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Lesson - 24
"And the Jews say, the Christians follow nothing (good)
and the Christians say, the Jews follow nothing (good) while they
recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge,
like what they say. So Allah will judge between them on the Day
of Resurrection in that wherein they differ.
These are the first three verses of the 14th section of Al-Baqarah.
Like the full moon of the fourteenth day, these verses are resplendent
with light. They disclose the condition of the age of the Reformer
of the fourteenth century Hijra, and the historical spiritual revolution
to be brought about through Islam. May Allah bless me with the understanding
of this magnificent section, and the ability to explain it.
And who is more unjust than he who prevents (men) from the mosques
of Allah, from His name being remembered therein, and strives
to ruin them? (As for) these, it was not proper for them to enter
them except in fear. For them is disgrace in this world, and theirs
is a grievous chastisement in the Hereafter.
And Allah’s is the East and the West, so wither you turn thither
is Allah’s purpose. Surely Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing." Ch.
Muslims warned not to follow the ways of
the Jews and Christians
Perhaps you are surprised, and would like to ask how this section
refers to Muslims and Islam, when, in fact, it talks about the Jews
and Christians? These verses definitely have a strong connection
with Muslims and Islam, as I shall explain shortly. As you know
Al-Fatihah is the prayer where the believer requests Allah
for guidance on the path of those upon whom He has bestowed favors,
not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who went astray.
That prayer has a very comprehensive meaning as I discussed in my
commentary on the Al-Fatihah. However, the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) has specifically explained the
meaning of those upon whom wrath is brought down and those who went
astray as being the Jews and Christians. The Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave this interpretation on
the basis of the Holy Quran, for it is said about the Jews in the
very beginning of the Al-Baqarah:
"And they incurred Allah’s wrath" (2:61).
Those who went astray are mentioned in Ch.5:77, as being the Christians
who exceeded due bounds by making a human into the son of God, in
fact God. They thereby went astray, and lead many others astray
as well. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) gave an explanation of the verse, "upon whom wrath
is brought down, nor those who went astray," he warned his
followers that many amongst them would follow the footsteps of these
nations. He forewarned them not to commit the same mistakes they
did. Alas! We did not heed the warnings of the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him). Let us see how this happened.
The verse I quoted in the beginning of this lesson says that
the Jews say that the Christians do not follow any good, and the
Christians say that the Jews do not follow any good although they
both read the Book. The book refers to their revealed scripture,
the Old Testament, which forms the major portion of the Bible, and
which is read by both the Jews and the Christians. In the section
prior to this, in verse 111 it is stated:
"And they say: None shall enter the Garden except
he who is a Jew, or the Christians."
Two errors of the Jews and the Christians are pointed out here.
Their first mistake is that each one of these groups regards itself
as the only one deserving paradise, and the other destined to hell
fire. Their second error is that they do not see any goodness in
each other, as pointed out in the verse:
"And the Jews say, the Christians follow nothing
(good), and the Christians say, the Jews follow nothing (good)."
These are two very common faults of human nature i.e., regarding
oneself as pure, clean, and sinless, while finding faults with others,
and turning a blind eye to any good qualities in those with whom
we have the slightest disagreement. Since these two weaknesses are
so common, why were the Jews and Christians singled out in the Holy
Quran? The answer to this lies in the Quranic statement, "while
they recite the same Book." This verse points to the fact that
they both have a common scripture which they both believe in and
recite. In light of this fact, such extreme prejudice is very surprising.
What is the lesson in this for the Muslims? Both these religions
i.e., Judaism and Christianity are affiliated with different prophets
i.e., Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus, and they share only a part
of their Book, i.e., the Old Testament, and not the New Testament.
Muslims on the other hand are the followers of the same Prophet,
and their scripture from its first to the last letter is the same.
It is a pity that believers in One God, the same Prophet and the
same scripture would follow the example of the Jews and the Christians.
Is it not true, however, that there are seventy two sects amongst
the Muslims? Is it not also true that each one of these sects considers
only itself to be worthy of paradise and all others deserving hell?
