(Hast thou not seen how those who have received a portion of the Scripture…) [3:23].
There is a difference of opinion about this verse’s occasion of revelation. Al-Suddi said: “When the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, called the Jews to embrace Islam, al-Nu‘man ibn Awfa said to him: ‘Come, O Muhammad, and let the rabbis judge between us’. He said: ‘Let the Scripture of Allah be judge between us’. They said: ‘No! Let the rabbis judge’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.
On the other hand, Sa‘id ibn Jubayr and ‘Ikrimah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, entered in on a group of Jews in a Jewish place of study and called them to Allah. Nu‘aym ibn ‘Amr and al-Harith ibn Zayd said to him: ‘O Muhammad, which religion are you on?’ He said: ‘The religion of Abraham’. They said: ‘But Abraham was a Jew’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘In that case, let us go to the Torah and let it judge between us’. They refused. And Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.
Said al-Kalbi: “This was revealed about those who committed fornication in Khaybar and the Jews who asked the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, about the legal punishment of fornication”. The elaboration on this will come in Surah al-Ma’idah, Allah, exalted is He, willing”.
Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi , trans. Mokrane Guezzou