The Quran Surah Al-‘Imran (Paperback), Revised Edition Author: Sayyid Qutb Publisher: The Islamic Foundation The Shade of the Quran is a monumental tafsir, which is Sayyid Qutb’s most important and profound work. It is widely recognized as an outstanding contribution to Islamic thought, scholarship and thought.
The Qur’an Surah Al-‘Imran – It is now available in English and will continue to inspire and educate millions more. The Islamic Foundation is producing the complete work, although Part 30 has been around for many years. During the ten years of imprisonment in the equivalent of a concentration camp, he wrote prolifically, completing In the Shade of the Quran, a Quranic commentary. Professor John Esposito in The Islamic Threat Vol. 2: Surah Al-Imran
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In The Shade of The Qur’an Vol. 2 – Surah Al’Imran: An Introduction & Thematic Explanation
Juz 3: The Power Of Allah
surah alBaqarah often addresses the Children of Israel, their history and religious struggles. Surah Al ‘Imran however addresses the belief of Christians during most of the ayat leading to the Juz.
These ayat focus on a conversation between Prophet Muhammad and sixty Arab Christians living in a region called Najran. The Prophet was approached by the delegation to verify his claim to Prophethood.
The Qur’an Surah Al-‘Imran -Allah instantly establishes His perfect attributes as well as the revelations He has sent to humanity. He emphasizes that everyone must accept all of them if they want to believe in Him and avoid punishment. He clarifies that He is the one who creates people, foreshadowing the miracle creations of Yahya and Adam.
After His attributes and books have been affirmed, Allah will turn our attention to the interpretation of those books. He warns against those who try to interpret ambiguous verses in order to build their theology. These interpretations are contrary to the reality Allah has set out: the clear and unambiguous verses must be the foundation for interpreting the Word. The adherence to ambiguous verses is a sign of an imbalance in the heart, which can only be corrected by turning to Allah.
The Qur’an -Before we address the misperceptions of the People of the Book Allah first shows us how believing in Him is the only way to achieve success. Furthermore, He demonstrates that disbelief does not provide protection against the punishment of Allah. He gives two examples to illustrate how material power can be defeated when it is opposed to the power of faith or assistance from Allah. The pleasures of the Hereafter are far more tempting than the worldly pleasures. Those who doubt the guidance of Allah will suffer great loss in this and the next worlds.
After Allah has shown the truth of disbelievers, He will then explain the reality for believers, their characteristics and their beliefs.
Allah then directs our attention towards the People of the Book. He explains how they avoid being held responsible by their own Book. This highlights their lack of faith in their scriptures. This section suggests that the People of the Book are hesitant to accept its full guidance as they fear it will limit their power. These acts will not bring any benefit in the Hereafter, since Allah will judge those who refuse guidance from this world.
Allah is in complete control of who gains and loses power, just like He controls the night and day, the living and dead. Allah will not tolerate any deceit. No matter how much you claim to love Allah, anyone who follows disbelievers will be condemned. The true love of Allah will be found in those who follow the Prophet Muhammad, as he is the guide of Allah. Accordingly, obedience to him is equivalent to obeying Allah.
The Qur’an Surah Al-‘Imran After the truth of belief and disbelief has been established, Allah tells the stories of Prophetic lineages. The Judeo-Christian communities are plagued by theological misunderstandings about the family of Imran.
These ayat provide a clear explanation of the story of Maryam’s conception and her relationship to Prophet Zakariyya. These ayat provide details about her miracles as well as the similarities between Yahya’s, ‘Isa’s, and Adam’s births. Allah clearly explains the details of the miracles performed by ‘Isa, a human Messenger, like the ones before him. He also explains his belief in Allah and how Allah raised him. Allah will free him from the people who use him to justify their disbelief.
Allah then explains the details of Prophet ‘Isa’s story so clearly that He commands Prophet Muhammad to challenge Najran’s people to call upon Allah along with their families and ask Allah for a curse on the one who lies. This is the most powerful expression of truth anyone who claims faith in Allah can make. This expression also reveals the lack of faith that Najran’s people had in their beliefs about ‘Isa.
The Qur’an Surah Al-‘Imran -After theological issues have been resolved, Allah urges the Muslims find the best way to give da’wah the People of the Book. He encourages them to find common ground in their faith in Allah and to examine the religious legacy of Prophet Ibrahim. This is where Allah addresses the Christians directly. He encourages them to use sound knowledge and questions their inability to accept His signs. He exposes their hypocrisy, plots to deceive and mislead those who believe in Him.
Surah Al-‘Imran -Last but not least, Allah commands that we adhere to Islam (the religion of submission to Allah) just as He has instructed all Prophets in the past. He also tells us to stay away from any path that leads us away from Allah’s guidance. Allah clearly expresses the horrible consequences of those who continue to oppress themselves in darkness with clear terms.
But, those who return to Allah and make amends for their sins will find salvation. The most regrettable people will be those who come to Allah in disbelief. It will be those who have no way to escape the consequences of their punishment. Only in this world can one sacrifice everything that is dear to them in order to achieve righteousness.
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Juz 4: Protecting the Community
Surah Al-‘Imran After explaining the major issues of history and theology, Allah directs the People of the Book towards the Children of Israel’s experience. They unnecessarily constrained their laws and distorted the religion of Allah.
Allah, in contrast to the Children of Israel describes Prophet Ibrahim’s way as a symbol of true faith. In addition, he emphasizes the universality of his Prophethood, the Kaaba and the station of Ibrahim. All of these should be acknowledged by Christians and Children of Israel. These signs are rejected by Allah, and they prevent people from following the right path to Allah.
