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وَٱتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ ٱلشَّيَـٰطِينُ عَلَىٰ مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَـٰنَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَـٰنُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلشَّيَـٰطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ ٱلنَّاسَ ٱلسِّحْرَ وَمَآ أُنْزِلَ عَلَى ٱلْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَـٰرُوتَ وَمَـٰرُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ ٱلْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ ٱللَّهِ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ ٱشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي ٱلآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَٰـقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنْفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ
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-Al-Baqarah ( البقرة )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

And they follow (wa’ttaba‘ū is a supplement to nabadha, ‘[it] cast away’) what the devils used to relate, during the time of, Solomon’s kingdom, in the way of sorcery: it is said that they [the devils] buried these [books of sorcery] underneath his throne when his kingdom was taken from him; it is also said that they used to listen stealthily and add fabrications to what they heard, and then pass it on to the priests, who would compile it in books; this would be disseminated and rumours spread that the jinn had knowledge of the Unseen. Solomon gathered these books and buried them. When he died, the devils showed people where these books were, and the latter brought them out and found that they contained sorcery, and said, ‘Your kingdom was only thanks to what is in here’; they then took to learning them and rejected the Scriptures of their prophets. In order to demonstrate Solomon’s innocence and in repudiation of the Jews when they said, ‘Look at this Muhammad, he mentions Solomon as one of the prophets, when he was only a sorcerer’, God, exalted, says: Solomon disbelieved not, that is, he did not work magic because he disbelieved, but the devils disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery (this sentence is a circumstantial qualifier referring to the person governing the verb kafarū); and, teaching them, that which was revealed to the two angels, that is, the sorcery that they were inspired to [perform] (al-malakayn, ‘the two angels’: a variant reading has al-malikayn, ‘the two kings’) who were, in Babylon — a town in lower Iraq — Hārūt and Mārūt (here the names are standing in for ‘the two angels’, or an explication of the latter). Ibn ‘Abbās said, ‘They were two sorcerers who used to teach [people] magic’; it is also said that they were two angels that had been sent to teach [sorcery] to people as a trial from God. They taught not any man, without them saying, by way of counsel, ‘We are but a temptation, a trial from God for people, so that He may test them when they are taught it: whoever learns it is a disbeliever, but whoever renounces it, he is a believer; do not disbelieve’, by learning it; if this person refused and insisted on learning it, they would teach him. From them they learned how they might cause division between a man and his wife, so that they would hate each other, yet they, the sorcerers, did not hurt any man thereby, that is, by this magic, save by the leave of God, by His will; and they learned what hurt them, in the Hereafter, and did not profit them, and this was sorcery. And surely (the lām [of la-qad, ‘surely’] is for oaths) they, the Jews, knew well that whoever (la-man: the lām denotes [part of] the subject of the sentence and is semantically connected to what precedes it; the man introduces the relative clause) buys it, [whoever] chooses it and took it in place of God’s Book, he shall have no share in the Hereafter, that is, no portion of Paradise; evil then would have been, the thing, that they sold themselves for, those sellers, that is to say, the portion due for this [act] in the Hereafter, if they were to learn it; for it would have made the Fire obligatory in their case; if they had but known, the reality of the chastisement they would be destined for, they would not have learnt it.


Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza
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