ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺

“This is the Book,” Ibn ʿAbbās explained the word dhālika (that) to mean hādha (this). This was also stated by Mujāhid, ʿIkrimah, Saʿīd b. Jubair, al-Suddī, Maqātil b. Ḥayyān, Zayd b. Aslam and ibn Jurayj. It is a well-known convention in the Arabic language where the two demonstrative nouns are used interchangeably, one in the place of the other. This opinion was also recorded by Bukhārī from Maʿmar b. al-Muthannā, Abū ʿUbaydah.

Zamakhsharī said that the far-deictic demonstrative, dhālika refers back to the previous āyah, “Alif. Lām. Mīm.” It is in the same sense that this demonstrative is used in āyahs such as, “The cow should neither be old nor young but in between that,” (2:68) “That is the judgment of Allāh, He judges between you.” (60:10) “That is Allāh, your Lord; so worship Him (alone).” (10:3) In all these places the far-deictic is used to refer back to the words that have just preceded. Allāh knows best.

Qurṭubī and others cite that some of the exegetes were of the view that the far-deictic refers to the Qurʾān itself which Allāh promised He would reveal to His Messenger (SAW), or that it refers to the Tawrāh or the Injīl.[1] Many were of the view that this opinion was weak though. In all, there are ten opinions that he mentions concerning the usage of the far-deictic in this āyah.

“The Book,” i.e. the Qurʾān. Ibn Jarīr and others cite some authorities postulating that the Book refers to the Tawrāh or Injīl, but this opinion is extremely implausible, indeed it is to posit something devoid of knowledge.

“In which there is no doubt,” the word rayb means doubt (shakk). Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and other Companions explained the āyah to mean, ‘in which there is no doubt (shakk).’[2]

This explanation was also given by Abū’l-Dardāʾ, ibn ʿAbbās, Mujāhid, Saʿīd b. Jubair. Abū Mālik, Nāfiʿ (the freed slave of ibn ʿUmar), ʿAṭāʾ, Abū’l-ʿĀliyah, al-Rabīʿ b. Anas, Maqātil b. Ḥayyān, al-Suddī, Qatādah, and Ismāʿīl b. Abū Khālid. Ibn Abī Ḥātim said, ‘I know of no difference of opinion concerning this.’

The word rayb can also be used to mean suspicion or need.

The meaning of the āyah is that there is no doubt whatsoever that this Book – the Qurʾān – has been revealed by Allāh just as He says, “Alif. Lām. Mīm. This Book, free from all doubt, has been sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.” (32:1-2)

Some exegetes said that the āyah is expressed as a declarative phrase, but the meaning is one of prohibition, i.e. ‘Do not have any doubt in it.’

Some of the reciters pause at the words “Lā rayb,” which would mean, “there is no doubt,” and then continue “fīhī hudan li’l-muttaqīn,” which would mean “it contains guidance for those who are mindful of Allāh.” However, the recitation which has “lā rayba fīhi,” is more befitting for this particular āyah because the word guidance would then be used as a description for the entire Qurʾān. This is more emphatic and expressive than just saying “it contains guidance.”

“A guidance,” grammatically, the word guidance (hudā) can be nominative, acting as an adjective, or accusative, acting as a circumstantial expression.

The word guidance (hudā) can refer to faith (īmān) which settles in the heart, and no one can put this in people’s hearts besides Allāh. Allāh says, “You surely cannot guide whoever you like, but it is Allāh who guides whoever He wills” (28:56), “You are not responsible for people’s guidance – it is Allāh who guides whoever He wills.” (2:272), “Whoever Allāh allows to stray, none can guide,” (7:186), “those people Allāh guides are rightly guided, but you will find no protector to lead to the right path those He leaves to stray.” (18:17)

The word guidance can also be used to mean explaining the truth, clarifying it, and directing people to it. It is in this sense that Allāh says, “You give guidance to the Straight Path,” (42:52), “You are only a warner, and every people had a guide.” (13:7), “As for Thamūd, We gave them guidance but they preferred blindness over guidance,” (41:17). Allāh also says, “And (did we not) point out to him the two clear ways?” (90:10) going by the explanation that the two clear ways mentioned refers to the paths of good and evil – which is the stronger explanation and Allāh knows best.

