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إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْى أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ ٱلْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَآ أَرَادَ ٱللَّهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلاً يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيراً وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيراً وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ ٱلْفَٰسِقِينَ
٢٦
-Al-Baqarah ( البقرة )

Tafsir al-Jalalayn

God is not ashamed to strike, to make, a similitude (mathal: is the first direct object; mā either represents an indefinite noun described by what comes after it and constitutes a second direct object, meaning ‘whatever that similitude may be’; or it [the mā] is extra to emphasise the vileness [involved], so that what follows constitutes the second direct object); even of a gnat, (ba‘ūda is the singular of ba‘ūd), that is, small flies; or anything above it, that is, larger than it, so that this explanation is not affected [by the size of the creature] with regard to the judgement [God is making]; as for the believers, they know it, the similitude, is the truth, established and given in this instance, from their Lord; but as for disbelievers, they say, ‘What did God desire by this for a similitude?’ (mathalan is a specification, meaning, ‘by this similitude’; mā is an interrogative of rejection and is the subject; dhā means alladhī, whose relative clause contains its predicate, in other words, ‘what use is there in it?’). God then responds to them saying: Thereby, that is, by this similitude, He leads many astray, from the truth on account of their disbelieving in it, and thereby He guides many, believers on account of their belief in it; and thereby He leads none astray except the wicked, those that reject obedience to Him.


Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza
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