English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 4: Al-Nisa — Women (Revealed at Madinah: 24 sections, 176 verses)

Section 22 (Verses 4:153–4:162): Transgression of the Jews



یَسۡـَٔلُکَ اَہۡلُ الۡکِتٰبِ اَنۡ تُنَزِّلَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ کِتٰبًا مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ فَقَدۡ سَاَلُوۡا مُوۡسٰۤی اَکۡبَرَ مِنۡ ذٰلِکَ فَقَالُوۡۤا اَرِنَا اللّٰہَ جَہۡرَۃً فَاَخَذَتۡہُمُ الصّٰعِقَۃُ بِظُلۡمِہِمۡ ۚ ثُمَّ اتَّخَذُوا الۡعِجۡلَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ الۡبَیِّنٰتُ فَعَفَوۡنَا عَنۡ ذٰلِکَ ۚ وَ اٰتَیۡنَا مُوۡسٰی سُلۡطٰنًا مُّبِیۡنًا ﴿۱۵۳﴾

4:153 The People of the Book ask you to bring down to them a Book from heaven; indeed they demanded of Moses a greater thing than that, for they said: Show us Allah manifestly. So destructive punishment overtook them on account of their wrongdoing. Then they took the calf (for a god), after clear signs had come to them, but We pardoned this. And We gave Moses clear authority.

وَ رَفَعۡنَا فَوۡقَہُمُ الطُّوۡرَ بِمِیۡثَاقِہِمۡ وَ قُلۡنَا لَہُمُ ادۡخُلُوا الۡبَابَ سُجَّدًا وَّ قُلۡنَا لَہُمۡ لَا تَعۡدُوۡا فِی السَّبۡتِ وَ اَخَذۡنَا مِنۡہُمۡ مِّیۡثَاقًا غَلِیۡظًا ﴿۱۵۴﴾

4:154 And We raised the mountain above them at their covenant. And We said to them: Enter the gate submissively. And We said to them: Do not violate the Sabbath; and We took from them a firm covenant.

فَبِمَا نَقۡضِہِمۡ مِّیۡثَاقَہُمۡ وَ کُفۡرِہِمۡ بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ وَ قَتۡلِہِمُ الۡاَنۡۢبِیَآءَ بِغَیۡرِ حَقٍّ وَّ قَوۡلِہِمۡ قُلُوۡبُنَا غُلۡفٌ ؕ بَلۡ طَبَعَ اللّٰہُ عَلَیۡہَا بِکُفۡرِہِمۡ فَلَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ اِلَّا قَلِیۡلًا ﴿۱۵۵﴾۪

4:155 Then for their breaking their covenant and their disbelief in the messages of Allah and their killing the prophets unjustly and their saying, Our hearts are securely covered; no, Allah has sealed them on account of their disbelief, so they do not believe but a little;1

وَّ بِکُفۡرِہِمۡ وَ قَوۡلِہِمۡ عَلٰی مَرۡیَمَ بُہۡتَانًا عَظِیۡمًا ﴿۱۵۶﴾ۙ

4:156 and for their disbelief and for their uttering against Mary a grievous slander;2

وَّ قَوۡلِہِمۡ اِنَّا قَتَلۡنَا الۡمَسِیۡحَ عِیۡسَی ابۡنَ مَرۡیَمَ رَسُوۡلَ اللّٰہِ ۚ وَ مَا قَتَلُوۡہُ وَ مَا صَلَبُوۡہُ وَ لٰکِنۡ شُبِّہَ لَہُمۡ ؕ وَ اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ لَفِیۡ شَکٍّ مِّنۡہُ ؕ مَا لَہُمۡ بِہٖ مِنۡ عِلۡمٍ اِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ ۚ وَ مَا قَتَلُوۡہُ یَقِیۡنًۢا ﴿۱۵۷﴾ۙ

4:157 and for their saying: We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of Allah, and they did not kill him, nor did they cause his death on the cross,3 but he was made to appear to them as such.4 And certainly those who differ concerning it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge about it, but only follow a conjecture, and they did not kill him for certain;

بَلۡ رَّفَعَہُ اللّٰہُ اِلَیۡہِ ؕ وَ کَانَ اللّٰہُ عَزِیۡزًا حَکِیۡمًا ﴿۱۵۸﴾

4:158 rather, Allah exalted him in His presence.5 And Allah is ever Mighty, Wise.