“A guidance for those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺,” guidance has been particularised to those who are mindful of Allāh just as He says, “Say, ‘It is guidance and healing for those who have faith, but the ears of the disbelievers are heavy, they are blind to it, it is as if they are being called from a distant place.’” (41:44), “We send down the Qurʾān as a healing and mercy for the believers, but it only increases the wrongdoers in loss.” (17:82) These āyahs and others show that it is the believers who will benefit from the Qurʾān.[3] The Qurʾān is guidance in and of itself, but that guidance is only granted to the righteous, “People, a teaching from your Lord has come to you, a healing for what is in the hearts, and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (10:57)

“A guidance for those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺,” Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and other Companions explained this to mean, ‘A light for those who are mindful of Allāh.’ Shaʿbī said that it means, ‘Guidance from misguidance.’ Saʿīd b. Jubair commented, ‘A clarification for those who are mindful of Allāh.’

All of these opinions are correct.

“Those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺,” Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and other Companions said that the muttaqūn are the believers (muʾminūn).

Ibn ʿAbbās said that the muttaqūn were, ‘those who fear Allāh’s punishment should they abandon what they know of guidance, and hope in His mercy by believing in what He has revealed.’ He also explained the word to refer to, ‘The believers who avoid committing shirk with Me and are obedient to Me.’

al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī said, ‘They avoid what Allāh has prohibited and fulfil what He has obligated.’

Abū Bakr b. al-ʿAyyāsh said, ‘al-Aʿmash asked me about, “Those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺,” and I responded. He then asked me to go to al-Kalbī and ask him. I went to him and asked, and he replied, “They are those who avoid major sin.” I relayed this back to al-Aʿmash who remarked, “This is what we think as well,” and he did not reject that opinion.’

Qatādah said that they are those who Allāh described in the verses that follow, “who believe in the unseen, establish the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them…” (2:3-5)

Ibn Jarīr said that the āyah covers all these meanings and it is as he said.

Tirmidhī and Ibn Mājah record on the authority of ʿAṭiyyah al-Saʿdī that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) said, “A servant will not become one of the muttaqūn until he abandons something that is harmless for fear of falling into something harmful.”[4] Tirmidhī said that it was ḥasan gharīb.

Ibn Abī Ḥātim records that Maymūn Abū Ḥamza said, ‘I was sitting with Abū Wāʾil when one of the colleagues of Muʿādh called Abū ʿAfīf arrived. Shaqīq b. Salamah asked him, “Abū ʿAfīf, will you not narrate something to us from Muʿādh b. Jabal?” He replied, “Of course! I heard him say that on the Day of Rising, mankind will be confined to one plain. Someone will call out, ‘Where are the Muttaqūn?’ They will then stand under the protection of the Lord of Mercy and He will not veil Himself from them.” I asked, “Who are the Muttaqūn?” He replied, “They are people who avoided shirk and the worship of idols, and instead sincerely worshipped Allāh alone. They will walk into Paradise.”’[5]

Essentially, the word the taqwā means to take protection from all that is disliked since it derives from the concept of protection and defence (wiqāyah).

It is reported that ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb asked Ubayy b. Kaʿb about taqwā who countered by asking, ‘Have you never taken a path beset with thorny bushes?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ Ubayy asked, ‘What did you do?’ He replied, ‘I gathered in my clothes and trod carefully.’ He said, ‘That is taqwā.’

The poet, Ibn Muʿtaz recapitulated this in verse,

Leave sins big and small,

that is taqwa.

Be like one walking amongst thorns,

dreading what he sees.

Belittle not minor sins,

mountains are made of stones.

One day, Abū’l-Dardāʾ said,

A person wants to be given what he wants,

But Allāh only gives him what He wants.

The person cries out: My wealth! My benefit!

But the taqwā of Allāh is the best benefit of all.

Ibn Mājah records on the authority of Abū Umāmah that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) said, “After the taqwā of Allāh, nothing is of more benefit to man than a righteous wife who pleases him when he looks at her, obeys him when he commands her, fulfils an oath when he makes one concerning her, and when absent, remains faithful to him and his property.”[6]


الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Who believe in the unseen, establish the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them

“Who believe in the unseen,” ʿAbdullāh (b. Masʿūd) said that īmān means belief (taṣdīq). Ibn ʿAbbās said that yuʾminūn means ‘they believe’ (yuṣaddiqūn).

al-Zuhrī said that īmān was deed (ʿamal). al-Rabīʿ b. Anas said that yuʾminūn means ‘they fear’ (yakhshawn).

