YE ARE THE BEST OF PEOPLES, EVOLVED FOR MANKIND, ENJOYING WHAT IS RIGHT, AND FORBIDDING WHAT IS WRONG, AND BELIEVING IN ALLAH
IF ONLY THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK HAD FAITH,
IT WERE BEST FOR THEM:
AMONG THEM ARE SOME WHO HAVE FAITH,
BUT MOST OF THEM ARE PERVERTED TRANSGRESSORS.1
(SURA AAL I IMRAAN) Holy Qur'an 3:110
LEAVE THEM ALONE?
The above Aayah (verse) is one of the most versatile verses of the Holy Qur'an. I have heard dozens of lectures from our learned brethren reciting the first half of the Aayah, stopping at the word "Allah" followed by different dissertations. Indeed, I have done the same with the exposition of over half-a-dozen different topics.
During the Question and Answer session at the end of my lectures, in Newcastle,2 1 was asked as to my reasons for not leaving the lews and the Christians alone in my discourses and writings. In answer to this question, I read the first half of the above verse and asked my audience to indicate the number of
1. 1 urge my Muslim readers to memorize this verse, phrase by phrase, with its meaning so as to open up a new world of Da'wah opportunities for them.
2. Newcastle: A town in Northern Natal. South Africa.
people who were familiar with the quotation. In the audience of about three hundred, eleven brothers put up their hands. 1 then requested that if any of the eleven were Hafiz-ul-Qur'an they should put their hands down since they were expected to know the whole verse by virtue of their memorization of the Holy Qur'an. Three out of the eleven put down their hands. 1 asked the remaining eight individually to complete the second half of the verse. There was a 100% failure. I too had been in the same boat with regard to the memorizing of this Aayah for a very long time.
In my experience, 1 have not yet heard an exposition of the second half of this verse, and have also noted that none of the commentators of the Holy Qur'an have anything to say on it. It is as if there is some kind of conspiracy on their part. But there is no conspiracy. The first half of the Aayah is so versatile and adaptable, that every expositor delivers his message on righteous behaviour and admonitions against straying from the path, based on this half of the verse. They appear to be content to conclude their comments on this half of the verse and bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.
The answer to the question, "Why pick on the Jews and the
Christians?" is to be found in the second half of the Qur'anic quotation above, paraphrased, —
"But if only the People of the Book
(meaning the lews and the Christians) if they hearkened unto this Message (the Message of the Holy Qur'an) it will be better for them (in other words, it will also be better for you, 0 Muslims). Among them (i.e. Jews and Christians) are some who are a goodly people, but the majority of them are perverted transgressors."
(SURA AAL-/-7MRAAN) Holy Qur'an 3:110
At the very outset, in the verse introducing this treatise, Allah confers upon the Ummah the honour, privilege and high status of being "The best of peoples evolved for mankind/1 i.e.
. . evolved for (the good of) mankind/' This high honour and status imposes upon us, the duty and responsibility of selflessly sharing this noble status with the rest of mankind.
It is the Ahle-Kitaab — the People of the Book (the Jews and the Christians), with whom we should begin with since they have already been prepared for this Message. After all, numerous Prophets have proclaimed the message to them. They do not deny possession of a Scripture and boast the revelation of the Tauraat, the Zaboor and the lnjeel1 by their respective prophets. Accordingly, they are the fittest and best prepared of people to accept the latest dispensation of Islam. They should have been the foremost in submitting their will to the Will of Allah in Islam — a renewal and a confirmation of the Revelation already with them. Yet they have been the first to reject it: and why the rejection? What are their considerations?
Nevertheless, their's is not a totally lost case. Allah assures us that among the Jews and the Christians are some who are sincere, "But the majority of them are perverted trans gressors."
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