In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
1. Those who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists were not to be parted [from disbelief] until there came to them clear evidence —
2. A Messenger from Allah, reciting purified scriptures.
3. Within which are correct writings [i.e. rulings and laws].
4. Nor did those who were given the Scripture become divided until after there had come to them clear evidence.
5. And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakah (alms). And that is the correct religion. [Quran 98:1-5]
As for the People of the Scripture they are the Jews and Christians, while the polytheists are those who worship idols and fire from amongst the Arabs and the non-Arabs. Mujahid said: "were not to be parted" means that they (the People of the Scripture) will not cease until the Clear Evidence came to them. What the 'Clear Evidence', is explained by the following verse (which means): "A Messenger from Allah, reciting purified scriptures",That is, Muhammad and that which he recites from the Noble Quran, which was copied by the Heavenly Host (i.e., the angels), on purified sheets, as Allah Says: (what mean):
"[It is recorded] in honored sheets, exalted and purified, [carried] by the hands of messenger-angels, noble and dutiful." [Quran 80:13-16]
"Within which are correct writings [i.e., rulings and laws]."
Ibn Jareer said: "It means that amongst the purified scriptures are Scriptures from the Books of Allah, of inestimable value, full of justice, perfectly correct, without any error, because they are from Allah, the Almighty, the All-Powerful."
Qatadah said: "A Messenger from Allah, reciting purified scriptures" means that the Quran is mentioned with the best description and that Allah extols it in the most laudatory terms."
Ibn Zayd said, concerning the verse (which means): "Within which are correct writings": "It means correct and fair. I say: The Words of Him, the Most High: "Nor did those who were given the Scripture become divided until after there had come to them clear evidence " are like His Words (which mean): "And do not be like the ones who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come to them. And those will have a great punishment." [Quran 3: 105] That is, the communities (the People of the Books) before us, after Allah, the Exalted, revealed to them proofs and clear signs, became divided and disputed amongst themselves as to what was required of them by Allah, the Most High, in their revealed books. They became involved in major differences as is made clear by the Hadeeth (narration) in which the Prophet said: "Verily, the Jews are divided into seventy-one different sects, and verily, the Christians are divided into seventy-two sects, and verily, my community will be divided into seventy-three different sects - all of whom will be in the Hell-Fire except one." His Companions asked: "And who are they, O, Messenger of Allah?" He replied: "Those who follow the path of me and my Companions."
And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth…"This is like Allah's Words (which mean):"And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, there is no deity except Me, so worship Me." [Quran 21: 25] For this reason, Allah Says (what means): "inclining to truth" that is, professing and practicing the True Religion (Islamic Monotheism) without associating any partners with Allah, as in His Words (which mean):"And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying] 'Worship Allah and avoid false deities.'" [Quran 16: 36]
"and to establish prayer"- which is the most noble of all physical activities.
"and to give Zakah (alms)" - which is to be charitable towards the poor and the needy.
"And that is the correct religion."
That is the True, the Correct, and the Just Faith - to belong to the most upright, religious community - a moderate community. Many scholars, including Az-Zuhri and Ash-Shafi'i have concluded from this verse that true faith must include action (not just belief in the heart), and for this reason, Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means):
"And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakah (alms). And that is the correct religion. "