Ibn Jarīr and others said, ‘The best interpretation is that they have been characterised as having faith in the unseen (generally) in terms of speech, deed and belief.’[7] He also said, ‘The fear of Allāh may also be included in the meaning of faith (īmān), and (lexically) faith is to have the deed attest to the truth of the statement. (Technically), the term īmān is a comprehensive term covering acknowledgement (iqrār) of Allāh, His Books, and His Messengers with deed testifying to the truth of that acknowledgement.’

Lexically, the word īmān can be used to mean belief in and of itself. In some places in the Qurʾān it is used in precisely this sense such as, “he believes in Allāh and trusts the believers.” (9:61) Yūsuf’s brothers said to their father, “but you will not believe us, no matter how truthful we are.” (12:17) It is also used in this sense when mentioned alongside deeds such as, “But those who believe and do good deeds will have a never-ending reward.” (84:25)

However, when the word īmān is used unconditionally, then the faith that is required of us by the Sharīʿah comprises belief, speech and deed. This is the view of most of the Imāms; indeed Shāfiʿī, Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Abū ʿUbayd and others stated that there was a consensus (ijmāʿ) that faith is comprised of statement and deed, and that it increases and decreases. There are many narrations testifying to this, as well as numerous ḥadīths that we have cited in the beginning of our commentary to Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, and to Allāh belongs all praise and blessings.

Some authorities explained īmān to mean fear (khashya) because Allāh says, “There is forgiveness and a great reward for those who fear their Lord though they cannot see Him.” (67:12), “Who feared the Lord of Mercy, though He is unseen.” (50:33) Fear is the essence of faith and knowledge as Allāh says, “It is those of His servants that have knowledge who have truly fear Allāh.” (35:28)

Some said that the āyah means that (the muttaqūn) believe in Allāh in public and in private. They are not like the hypocrites about whom Allāh says, “When they meet the believers, they say, ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, ‘We’re really with you; we were only mocking.’” (2:14), “When the hypocrites come to you ˹O Prophet˺, they say, “We bear witness that you are certainly the Messenger of Allāh” – and surely Allāh knows that you are His Messenger – but Allāh bears witness that the hypocrites are truly liars.” (63:1) According to this opinion, the phrase “in the unseen” would be acting as a circumstantial expression, i.e. in the situation that they are away from prying eyes.

“Who believe in the unseen,” The explanations of the Salaf differ as to the precise meaning of the unseen (ghayb) spoken of in this āyah. However, all of them are correct and one can say that all of them are meant.

Abū’l-ʿĀliyah said, ‘They believe in Allāh, His Angels, Books, Messengers, the Last Day, Paradise, Hell, and the meeting with Him. They believe in life after death. All of this is unseen.’ This was also stated by Qatādah b. Diʿāmah.

Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and some of the Companions said that ghayb meant ‘everything that is hidden from people of the affair of Paradise, the affair of Hell and what has been mentioned in the Qurʾān.’

Ibn ʿAbbās also said that the āyah means, ‘who believe in all that has come from Him,’ i.e. Allāh.

Sufyān al-Thawrī cited Zirr as saying that the ghayb referred to the Qurʾān. ʿAṭāʾ b. Abū Rabāḥ said, ‘Whoever believes in Allāh has believed in the unseen.’ Ismāʿīl b. Abū Khālid said that the āyah meant, ‘who believe in the unseen aspects of Islām.’ Zayd b. Aslam said that it meant believing in the divine decree (qadr).

All of these opinions are close in meaning since all of the articles mentioned fall under the category of the unseen that a person must believe in.

Saʿīd b. Manṣūr records that ʿAbdu’l-Raḥmān b. Yazīd said, ‘We were sitting with ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd and mentioned the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) and all the things they excelled us in. ʿAbdullāh remarked, “The Prophet’s affair was clear to everyone who saw him. By the One who should be worshipped alone, none can acquire a faith that is better than believing in the unseen.” Then he recited, “Alif. Lām. Mīm. This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺. Who believe in the unseenup to “it is they who are the successful.” (2:1-5)’

This narration was also recorded by Ibn Abī Ḥātim, Ibn Mardawayh, and Ḥākim, al-Mustadrak. Ḥākim said that it was ṣaḥīḥ, meeting the criteria of Bukhārī and Muslim even though they did not record it.[8]

In a similar vein, Imām Aḥmad records that Ibn Muḥayrīz said to Abū Jumuʿah, ‘Narrate a ḥadīth to us that you heard from Allāh’s Messenger (SAW).’ He said, “I will narrated a great ḥadīth to you. We once had lunch with Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) along with Abū ʿUbaydah b. al-Jarrāḥ. He asked, ‘Messenger of Allāh, is there anyone better than us? We accepted Islām at your hands and fought Jihād with you.’ He replied, ‘Yes, people who will come after you and believe in me without having seen me.’”[9]

