Tafsir 4:159

            Abu al-Su`ud (d. 951) in his Tafsir (2:252): “The pronoun ‘his’ refers to an omitted attribute, while the previous pronoun ['him'] refers to `Isa. Meaning: there is not one of the People of the Scripture but will certainly believe, before his soul is taken away, in the fact that `Isa ibn Maryam is Allah’s servant and Messenger. That is: when belief no longer counts because legal responsibility (taklif) ceases at that time. This is reinforced by one of the canonical readings which states: `but THEY will certainly believe in him before THEIR death.’ [Reading of Ubayy as narrated from Ibn 'Abbas in Tafsir Ibn Kathir 1:578.] It is related from Ibn `Abbas that he explained it in this way.

            “It has also been said that both pronouns refer to `Isa, at which time there will be but one community on earth, lions and tigers and wolves shall graze side by side with the camels and cattle and sheep etc. for forty years, after which `Isa shall die and be buried.

            “It has also been said that the pronoun ‘him’ [in the clause 'shall believe in him'] refers to Allah. It has also been said that it refers to Muhammad, Allah bless and greet him.”

 

            All of the commentators agree that in either case – whether belief in `Isa takes place when `Isa rules on earth or before a Kitabee’s death – it is a belief that does not benefit, since it comes at a time when the responsibility to believe has been lifted. In the first case there will not be other than Islam on the face of the earth while the second case occurs at the time of one’s death. As for the clause “he will be a witness against them” it means: in the sense that he conveyed his message faithfully and declared his own servanthood for all to know. Cf. Ibn al-Jawzi (2:250). And Allah knows best.

 

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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