(1) (98:1) Those who disbelieved *1 ' be they from the People of the Book or from those who associated *2 others with Allah in His Divinity ' will not desist from unbelief until the Clear Proof should come to them; *3
*1) Here the word kufr (unbelief ) has been used in its widest sense, which includes different forms of the unbelieving attitude. For example, some were unbelievers in the sense that they did not acknowledge Allah at all: some did acknowledge Allah but did not regard Him as the One and only God, but worshipped others as well, thinking they were associates in Divine Being or Divine attributes and powers in one way or the other; some acknowledged oneness of God but committed some kind of shirk as well; some acknowledged God but did not acknowledge His Prophets and the guidance brought by them; some acknowledged one particular Prophet and did not acknowledge another; 'others rejected the Hereafter. In short, there were different kinds of kufr in which the people were involved. And the statement: "the disbelievers from among the people of the Book and the mushriks . . . ",dces not mean that some of them were not involved in kufr, but that those who were involved in kufr were of two kinds: the followers of the Book and the mushriks. Here, min has not been used for division but for explanation, as, . for example, in Surah Al-Hajj: 30, where it has been said Fajtanib-ur rijsa min al-authan. which means: "therefore, guard yourselves against the filth of idols'-, and not: "guard yourselves against the filth which is in the idols." Likewise, alladhina kafaru min ahl-il-Kitabi wal-mushrikin.means: "the, disbelievers from among the followers of the .Book and the mushriks ... ", and not: "those who have disbelieved from these two groups. *2) Despite the common factor of kufr between them the two groups have been mentioned by separate names. The followers of the Book imply the people who possessed any of the revealed Books, even if in corrupted form, sent to the former Prophets, and they believed in it. And the mushriks (idolaters) imply the people who did not follow any Prophet nor believed in any Book. Although in the Qur'an the shirk, (polytheism, idolatry) of the people of the Book has been mentioned at many places, e.g. about the Christians it has been said: "They say: God is one of the three"(Al-Ma'idah: 73); "The Messiah is son of God"(AtTaubah: 30); "The Messiah; son of Mary; is God"(Al-Ma'idah: 17); and about the Jews it has been said: "They say: Ezra is son of God"(At-Taubah: 30), yet nowhere in the Qur'an has the term "mushrlk"been used for them, but they have been mentioned as "alladhina ul-ul-Kitaba"(those who were given the Book), or by the words Jews and Christians. For they believed in the principle of Tauhid (Oneness of God) as the we religion, and then committed shirk. Contrary to this, for others than the followers of the Book, the word mushrik has been used as a. term, for they acknowledged shirk (idolatry) as true religion and disacknowledged Tauhid. This distinction between the two groups holds good not only in the use of the term but also in the Shari`ah injunctions. Animal flesh duly slaughtered by the followers of the Book has been declared lawful for the Muslims if they slaughter a lawful animal in the name of Allah in the prescribed way, and permission to marry their women also has been given. On the contrary, neither the animal slaughtered by the mushriks is lawful for the Muslims nor is marriage with their women. *3) That is, "There was no means of their being freed from this state of unbelief except that a clear evidence (of the truth) should come and make them understand the falsity of every form of kufr and its being untrue, and should present the right way before them in a clear and rational way." This dces not mean that after the coming of the char evidence they would give up kufr but that in the absence of the clear evidence it was not at all possible that they would be delivered from that state. However, if even after its coming some of them still persisted in their kufr, then they themselves would be responsible for it; they could not complain that Allah had made no arrangement for their guidance. This same thing bas been expressed in the Qur'an at different places in different ways, e.g. in Surah An-Nahl: 9, it is said: "Allah has taken upon Himself to show the Right Way"; in Surah Al-Laila 12, it is said: "It is for Us to show the Way"; in Surah An-Nisa: 163-165: "O! Prophet, We have sent Revelation to you just as We had sent it to Noah and other Prophets after him ... All these Messengers were sent as bearers of good news and warners so that, after their coming, the people should have no excuse left to plead before Allah"; and in Surah Al-Ma'idah: 19: "O people of the Book, this Messenger of Ours has come to you and is making clear to you the teachings of the Right Way after a long interval during which there had come no Messengers, lest you should say: `No bearer of good news nor warner came to us. Lo, now the bearer of good news and warner has come."