Tafseer: Surah Al-Bayyinah (The Clear Evidence)

Quran: Chapter 98 Surah Al-Bayyinah (The Clear Proof).

“Those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikûn, were not going to leave (their disbelief) until there came to them clear evidence. A Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) from Allâh, reciting (the Qur’ân) purified pages [purified from Al-Bâtil (falsehood)]. Wherein are correct and straight laws from Allâh. And the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) differed not until after there came to them clear evidence (i.e. Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and whatever was revealed to him). And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allâh, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) and give Zakât, and that is the right religion. Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islâm, the Qur’ân and Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikûn will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allâh, and in His Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) including all obligations ordered by Islâm] and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward with their Lord is ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity), underneath which rivers flow. They will abide therein forever, Allâh will be pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord.”

[Translation by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali & Muhammad Muhsin Khan]. Note: “Al-Mushrikûn” = The Polytheists, “Salât”= Prayer, “Zakât” = Charity

From the first verse it can be seen that all types of disbelievers, both from the People of the Book as well as the Polytheists, are not going to leave their disbelief until there comes to them clear evidence.

Question: Why are the Jews and Christians called the People of the Book?

  • Their Messengers (Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them both) were given scriptures and books which remained with them until the sending of the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (ﷺ)

Question: Who were the Polythiests?

  • These are the people who worshipped idols and includes all forms of such worship, including by certain tribes of the People of the Book

What is meant by “Bayyinah” (the clear evidence)

  • In Arabic, anything by which the truth becomes clear by is considered Bayyinah
  • In that case, what “clear evidence” were the People of the Book and the Polytheists waiting for?
  • With regards to Religion, the Clear evidence mentioned in the verse refers to the coming of “a Messenger from Allah” referring to Muhammad (ﷺ), the Messenger of Allah

Why is the indefinite form “a Messenger” used rather than the specific form?

  • In Arabic, this form of the word can be used to magnify a matter
  • The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (ﷺ), was sent as a bringer of glad tidings and as a warner to all of Mankind
  • The Message itself was brought to Muhammad (ﷺ) by the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel)

The Quran: “Purified pages”

  • The pure pages are in reference to the pages of the Qur’an which was recited to the people
  • They are purified from any form of Shirk (Polytheism) and are pure in their monotheism
  • These pages contain correct, sound and upright Laws from Allah.
    • Note: The word for Laws here is “Kutuban” which literally means “writings”, in reference to the Law. It can be understood that there are many valuable written Laws which need to be studied and learnt.

What happened when the clear evidence did come to them, what happened?

  • They differed, some of them did believe but there were others who, even despite the evidence, refused to accept the truth and instead persistend
  • From amongst Christians, those who accepted Islam include the King of Habasha, An-Najaashi (The Negus)
  • From the Jews likewise there were those such as # who believed
  • And from amongst the Polytheists, then many of them accepted Islam. The most notable example being the Tribe of Quraish of Makkah
  • Those whom Allah knew to have goodness in their hearts then Allah gave them guidance. And those who did not want o accept were left in their corruption

Finally, Allah tells us concerning the the state of the People:

  • Those who disbelieved will abide in the fire of Hell
    • The verse contains an emphasis in its statement
    • Why is Hellfire called “Jahannam” in Arabic? Its meaning indicates “Extreme depth” describing its deep pits of darkness. Other scholars hold that the word is not of Arabic origin but was instead borrowed from other languages and alludes to “darkness”
    • They are the worst of creatures
    • Note: There are some amongst them who are trustworthy, however the Muslim should be cautius when dealing with
  • Those who believed and performed righteus actions
    • Allah declares that they are the best of creatures
    • 📚 Structure of the Quran: You will often find very eloquent contrasting of examples mentioned close to each other as juxtaposition. In this example, those who disbelieved are contrasted and compared with those who believed and performed righteous actions
    • In other parts of the Quran, fear and Hope are contrasted and compared. This balances a person. Had the Quran presented only one angle, only one viewpoint, then a person would either be overly hopeful (and thus lax) or destroyed by fear
    • There are four levels concerning those who believed and performed righteous actions:
      • 1. The Prophets (the highest of which are the Messengers)
      • 2. The Truthful
      • 3. The Martyrs (what does this mean?)
      • 4. The Righteous
    • Their reward, with their Lord, is the Garden of Eden, the Eternal Gardens under which rivers flow
    • Their Lord will be pleased with them, and they with Him
    • 📚 Quran Structure: The final verse mentions the reward for the believers. The one prior to it mentions their reward. This arrangements has a purpose. The final statement is designed to delcare their greatest feature. Theuir greatest feature is that Allah will be pleased with them.
    • Note: The Gardens of Paradise are referred to in the plural, why?
    • The reality of Paradise is completely different to this physical world. The words used to describe Paradise such as “Gardens” or “Rivers” are to allow us to follow the verse, but they are in no way comparisons to similar objects in this world – they are completely different. For example, it is mentioned that, in Paradise, the Rivers of Paradise flow on the surface without banks on their sides
    • “That is for him who fears his Lord.”