Tafsīr Of The Verse 5:73

“They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allāh is the third of three; when there is no Allāh save the one Allāh. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve”

Muhammad Ghoniem

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Published: 1st September 1999

Last Updated: 7th July 2010

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Assalamu ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr

Ibn Kathir says:

{لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوۤاْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلاَثَةٍ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـٰهٍ إِلاَّ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُواْ عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ }

وقوله: { لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوۤاْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ثَـٰلِثُ ثَلَـٰثَةٍ } قال ابن أبي حاتم: حدثنا علي بن الحسن الهسنجاني، حدثنا سعيد بن الحكم بن أبي مريم، حدثنا الفضل، حدثني أبو صخر في قول الله تعالى: { لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوۤاْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ثَـٰلِثُ ثَلَـٰثَةٍ } قال: هو قول اليهود: عزير ابن الله، وقول النصارى: المسيح ابن الله، فجعلوا الله ثالث ثلاثة، وهذا قول غريب في تفسير الآية أن المراد بذلك طائفتا اليهود والنصارى، والصحيح أنها نزلت في النصارى خاصة، قاله مجاهد وغير واحد، ثم اختلفوا في ذلك فقيل: المراد بذلك كفارهم في قولهم بالأقانيم الثلاثة: وهو أقنوم الأب، وأقنوم الابن، وأقنوم الكلمة المنبثقة من الأب إلى الابن، تعالى الله عن قولهم علواً كبيراً، قال ابن جرير وغيره: و الطوائف الثلاثة من الملكية واليعقوبية والنسطورية تقول بهذه الأقانيم، وهم مختلفون فيها اختلافاً متبايناً، ليس هذا موضع بسطه، وكل فرقة منهم تكفر الأخرى، والحق أن الثلاثة كافرة.وقال السدي وغيره: نزلت في جعلهم المسيح وأمه إلهين مع الله، فجعلوا الله ثالث ثلاثة بهذا الاعتبار، قال السدي: وهي كقوله تعالى في آخر السورة: { وَإِذْ قَالَ ٱللَّهُ يٰعِيسَى ٱبْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَءَنتَ قُلتَ لِلنَّاسِ ٱتَّخِذُونِى وَأُمِّىَ إِلَـٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ قَالَ سُبْحَـٰنَكَ } الآية، وهذا القول هو الأظهر - والله أعلم - قال الله تعالى: { وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـٰهٍ إِلاَّ إِلَـٰهٌ وَٰحِدٌ } أي: ليس متعدداً، بل هو وحده لا شريك له، إله جميع الكائنات وسائر الموجودات، ثم قال تعالى متوعداً لهم ومتهدداً: { وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُواْ عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ } أي: من هذا الافتراء والكذب، { لَيَمَسَّنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ } أي: في الآخرة؛ من الأغلال والنكال

{They disbelieved who say: Allāh is one of three (in a Trinity): for there is no god except one God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them} [Qur'ān: 5:73]

Concerning {They disbelieved who say: Allāh is one of three}, Ibn Abī Hātim said that ʿAlī Ibn al-Hasan al-Hisinjāni told us that Saʿīd Ibn al-Hakam Ibn Abī Maryam told us that al-Fadl told us that Abū Sakhr told me about God's words {They disbelieved who say: Allah is one of three}: It refers to the opinion of the Jews "ʿUzayr is the son of God" and the opinion of the Christians "the Messiah is the son of God"; thus making God one among three [i.e., a Trinity]. For a commentary on this verse, this report is odd because it refers to both the Jews and the Christians. The truth is that it was revealed concerning the Christians specifically. This is the opinion of Mujāhid and many others but they differed on its interpretation. They said this verse targeted the disbelievers among them [i.e., among the Christians] for upholding three hypostasis [al-aqānīm al-thalāthah] who are the hypostasis of the Father, the hypostasis of the Son and the hypostasis of the Word emanating from the Father to the Son - May God be glorified above their speech. Ibn Jarīr [al-Ṭabarī] and others mentioned that the three sects, the Melkites, the Jacobites and the Nestorians, the three of them uphold those hypostasis and are in great disagreement between each others but we will not expand on their disagreement here. Each sect declared that the others are disbelievers and the truth is that the three of them are disbelievers. Al-Suddī and others said: [the verse] was revealed concerning the divinization of the Christ and his mother besides God, thus making God one among three [i.e., one person among a Trinity]. Al-Suddī said: This is like the verse at the end of the sūrah [verse 5:116] {And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?} He will say: {Glory to Thee! [...]} and this [last] opinion is the most likely and God knows best. God Almighty said {for there is no god except One God}, i.e., God is not multiple, he is one without partners and he gathered all the creatures and warned them {If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy)}, i.e., this lie {verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them}, i.e., the chains and torture in the Hereafter.

