2:62 of the Quran does not mean that those who had blasphemous beliefs among the jews and christians are promised Paradise.

Question: what is the explanation of the 2:62 of the Quran? Does this mean that the past religions are accepted? If not does this mean that Allah has broken a promise, as is the argument put forth by the perennialists. They say that the verse is a promise of Allah that the past peoples will go to Jannah, and to deny it would imply His breaking a promise which of course is disbelief.

Answer: It does not mean that those who had blasphemous beliefs among the jews and christians are promised Paradise. It could be referring to those that were the true followers of Moses and Jesus, that is, the Muslim followers of these prophets. This aayah is often misunderstood disastrously by ignorant people, so I will explain it briefly below. First lets look at the aayah’s misleading literal translation:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آَمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ [البقرة : 62]

Pickthall said in his translation (slightly modified to be closer to a word by word translation): “Lo! Those who believe, and the Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and performs righteous deeds – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.”

All of the translations I have seen are similar to Pickthall’s, and are terribly misleading. The essence of the problem is how one understands “whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness.” The meaning of this phrase is that one must be a Muslim. Why? Because if one has blasphemous beliefs, then one is not in reality a believer in Aļļaah. How is that? In Suuratu-l-Kaafiruun, the 109th Suurah in the Qur’aan, Allah says:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ (1) لا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ (2) وَلا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ (3)”,

which is an order to Prophet Muhammad to say: “O Blasphemers, I do not worship what you worship, and you do not worship what I worship.” This Suurah indicates that all blasphemers are in reality one big nation, as stated by the great 5th century scholar (Hijriy) Al-Jaşşaaş in his “Aĥkaam Al-Quran.” The reason is that the statement “O Blasphemers!” addresses all non-Muslims, anyone that disbelieves in Muĥammad1. Then the aayah states about all non-Muslims: “You do not worship what I worship,” i.e. that non-Muslims do not worship what Muĥammad and his Muslims followers worship. The explanation is that non-Muslims disbelieve in at least one of the attributes of Allah that Muslims must know and admit, such as the fact that He sent Muhammad as a prophet. In other words, the non-Muslims do not worship the god that sent Muĥammad, so they do not worship what Muslims worship, so they do not really believe in Aļļaah, even if they say otherwise.

Now consider the phrase “and the Last Day.” Actually, Non-Muslims do not even validly believe in the Last Day, because when they don’t believe in Muhammad, who all messengers ordered the belief in, they are not believers in the prophets they claim to believe in. Therefore, all they say about the last day is just based on opinion, not on true belief, as stated by Ar-Raaziyy in his tafsiir for this aayah.

Finally, consider the phrase, “and works righteousness,” this also tells us that what is meant is only Muslims, because only Muslims can have good deeds. Aļļaah said in the Qur’aan (5,5):

وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ“,

which means, “And whoever blasphemes the correct belief – his deeds have been ruined.”

To stress the correctness of all we have mentioned, let us recall that it is also stated in Al-Qur’aan (Al-Bayyinah, 98):

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أُولَئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ

Meaning: “Those who blaspheme, among the People of the Book (the jews and the christians) and the idol worshipers, will be in the Hell-Fire and dwell there endlessly. They are the worst of creation.”

Now that we have a correct understanding of “whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness,” we are ready to look at: “Surely they that believe, and the jews, and the christians, and the sabaeans.” It is clear from the above that we have to understand this phrase in agreement with the fact that no non-Muslim will be rewarded by Aļļaah. As a preliminary to giving specific interpretations, one thing should be clear: the Arabic words that have been translated as “jews” and “christians” in the aayah, do not necessarily refer to the followers of christianity and judaism in the sense of the adherents to the blasphemous religions/belief systems known by these names today. Rather, they refer to anyone associated with Moses and Jesus respectively, whether they are true followers (i.e. Muslim followers,) or not, (i.e. blasphemers claiming to follow them) – as they are today.

Accordingly, we are are left with two main alternatives for interpreting the aayah. I have inserted phrases into Pickthall’s (slightly amended) translation in order to clarify them:

Alternative 1: understanding the words jews, christians and sabaeans as referring to Muslim followers of previous prophets in past history, not after the coming of Muĥammad:

Pickthall’s translation becomes: “Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and the Jews (here the true Muslim followers of Moses before the coming of Jesus, not the jews as known today), and Christians (here the true Muslim followers of Jesus that died before the prophethood of Muĥammad, not the christians as known today) and sabaeans (another previous group of Muslims) – whoever believes in Allah (by believing in His true attributes) and the Last Day and performs righteous deed (by following the prophets and messengers of their time) – surely their reward is with their Lord (i.e. for those who die in the state of believing and following the messenger of their time), and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.”

Alternative 2: understanding that the aayah tells us that whoever follows Muĥammad, regardless of previous religion, will go to Paradise:

Pickthall’s translation becomes: “Lo! Those who believe (now), and the Jews, and Christians, and sabaeans – whoever among them (from now on and firmly until death) believes in Allah (truly, by believing in His Messenger Muĥammad) and the Last Day and performs righteous deeds – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.”

