فَأَثَابَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُوا جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
So Allah rewarded them for what they said with gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of doers of good.
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(Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews) up to Hiswords (But those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire) [5:82-86]. Theseverses were revealed about the Negus and his followers. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “When he was in Mecca, theMessenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to fear the idolaters’ persecution of hisCompanions. He therefore sent Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib and ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, at the head of a group of hisCompanions, to the Negus. He said: ‘The Negus is a righteous man; he is not an oppressor and none isoppressed in his dominion. So head toward him and remain there until Allah creates relief for the Muslims’.When they went to him, the Negus honoured them and then asked them: ‘Do you memorise anything ofthat which was revealed to you?’ They answered in the affirmative and then recited to him [some Qur’an,]with monks and priests surrounding him. Whenever they read a verse, the tears rolled down their cheeksdue to the truth which they recognized. Allah, exalted is He, says: (That is because there are among thempriests and monks, and because they are not proud)”. Al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Farisi informed us>Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Hamdun ibn al-Fadl> Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Hasan> Muhammad ibnYahya> Abu Salih, the scribe of al-Layth> al-Layth> Yunus> Ibn Shihab> Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab and ‘Urwahibn al-Zubayr as well as others who said: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent‘Amr ibn Umayyah al-Damri with a message to the Negus. The latter read the message of the Messenger ofAllah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and then called Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib and all the Emigrants with himand he also invited priests and monks to the assembly. He ordered Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib to recite to them fromthe Qur’an, and he read Surah Maryam, peace be upon her. They believed in the Qur’an and tears flowedfrom their eyes. It is about them that Allah, exalted is He, revealed (And thou wilt find the nearest of themin affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians) up to His words (Inscribe usas among the witnesses)”. Other commentators said: “Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib and his companions came fromAbyssinia accompanied by a delegation from the Negus to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and givehim peace. The delegation included seventy men, all wearing wool. There were sixty-two from Abyssinia andeight from Syria: Bahirah the monk, Abrahah, Idris, Ashraf, Tammam, Quthaym, Durayd and Ayman. Whenthe Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, recited to them Surah Yasin, they wept andbelieved. They commented: ‘How similar is this to what used to be revealed to Jesus’. And so Allah, exaltedis He, revealed about them these verses”. Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-‘Adl informed us> Zahir ibn Ahmad>Abu’l-Qasim al-Baghawi> ‘Ali ibn al-Ja‘d> Sharik> Salim> Sa‘id ibn Jubayr who, commenting on Allah’swords (That is because there are among them priests and monks), said: “The Negus sent thirty men amonghis best subjects to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. When the Messenger ofAllah, Allah bless him and give him peace, recited to them Surah Yasin, they wept, and so this verse wasrevealed”.
وَإِذَا سَمِعُواْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُواْ مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَآ ءَامَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّـهِدِينَ - وَمَا لَنَا لاَ نُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا جَآءَنَا مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَنَطْمَعُ أَن يُدْخِلَنَا رَبُّنَا مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الصَّـلِحِينَ - فَأَثَابَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُواْ جَنَّـتٍ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا الاٌّنْهَـرُ خَـلِدِينَ فِيهَا وَذَلِكَ جَزَآءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَكَذَّبُواْ بِـَايَـتِنَآ أُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ الْجَحِيمِ
(82. Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk, and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: "We are Christians.'' That is because among them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.)
(83. And when they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.'')
(84. "And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth And we wish that our Lord will admit us along with the righteous people.'')
(85. So because of what they said, Allah awarded them with Gardens under which rivers flow, they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of good-doers.)
(86. But those who disbelieved and belied Our Ayat, they shall be the dwellers of Hell.)