Surah Al-‘Imran In continuation of the previous section Allah warns believers not to follow certain factions of the People of the Book. He reminds us that we already have a Prophet with Divine guidance in the shape of the Qur’an. He reminds us, too, to keep practicing our religion until we die.
This guidance cannot be considered complete if it is followed only individually. Allah tells believers to adhere to the Qur’an as a whole and not as individual groups. He also requests that we all follow the same direction. Solidarity will help us to resist the temptations of disbelievers. We should also be united in our efforts to improve humanity as an entire; encouraging the right and forbidding it. Recall that the Hereafter will only be illuminated and merciful if we keep our faith.
This is the exact same mission Allah has enjoined for the Children of Israel as for the Christians. However, most people don’t follow it. They disbelieved and tried to kill their Messengers, including Prophet Muhammad. A small number of them however accepted the guidance of Prophet Muhammad and followed the religious guidelines established by the revelations of the Qur’an.
Surah Al-‘Imran All these facts aside, Allah tells us not to trust those who are hostile towards us. Allah also reminds us that He is the only true protector and that His taqwa will eventually save us from the plans of our enemies. Allah gives the Battle of Badr to prove this. He sent angels to help and protect the believers. Allah once again emphasizes that He is in control of all things, so we don’t need to look to anyone else for direction.
AYAT 121 -148
Surah Al-‘Imran Even if believers resist the temptation to entrust themselves to the People of the Book they could still suffer the same consequences and fall into the same traps of the faith communities that came before them. These ayat provide a temporary shift in focus to discuss the practices that could lead to the demise of believers. This must be avoided.
The first concern is avoiding the practice and consequences of dealing in interests. This topic was extensively discussed at the end Surah al-Baqarah. This topic is worth repeating to highlight the seriousness of the matter. As a countermeasure to interest, charity is also mentioned here. It can be used in conjunction with forgiveness and seeking forgiveness to help you reach Paradise. Allah instructs us to look at the history of the nations before us and learn from them the consequences of such practices. These lessons will also help us to understand who succeeded and died in the end, as Allah will do the same for us.
In this way, Allah foreshadows the topic of Uhud and introduces one the most important tests of faith: The coming of the Prophet’s eventual death. Allah teaches us to not act in the same way as those who made their Prophet’s nature more than a Messenger, or abandoned the religion completely. Allah shows us instead the example of those who persevered and sought help in the face death. These were the people who excelled.
AYAT 149 -172
Allah once again reiterates that believers should not follow the lead of disbelievers. They should instead rely on Allah to be their Saviour. He gives the Battle of Uhud to illustrate this point. This event teaches many lessons.
- Allah is the one who instills fear in the hearts of disbelievers and the enemy, no matter what the odds are. In this way, Allah protects the faith community from all kinds of opposition. Therefore, it is futile for believers not to follow the path of those who are disbelievers in religion.
- To seek material gain without the guidance of the Prophet is a recipe for failure. Allah shows how this happened at Uhud. Their fortunes immediately changed when they left the Prophet to acquire worldly possessions.
- It is impossible to escape death by following the decree of Allah. Only difference is whether one dies in obedience or disobedience.
- Death is not the end of failure. It is disbelief. The greatest success is in living in obedience and thereby gaining the forgiveness of Allah. To avoid death, it is not a good idea to commit sinful acts.
- The greatest blessing for believers is their connection with Prophet Muhammad, to whom Divine assistance has been promised. Any tribulations that believers suffer is caused by an internal defect or the infiltration by hypocrisy. These examples can be seen in our reactions to hardships.
All those who give their lives for Allah will be rewarded in the end. Even though it may seem difficult, we can have faith in the Hereafter to help us overcome our difficulties and to look forward to Allah rewarding our sacrifices.
Allah knows that people will often ignore guidance and follow disbelievers to avoid defeat and death. These ayat address the reality of what people perceive as “defeat” here in this world. What disbelievers see as defeat in death is actually victory for the believer. The martyr is someone who has fulfilled their obligation to Allah and made the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to the Messenger to receive the greater reward. This reality is something that those who are able to grasp it look forward to, while those who don’t have faith will succumb to fear and the whispers shaytan.
Allah addresses the disbelievers’ perception of success in the form a lot of comfort and pleasure in this world. Allah is giving them more time for sin. This will only make their pain worse and lead to greater punishment. The trials that believers go through are not punishment. They are more of a process to separate the honest from the hypocrites. This understanding shows that the wealthy miser does not benefit from holding back but is actually more bound to his inevitable punishment.
This section explains why Allah considers it unreasonable for believers not to seek to please the People of the Book. Allah refers to the audacity and demands of those who attribute poverty and miracles to Allah, even though the Prophets before them were killed and rejected.
We shouldn’t be surprised at their disapproval or verbal abuse. These are the people who betrayed their religion and sold their guidance in order to gain worldly wealth. These people will be the losers in their inevitable death.
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The Qur’an – True believers, on the other hand are those who can see the signs of God all around them. They are therefore always reminded of Him in all situations. Instead of looking to the disbelievers to help them succeed, they pray to Allah for protection and follow the guidance of His Messenger.
Surah Al-‘Imran – Allah responds to their prayers and rewards them with something greater than the temporary comforts He offers the disbelievers in this world. This reward will only be given to those who follow the same guidance as Prophet Muhammad. Guidance that conforms to the guidance provided by Prophet Muhammad is the only way to success.
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