Is this not similar to the opinion of the seventy two sects of the
Jews, and the opinion of Christians sects about each other? Is it
not the condition of the Muslims that each one of their sects cannot
see any goodness in the other? This was exactly the prevailing state
of affairs amongst the seventy two sects of the Jews and the Christians,
although they shared a common scripture.
Divine warning not heeded by Muslims of the
All the sects amongst the Muslims believe in the same scripture,
the Holy Quran. In this Book, which is full of purity and wisdom,
the Muslims are enjoined:
"and be not disunited";
immediately prior to this it is said:
"And hold fast by the covenant (rope) of Allah"
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said
the covenant (rope) of Allah is His Book, which extends from the
heaven to the earth . Whosoever holds on to this covenant and acts
upon it will progress morally, and spiritually till he reaches heavenly
heights. The Quran, therefore, enjoins the Muslims to unite on the
Holy Quran. If any differences arise, they should seek the answer
to their differences from the Holy Quran. All the sectarian divisions
would not have occurred among the Muslims if they had sought the
answer to their differences from the Holy Quran. Why then, did the
Muslims become so narrow minded that their different sects see no
goodness in the others, and regard the others as having gone astray,
in fact disbelievers, although they all read the same scripture?
This was also prophesied by the Holy Quran in the verse:
"Even thus say those who have no knowledge,
like what they say,"
i.e., those who have no knowledge are, or will be following the
example of the Jews and the Christians. Commentators have considered
these verses to mean people of other religions before the Jewish
and Christian faiths. In fact, where such a reference is given,
as in verse (2:118):
"And those who have no knowledge say: Why does
not Allah speak to us, or a sign come to us? Even thus said
those before them, the like of what they say",
the words, ‘those before them,’ are used. The Holy Quran
has, therefore, specified where it is referring to nations before
the Jews and Christians by using the words, ‘those before them.’
In the present context since this specification has been eliminated,
it is quite clear that this reference is to nations that were to
follow the Jews and the Christians, who could be no other than the
The verse that follows is the charter of freedom of religion,
and conscience for the world:
"So Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection
in that wherein they differ."
The differences in religion and principles of belief is to be decided
upon by Allah on the Day of Judgment. No one has the right in this
world to declare anybody as having gone astray, or having become a
heretic. Because of this freedom of religion, Allah does not punish
people on the basis of religious beliefs in this world. The Holy Quran
ordains the chastisement of nations in this world only under two conditions.
The first instance is when a Prophet of Allah, or His appointee comes
into this world, and the enemies of truth are bent upon his destruction
and the destruction of his mission. Allah Almighty, after giving them
sufficient time for reformation, brings about their destruction, for
if He would not do so, they would destroy His chosen ones and their
mission. This death is not on the basis of their beliefs, but is brought
about to protect the mission of the Prophet, or the one who is appointed.
The other example of Divine punishment in this world is when a nation’s
evil deeds become so excessive that they destroy the peace in the
land, and make the very existence of others impossible. Allah inflicts
the perpetrators of such evil with lesser punishments as a warning,
but if they do not reform, He destroys them. It must be remembered
that this is because of their evil deeds, and not as a consequence
of their beliefs.
It is then stated:
"And who is more unjust than he who prevents (men)
from the mosques of Allah, from His name being remembered therein,
and strives to ruin them? (As for ) these, it was not proper for
them to enter them except in fear. For them is disgrace in this
world, and theirs is a grievous chastisement in the Hereafter."
These Divine words indicate unambiguously that the discussion is
now focused upon the Muslims as was indicated by the previous wordings
also. This verse mentions clearly the preventing from the Mosques
of Allah. The Jews and the Christians did not stop those who differed
from them in their religious views, from their places of worship.