There is another chain to this ḥadīth. Abū Bakr b. Mardawayh, al-Tafsīr records that Ṣālīḥ b. Jubair said, ‘Abū Jumuʿah al-Anṣārī, Companion of Allāh’s Messenger (SAW), came to pray at Bayt al-Maqdis. At the time, Rajāʾ b. Ḥaywah was with us. When he had finished praying, we went to see him off and when he was about to depart, he said, “You have a gift and a right. I will narrate a ḥadīth to you that I heard from Allāh’s Messenger (SAW).” We said, “Please do tell us, may Allāh have mercy on you!” He said, “We were with Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) and with us was Muʿādh b. Jabal and nine others. We asked, ‘Messenger of Allāh, is there anyone who will have greater reward than us? We believed in Allāh and followed you.’ He responded, ‘And why would you not believe when Allāh’s Messenger is amongst you bringing you revelation from the heavens? There are people who will come after you. They will be given the Book between two covers, believe in it and follow the guidance it contains. They will have a reward greater than yours.’ He repeated this twice.”’[10]

He then records another narration, similar to the one above, on the authority of Abū Jumuʿah.[11]

This ḥadīth contains a proof for the validity of acting upon texts taken from a written source without formal licensing (wijādah), something the Ahlu’l-Ḥadīth differed over as I have explained in the beginning of my commentary to Bukhārī. This is because he (SAW) praised them for following what they found and said that they would have a greater reward from this viewpoint, not generally.

There is also another ḥadīth recorded by al-Ḥasan b. ʿArafah al-ʿAbdī on the authority of ʿAmr b. Shuʿayb, from his father, from his grandfather that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) asked, “Which creation do you find most amazing in terms of faith?” They replied, ‘The Angels?’ He said, “Why would they not believe when they are with their Lord?” They said, ‘The Prophets?’ He said, “Why would they not believe when revelation comes down to them?” They said, ‘Us?’ He said, “Why would you not believe when I am amongst you?” He then said, “Those I find most amazing in faith are people who will come after you. They will find pages containing the Book and believe in it.”[12]

Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī said that one of the sub-narrators, al-Mughīrah b. Qays al-Baṣrī was munkar in ḥadīth.[13] I say: a similar ḥadīth is recorded by Abū Yaʿlā, Ibn Mardawayh and Ḥākim via the route of Muḥammad b. Abū Ḥumayd – and he has some weakness – from Zayd b. Aslam, from his father, from ʿUmar from the Prophet (SAW). Ḥākim said that the isnād was ṣaḥīḥ even though Bukhārī and Muslim did not record it.[14]

Another ḥadīth, similar to the above, is recorded on the authority of Anas b. Mālik to the Prophet (SAW).[15] Allāh knows best.

Ibn Abī Ḥātim records that Nuwaylah b. Aslam said, ‘I prayer Ẓuhr – or ʿAṣr – in the Masjid of Banū Ḥārithah. We prayed two out of four cycles facing the Masjid of Īliyāʾ, and then someone came and told us that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) now faced al-Bayt al-Ḥarām in prayer. While in prayer, the women changed places with the men, changed the direction of prayer, and prayed the remaining two cycles towards al-Bayt al-Ḥarām.’ The sub-narrator, Ibrāhīm then said, ‘A person from Banū Ḥārithah told me that when Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) heard about this, he remarked, “These are people who have believed in the unseen.”’[16] This is a gharīb ḥadīth when considered from this route.

“establish the prayer,” Ibn ʿAbbās explained, ‘They establish the obligations of prayer.’ He also said, ‘Establishing the prayer means to perfect the bowing, prostration and recitation. It means to be totally submissive in it and to concentrate on it.’ Qatādah said, ‘Establishing the prayer means to ensure that it is prayed in its correct time, to perform ablution well, and to preserve the bowing and prostration during it.’ Maqātil b. Ḥayyān said, ‘Establishing prayer means to ensure it is prayed in its time, to perfect purification for it, to perfect its bowing, prostration, recitation, tashahhud, and sending blessings on the Prophet (SAW). This is what is meant by establishing the prayer.’[17]

“and give out of what We have provided for them,” Ibn ʿAbbās said that this means they pay the zakāh due on their wealth. Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and some Companions explained the āyah to mean, ‘A man spending on his family. This was what it meant before the legislation of zakāh.’ Ḍaḥḥāk said, ‘Expenditures were righteous deeds that people did to draw closer to Allāh in accordance to their means and efforts. Then seven verses in Sūrah al-Barāʾa were revealed concerning the obligation of charity, and they abrogated and were never themselves abrogated.’