Alternative 3: “Lo! Those who believe (apparently only – i.e. the hypocrites), and the Jews, and Christians, and sabaeans – whoever (among them repented and) became a believer in Allah (truly, by believing in His Messenger Muĥammad) and the Last Day and performs righteous deeds – surely their reward is with their Lord (if they die in this state,) and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.”

Arabic References:

تفسير الطبري :

القول في تأويل قوله تعالى ذكره { مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ }

قال أبو جعفر: يعني بقوله:(من آمن بالله واليوم الآخر)، من صدق وأقر بالبعث بعد الممات يوم القيامة، وعمل صالحا فأطاع الله، فلهم أجرهم عند ربهم. يعني بقوله:(فلهم أجرهم عند ربهم)، فلهم ثواب عملهم الصالح عند ربهم.

فإن قال لنا قائل: فأين تمام قوله:(إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا والنصارى والصابئين) ؟ قيل: تمامه جملة قوله:(من آمن بالله واليوم الآخر). لأن معناه: من آمن منهم بالله واليوم الآخر، فترك ذكرمنهملدلالة الكلام عليه، استغناء بما ذكر عما ترك ذكره.

فإن قال: وما معنى هذا الكلام؟ قيل: إن معناه: إن الذين آمنوا والذين هادوا والنصارى والصابئين، من يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر، فلهم أجرهم عند ربهم.

فإن قال: وكيف يؤمن المؤمن؟ قيل: ليس المعنى في المؤمن المعنى الذي ظننته، من انتقال من دين إلى دين، كانتقال اليهودي والنصراني إلى الإيمان وإن كان قد قيل إن الذين عنوا بذلك، من كان من أهل الكتاب على إيمانه بعيسى وبما جاء به، حتى أدرك محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم فآمن به وصدقه، فقيل لأولئك الذين كانوا مؤمنين بعيسى وبما جاء به، إذ أدركوا محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم: آمنوا بمحمد وبما جاء به ولكن معنى إيمان المؤمن في هذا الموضع، ثباته على إيمانه وتركه تبديله. وأما إيمان اليهود والنصارى والصابئين، فالتصديق بمحمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وبما جاء به، فمن يؤمن منهم بمحمد، وبما جاء به واليوم الآخر، ويعمل صالحا، فلم يبدل ولم يغير حتى توفي على ذلك، فله ثواب عمله وأجره عند ربه، كما وصف جل ثناؤه.

تفسير الجلالين :

{ إِنَّ الذين ءامَنُواْ } بالأنبياء من قبل { والذين هَادُواْ } هم اليهود { والنصارى والصابئين } طائفة من اليهود أو النصارى { مَنْ ءَامَنَ } منهم { بالله واليوم الأخر } في زمن نبينا { وَعَمِلَ صالحا } بشريعته { فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ } أي ثواب أعمالهم { عِندَ رَبّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ } روعي في ضمير ( آمن ) و ( عمل ) لفظ ( من ) وفيما بعده معناها .

تفسير النسفي :

{ إِنَّ الذين ءَامَنُواْ } بألسنتهم من غير مواطأة القلوب وهم المنافقون . { والذين هَادُواْ } تهودوا يقال هاد يهود وتهود إذا دخل في اليهودية وهو هائد والجمع هود . { والنصارى } جمع نصران كندمان وندامى يقال رجل نصران وامرأة نصرانة . والياء في نصراني للمبالغة كالتي في «أحمري» سموا نصارى لأنهم نصروا المسيح . { والصابئين } الخارجين من دين مشهور إلى غيره من صبأ إذا خرج من الدين ، وهم قوم عدلوا عن دين اليهودية والنصرانية وعبدوا الملائكة . وقيل : هم يقرؤون الزبور . { مَنْ ءَامَنَ بالله واليوم الآخر } من هؤلاء الكفرة إيماناً خالصاً { وَعَمِلَ صالحا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ } ثوابهم { عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ } في الآخرة { وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ } ومحل «من آمن» الرفع إن جعلته مبتدأ خبره فلهم أجرهم ، والنصب إن جعلته بدلاً من اسم إن والمعطوف عليه . فخبر إن في الوجه الأول الجملة كما هي ، وفي الثاني «فلهم» والفاء لتضمن «من» معنى الشرط .

1 Aļļaah says in the Qur’aan (Al-Fatĥ, 13): “وَمَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا“, which means, “Whoever does not believe in Aļļaah and His messenger; verily Aļļaah has prepared for the blasphemers a fierce fire.” Thereby we know that the blasphemer is anyone that does not believe in Aļļaah or His Messenger, and that this belief is an immediate obligation.

2 Responses to 2:62 of the Quran does not mean that those who had blasphemous beliefs among the jews and christians are promised Paradise.

  1. Attari says:

    Salam Alaikum

    Actually now (Dhul Hijjah) is an excellent time for this topic. There’s a famous Sahih Hadith of the Prophet, sal’Allahu 3alaihi wa 3ala aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallam, that says along the lines of: he who has the means to perform Hajj and doesn’t do so, then he can die as a jew or a christian.

