(104) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَقُولُواْ رَاعِنَا وَقُولُواْ انظُرْنَا وَاسْمَعُوا ْوَلِلكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
(105) مَّا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَلاَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ أَن يُنَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَاللّهُ يَخْتَصُّ بِرَحْمَتِهِ مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ
104. " O' you who have Faith! Do not say (to the Prophet) ' ra'ina ' but say ' unzurna '; and hearken (unto him) and for unbelievers awaits a painful punishment. "
105. " Neither those who reject Faith from among the people of the (earlier) Book, nor those who take partners to Allah, wish that any good should be sent down upon you from your Lord, and Allah chooses especially whom He pleases for His Mercy and Allah is the Lord of Mighty Grace. "
Occasion of Revelation :
Ibn Abbas, the leading commentator, is narrated to have said that the early Muslims, when the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was speaking and teaching them the divine verses and commandments, often asked him to speak slowly so that they could comprehend the material well and could have opportunity enough to ask their questions. For this purpose, then, they applied the phrase /ra'ina/ derived from the root /ar-ra'a/ ' to give respite ',which means:' give us respite, wait for us '. (1) But the Jews took the same word from the Arabic root /ar-ra'unah/ used with the meaning of ' foolhardiness, thoughtlessness, foolishness ', which means: ' make foolish of us ' and suggests an insult. (2)
Here, the Jews had found something by which they could ridicule
(1) Aa-Durr-ul-Manthur, vol. 1, pp. 252-253 (2) Jami'-ul-Bayan, by Muhammad-ibn-Jarir Tabari, vol. 1, pp. 469-473
and make fun of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the Muslims.
The first verse of the above verses was revealed to prevent this derisive usage of the word by the Jews. It commanded the believers to use /unzurna/ instead of /ra'ina/ which had the same meaning, but was plain and unambiguous. Thus, the enemies could not misuse it.
Some other commentators have said that the phrase /ra'ina/ was employed by some Jews in whose language it had an uncomplimentary meaning. They repeated it again and again.
Some others of the commentators have also said that the Jews pronounced /ra'ina/ instead of saying /ra'ina/ and, addressing the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) with that term which meant ' our cattle-tender, shepherd ', ridiculed him.
These occasions of revelation do not contrast with each other, so that all of them may be right.
* * * *
Leave No Pretext for Enemies!
Regarding what was said about the occasion of revelation, the first verse of the verses under discussion says :
" O' you who have Faith! Do not say (to the Prophet) ' ra'ina 'but say ' unzurna '; ..."
"... and hearken (unto him) , and for unbelievers awaits a painful punishment."
It is well understood from this verse that the Muslims, should be careful to avoid giving their enemies any pretext, because they may misuse even one short sentence against them. The Qur'an advises the Muslims to avoid uttering even the smallest common word which they might transform into a term of reproach in order to weaken the spirits of the Muslims. They should be careful not to select words which have multiple or ambiguous meanings that may be misused by the enemies to mock them thereby but rather should choose appropriate, unambiguous words. They must guard themselves against the cynical trick of using
words which sound complimentary to the ear but have a hidden barb in them.
When Islam is so meticulous that it does not let Muslims give their enemies pretext for these little things, the duty of Muslims is clear for greater and more important subjects, both concerning their interior affairs and international matters.
It is also noteworthy that the phrase /ra'ina/, besides what was stated before, is not free from impoliteness in meaning, because this term may also be derived from the word /mura'at/, which means that 'you should observe us and we will observe you likewise '. Then,the Qur'an has bidden the Muslims not to use it anymore, since it contains a sense of impoliteness, besides the abusing of it by the Jews.
A Precise Meaning
The honorific and enlivening sentence /ya 'ayyuhalla¶ina 'amanu/ ' O' you who have Faith ', addressed to the believers, has occurred 80 times in the Qur'an. The above verse is the first one which contains this phrase.
It is interesting that this phrase has occurred only in the verses that have been revealed in Medina, viz. it is not seen in the Meccan verses. It may be for the reason that with the emigration of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to Medina, Muslims gathered together and it was then that the situation of Muslims became stabilized, especially when they formed a strong, powerful government. Hence, Allah (s.w.t.) addressed them with this phrase :
This phrase conveys another meaning, too. It indicates that now that you have Faith and have submitted to the truth, i.e. you have taken a covenant with Allah, you should obey Him according to the commandments that have come along with it. In other words, your Faith necessitates that you follow these instructions accordingly.
It is also notable that in many references of Islamic literature, including the ones of the Sunnite, the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is narrated to have said:
" No verse has Allah revealed with ' O' you who have Faith ' save that Ali is at its top and is its chief. " (1)
* * * *
In the next verse, the Qur'an pulls back the curtain on the enmity and grudge of the pagans and the People of the Book towards the believers. It says: " Neither those who reject Faith from among the people of the (earlier) Book, nor those who take partners to Allah, wish that any good should be sent down upon you from your Lord, ..."
But this is not but a bare wish for them, because:
"... and Allah chooses especially whom He pleases for His Mercy..."
"... and Allah is the Lord of Mighty Grace."
Because of their envy and enmity, the enemies of Islam did not want to be witnesses to this honour and glory given to Muslims, and they could not adapt to the fact that a great Prophet with a Divine Book from Allah could be appointed for them (Muslims) . But, it was impossible for those hostile enemies to hinder the Mercy and Grace of Allah.
(1) Tafsir-i-Furat-ul-kufi, p. 49, Tradition 7; & Tarikh-i-Damishq,Ibn 'Asakir, vol. 2, p. 428