Qatādah said, ‘Give some of what Allāh has given you in charity. Son of Ādam, this wealth is a trust that has been deposited with you and soon will you leave it behind.’[18]

The opinion that Ibn Jarīr chose was that the āyah was general and covered both zakāh and general expenditure. He said, ‘The best interpretation of this āyah and the most appropriate to the description of these people is that they disbursed all that was obligatory on them to do so, be that zakāh or other expenditure on those they were responsible for, be it family or dependents. This is because Allāh generalised His description of them and praised them for it. Both general expenditure and zakāh are praiseworthy and something to be commended.’[19]

Allāh frequently mentions ṣalāh alongside charity. Ṣalāh is Allāh’s right, an act of worship and an expression of Tawḥīd. It is to praise and glorify Him, turn to Him in abject need, supplicate to Him, and to rely on Him. To give in charity is to show kindness to creatures by giving them something that will benefit them. Those most deserving of this are a person’s family, close relatives, those under his authority and then those not related to him. Both mandatory expenditure and zakāh fall under the scope of His words, “and give out of what We have provided for them.” 

This is why Bukhārī and Muslim record on the authority of Ibn ʿUmar that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) said, “Islām is built on five (pillars): the testification that none has the right to be worshipped save Allāh and that Muḥammad is Allāh’s Messenger, establishing the ṣalāh, paying the zakāh, fasting the month of Ramaḍān, and performing Ḥajj to the Sacred House.”[20] There are many ḥadīths on this subject.

Lexically speaking, the essential meaning of ṣalāh is supplication (duʿā).[21] In the technical usage of the Sharīʿah, the word ṣalāh is used to refer to that act which includes bowing, prostration and other specific acts, and is performed at specific times with well-known pre-requisites. The mannerisms of performing it, as well as all the different categories of ṣalāh are well-known.

Ibn Jarīr said, ‘I am of the view that the prescribed prayer is called ṣalāh because the person performing the act is seeking success in his desire for Allāh’s reward through that deed, as well as the fulfilment of the requests that he directs to his Lord in it.’

It is also suggested that the word ṣalāh derives from ṣalawayn which are two veins in the middle of the back that separate at the base of the spine and go around it. It is these that move when a person bows and prostrates in prayer. From this is derived the word, al-muṣallī which refers to the horse that finishes second in a race.[22] This opinion is questionable though.

Another opinion is the word ṣalāh is derived from al-ṣalī which means to stick firmly to something.[23] It is in this sense that Allāh says, “in which none will burn,” remain attached to and endure for eternity “except the most wretched.” (92:15)

Yet another opinion is that the word ṣalāh is derived from the idea of warming (taṣliya) a branch with fire in an attempt to straighten it. In the same way, a person engages in ṣalāh to correct his faults and shortcomings, “Indeed, ˹genuine˺ prayer deters from indecency and wickedness.” (29:45)

The most correct opinion is that the word ṣalāh means duʿā, and this is also the most famous opinion. Allāh knows best.

We will discuss the meaning of zakāh in the appropriate place in shā Allāh.


وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَبِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُونَ

And who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and have certain faith in the Hereafter.

“And who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you,” Ibn ʿAbbās commented, ‘They believe in what you have brought from Allāh and in what the Messengers before you came with. They do not make any distinctions between them, and they do not reject what they brought from their Lord.’[24]

“and have certain faith in the Hereafter,”[25] i.e. the Resurrection, the Day of Rising, Paradise, Hell, Judgement and the Scales.

The Hereafter (ākhirah) is given this title because it comes after this world (dunyā).

The exegetes differ concerning the people referred to in this āyah. Are they the same as those referenced in the previous āyah, Who believe in the unseen, establish the prayer, and give out of what We have provided for them, or another body of people? There are three opinions that Ibn Jarīr relates:

The First: They are the same people as those referenced in the previous āyah. These are the believers, be they the Arabs who believed, the People of the Book who believed, or others. This was the view of Mujāhid, Abū’l-ʿĀliyah, al-Rabīʿ b. Anas and Qatādah.

