Do not emulate the Jews!!
Note: This is the second post on the series Yaaa Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamanu, alhamdulillah.
In the first post I discussed the last verse first. That is, the ayah of Surah At-Tahreem discussed in the first post is the last verse in the Qur’an as far as the verses commencing with Yaaa Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamanu is concerned.
Today I would like to discuss on Ayah No. 104 of Surah al Baqarah which is the first ayah in the Qur’an to commence with the phrase, “Yaaa Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamanu”.
In this ayah, Allah addresses the Believers asking them NOT TO emulate the Jews in their play on certain Arabic words when speaking to the Prophet Sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam.
Allah, therefore, forbade His believing servants from imitating the behavior and deeds of the disbelievers either in tongue or deed.
“O you who have believed, say not [to Allah ‘s Messenger], “Ra’ina” but say, “Unthurna” and listen. And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment.” (Surah al Baqarah 2: 104)
It is useful to note here that when Prophet Muhammad Sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam arrived in Madinah and the message of Islam began to spread, the Jews tried to engage Muslims in controversial religious discussions. They raised all kinds of doubts so as to contaminate the simple and pure-hearted Muslims with the spiritual diseases from which they themselves suffered. Not only that, they resorted to sly and deceptive talk in the presence of the Prophet.
When the Jews visited the Prophet they tried to vent their spite by using ambiguous expressions in their greetings and conversation. They used words which had double meanings, one innocent and the other offensive. After using quite proper expressions they would then whisper some malicious words. Ostensibly they maintained the decorum of respect and courtesy while sparing no underhand means to insult the Prophet.
This verse addresses the Believers, asking them not to emulate the Jews in their play on certain Arabic words when speaking to the Prophet. One such word is rā`inā, which means “listen to us”, but the sound of which could be subtly varied to convey the offensive meaning of ‘an impulsive fool’. They would resort to this cowardly form of abuse because they would not dare insult the Prophet openly. The Muslims were advised to use synonymous words that could not be twisted to give an offensive meaning in their address to the Prophet.
This kind of behaviour not only shows the extent of Jewish resentment and envy towards the Muslims, it also shows the Jews as discourteous and underhand. The Qur’an mentions these activities to indicate how caring and well disposed Allah is towards the Prophet and the Muslims, and how much He is willing to defend and protect them against their detractors.
Allah forbade His believing servants from imitating the behavior and deeds of the disbelievers. The Jews used to use devious words that hide what they really meant. May Allah’s curse be upon them. When they wanted to say, `hear us,’ they would use the word Ra`ina, which is an insult (in Hebrew, but means `hear us’ in Arabic). Allah said:
(Among those who are Jews, there are some who displace words from (their) right places and say: “We hear your word (O Muhammad ) and disobey,” and “Hear and let you (O Muhammad ) hear nothing.” And Ra`ina with a twist of their tongues and as a mockery of the religion (Islam). And if only they had said: “We hear and obey,” and “Do make us understand,” it would have been better for them, and more proper; but Allah cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not except a few) (4:46).
Also, the Prophetic traditions state that when the Jews would greet Muslims, they would say, `As-Samu `alaykum,’ meaning, `death be to you’. This is why we were commanded to answer them by saying, `Wa `alaykum,’ meaning, `and to you too’, then our supplication against them shall be answered, rather than theirs against us.
To sum up:
1. We need to be careful in using words in our life. Do not use words that are offensive or those that have double meanings.
2. Do not imitate Jews at any cost. Our Prophet Sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam used to do everything contrary to their way and lifestyle. For instance growing of beard and trimming of moustache, observing two days of fast on the occasion of ‘Aashoora instead of one day etc.
3. Abu Dawood mentions that the Prophet sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam said:
«مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُم» “Whoever imitates a people is one of them”.
This Hadith indicates that we Muslims are not allowed to imitate the disbelievers in their statements, deeds, clothes, feasts, acts of worship etc., whatever actions of the disbelievers that were not legislated for us.
4. We must listen to our beloved leader Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam and follow his command, guidance and way. We are commanded to say: سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا We hear and we obey.
5. Those disbelievers who insult, abuse and mock at the Last Messenger of Allah will have to face terrible punishment in the Day of Judgement.
6. This ayah also teaches us that the response to Mocking at the Prophet must be made in a decent and peaceful way.
Jazakallahu Khayra for reading this post.
Note: I included points from three Tafaseer: Ibn Kathir, Tafheemul Qur’an and In the Shade of the Qur’an.