Interpretation of Verses 82 - 83 Chapter 5
Fatwa No: 431947

  • Fatwa Date:15-11-2020 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 30, 1442
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Question

Assalamu Alaikum, In Sura Maida verse 82-85, It is said that the closest among believers are the christians because among them there are priests and they are not arrogant(interpretation). Now my question-
1. In these verses Does Allah only mentioned these particular
christians(priests) who are closest to muslims?
2. And here is Allah taking about those particular group christians of all time or just simply refering to the christians of Ethiopia?
May Allah reward you Jannah!

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that the verse does not refer to all Christians, let alone Christians at all times. Reality testifies to the fact that there are among the Christians some who harbor intense feelings of hostility towards Muslims. It was none but the Christians who established the Spanish Inquisition courts following the fall of Andalusia. Imam Al-Baghawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer: “Allah, The Exalted, Says (what means): {…and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, ‘We are Christians.’} [Quran 5:82] The verse does not refer to all Christians because they, just like the Jews, harbored hostility towards Muslims; they killed Muslims, took them as captives, ruined their countries, demolished their mosques, and burned their Mus-hafs (copies of the Quran). They should not be offered allegiance nor be honored. The verse rather refers to the Christians who embraced Islam, like An-Najaashi (Negus) and his companions. It was also said that the verse was revealed in relation to all Jews and Christians because Jews were more hardhearted, whereas the Christians’ hearts were softer and they were less supportive of the polytheists than the Jews.” [End of quote]

According to the interpretation that it refers to the Christians who did not embrace Islam, the intended meaning would apply to the Christians who have such qualities mentioned in the verse in particular. Shaykh Abu Bakr Al-Jazaa’iri may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Aysar At-Tafaaseer: “{And you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, ‘We are Christians.’} [Quran 5:82] Allah, The Exalted, explained the reason for such nearness in affection by saying: {That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant} meaning that the reason for this is that there are priests and monks among them; the priests were knowledgeable of the Scripture and were religious leaders who often favored justice, mercy, and goodness over injustice, cruelty, and evil. The monks denounced worldly pleasures and showed no desire for pursuing them, as indicated by His Saying (which means): {and because they are not arrogant,} meaning with regard to the truth, in terms of accepting and proclaiming it. Therefore, when materialism prevailed in Christian societies and atheism and immorality spread widely among them, such affection for the believers diminished, if it did not vanish completely. As for His Saying (which means): {And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say: Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses} [Quran 5:83]; it refers to the Christians who embraced Islam as soon as the Quran was recited to them and they listened to it like As-hamah An-Najaashi (Negus).” [End of quote]

Sayyid Qutb may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Fi Thilaal Al-Quraan: “This ruling does not apply to all those who proclaimed themselves to be Christians; {…and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, ‘We are Christians.’} [Quran 5:82] as some people claim, trying to ‘cherry pick’ certain portions of the verses out of their context. This ruling is rather confined to a specific case that was clearly outlined in the context of the verse, and it was not left ambiguous, unclear, nor confused with other cases in the slightest.” [End of quote]

It is not specific to priests either, but the presence of priests was a reason for such affection and nearness because they influenced the morals of their laity. At-Taahir ibn ‘Aashoor  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in At-Tahreer wa At-Tanweer (7/7): “The presence of priests and monks among them was a reason for them being nearest in affection to the believers because of what was known to the Arabs of the good morals, modesty, and tolerance of priests and monks. The priests and monks lived in their monasteries, churches, and synagogues that spread across many areas of the Arab lands. Most of them were Arabs from the Levant whom the call of Christianity reached through the Romans. The Arabs knew them to be ascetic and peaceful towards people ... Their presence among the Christians and being their religious leaders was a reason for the good morals of their fellow Christians.” [End of quote]

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa (7/626): “They were closer to guidance because they were fearful and modest. Therefore, Allah, The Exalted, said about those among them who embraced Islam (what means): {And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say: Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.} [Quran 5:83] Ibn ‘Abbaas said: ‘Meaning: register us with Muhammad and his nation, being the witnesses (over all other nations).’ The Christians were people of intent and worship but were not people of knowledge or witness. Therefore, although the Jews were worse than them by being more arrogant, less fearful, and crueler, the Christians were worse than them by being more misguided, more immersed in Shirk, and farther from deeming prohibited what Allah and His Messenger deemed prohibited.” [End of quote]

Allah Knows best.

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