Tafsīr Al-Qurṭubī

Al-Qurṭubī said in the tafsir of verse 5:73:

قوله تعالى: { لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوۤاْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلاَثَةٍ }. أي أحد ثلاثة. ولا يجوز فيه التنوين؛ عن الزجاج وغيره. وفيه للعرب مذهب آخر؛ يقولون: رابع ثلاثة؛ فعلى هذا يجوز الجر والنصب؛ لأن معناه الذي صير الثلاثة أربعة بكونه منهم. وكذلك إذا قلت: ثالث ٱثنين؛ جاز التنوين. وهذا قول فرق النصارى من المَلْكِية والنُّسْطُورِيّة واليعقوبية؛ لأنهم يقولون أب وٱبن وروح القدس إلٰه واحد؛ « ولا يقولون ثلاثة آلهة وهو معنى مذهبهم، وإنما يمتنعون من العبارة وهي لازمة لهم. وما كان هكذا صح أن يحكى بالعبارة اللازمة؛ وذلك أنهم يقولون: إن الابن إله والأب إله وروح القدس إله. وقد تقدّم القول في هذا في «النساء» فأكفرهم الله بقولهم هذا

وقال: { وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـٰهٍ إِلاَّ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ } أي أنّ الإله لا يتعدد وهم يلزمهم القول بثلاثة آلهة كما تقدم، وإن لم يصرحوا بذلك لفظاً؛ وقد مضى في «البقرة» معنى الواحد. و «مِن» زائدة. ويجوز في غير القرآن «إلهاً واحداً» على الإستثناء. وأجاز الكسائي الخفض على البدل

قوله تعالى: { وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُواْ } أي يكفّوا عن القول بالتثليث ليمسنهم عذاب أليم في الدنيا والآخرة

The most High said: {They disbelieved who say: Allāh is one of three} means one among [a group of] three. Does not take nunation according to al-Zajjāj and others. The Arabs have another variant, they say the fourth of three and in this case it accepts jarr and naṣb because it means the one who made the three [become] four by being among them. The same goes when you say the third of a pair, nunation is possible. And this statement caused a disagreement between the Christians, i.e., the Melkites, the Nestorians and the Jacobites, as they say: a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit are one God and they do not say three gods while this is the very meaning [implied by] their position. They only resent the statement [of three gods] while it is unavoidable since they say that the Son is a god, and the Father is a god and the Holy Spirit is a god. We have already detailed this point in [sūrah] al-Nisā' and God attested of their disbelief...

And He said: {...for there is no god except One God} meaning that God is not multiple while they cannot avoid saying three gods as seen previously even if they would not admit that wording. And we have already explained the meaning of one [wāhid] in [sūrah] al-Baqarah and the preposition min is supernumerary. And it is possible in other places than the Qur'ān to say {ilāhan wāhidan} as in case of istithnā' and al-Kisā'i accepted jarr as in case of badal.

The most High said: {If they desist [not from their word, verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them]}, i.e., if they desist not from their [doctrine of] Trinity, a grievous chastisement will befall them in this life and in the Hereafter.

Comments

A few observations can be made from the above exegeses of the Qur'an.

  1. Islam does not denounce the rank of God in the Trinity but rather the Trinity itself (cf. verse 4:171 ‘Say not "Three"’). Indeed if Islam denounced the rank (there is no rank implied but let us suppose for the sake of argument) of God in the Christian Trinity, it would not denounce the pagan Arabs since Allah/God was the biggest of their deities. But the truth is that Islam has denounced without ambiguity any form of polytheism and lip-service to monotheism such as God is composed to three distinct entities yet He is one.
  2. The exegetes of the Qur'an are clear about the fact that the verse 5:73 is condemns the ‘traditional’ form of the Trinity comprising of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as the ‘heretical’ form comprising of the Father, the Mother (i.e., Mary) and the Son.

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