In this century, we have witnessed ourselves that the Christians,
in fact, invite people of other faiths to their churches, so as
to influence the visitors with the goodness of their faith. It was
only the different sects of the Muslims who not only prevented each
other from coming to their mosques, but also fought amongst themselves
in such matters. On trivial matters such as pronouncing the words,
‘wa-la-zaleen or wa-la-daleen,’ on saying ‘ameen,’
loudly or silently, on where to place the hands when standing up
for prayer etc., people clashed with one another in the mosques,
and the sect to which the mosque belonged, excluded the other one
from entering it. The evil of calling each other as heretics is
an old one amongst the Muslims. Such action took place for the first
time during the sedition of the Khawarij, in the time of the fourth
Caliph Hazrat Ali,. However, the people were never stopped from
entering the mosques, until the beginning of the thirteenth century
Hijra. The condition of the Muslims, then became such that signs
were posted outside the mosques indicating the sect to which the
mosque belonged, and barring others from entering it. Allah says
who is more unjust than the people who indulge in such action, for
mosques were built for the remembrance of Allah. Those who stop
people from entering them endeavor towards their desolation by such
action. The famous poet of the east, Muhammad Iqbal has described
this as, ‘the lamentation of the mosques that no one comes for prayer.’
Another famous poet Maulana Hali also paints a heartbreaking picture
of this in his poems.
The Holy Quran says, those who prevent people from the mosques
of Allah should not have entered them, but with the fear of Allah
in their hearts. They have turned the House of Allah into their
own private homes where from they exclude people as they desire.
Such people, according to the Divine verse would be disgraced in
this world, and will face chastisement in the Hereafter.
Spread of Islam in the West prophesied
The words that follow are truly amazing:
"And Allah’s is the East and the West, so wither
you turn thither is Allah’s purpose. Surely Allah is Ample-giving,
Glory be to Allah and all praise is His, Glory be to Allah who
is incomparable in greatness. What a great Prophecy this is! It
was made fourteen hundred years ago, and has been realized to the
very letter. It states both the East and the West belong to Allah.
Islam first spread to the East, which included the Middle East and
Asia. The reason for this was that during that time period the East
was the center of culture, learning and civilization. Islam is not
the kind of religion which is propagated by taking advantage of
the ignorance of uncivilized nations. Its appeal is to the enlightened
mind, and not to one steeped in intellectual darkness. Fourteen
hundred years ago, Europe and America were still in the dark ages.
East was the center of culture and civilization, and that is why
Islam spread in the East during that period. In this day and age,
great progress in science and humanities has been made in the West.
Religious intolerance has gradually pervaded the East, as a result
of which people are barred from entering the mosques. Allah, therefore,
turned the direction of Islamic acceptance towards the West, through
His appointed reformer (mujaddid) Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,
and his followers. Hazrat Mirza sahib presented Islam as the enlightened
religion which appeals to reason, and which is backed with the wealth
of knowledge and wisdom acceptable to the educated mind. Thousands
of individuals in Europe and many more people in America have converted
to Islam after reading the commentary of the Holy Quran, and the
Islamic literature produced by the organization, he formed for this
purpose. This organization is represented today by the Ahmadiyya
Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore. The signs of the spread of Islam in
the West are becoming more apparent every day as a result of these
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
had prophesied this in his saying that in the last age the sun shall
rise in the West. The Holy Quran has called the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) as the Light Giving Sun (siraj-um-muneera).
It is quite a coincidence that the heavenly body called the sun
also rises from the East. When we say it has set in the West, it
is actually rising in the West at the time. May we dedicate our
lives, and sacrifice our self for the Holy Quran, and the Holy Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the prophecies of both
having been so elegantly fulfilled after fourteen hundred years.
All praise be to Allah for this!
The last verse of this lesson is:
"Surely Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing,"
indicating that if He has given you close to eight to nine hundred
million Muslims in the East, He will give you many more in the West.
He knows where all the righteous souls are that would accept Him.
It is our duty to focus our attention, and efforts towards the West.
In fact, it is stated that where ever you turn Allah’s attention
will be drawn that way. Nothing could be more encouraging than this
Divine promise; what is lacking is our own effort.
In the subsequent verses of this section, the Christian beliefs
of the son of God , and other objections raised in the West, for
example regarding Divine revelation are answered. This is a further
and clear indication that in this section the spread of Islam in
the West is implied. What an amazing and a wonderful scripture is
the Holy Quran!