Tafsir of Surah al Bayyinah - The Clear Proof (Surah 98)

by 'Abdur-Rahmân ibn Nâsir as-Sa'dî

Translated by Abű Rumaysah

  1) Those who disbelieve of the People of the Book and the idolaters would not desist until the Clear Proof came to them: 2) a Messenger from Allah reading out purified pages 3) containing upright scriptures. 4) Those given the Book did not divide into sects until after the Clear Proof came to them.  

Allah, Most High, says, “Those who disbelieve of the People of the Book,” the Jews and Christians “and the idolaters” from all races “would not desist,” from their disbelief and misguidance. They persist in their aimless wandering and misguidance, not changing their ways, and the passage of time only increases them in disbelief. “Until the Clear Proof came to them,” self-evident and conclusive, this proof is explained next, “a Messenger from” sent by “Allah,” calling man to the truth. Allah revealed a Book to him that he recited in order to teach man wisdom, to purify him and to lead him out of the darkness into the light. This is why He said, “reading out purified pages” protected from the approach of devils, “touched by none save the purified,”[1] because it is the most exalted form of speech. This is why He said, “containing,” i.e. these purified pages “upright scriptures,” comprising truthful narratives; just, upright injunctions leading to the truth and to the Straight Path. When this Clear Proof comes to them, the seeker after Truth is distinguished from one who has no purpose in his endeavours. Therefore the destroyed perishes upon clear proof and the living is given life upon clear proof.

If the People of the Book do not believe in this Messenger, and refuse to follow him, this is nothing new for them, it something part and parcel of their misguidance and obstinate rebellion, for “those given the Book did not divide into sects,” into groups and parties “until after the Clear Proof came to them,” that would lead its adherents to unity and accord. However these people, because of their filth and depravity, only increased in misguidance in the face of guidance and blindness in the face of sure knowledge, this despite that fact that all Scripture came with one religion and one basic message.

  5) They were only ordered to worship Allah, sincerely devoting their religion to Him as people of pure, natural belief, and to establish the prayer and to pay the alms-due. That is the true religion. 6) Those who disbelieve of the People of the Book and the idolaters will be in the fire of Hell, remaining in it forever. They are the worst of creatures.  

“They were only ordered,” in all the religious laws “to worship Allah, sincerely devoting their religion to Him,” intending His face alone in all actions of worship, outward and inward, seeking to draw closer to Him “as people of pure, natural belief,” who turn away from all religions that oppose the religion of Tawhid “and to establish the prayer and to pay the alms-due,” these two actions of worship have specifically been mentioned even though they fall under the meaning of “they were only ordered to worship Allah” because of their excellence and superiority. Whoever establishes these two actions of worship has established all the various injunctions of the religion. “That,” Tawhid and sincerity in religion “is the true religion,” the upright and straight religion that leads to gardens of bliss, anything other than it leads to Hell. Allah then mentions the recompense of the disbelievers after the Clear Proof had come to them: "Those who disbelieve of the People of the Book and the idolaters will be in the fire of Hell, remaining in it forever,” its punishment encompassing them, its torment only ever increasing in severity “remaining there forever,” “It will not be eased for them. They will be crushed there by despair.”[2] “They are the worst of creatures,” because they knew the truth and abandoned it and thereby lost both this world and the Hereafter.

  7) Those who believe and work righteous deeds are the best of creatures. 8) Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden graced with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them forever. Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him; that is for those who fear their Lord.  

“Those who believe and work righteous deeds are the best of creatures,” because they knew Allah and worshipped Him and thereby succeeded by attaining joy in this world and the Hereafter. “Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden,” Gardens of permanency from which they will never depart and beyond which they have no desire, “graced with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them forever. Allah is well-pleased with them,” for all that they did that pleased Him “and they are well-pleased with Him,” for the grace He has prepared for them “that” wonderful reward “is for those who fear their Lord,” and therefore avoid disobeying Him and live by what He obligated.


Endnotes

Bukhari records on the authority of Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (SAW) said to Ubayy (ibn Ka`b),

  “Allah has ordered me to recite to you,‘Those who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters could not have left off (erring) till the Clear Proof came to them.’” Ubayy asked, ‘Did Allah mention me by name?’ The Prophet (SAW) said, “Yes.” On that, Ubayy wept.

1. al-Waqi`ah (56): 79
2. al-Zukhruf (43): 77

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