The Second: They are the same people as those referenced in the previous āyah, but those spoken of are the believers amongst the People of the Book specifically.

According to these two views the connective particle, and (waw) beginning the āyah would be employed to associate a second set of descriptions with the first. A usage such as this can be seen in Allāh’s words, “Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High, who created and ˹perfectly˺ fashioned ˹all˺, and who ordained precisely and inspired accordingly, and who brings forth ˹green˺ pasture, then reduces it to withered chaff.” (87:1-5) Here, we have a set of attributes all describing one and the same thing, linked together with the connective particle.

The Third: Those mentioned in the previous āyah are the Arabs who believed. Those mentioned in this āyah are the People of the Book who believed. al-Suddī cites this position from Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn Masʿūd and a group of the Companions. Ibn Jarīr preferred this opinion and the following āyahs support this position as well, “Indeed, there are some among the People of the Book who truly believe in Allāh and what has been revealed to you ˹believers˺ and what was revealed to them. They humble themselves before Allāh – never trading Allāh’s revelations for a fleeting gain. Their reward is with their Lord. Surely Allāh is swift in reckoning.” (3:199) “As for those to whom We had given the Scripture before this ˹Qurʾān˺, they do believe in it. When it is recited to them, they declare, ‘We believe in it. This is definitely the truth from our Lord. We had already submitted ˹even˺ before this.’ They will be given their reward twice over because they are steadfast, repel evil with good, and give to others out of what We have provided for them.” (28:52-53) There is also the ḥadīth in Bukhārī and Muslim on the authority of Abū Mūsā who said that Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) said, “There are three who will be given their reward twice over: a person from the People of the Book who believed in his Prophet and believed in me, a slave who fulfils Allāh’s rights and the rights of his master, and a person who teaches his slave girl good manners, educates her in the best way, frees her and then marries her.”[26]

The argument Ibn Jarīr presents to support his position is that Allāh has described the believers and the disbelievers at the beginning of this Sūrah. The disbelievers were categorised into two: the disbeliever and the hypocrite. So in the same manner, the believers should also be placed in two categories: Arab and People of the Book.

What is clear me to me, however, is the opinion of Mujāhid who said, ‘Four āyahs in the beginning of Sūrah al-Baqarah describe the believers, two describe the disbelievers, and thirteen describe the hypocrites.’ The four āyahs are general and apply to every believer – Arab, non-Arab, one of the People of the Book, human, or Jinn. Each of the attributes mentioned complement each other, and is not valid without the other; indeed each one implies the other and is a condition (of belief) alongside it. Belief in the unseen, establishment of ṣalāh and zakāh are all invalid without believing in what the Messenger (SAW) came with, believing in all that the Messengers before him came with, and having certain faith in the Hereafter. Similarly, these beliefs are invalid without belief in the unseen and so on.

Allāh has enjoined the believers with all these articles of faith, “You who believe, believe in Allāh and His Messenger and in the Scripture He sent down to His Messenger, as well as what He sent down before. Anyone who does not believe in Allāh, His Angels, His Scriptures, His Messengers, and the Last Day has gone far, far astray.” (4:136) “Argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, except with those of them who act unjustly. Say, ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to you. Our God and your God is ˹only˺ One. And to Him we ˹fully˺ submit.’” (29:46) “People of the Book! Believe in what We have revealed – confirming your own Scriptures” (4:47), “Say, ‘People of the Book! You have nothing to stand on unless you observe the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.’” (5:68) He told us that all the believers believe in this, “The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. They ˹all˺ believe in Allāh, His Angels, His Scriptures, and His Messengers. ˹They proclaim,˺ ‘We make no distinction between any of His Messengers.’ And they say, ‘We hear and obey. ˹We seek˺ Your forgiveness, our Lord! And to You is the final return.’” (2:285) “As for those who believe in Allāh and His Messengers – accepting all; rejecting none – He will surely give them their rewards.” (4:152)

These āyahs and others enjoin all the believers, without exception, to believe in Allāh, His Messengers and His Scriptures.

That said, the People of the Book have a special distinction. When they believe in their own Scripture in all its details, and then accept Islām and believe in it in all its details, they get a reward twice over. As for other believers, they are required to believe in the previous Scriptures in a general sense as mentioned in the ḥadīth recorded by Bukhārī, “When the People of the Book narrate something to you, neither believe nor disbelieve them. Instead say, ‘We believe in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to you.’ (29:46)”[27]

However, the faith of many Arabs who accepted Islām, the religion that Muḥammad (SAW) came with, could well be more profound, complete and better than the faith of the People of the Book who accepted Islām. So they will get rewarded twice over when considered from the perspective mentioned above, but others could still get a much greater reward overall because of the sheer depth of their faith. Allāh knows best.


أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is they who are successful.

“It is they,” i.e. those who possess the qualities mentioned previously: faith in the unseen, establishment of ṣalāh, giving out of what Allāh has provided them, faith in what Allāh has revealed to the Messenger (SAW), faith in what He revealed to the Messengers who came before him, and certain faith in the Hereafter. Certitude in the Hereafter drives a person to prepare for it by working righteous deeds and avoiding the unlawful.

“who are upon guidance,” light, clarification and sure knowledge, “from their Lord,” Allāh.

“and it is they who are successful,” in this life and the Next.

Ibn ʿAbbās commented, ‘“It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord,” upon a light from their Lord, resolutely following what He has revealed to them, “and it is they who are successful,” victorious.’

Ibn Jarīr said, ‘“It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord,” upon a light and proof from their Lord, proceeding with firmness and rectitude by His grace, “and it is they who are successful,” victorious, achieving what they sought from their Lord through their deeds and faith in Allāh, His Scriptures, and Messengers. They attain reward and the triumph of eternity in Gardens of Paradise, as well as deliverance from the punishment Allāh has prepared for his enemies.’

Concerning the demonstrative, “they” in this āyah, Ibn Jarīr quotes some authorities as stating that it references the believers amongst the People of the Book who were mentioned in, And who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you. (2:4) According to this opinion, And who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you,” would be an āyah disconnected from the āyahs before it. It would be a new sentence in the nominative state, acting as a subject with the predicate being, It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is they who are successful.

The difference of opinion concerning this has already been discussed.

Ibn Jarīr prefers the view that the āyah refers to both the People of the Book who believed and the Arabs who believed. To prove this he cites al-Suddī quoting Ibn ʿAbbas, Ibn Masʿūd and some Companions stating, ‘Those who believe in the unseen” are the believers amongst the Arabs. Those who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed to those before you” are the believers amongst the People of the Book. Then Allāh mentioned both groups together with His words, “It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is they who are successful.”

We have already stated that the stronger view is that this set of āyahs refer to the believers in general, as such the demonstrative references the believers in general. Allāh knows best. This was the view narrated from Mujāhid, Abū’l-ʿĀliyah, al-Rabīʿ b. Anas and Qatādah, may Allāh have mercy on them.

Ibn Abī Ḥātim records on the authority of ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr that the Prophet (SAW) was asked, ‘Messenger of Allāh, we recite some parts of the Qurʾān and are filled with hope, and then we recite other parts and almost give in to despair.’ He (SAW) replied, “Should I not tell you about the People of Paradise and the People of the Fire?” They said, ‘Messenger of Allāh, of course!’ He then recited, “Alif. Lām. Mīm. This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who are mindful ˹of Allāh˺until, “It is they who are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is they who are successful,and said, “These are the People of Paradise.” Then he recited, “As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference whether you warn them or not: they will not believe,” (2:6) until, “They will suffer great torment.” (2:7) and said, “These are People of the Fire.” They then remarked, ‘Messenger of Allāh, we are not these people!’ He said, “Of course not!”[28]

[1] Qurṭubī: according to this view, the meaning of the āyah would be, ‘This Qurʾān contains what is to be found in those Books. The far-deictic demonstrative is used to refer to both the Tawrah and Injīl. ’

[2] Ṭabarī, Ḥākim 2:260

[3] Qurṭubī: The Qurʾān is a guidance for whole of mankind, but Allāh has specifically singled out the righteous in order to honour them since they are the ones who had faith and believed in all that it contained. It is reported that Abū Rawq said, ‘“For those who are mindful of Allāh,” is said in order to honour them,’ i.e. He linked guidance to them in order to accord them due esteem and to highlight their excellence.

[4] Tirmidhī #2451, Ibn Mājah #4215, ʿAbd b. Ḥumayd #484, Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 17:446, Ḥākim 4:319, Bahaqī, al-Sunan 5:335, al-Shuʿab #5361 with a ḍaʿīf isnād.

[5] Ibn Abī Ḥātīm 1:33 with a ḍaʿīf isnād.

[6] Ibn Mājah #1857, Ṭabarānī #7881 with a ḍaʿīf isnād as stated by Būṣīrī and others.

