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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’ - The Women) > Section 22 (Verses 153 to 162)



Section/Ruku Ruku 22 [Verses 153 to 162]: Transgressions of the Jews:
Chapter Chapter 4: (Al-Nisa’: The Women)
(Revealed at Madinah: 24 sections; 176 verses)

1. Translation:

153 The People of the Book ask thee to bring down to them a Book from heaven; indeed they demanded of Moses a greater thing than that, for they said: Show us Allah manifestly. So destructive punishment overtook them on account of their wrongdoing. Then they took the calf (for a god), after clear signs had come to them, but We pardoned this. And We gave Moses clear authority.

154 And We raised the mountain above them at their covenant. And We said to them: Enter the door making obeisance. And We said to them: Violate not the Sabbath; and We took from them a firm covenant.

155 Then for their breaking their covenant and their disbelief in the messages of Allah and their killing the prophets wrongfully and their saying, Our hearts are covered; nay, Allah has sealed them owing to their disbelief, so they believe not but a little:a

156 And for their disbelief and for their uttering against Mary a grievous calumny:a

157 And for their saying: We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of Allah, and they killed him not, nor did they cause his death on the cross,a but he was made to appear to them as such.b And certainly those who differ therein are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge about it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for certain:

158 Nay, Allah exalted him in His presence. And Allah is ever Mighty, Wise.a

159 And there is none of the People of the Book but will believe in this before his death; and on the day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.a

160 So for the iniquity of the Jews, We forbade them the good things which had been made lawful for them, and for their hindering many (people) from Allah’s way.

161 And for their taking usury — though indeed they were forbidden it — and their devouring the property of people falsely. And We have prepared for the disbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.

162 But the firm in knowledge among them and the believers believe in that which has been revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee, and those who keep up prayer and give the poor-rate and the believers in Allah and the Last Day — these it is to whom We shall give a mighty reward.

2. Commentary:

155a. WThe incidents referred to in vv. 153–155 have been mentioned in detail in sections 6 -8 of ch. 2, see the footnotes there. [Back to verse 155]

156a. The calumny referred to was that Mary was guilty of fornication (Rz). Jewish tradition in this connection mentions Panther (Jewish Life of Jesus). [Back to verse 156]

157a. The words ma salabu-hu do not negative Jesus’ being nailed to the cross; they negative his having expired on the cross as a result of being nailed to it. Salb is a well-known way of killing (T, LA). Salabu-hu means he put him to death in a certain well-known manner (LL). That Jesus died a natural death is plainly stated in 5:117: “and I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst cause me to die, Thou wast the Watcher over them”. See 5:1 1 7a. The Gospels contain clear testimony showing that Jesus Christ escaped death on the cross. The following points may be noted: (1) Jesus remained on the cross for a few hours only (Mark 15:25; John 19:14) but death by crucifixion was always tardy. (2) The two men crucified with Jesus were still alive when taken down from the cross; the presumption is that Jesus too was alive. (3) The breaking of legs was resorted to in the case of the two criminals, but dispensed with in the case of Jesus (John 19:32, 33). (4) The side of Jesus being pierced, blood rushed out and this was a certain sign of life. (5) Even Pilate did not believe that Jesus actually died in so short a time (Mark 15:44). (6) Jesus was not buried like the two criminals, but was given into the charge of a wealthy disciple of his, who lavished care on him and put him in a spacious tomb hewn in the side of a rock (Mark 15:46). (7) When the tomb was seen on the third day, the stone was found to have been removed from its mouth (Mark 16:4), which would not have been the case if there had been a supernatural rising. (8) Mary, when she saw him, took him for the gardener (John 20:15), which shows that Jesus had disguised himself as a gardener. (9) Such disguise would not have been needed if Jesus had risen from the dead. (10) It was in the same body of flesh that the disciples saw Jesus, and the wounds were still there deep enough for a man to thrust his hand in (John 20:25–28). (11) He still felt hunger and ate as his disciples ate (Luke 24:39– 43). (12) Jesus Christ undertook a journey to Galilee with two of his disciples walking side by side with him (Matt. 28:10), which shows that he was fleeing for refuge; a journey to Galilee was not necessary to rise to heaven. (13) In all post-crucifixion appearances Jesus is found hiding himself as if he feared being discovered. (14) Jesus Christ prayed the whole night before his arrest to be saved from the accursed death on the cross, and he also asked his disciples to pray for him; the prayers of a righteous man in distress and affliction are always accepted. He seems to have even received a promise from God to be saved, and it was to this promise that he referred when he cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Heb. 5:7 makes the matter still more clear, for there it is plainly stated that the prayer of Jesus was accepted: “When he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared”.

The statements made in the Qur’an corroborate the above statements quoted from the Gospels. Jesus did not die on the cross, nor was he killed as were the two thieves, but to the Jews he appeared as if he were dead. [Back to verse 157]

157b. The words shubbiha la-hum may bear two interpretations: he was made to be like (it) or to resemble (it); or the matter was made dubious or obscure (LL). The Ruh al-Ma‘ani says the meaning may be that the matter became dubious to them. The story that someone else was made to resemble Jesus is not borne out by the words of the Qur’an, which could only mean, if an object were mentioned, that Jesus was made to resemble someone, not that someone was made to resemble Jesus. [Back to verse 157]

158a. For the significance of raf ‘ see 3:55b. Being exalted in the Divine presence was opposed to being killed on the cross. Deut. 21:23 explains this, for there we have, he that is hanged is accursed of God. If Jesus had died on the cross he would have been accursed; hence the statement made here — he was not killed on the cross and accursed but he was exalted in the Divine presence. [Back to verse 158]

159a. Both the Jews and the Christians necessarily believe in the death of Jesus on the cross, while according to the Holy Qur’an they have really no sure knowledge of it. The Jews reject his claim to Messiahship on the basis of Deut. 21:23: “He that is hanged is accursed of God”. Their belief is that since Jesus died on the cross he was accursed, and no one who is accursed of God can be a prophet. Following quite a different line of argument, a Christian believes that Jesus died on the cross and was accursed. He admits the truth of Deut. 21:23, but he says that unless Jesus were accursed he could not take away the sins of those that believe in him. As in Gal. 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”. Hence the fundamental principle of the belief of both Jews and Christians is that Jesus died on the cross, and the meaning of the verse is clear, viz., every Jew and Christian, notwithstanding that he has no sure knowledge at all, must believe before his death that Jesus died on the cross. [Back to verse 159]



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Chapter 3: Al-'Imran (The Family of Amran)

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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’ - The Women) > Section 22 (Verses 153 to 162)

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