truthful one, but Jesus is not so called. Again, of him it is said that he was granted "direction," but the absence of such words in the case of other prophets does not imply that "direction" was not granted to them. Of Moses it is said:
And I cast down upon you love from Me; and that you might be brought up before My eyes (20:39)
but other prophets had equally love cast down upon them from God though similar words have not been used about any of them anywhere in the Holy Qur'an. It calls David awwab, or one turning to God again and again, without meaning that the other prophets did not deserve to be called so. In fact, it treats all the prophets as one class, and when it speaks of one of them as possessing certain great qualities, it means that such great qualities are met with in all the other prophets. To this it directs attention in the following words:
O apostles! eat of the good things and do good; surely I know what you do. And surely this your community is one community and I am your Lord (23:51, 52).
Hence it is that it speaks of the sinlessness of the prophets as a whole:
And We did not send before you any apostle but We revealed to him that there is no God but Me, therefore serve Me. And they say, The Beneficent God has taken to Himself a son; glory be to Him. Nay! they are honoured servants; they do not precede Him in speech and only according to His commandment do they act (21:25-27).
Thus neither in word nor in deed do the prophets trespass the Divine limits, and this is conclusive proof that according to the Holy Qur'an the prophets are sinless.
The Christian allegation against this is that while the Holy Prophet Muhammad is commanded to have recourse to istighfar, Jesus is not so commanded. Does it not show that the Holy Qur'an accords a distinctive treatment to Jesus? The same mistake is made in this case. Noah, Hud, Salih, Shu`aib and others are equally not spoken of as resorting to istighfar. Does it show that these prophets were looked upon as sinless while the others were not regarded so? On the above mentioned grounds, no such distinction can be made between the various prophets. Nor does istighfar imply sinfulness. It denotes, on the other hand, the seeking of ghafar which word signifies, according to Raghib, the covering of a thing with that which will protect it from dirt. Therefore istighfar, according to the best authority on the Qur'anic lexicology, indicates simply the seeking of a covering or protection, a protection against chastisement as well as a protection against sins. Lane also explains istaghfara as meaning he sought of God covering or forgiveness or pardon. Qastalani, one of the commentators of Bukhari, says ghafar means sitr, i.e. covering, and it is either between man and his sin or between sin and its punishment. It will thus be seen that the idea of protection or covering is the dominant idea in ghafar and istighfar, and these words therefore signify protection against sins as well as protection against punishment. They include two cases: (1) as against a fault that has been committed, protection from punishment; and (2) as against a fault not committed but to which man as man is liable, protection from the commission of it. The words are used in the Holy Qur'an in both senses. I give here only one instance of the second significance. At the end of the second chapter a prayer is taught: "And pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us." The original word for grant us protection is ighfir lana, which if rendered as pardon us becomes meaningless for that significance is conveyed by the previous word wa`fu'-`anna. Three distinct things are here plainly prayed for, viz.: (1) pardon for sins already committed; (2) protection from sin to which one is liable; and (3) mercy or favour from God.
As I have already shown, since the Holy Qur'an has established in plain words the principle of the sinlessness of prophets, istighfar in their case can only be taken as meaning the seeking of protection from the sins to which man is liable, and in this sense all the prophets of God and all righteous men resort to istighfar i.e. they ply for protection to God. Istighfar in this sense is the best means of attaining to sinlessness. The man who trusts in his own strength in the struggle against the evil one is sure to fall; therefore the righteous servants of God ply for protection to Allah, and there under divine protection they are perfectly safe. Istighfar in this sense really makes a man attain to the highest stage of spiritual progress, and therefore the prophets of God who all attain to that stage have always recourse to it. And if some prophets are not mentioned as resorting to istighfar, at least the angels are spoken of as doing istighfar for all of them. Thus in 40:7, the angels are shown as praying for the righteous in the following words: "Grant protection to those who turn to Thee and follow Thy way," where in the original the word ighfir is used. Now all the prophets of God, and Jesus among them, must be included among those who "follow Thy way," and this verse therefore shows that istighfar is not only resorted to by the righteous themselves but also by the angels of God for their sake. And in the case of Jesus, his grandmother is mentioned as praying for him long before his birth in similar words: "And I have named it Mary and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed devil" (3:35), where i`azah is used instead of istighfar, the significance of both words being the same.