[7] Ṭabarī proceeds to state, ‘since Allāh has not restricted the description of them to one meaning of belief to the exclusion of another, instead he left the description general and without specification.’

[8] Saʿīd b. Manṣūr #180, Ibn Abī Ḥātim #66, Ibn Mandah, al-Īmān #209, Ḥākim 2:260

[9] Aḥmad #17027, Dārimī #2747, Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 4:22, Ḥākim 4:85, Abū Yaʿlā #1559. Ibn Ḥajr, al-Fatḥ 7:6 said the isnād was ḥasan.

[10] Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 4:23

[11] Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 4:23

[12] al-Ḥasan b. ʿArafah #19, Bayhaqī, al-Dalāʾil 6:358, al-Khaṭīb, Sharaf Aṣḥābu’l-Ḥadīth #61, Aṣbahānī, al-Targhīb #48 with a ḍaʿīf isnād.

[13] Ibn Abī Ḥātim 8:227

[14] Abū Yaʿlā #160, Ḥākim 4:85, Bazzār #2839 with a ḍaʿīf isnād.

[15] Bazzār #2840

[16] Ibn Abī Ḥātīm #73 with an extremely ḍaʿīf isnād. Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 24:207 also records a similar ḥadīth via another isnād about which Haythamī, Majmaʿ 2:14 said, ‘Its narrators have been ruled trustworthy.’

[17] Qurṭubī: There is a difference of opinion concerning what type of prayer is referred to here. Some said that the reference is to the obligatory prayers only. Others said that the reference to both the obligatory and optional prayers; this is the correct opinion. This is because the word al-ṣalāh in the āyah is general and unqualified, and the muttaqī performs both.

[18] Qurṭubī: Allāh is the sole provider, none provides besides Him, “Is there any creator other than Allāh who provides for you from the heavens and the earth?” (35:3) “Indeed, Allāh ˹alone˺ is the Supreme Provider – Lord of all Power, Ever Mighty.” (51:58) “There is no moving creature on earth whose provision is not guaranteed by Allāh.” (11:6) Allāh is the provider in reality, man is a provider metaphorically.

[19] Qurṭubī: The āyah is general and this is the correct view. This is because the āyah commends those who give out what they have been provided, and this can only refer to what is given out of ḥalāl wealth. The āyah means that they give what the Sharīʿah enjoins them to give be it zakāh, or other obligatory expenditures, or recommended charity.

Qurṭubī: the āyah mentions belief in the unseen which is the portion of the heart, establishing the prayer which is the portion of the body, and spending in charity which is the portion of wealth.

[20] Bukhārī #8, Muslim #19

[21] The word is used in this sense in a number of different texts, such as the āyah, “and pray (ṣalli) for them – surely your prayer is a source of comfort for them.” (9:103)

[22] Qurṭubī: so according to this opinion, the act of ṣalāh is assigned this term because it comes second after faith (īmān).

[23] Qurṭubī: so according to this opinion, the act of ṣalāh is assigned this term because a person is firmly and closely worshipping Allāh in the manner prescribed by Him.

[24] Qurṭubī: unlike the attitude of the Jews and Christians that Allāh informs us of with His words, “When it is said to them: ‘Believe in what Allāh has revealed,’ they reply, ‘We only believe in what was sent down to us,’ and they deny what came afterwards, though it is the truth confirming their own Scriptures!” (2:91)

[25] Qurṭubī: certainty (yaqīn) refers to that knowledge that admits no doubt.

[26] Bukhārī #97, Muslim #241

[27] Bukhārī #4485-7362-7542 from Abū Hurayrah. However, the wording of Bukhārī is, ‘The People of the Book would recite their Scripture in Hebrew and explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allāh’s Messenger (SAW), “Neither believe nor disbelieve the People of the Book, rather say, ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to you.’ (29:46)”’ cf. Abū Dāwūd #3644, Aḥmad 4:136, Ibn Ḥibbān #110

Qurṭubī: A question is asked here, ‘How can we believe in all of the previous Scriptures when their rules and regulations conflict with each other?’ There are two answers: 1) It means to have faith that all of them were revealed by Allāh. This is the view of those who hold that one does not worship Allāh through the laws of previous Scriptures. 2) It is to have faith in those aspects of the previous Scriptures that were not abrogated. This is the view of those who hold that one can follow the previous laws. This view will be explained fully in its correct place. (cf. Qurṭubī to 6:90)

[28] Ibn Abī Ḥātim 1:40 with a ḍaʿīf isnād.

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