وَ اِنۡ مِّنۡ اَہۡلِ الۡکِتٰبِ اِلَّا لَیُؤۡمِنَنَّ بِہٖ قَبۡلَ مَوۡتِہٖ ۚ وَ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ یَکُوۡنُ عَلَیۡہِمۡ شَہِیۡدًا ﴿۱۵۹﴾ۚ

4:159 And there is none of the People of the Book but will believe in this before his death; and on the day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.6

فَبِظُلۡمٍ مِّنَ الَّذِیۡنَ ہَادُوۡا حَرَّمۡنَا عَلَیۡہِمۡ طَیِّبٰتٍ اُحِلَّتۡ لَہُمۡ وَ بِصَدِّہِمۡ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ کَثِیۡرًا ﴿۱۶۰﴾ۙ

4:160 So for the wrongdoing of the Jews, We forbade them the good things which had been made lawful for them, and for their hindering many (people) from Allah’s way.

وَّ اَخۡذِہِمُ الرِّبٰوا وَ قَدۡ نُہُوۡا عَنۡہُ وَ اَکۡلِہِمۡ اَمۡوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالۡبَاطِلِ ؕ وَ اَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ مِنۡہُمۡ عَذَابًا اَلِیۡمًا ﴿۱۶۱﴾

4:161 And for their taking usury — though indeed they were forbidden it — and their devouring the property of people falsely. And We have prepared for the disbelievers from among them a painful punishment.

لٰکِنِ الرّٰسِخُوۡنَ فِی الۡعِلۡمِ مِنۡہُمۡ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِمَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ اِلَیۡکَ وَ مَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ وَ الۡمُقِیۡمِیۡنَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ الۡمُؤۡتُوۡنَ الزَّکٰوۃَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ سَنُؤۡتِیۡہِمۡ اَجۡرًا عَظِیۡمًا ﴿۱۶۲﴾٪

4:162 But the firm in knowledge among them and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and those who keep up prayer and give the due charity and the believers in Allah and the Last Day — these it is to whom We shall give a mighty reward.



  1. The incidents referred to in verses 153–155 have been mentioned in detail in 2:51–71; see the footnotes there.
  2. The slander referred to was that Mary was guilty of fornication.
  3. The words used here do not negative that Jesus was nailed to the cross; they negative his having expired on the cross as a result of being nailed to it. That Jesus died a natural death is plainly stated in 5:117. The Gospels contain clear testimony showing that Jesus Christ escaped death on the cross. For example, Jesus remained on the cross for a few hours only (Mark 15:25, John 19:14) but death by crucifixion was always slow. When the side of Jesus was pierced, blood rushed out and this was a certain sign of life (John 19:34). Jesus was not buried but was given into the charge of a wealthy disciple of his, who lavished care on him and put him in a spacious tomb hewn in the side of a rock (Mark 15:46). When the tomb was seen on the third day, the stone was found to have been removed from its mouth (Mark 16:4), which would not have been the case if there had been a supernatural rising. Jesus Christ prayed the whole night before his arrest to be saved from the accursed death on the cross, and he also asked his disciples to pray for him. He seems to have even received a promise from God to be saved, and it was to this promise that he referred when he cried out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” The state­ments made in the Quran corroborate the testimony found in the Gospels. Jesus did not die on the cross, nor was he killed as were the two thieves who were crucified with him, but to people he appeared as if he were dead.
  4. These words may bear two interpretations: he was made to be like it to them or the matter was made dubious to them. The story that someone else was made to resemble Jesus is not borne out by the words of the Quran, which could only mean, if an object were mentioned, that Jesus was made to resemble some­one, not that someone was made to resemble Jesus.
  5. For “exaltation” see 3:55 footnote 2. Being exalted in the Divine pres­ence was opposed to being killed on the cross. Deuteronomy 21:23 explains this, for there we have, he who is hanged is accursed of God. If Jesus had died on the cross he would have been accursed; hence the statement made here — he was not killed on the cross and accursed but he was exalted in the Divine presence.
  6. Both Jews and Christians necessarily believe in the death of Jesus on the cross, while according to the Quran they have really no sure knowledge of it. The belief of the Jews is that since Jesus died on the cross he was accursed of God, and hence he cannot be a prophet. Following quite a different line of argu­ment, Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross and was accursed, but that unless Jesus were accursed he could not take away the sins of those that believe in him. Hence the belief of both Jews and Christians is that Jesus died on the cross, and the meaning of the verse is clear, i.e., every Jew and Christian, despite having no sure knowledge at all, must believe before his death that Jesus died on the cross.