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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 3 (Al-‘Imran - The Family of Amran) > Section 6 (Verses 55 to 63)


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Section/Ruku 6 [Verses 55 to 63]: Jesus cleared of false charges:
Chapter 3: (Al-‘Imran: The Family of Amran)
(Revealed at Madinah: 20 sections; 200 verses)

1. Translation:

55 When Allah said: O Jesus, I will cause thee to die
a and exalt thee in My presenceb and clear thee of those who disbelievec and make those who follow thee above those who disbelieve to the day of Resurrection.d Then to Me is your return, so I shall decide between you concerning that wherein you differ.e

56 Then as to those who disbelieve, I shall chastise them with severe chastisement in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.a

57 And as to those who believe and do good deeds, He will pay them fully their rewards. And Allah loves not the unjust.a

58 This We recite to thee of the messages and the Reminder full of wisdom.

59 The likeness of Jesus with Allah is truly as the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.a

60 (This is) the truth from thy Lord, so be not of the disputers.

61 Whoever then disputes with thee in this matter after the knowledge that has come to thee, say: Come! Let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our people and your people, then let us be earnest in prayer,a and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars.b

62 Surely this is the true account, and there is no god but Allah. And Allah! He surely is the Mighty, the Wise.

63 But if they turn away, then surely Allah knows the mischief-makers.

2. Commentary:

55a. I‘Ab says that the significance of mutawaffi-ka is mumitu-ka, i.e. I will cause thee to die (B. 65: v, 12). According to LA, “You say tawaffa-hu-llahu when you mean Allah took his soul or caused him to die”. And according to LL, it signifies “God took his soul (S, Q) (either at death or in sleep, see the Qur’an, 6:60); or caused him to die (Msb)”. No other significance can be attached to the words when thus used. Some commentators say that Jesus remained dead for three hours; others say for seven hours, and so on (Rz). But the word is used here really to show that the Jewish plans to cause Jesus’ death on the cross would be frustrated and that he would afterwards die a natural death; see 4:157a. Pickthall’s translation is, O Jesus, I am gathering thee, and this is the Biblical idiom for causing to die. Yusuf ‘Ali, in his first edition, translated the words as meaning I will cause thee to die, but in the second edition he changed it to I will take thee. [Back to verse 55]

55b. Raf‘ signifies raising or elevating, and also exalting or making honourable (T, LL). But where the raf ‘ of a man to Allah is spoken of in the Holy Qur’an, or in the religious literature of Islam, it is always in the latter sense, for raising a man in his body to Himself implies that the Divine Being is limited to a place. This is made plain by the prayer which every Muslim repeats several times daily in his prayers in the sitting position between the two prostrations: wa-rfa‘-ni, meaning and exalt me. Of course no one supposes this prayer to be for the raising of the body to the heavens. Hence even those commentators who are predisposed, having, no doubt, been misled by Christian tradition, to accept Jesus Christ as having been raised alive to heaven, have been compelled to admit that the word raf ‘ is here used not for raising aloft but for exalting and honouring. And commenting on the words which follow this statement, Rz says: This shows that raf ‘ here is the exalting in degree and in praise, not in place and direction. The exaltation of Jesus is mentioned here as a reply to the Jews, whose object was to make him die an accursed and ignominious death on the cross. [Back to verse 55]

55c. Clear thee of those who disbelieve signifies clearing Jesus of the false charges relating to the alleged illegitimacy of his birth, and so on, charges of which Jesus was cleared by the Holy Qur’an; see 4:156a. [Back to verse 55]

55d. This verse contains four promises relating to Jesus’ triumph over his enemies as against their plans, three of which have already been noticed, viz.: (1) his being saved from death on the cross and being made to die a natural death; (2) his being made honourable in the Divine presence, whereas the object of the Jews was to show that he was an accursed person; (3) his being cleared of all false charges. And the fourth promise is that those who follow Jesus shall be made dominant over his rejecters till the day of Judgment. The truth of this fourth prophecy is witnessed to this day in the dominance of the Christians over the Jews. [Back to verse 55]

55e. Differences of belief are dealt with in the life after death while transgressions in deeds when they are on a very large scale are punished even in this life. [Back to verse 55]

56a. The whole Jewish history, especially after the seventh century, is a standing testimony to the truth of these words. [Back to verse 56]

57a. By the unjust are meant the Christians because they have exceeded the limits of justice and deified Jesus. [Back to verse 57]

59a. Adam stands for man generally, because all men are created from dust. Thus in 18:37 the believer says to his non-believing companion: “Disbelievest thou in Him Who created thee of dust?” And in 22:5 and 30:20, and elsewhere, all men are spoken of as having been created from dust. All that is meant, therefore, is that Jesus is no more than a mortal, and that it is an error to take him for God, as the Christians do. The words kun fa-yakunu lend support to this meaning, for in these words is spoken of throughout the Holy Qur’an the general and recurring law of creation.

If Adam be taken as a proper name, the meaning would be that just as Adam was created from dust and then chosen or purified by Allah, so was Jesus created from dust, and his election was similar to the election of Adam, the command contained in kun in this case referring to the election of a righteous servant of Allah. In either case there is no reference to Jesus being brought into existence without the agency of a male parent. The controversy is here carried on with the Christians, and it is their false belief in the divinity of Jesus that is here condemned. As for the parentage of Jesus see 44a and 47a. [Back to verse 59]

61a. Ibtahala means he humbled or abased himself or addressed himself with earnest or energetic supplication (LL). Some explain nabtahil as meaning natabahil, in which case the meaning would be let us call down a curse upon which of us is the liar. [Back to verse 61]

61b. This chapter starts with a discussion of the Christian doctrines in particular. The persons addressed in particular in this verse are the members of the Christian deputation from Najran that came in 10 A.H. This deputation, consisting of sixty men, was headed by ‘Abd al-Masih, the chief of the Najran Christians (AH), and the members of the deputation were lodged in the Prophet’s mosque. Thus did the Prophet set an example of freedom of religious thought which remains without parallel to this day. The Prophet related to them arguments showing that Jesus Christ was not God, but a man and a prophet (see concluding para of 44a). After having argued the question fully, and finding them still insisting in their false belief in the deity of Jesus, they were invited as a last resort to pray earnestly that the curse of Allah might overtake the party that insisted on falsehood. At first they showed readiness to enter this contest, but after some deliberation they decided against it and told the Prophet that they had decided not to pray against him as suggested (B. 64:74). Thereupon they were given a pledge by which they were free to practise their religion: “Their authority and rights shall not be interfered with, nor anything that is customary amongst them, so long as they conduct themselves peaceably and uprightly” (Muir).

It is strange to find Christian writers referring to this as “a strange mode of settling the dispute”. But evidently their Arabian co-religionists did not think so 1,300 years ago. They believed in the efficacy of prayer, for such was the teaching of Jesus. They saw the righteousness of the Prophet, and they were convinced of their own false beliefs and dared not invoke curses upon themselves with their own tongues, while they knew that the Prophet was too generous to curse them. Therefore they adopted the wise course of not calling for destruction to overtake them. Had they considered the Prophet as an impostor and Antichrist, as their descendants do today, they would not have had the least fear in accepting the challenge. [Back to verse 61]

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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 3 (Al-‘Imran - The Family of Amran) > Section 6 (Verses 55 to 63)


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