Sa`id bin Jubayr, As-Suddi and others said that these Ayat were revealed concerning a delegation that An-Najashi (King of Ethiopia) sent to the Prophet in order to hear his words and observe his qualities. When the delegation met with the Prophet and he recited the Qur'an to them, they embraced Islam, cried and were humbled. Then they returned to An-Najashi and told him what happened. `Ata' bin Abi Rabah commented, "They were Ethiopians who embraced Islam when the Muslims who migrated to Ethiopia resided among them.'' Qatadah said, "They were some followers of the religion of `Isa, son of Maryam, who when they saw Muslims and heard the Qur'an, they became Muslims without hesitation.'' Ibn Jarir said that these Ayat were revealed concerning some people who fit this description, whether they were from Ethiopia or otherwise. Allah said,
لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُواْ
(Verily, you will find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers the Jews and those who commit Shirk,) This describes the Jews, since their disbelief is that of rebellion, defiance, opposing the truth, belittling other, people and degrading the scholars. This is why the Jews - may Allah's continued curses descend on them until the Day of Resurrection - killed many of their Prophets and tried to kill the Messenger of Allah several times, as well as, performing magic spells against him and poisoning him. They also incited their likes among the polytheists against the Prophet . Allah's statement,
وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ الَّذِينَ قَالُواْ إِنَّا نَصَارَى
(and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: "We are Christians.'') refers to those who call themselves Christians, who follow the religion of the Messiah and the teachings of his Injil. These people are generally more tolerant of Islam and its people, because of the mercy and kindness that their hearts acquired through part of the Messiah's religion. In another Ayah, Allah said;
وَجَعَلْنَا فِى قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً
(And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion, mercy, and monasticism...) 57:27. In their book is the saying; "He who strikes you on the right cheek, then turn the left cheek for him.'' And fighting was prohibited in their creed, and this is why Allah said,
ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَاناً وَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
(That is because among them are Qissisin (priests) and Ruhban (monks), and they are not proud.) This means that among them are Qissisin (priests). The word Ruhban refers to one dedicated to worship. Allah said,
ذلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَاناً وَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
(That is because among them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.) This describes them with knowledge, worship and humbleness, along with following the truth and fairness.
وَإِذَا سَمِعُواْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُواْ مِنَ الْحَقِّ
(And when they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized.) This refers to the good news that they have about the advent of Muhammad ,
يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَآ ءَامَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّـهِدِينَ
(They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.'') who testify to the truth and believe in it.
وَمَا لَنَا لاَ نُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا جَآءَنَا مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَنَطْمَعُ أَن يُدْخِلَنَا رَبُّنَا مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الصَّـلِحِينَ
("And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth And We wish that our Lord will admit us (in Paradise) along with the righteous people.'') Such sect of Christians are those mentioned in Allah's statement,
وَإِنَّ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَـبِ لَمَن يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ خَـشِعِينَ للَّهِ
(And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture, those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah.)3:199 and,
الَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَـهُمُ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلِهِ هُم بِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ - وَإِذَا يُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ قَالُواْ ءَامَنَّا بِهِ إِنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّنَآ إنَّا كُنَّا مِن قَبْلِهِ مُسْلِمِينَ
(Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it (the Qur'an). And when it is recited to them, they say, "We believe in it. Verily, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed even before it we were Muslims'')28:52-53, until,
لاَ نَبْتَغِى الْجَـهِلِينَ
("We seek not the ignorant.'')28:55 This is why Allah said here,
فَأَثَابَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُواْ
(So because of what they said, Allah awarded them...) rewarding them for embracing the faith and recognizing and believing in the truth,
جَنَّـتٌ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا الاٌّنْهَـرُ خَـلِدِينَ فِيهَا
(Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever.) and they will never be removed from it, for they will dwell and remain in it forever and ever,
وَذَلِكَ جَزَآءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
(Such is the reward of good-doers) who follow the truth and obey it wherever, whenever and with whomever they find it. Allah then describes the condition of the miserable.
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَكَذَّبُواْ بِآيَـتِنَآ
(But those who disbelieved and belied Our Ayat,) defied and opposed them,
أُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَـبُ الْجَحِيمِ
(they shall be the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire.) For they are the people of the Fire who will enter and reside in it (eternally).