    The Prophet, peace be upon him, patently expresses extreme displeasure at such a person who does not perform Hajj despite having the capability to, and expresses manifestly that jews and christians are disbelievers.

    Any person with sound intellect can see that if jews and christians (as we know them in our times) were “believers” the prophet wouldn’t speak of them demeaningly with displeasure, more so implying that their deaths are on the wrong path, wal 3eyadhu billaah.

  2. Anti-Perennialist says:

    Dear Shaykh Abu Adam,


    Apologies for the long post, but I thought you and other readers may be interested in a series of correspondence on this very subject in the 1930s between Hazrat Syed Muhammad Zauqi (also known as Zauqi Shah Sahib, a Chishti Sufi Shaykh of India and Murshid of Shaheedullah Faridi) and the famous translator of the Quran, Marmaduke Pickthall. These letters were published in the book “Letters of a Sufi Saint to Jinnah” (I have not been able to find an online version of this book).

    Zauqi Shah Sahib states in his letter to M Pickthall of 26 December, 1932 that, based on Pickthall’s lectures on “the Cultural Side of Islam” and some remarks in an issue of the “Islamic Culture” magazine, he found Pickthall’s “interpretation of Islam does not accept the necessity of accepting the religion of Holy Prophet as a necessary requirement for salvation.”

    Apparently Pickthall based his view on verse 2:262 of the Qur’an. Zauqi Shah Sahib says, referring to this verse, that it is not possible to believe in ALLah without the aid of a Prophet as a “belief in God divested of his proper Attributes as revealed by Allah through His accredited messengers is no belief in Allah.”

    As regards the Prophets prior to Sayyiduna RasulAllah (Salla Allahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam), Zauqi Shah Sahib says the “Scriptures revealed unto them have lost their original purity and they cannot be relied upon in their present form.”

    He continues: “In short, nobody in the world to-day who wants to believe in Allah and the last day and is anxious to do what is right can ignore the revelations that have come to us through His messenger, the blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and may he live and prosper). “

    In his reply to Zauqi Shah Sahib’s letter, Pickthall wrote that, while prophetic guidance was necessary “to attain to the condition of: Man amana billahi wal youmil akhiri wa amila salihan. But it must be possible for those other communities which have had such guidance (e.g., Jews and Christians)-even though their Scriptures have been corrupted, the truth can still be gleaned from them–to attain to it and I believe many of them do.”

    Pickthall further claimed: “My view is not a new one nor have I invented it. It has always been the belief of the more spiritual element in Islam, as you who have made a study of Sufism well know.”

    Pickthall then referred to his own translation of the Quran and said that he consulted both European Orientalists and Arab and Egyptian Ulema on how to translate the word “Al Islam” in the Quran.

    According to Pickthall, only the Orientalists advised that he should render it as “Islam” throughout, whereas the “Arabs [he did not name them] held that there is only one passage where it should be rendered [al Maida v.3]…[i]n all other messages it means “The Surrender”…”

    “Therefore”, said Pickthall, “Innadina ind Allahil Islam means: Lo! Religion with Allah is the Surrender to His Will and Purpose) etc., i.e. True religion consists…in full and glad submission to the will of Allah as present in men’s consciences and as revealed by His Messengers from time to time.”

    Zauqi Shah Sahib replied to Mr. Pickthall by commenting that, if he wanted to translate ‘Islam” as “Surrender”, then he should specify what surrender actually means, otherwise “you make the thing very vague…and help to cause most hopeless confusion in the world”.

    Further, as regards Pickthall’s statement that religion is “the full and glad submission to the will of Allah as present in men’s consciences and as revealed by His Messengers fom time to time”, Zauqi Shah counters “[e]verybody’s conscience is not a safe guide”, because-if it were- “why did God keep on sending messengers after messengers for the guidance of all sorts of people?”

    As to Pickthall’s assertion that the truth could be “gleaned” from the earlier (corrupted) scriptures, Zauqi Shah remarks: “Has God, then, done a foolish thing na’uzu billah in sending us a new Prophet and a new Scripture when earlier Prophets and older Scriptures could have served the purpose? And the stranger part of the affair is that God did not stop there but insisted upon calling the followers of the older Scriptures to follow Muhammad and the Quran…”

    Zauqi Shah Sahib concluded his reply by characterizing Pickthall’s views to strike “at the very root of Islam and reduces the Sublime Divine Religion to a mere baby-toy. May God give you light enough to enable you to see things in their true perspective?”

    (Although M Pickthall acknowledged the receipt of Zauqi Shah’s reply, he apparently did not send a further response. However, there is the following note in the book by WB Rabbani :”It may be mentioned that Pickthall modified his views in accordance with Maulana Zauqi Shah’s standpoint. This was privately ascertained.”)

    The ideas expressed by M Pickthall in the above excerpts of correspondence have a great deal in common with those propagated by modern-day “Muslim” Perennialists– and all in the name of traditional Islam and Tasawwuf! It is therefore the duty of the true Scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah to be constantly vigilant and, like Zauqi Shah Sahib, refute such deviant ideas wherever and whenever they appear.

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