Before leaving this subject, however, it seems necessary to throw light on one more point. It is sometimes said that the Prophet is commanded to do istighfar for his dhanb which means sin. Even if sin were taken to be the meaning of dhanb, the significance would be that he should seek Divine protection from the dhanb to which as a human being he was liable. But really dhanb is a term conveying a very wide significance and does not always indicate a sin. Raghib tells us that dhanb is originally the taking the tail of a thing, and it is applied to every act of which the consequence is disagreeable or unwholesome. According to Lane, dhanb means a sin, a crime, a fault. It is said to differ from ithm, in being either intentional or committed through inadvertence, whereas ithm is particularly intentional (see Lane's Lexicon which has quoted authorities). It will thus be seen that dhanb is a word which carries a very wide significance and is applicable as well to sins due to perversity as to shortcomings resulting from inattention, and even to defects and imperfections of which the result may be disagreeable; and the use of this word in the Holy Qur'an, where it is applied to all shades of shortcomings, from the grossest transgressions of the wicked to those defects and imperfections of human nature from which even the most perfect mortal cannot be free, is quite in accordance with the lexicons. In the English language the word sin is therefore by no means the equivalent of dhanb, and the word fault makes the nearest approach to its wide significance.
We are sometimes told by irresponsible Christian controversialists that the Holy Prophet Muhammad worshipped idols in his childhood and that he is therefore called an erring one in the Holy Qur'an. This is a statement for which there is not the least evidence. On the other hand, there is sure historical testimony that, as early as his journey to Syria in the company of his uncle, he expressed his strong hatred for idol-worship, so that when two idols were named before him, he cried out: "By Allah! I have never hated anything with the hatred which I entertain towards them." Of his childhood, many anecdotes are related by his uncle, Abu Talib, whose great affection for the Prophet, for the great qualities which he found in him, withstood the opposition of the whole of his nation later on, when the Quraish rose up against him to a man, and these afford strong evidence of his abhorrence of idol-worship and everything mean. Abu Talib told his brother `Abbas that he never found Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, telling a lie, nor did he ever witness in him derisiveness or ignorance (a general term for everything bad); nor did he ever go out with children taking part in their sports. Not only there was nothing mean or low ever witnessed in him, but honesty, veracity and other great qualities were met with in him to so great an extent that he earned the honourable name of al-Amin, i.e. the honest one, among his compatriots.
The Holy Qur'an nowhere describes him as one erring. On the other hand, it says plainly: "Your companion did not err, nor did he deviate. (53:2)" The word dall does not always signify one erring. Lane tells us that the verb dalla of which dall is the nominative form signifies he was perplexed and unable to see the way. It is this significance which is conveyed by the word dall in 93:7, as the context clearly shows. There we have first three statements:
Did He not find you an orphan and give thee shelter? And find you unable to see the way and show it? And find you in want and make you to be free from want?
and corresponding to each of these statements respectively and in the same order, we have then three injunctions:
Therefore as for the orphan, do not oppress him. And as for him who asks, do not chide him. And as for the favour of your Lord, do announce it.
This will make it clear that as in the first statement, we have the Holy Prophet described as an orphan, accordingly the first injunction is that the orphans should not be oppressed. And as in the third statement we have the Holy Prophet described as being in want whom Divine favour made free of want, accordingly the third injunction is that he should announce these favours to the world.
This arrangement makes it certain that the second statement and the second injunction must also correspond with each other. Now the second injunction is clear. It says that one who asks about a thing should not be chided, while the second statement says that the Prophet was guided after being found in a certain state. The correspondence between the two makes it certain that the state was the state of one who asks about religious truths, because the consequence is that he is guided aright. Thus the fact stated is that the Holy Prophet, finding those around him in a degenerate state, was anxious to reform them, but was unable to find out the path by treading which he could bring about the regeneration, and it was God Who guided him into that path. Allah found the Prophet in quest of the way, but as he was unable to chalk out a way for himself, He guided him by Divine light. And the Holy Qur'an explains itself when it says elsewhere: "And thus did We reveal to you an inspired Book by Our command; you did not know what the Book was, nor what the faith was, but We made it a light guiding thereby whom We please of Our servants. (42:52)"